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Best Places for Homeownership in Oregon

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By Chip Olsen

Oregon added nearly 100,000 new residents between 2010 and 2013 and most of its metro areas are seeing job growth, according to the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis. The state agency expects the see 40,000 new jobs created by 2015.

With those findings in mind, NerdWallet crunched the numbers for all 150 Oregon cities with more than 2,000 residents to find the best cities for homeownership in the state. Here’s what the best cities had in common:

  • All of the top 10 places had fewer than 5,000 residents.
  • 10 of the top 20 places are within commuting distance to Portland.
  • 9 of the top 20 places had population growth rates of more than 10%.

Along with the these characteristics, Oregon’s best places for homeownership offer incredible natural beauty — from pinot noir vineyards, to powerful rivers and rugged mountains — showcased in 10 unique regions in the nation’s 33rd state. The state is also good for shopping: Oregon doesn’t have a general sales tax.

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Our analysis to find the best places for homeownership in Oregon answers three main questions:

1. Are homes available? We looked at the area’s homeownership rate to determine the availability of homes. A low homeownership rate is likely a signal of competitive inventory, more options for renters rather than buyers and expensive housing. Areas with a high homeownership rate led to a higher overall score.

2. Can you afford to live there? We looked at median household income, monthly homeowner costs and median home value to assess affordability and determine whether residents could live comfortably in the area. We used monthly homeowner costs to measure cost of living. Areas with high median incomes and low cost of living scored higher.

3. Is the area growing? We measured population growth to ensure the area is attracting new residents and showing signs of solid growth. This is likely a signal of a robust local economy, which is another attractive characteristic for homebuyers.

For more details on our methodology, please see the end of the report.

For a full ranking of all 150 cities analyzed for this study and to download the raw data, click here.

1. Gervais

Homeownership costs take up 36.7% of median monthly household income in this quickly growing Marion County city about 33 miles southwest of Portland. The city has recreation opportunities to spare: anglers can cast their lines at nearby St. Louis Ponds while nature lovers will want to visit the historic Willamette Mission State Park, which is just minutes away.

2. Chenoweth

Unincorporated Chenoweth’s population spiked 46.3% from 2010 to 2012, according to U.S. Census figures studied by NerdWallet. The homeownership rate in this Wasco County area is 74.5%, and homeownership costs take just 25.2% of median monthly household income. Chenoweth is about five miles from the city of The Dalles, which is home to the Port of The Dalles, a large industrial land district.

3. Canyonville

The small city of Canyonville added just over 800 residents between 2010 and 2012, pushing the population above 2,000 people, according to U.S. Census figures analyzed by NerdWallet. That rapid growth amounted to a 64.6% increase in population. Throughout the year, this city offers multiple events, including a farmers market from May through September, and free movies in the park in the summer.

4. Columbia City

This Columbia County city in northwest Oregon, just off the Columbia River, tallied an 83.5% homeownership rate. Oregon’s most-populous city, Portland, is about 30 miles south of Columbia City, which in 2012 had a population of 2,147, according to U.S. Census figures analyzed by NerdWallet. The Columbia City Parks Committee is building the Veterans Memorial Park and other parks are nearby, too, including Sand Island Marine Park, where you can swim, camp or hike on nature trails.

5. Irrigon

Recreation on the Columbia River is popular in Irrigon, a growing town on the river in Oregon’s northeast. Irrigon’s homeownership rate is 76.5% and homeowner costs consume just 24.2% of median monthly household income, the smallest percentage on our list. Irrigon’s annual Watermelon Festival in July features music and a softball tournament.

6. Odell

Unincorporated Odell is located in northwest Oregon, where you will find many opportunities to play outside, shop or dine. Odell is six miles from the Columbia River, and is home to the state’s largest fruit packing and storage centers. Odell boasts a high homeownership rate at 89.4%, and homeownership costs amounted to 29.3% of median monthly household income.

7. Mulino

Mulino is officially a hamlet, a Clackamas County voter-approved designation that provided formal boundaries and elected leaders to the unincorporated area. The homeownership rate in Mulino is the second-highest on our list at 92.5%, and the area’s monthly homeowner costs take 30.5% of the median monthly household income of $6,685, according to U.S. Census figures analyzed by NerdWallet. Mulino’s Community Plan includes land development, new roads and a retail site over the next two decades.

