Best Places for Young Families in Oregon

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Best Places for Young Families in Oregon

There is a lot for young families to like about Oregon.

Roughly a quarter of the state is designated as national forest. Oregon also has one of the fastest-growing economies in the country. And, as an added bonus, it’s one of the nation’s most environmentally friendly states.

With so much to offer, it could be hard for families to decide where to settle. To make things easier, NerdWallet crunched the data for 93 places in Oregon — cities, towns and census-designated places with at least 5,000 residents — to determine which spots are the best for young families.

NerdWallet’s analysis

Home affordability. We looked at median home value and selected monthly homeowner costs, such as mortgages and insurance, to find affordable communities.
Prosperity and growth. Looking at current and past family incomes, we calculated the income of residents, as well as the projected long-term growth of each city.
Quality of education. We looked at ratings from GreatSchools.org to find the best schools.
Family friendliness. This year, we added a new component to our methodology — the percentage of families with school-age children and the poverty rate for young children. This measure helps determine if an area is both affordable for families and a healthy environment for children.

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Key takeaways

Proximity to Portland. Five of the 10 best cities are within a 30-mile radius of Oregon’s largest city. Of the remaining five, all but one, Baker City, are near a metro center, such as Salem, Eugene and Bend.
An active family’s dream. Oregon is a great place for families who don’t just appreciate nature, but who also want to actively enjoy it. Nearly every city on this list can brag about hiking trails, wildlife preserves, water sports or snow skiing.

Best places for young families in Oregon

1. Sherwood

About 40% of households in Sherwood have at least one child under 18 years old, second only to Happy Valley. One draw for young families: a stellar school system. The city’s schools earned a rating of 9 out of 10 from GreatSchools, and Sherwood High School had one of the state’s highest graduation rates in 2014. Youth sports leagues, miles of bike trails and a local ice arena offer plenty to keep kids entertained. Families can also get into the renaissance spirit at Sherwood’s annual Robin Hood festival.

2. Deschutes River Woods

Families who love the outdoors will take a liking to Deschutes River Woods, a suburb of Bend. Residents have the Willamette and Deschutes national forests in their backyards, so Tumalo Falls, the Newberry National Volcanic Monument and the Mt. Bachelor ski area are a short trip away. And nearly a third of families in the area have at least one school-age child, making it easy for kids to find a playmate.

3. Newberg

Newberg saw a burst of economic growth in recent years, with median family income increasing nearly 37% from 1999 to 2013. Now, community organizations are working to revitalize the city’s downtown by reopening the farmers market and creating a cultural district. Newberg also hosts events like Tunes on Tuesday, a weekly live music event held in July and August, and an art walk on the first Friday of each month.

4. Cedar Mill

Cedar Mill has a median home value of about $457,000, putting it out of reach for some young families. Those who can afford to live in this community are close to downtown Portland and Beaverton. Major employers such as Nike and Intel are also nearby. Many children in Cedar Mill attend Beaverton School District, which has an average rating of 9 out of 10 at GreatSchools.

5. Bend

Young families will find plenty of ways to stay active in Bend. The area boasts more than 50 parks, 65 miles of trails and over 770 recreation programs, including youth baseball, football and soccer leagues. Bend is also close to picturesque skiing, fishing and camping areas. An influx of young, ambitious entrepreneurs has helped give the once-struggling mill town an economic boost. Median family income grew nearly 35% from 1999 to 2013.

6. Creswell

Creswell is the smallest city on this list with about 5,000 residents, but it’s just a short drive to Eugene, one of Oregon’s largest cities. That means young families who reside here get the best of both worlds: a quiet city close to the entertainment and job opportunities of a larger metropolitan area. Garden Lake Park in Creswell is a great spot for a family fishing trip and the University of Oregon in Eugene is home to some of the best college football games and track and field events in the country.

7. Baker City

With a median home value of about $119,500, Baker City is among the more affordable cities for young families. While the poverty rate among families with young children is higher than average for the cities in this study, Baker City’s economy is on the rise. From 1999 to 2013, median family income increased nearly 45%. Families living in Baker City can hike along the wagon ruts from early settlers at the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, a few miles outside the city.

8. Silverton

Nearly a quarter of families living in Silverton have children younger than 18, and there is plenty to keep young families busy. The city is home to the Oregon Garden, which boasts 80 acres of botanical gardens and hosts outdoor movies and events. Silverton is also a short drive from the hiking trails and waterfalls at Silver Falls State Park. Young families in Silverton will feel secure when their children are playing in the neighborhood, since the city was rated as one of the safest places in Oregon in 2014.

9. Lake Oswego

Lake Oswego has a lot going for it, including beautiful views, great schools and a strong economy. The city’s schools were the only ones on this list to average a perfect 10 rating at GreatSchools. And Lake Oswego’s median family income of $114,200 is second only to Cedar Mill. Being on the lake means there is plenty for families to do, but it also means property is more expensive: the median home value is $480,200, the highest on this list.

10. West Linn

Ballet camps, canoe lessons, invention sessions and ukulele classes are just a few of the activities for families in West Linn. When it’s time to head outside, there’s 600 acres of parkland to explore. Home prices are on the higher end in West Linn, but earning power is on the upper end as well. The median family income was slightly over $101,000 in 2013, almost 22% higher than in 1999.


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Best places for young families in Oregon

Rank City GreatSchools score Population Median home value Monthly homeowner costs Family income growth 1999-2013 Family income in 2013 Percentage of married residents with children Score
1 Sherwood 9 18,441 $300,300 $2,025 36.81% $92,043 40.1% 65.55
2 Deschutes River Woods 8 5,235 $204,400 $1,386 10.54% $49,792 32.6% 62.23
3 Newberg 8 22,291 $211,900 $1,658 36.72% $69,840 25.1% 60.03
4 Cedar Mill 9 15,380 $457,100 $2,491 56.78% $124,684 32.2% 59.62
5 Bend 8 78,128 $255,800 $1,668 34.53% $66,442 21.1% 56.62
6 Creswell 6 5,024 $184,000 $1,407 36.12% $55,412 27.4% 56.54
7 Baker City 6 9,774 $119,500 $1,028 44.85% $50,393 16.3% 56.24
8 Silverton 7 9,263 $215,900 $1,459 27.26% $58,790 22.4% 55.93
9 Lake Oswego 10 37,037 $480,200 $2,464 20.77% $114,231 23.5% 55.66
10 West Linn 9 25,462 $384,100 $2,235 21.57% $101,210 27.5% 55.34
11 Aloha 7 51,462 $227,500 $1,582 15.68% $65,435 28.7% 55.26
12 Oak Grove 8 17,142 $256,800 $1,735 40.15% $68,872 15.9% 55.19
13 Hermiston 5 16,866 $133,000 $1,216 30.81% $56,093 23.7% 54.41
14 Corvallis 8 54,691 $262,300 $1,626 36.12% $72,428 13.9% 53.42
15 Green 5 7,795 $128,800 $1,080 14.82% $46,389 20.9% 52.76
16 Canby 6 16,561 $247,100 $1,691 32.27% $65,724 28.7% 52.67
17 Oregon City 7 33,115 $254,300 $1,742 33.56% $68,911 23.7% 52.67
18 Happy Valley 8 14,931 $405,800 $2,447 5.27% $100,980 44.1% 52.17
19 Hood River 7 7,214 $314,200 $1,688 71.46% $60,984 17.9% 51.50
20 Central Point 6 17,271 $192,000 $1,580 19.99% $53,814 23.2% 51.40
21 Tigard 7 49,024 $298,100 $1,907 31.00% $80,767 23.5% 51.16