8. Mount Hood Village

This unincorporated area in Clackamas County, about 43 miles southwest of Portland, recorded an 88.9% homeownership rate, while 30.7% of median monthly household income goes to cover homeownership costs. Mount Hood Village is about 20 miles from the powdery slopes at the Timberline Lodge and Ski Area. Plus, the 27-hole The Courses golf resort is mere minutes away in the beautiful Mt. Hood National Forest.

9. Dundee

Dundee is a destination for wine fans from around the world. The city, about 30 miles southwest of Portland, features several vineyards and boasts an 83% homeownership rate. The median home value in this pictorial Yamhill County city is $243,900, and homeownership costs reach 29.7% of median monthly household income. The city also offers unique events throughout the year, such as the upcoming Pizza Making + Wine Tasting education classes and the Fueled by Wine half marathon.

10. Lafayette

Located 35 miles southwest of Portland, Lafayette’s population grew by 4.6% between 2010 and 2012, reaching just over 3,700 residents. The city’s downtown is getting a facelift with a renovated town hall and plants in the medians and hanging from awnings. Residents with green thumbs can participate in the community garden.

Rank City Nearest Big City Home Ownership Rate Median Selected Monthly Homeowner Costs Median Monthly Household Income Homeowner Costs as a Percentage of Household Income Median Home Values 2010-2012 Population Growth Overall Score for Home Owners
1 Gervais Salem 85.9% $1,379 $3,755 36.7% $154,600 39.6% 76.0
2 Chenoweth The Dalles 74.5% $979 $3,888 25.2% $165,500 46.3% 75.6
3 Canyonville Roseburg 58.2% $1,227 $3,175 38.6% $142,400 64.6% 69.3
4 Columbia City St. Helens 83.5% $1,628 $5,508 29.6% $246,600 20.3% 66.3
5 Irrigon Hermiston 76.5% $1,067 $4,415 24.2% $105,500 17.0% 66.0
6 Odell Portland 89.4% $1,241 $4,236 29.3% $208,000 5.5% 64.6
7 Mulino Portland 92.5% $2,041 $6,685 30.5% $411,500 13.2% 64.4
8 Mount Hood Village Portland 88.9% $1,649 $5,366 30.7% $260,500 1.8% 60.9
9 Dundee Portland 83.0% $1,726 $5,814 29.7% $243,900 2.5% 58.3
10 Lafayette Portland 80.4% $1,560 $4,743 32.9% $173,800 4.6% 58.3
11 Happy Valley Portland 85.7% $2,682 $8,055 33.3% $428,200 11.7% 58.1
12 Beavercreek Portland 91.0% $2,033 $6,781 30.0% $313,400 (8.4%) 56.7
13 Harrisburg Eugene 77.5% $1,393 $4,351 32.0% $181,200 3.9% 56.3
14 Stafford Portland 89.5% $3,189 $8,116 39.3% $750,000 25.3% 56.1
15 Three Rivers Bend 79.7% $1,531 $5,217 29.3% $249,700 2.2% 56.1
16 Sherwood Portland 79.8% $2,083 $6,855 30.4% $313,900 5.7% 55.7
17 Green Roseburg 76.8% $1,112 $3,307 33.6% $143,500 2.5% 55.6
18 Bethany Beaverton 79.5% $2,182 $8,948 24.4% $404,500 5.3% 55.2
19 Oatfield Portland 77.9% $1,857 $5,625 33.0% $280,200 7.2% 55.1
20 Union La Grande 73.5% $992 $3,301 30.0% $125,500 1.1% 54.7

To see a list of all 150 places and download the full data set, click here.

Methodology

The overall score for each city was derived from each of these measures:

1. Homeownership rate made up 33.3% of the total score. A higher rate earned a higher score. The rate comes from the U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 04.

2. Selected monthly owner costs as a percentage of median household income made up 16.7% of the total score. A lower percentage earned a higher score. Monthly homeowner costs as a percentage of median household income made up one-half of the affordability score. Median household income comes from the U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 03. The figure for monthly homeowner costs comes from the U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 04.

3. Median home value made up 16.7% of the total score. A lower value earned a higher score. Median home value made up one-half of the affordability score. Median home value comes from the U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 04.

4. Population change from 2010 to 2012 made up 33.3% of the total score. A higher percent change earned a higher score. The 2010 population comes from the 2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 05. The 2012 population data comes from the 2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 05. NerdWallet calculated the percent change.

Only places with more than 2,000 residents were included in this analysis. Places were excluded from the top 20 list for inconsistent boundaries between 2010 and 2012.

Image: Oregon Department of Transportation/Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/8PTiQU