22 St. Helens 6 12,985 $175,200 $1,482 23.15% $56,094 23.6% 51.15
23 McMinnville 7 32,536 $200,400 $1,470 13.21% $49,829 20.9% 51.09
24 Rockcreek 7 9,141 $304,600 $1,865 23.23% $87,958 24.1% 50.92
25 Sutherlin 6 7,766 $154,200 $1,257 32.08% $45,453 20.1% 50.57
26 Salem 6 156,937 $187,200 $1,493 23.49% $57,312 20.5% 50.19
27 White City 3 8,297 $111,200 $1,188 71.98% $52,873 23.3% 50.02
28 Four Corners 6 17,260 $152,200 $1,265 14.94% $45,683 23.3% 49.98
29 Oatfield 7 14,189 $269,400 $1,796 18.52% $78,777 19.9% 49.92
30 Eagle Point 4 8,520 $196,700 $1,397 43.21% $58,142 24.5% 49.76
31 Scappoose 6 6,716 $222,000 $1,606 28.21% $71,303 18.2% 49.66
32 Pendleton 5 16,801 $149,400 $1,250 28.14% $60,750 17.2% 49.52
33 Ashland 9 20,355 $345,600 $1,742 25.13% $62,124 10.8% 49.40
34 Oak Hills 6 11,533 $327,500 $2,072 27.21% $91,399 30.8% 49.22
35 Talent 5 6,123 $163,700 $1,384 45.75% $48,583 20.7% 48.83
36 Albany 6 50,828 $175,100 $1,412 20.96% $55,756 19.6% 48.81
37 Grants Pass 7 34,672 $182,400 $1,369 16.35% $42,216 15.0% 48.69
38 Cedar Hills 7 9,283 $289,100 $1,861 34.69% $75,968 20.1% 48.66
39 Eugene 7 157,318 $238,700 $1,620 27.97% $62,099 14.2% 48.45
40 Gladstone 6 11,602 $226,300 $1,758 23.44% $64,805 20.7% 48.19
41 Dallas 6 14,689 $186,700 $1,400 22.75% $55,431 19.7% 47.80
42 Sandy 5 9,737 $214,400 $1,659 23.01% $64,635 25.6% 47.75
43 Tualatin 7 26,383 $306,200 $1,907 15.63% $78,817 23.5% 47.73
44 Keizer 6 36,681 $201,600 $1,547 16.06% $58,004 19.5% 47.34
45 Hillsboro 5 93,880 $241,000 $1,779 27.15% $72,959 26.6% 47.33
46 Newport 6 10,013 $229,300 $1,504 55.38% $56,997 13.2% 47.23
47 Cottage Grove 6 9,734 $163,200 $1,360 26.81% $47,500 16.3% 47.05
48 Forest Grove 6 21,593 $226,500 $1,630 19.09% $56,845 21.4% 46.83
49 Altamont 4 19,355 $141,600 $1,189 29.95% $49,012 17.9% 46.15
50 La Grande 5 13,114 $137,700 $1,092 15.89% $46,946 15.6% 45.88
51 North Bend 5 9,623 $180,700 $1,326 23.25% $51,465 18.4% 45.66
52 Prineville 5 9,241 $129,200 $1,199 -6.05% $34,375 18.6% 45.55
53 Lebanon 5 15,641 $141,200 $1,240 24.36% $47,031 16.0% 45.15
54 Portland 6 594,687 $284,900 $1,774 35.34% $68,036 15.7% 45.09
55 Springfield 5 59,692 $168,600 $1,368 23.09% $47,265 17.0% 44.94
56 Medford 6 75,902 $211,800 $1,527 10.99% $48,806 17.7% 44.39
57 Cornelius 3 11,991 $185,700 $1,608 9.67% $54,236 37.1% 44.34
58 Beaverton 6 91,383 $280,200 $1,898 20.08% $72,394 19.9% 44.06
59 Redmond 5 26,583 $160,100 $1,372 4.90% $43,515 18.5% 43.79
60 Sweet Home 4 9,000 $126,100 $1,127 27.91% $45,833 17.2% 43.79
61 Stayton 6 7,690 $193,300 $1,488 13.43% $46,946 18.0% 43.62
62 Garden Home-Whitford 6 6,240 $311,600 $1,841 30.50% $79,215 14.6% 43.32
63 Independence 4 8,608 $158,100 $1,331 13.88% $46,082 30.0% 43.26
64 Astoria 6 9,518 $248,800 $1,467 26.37% $52,376 16.3% 43.23
65 Monmouth 5 9,687 $189,900 $1,450 15.90% $56,329 14.0% 43.20
66 Milwaukie 5 20,385 $229,300 $1,589 27.45% $65,827 13.3% 43.15
67 Molalla 5 8,152 $194,300 $1,628 12.95% $52,989 21.6% 43.07
68 Wilsonville 7 19,636 $344,400 $2,096 16.47% $75,904 19.1% 42.65
69 Woodburn 3 24,101 $163,300 $1,466 19.73% $43,977 28.6% 42.40
70 Junction City 5 5,505 $166,600 $1,370 0.52% $44,102 23.9% 42.24
71 Milton-Freewater 4 7,066 $119,900 $977 16.69% $38,816 14.9% 42.11
72 Troutdale 4 16,188 $223,900 $1,686 13.28% $70,461 24.8% 41.98
73 Roseburg 5 21,746 $172,800 $1,250 30.30% $52,346 11.1% 41.82
74 Florence 6 8,463 $195,900 $1,339 26.07% $46,375 4.7% 41.59
75 Jennings Lodge 5 7,698 $223,200 $1,726 17.97% $60,159 13.6% 41.50
76 Coos Bay 4 15,982 $164,500 $1,361 21.53% $47,056 14.9% 41.37
77 Winston 5 5,359 $136,900 $1,121 -0.77% $35,729 20.7% 41.27
78 Klamath Falls 4 21,026 $139,500 $1,199 16.02% $42,951 15.7% 41.18
79 Roseburg North 5 6,143 $104,800 $989 -5.85% $40,497 8.0% 40.87
80 Gresham 5 107,196 $216,100 $1,653 7.32% $54,866 20.9% 40.68
81 Umatilla 2 6,927 $123,100 $1,145 55.45% $51,250 23.0% 40.41
82 Warrenton 4 5,057 $196,500 $1,477 2.50% $44,018 19.6% 40.07
83 West Haven-Sylvan 6 7,688 $371,700 $2,065 16.44% $96,563 14.2% 39.97
84 Ontario 4 11,227 $121,000 $1,074 -0.03% $35,614 15.5% 38.40
85 Madras 3 6,263 $99,300 $1,187 13.02% $37,607 16.1% 38.19
86 Brookings 5 6,334 $256,600 $1,450 21.35% $44,712 9.6% 37.81
87 Hayesville 4 18,747 $171,000 $1,476 0.04% $40,798 20.8% 37.78
88 West Slope 6 6,852 $391,700 $2,127 8.41% $72,609 20.9% 35.20
89 Lincoln City 3 7,968 $227,900 $1,544 47.66% $46,932 14.3% 34.83
90 Raleigh Hills 6 6,452 $471,900 $2,548 15.49% $96,200 18.3% 34.54
91 Sheridan 2 6,074 $151,100 $1,335 0.13% $39,911 25.9% 34.43
92 Seaside 5 6,455 $283,000 $1,747 27.66% $52,287 14.6% 33.99
93 Fairview 2 9,003 $217,400 $1,644 23.68% $53,574 16.1% 31.79

Methodology

All data are from the 2013 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey. We analyzed 93 places in Oregon with populations of 5,000 or more.  Certain places were excluded because of missing data. Our methodology focused on four factors:

Home affordability. This was calculated by averaging index scores for median home value and median selected monthly owner costs. The lower the costs, the higher the score. Home affordability accounted for 25% of the total score.

Growth and prosperity. The two metrics involved were growth in family income from 1999 to 2013, and median family income in 2013. Both were weighted equally and positively. This made up 20% of the total score.

Family friendliness. To measure if an area is a good place for families, which is 25% of our total score, we looked at the percentage of married couples with at least one child under age 18 and the percentage of families in poverty with at least one child under age 5. The percentage of families with at least one child was 70% of the score, while the percentage of families in poverty was 30% of the score.

Educational quality. Using data from GreatSchools, every place was assigned a ranking from 1 to 10 for the quality of schools. Education was 30% of the total score.

NerdWallet staff writer Kelsey Sheehy contributed to this article.

Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon, image via iStock.