Recently, we looked at commuter towns near several U.S. cities, ranking them according to a variety of metrics. This time, we’re assessing towns near Portland to determine which are the most desirable for commuters in its metro area.
Portland is one of the cities where commuting time has increased the most in the past decade. With that in mind, it’s a good idea for commuters to weigh all of their options carefully when deciding where to live.
For the ranking, towns were awarded up to 40 points based on average commuting time by car, and up to 30 points for housing costs and school rates, respectively. Based on this scoring system, here are the top 10 best commuter towns near Portland.
West Linn: Best Overall Score
West Linn in Clackamas County takes our number one spot as Portland’s best commuter town. It had both the second-fastest commute and second-best school rating. Commuting from West Linn only takes 18 minutes on average, being situated just 11 miles away from Portland down Highway 43. Quality education is also available here, as the town’s school rating earned it 25.8 out of 30 points – a number surpassed only by Lake Oswego.
House prices are what made the difference between West Linn and Lake Oswego: while West Linn’s median house price of $433,300 is above the $300,000 average of the towns we looked at, it is more affordable than the Lake Oswego housing market.
Prospective residents can also rest assured knowing that local authorities care about the towns’ green spaces. West Linn was named a Tree City by the Arbor Day Foundation in recognition of its efforts to preserve and manage the town’s forests. When you take into account the potential for recreational activities by the Willamette River; venues such as restaurants, wineries and alehouses; and a characteristic small-town charm, West Linn is definitely worth your consideration.
Lake Oswego: Quality at a Cost
Just four miles north of West Linn and seven miles south of Portland is Lake Oswego. The town has the best commuting time—tied with Milwaukie, OR—at only 14 minutes. It also has the best school ratings among the towns included in the study. This brought Lake Oswego full points for both commuting time and school rating.
Steep housing costs, on the other hand, dragged Lake Oswego down considerably. At $559,100, its median house price is the highest on our list, gaining the city zero points in that category. The resulting score of 70 brings the town up to second place, cementing it as a desirable commuter town – if you can afford it.
There’s also no lack of things to do in Lake Oswego; residents can hike in the nearby Tryon Creek State Natural Area or visit the town’s country club and art galleries. A community pool is also in the works. Housing options include everything from condos and bungalows to townhouses and ranches. The town administrators even care for the education of their taxpayers, granting a free book every year to hundreds of library card holders through the Lake Oswego Reads program.
Beaverton: A Well-Balanced Choice
Beaverton is the largest town on our list with more than 95,000 residents. Located just seven miles west of Portland in Washington County, Beaverton earned good scores in all of the metrics we considered. Its commuting time score is tied with West Linn’s, and its average housing cost of $328,400 is on the more affordable side of the top 10 towns. Beaverton also received 12.8 points for its schools, making it a well-balanced option overall.
Workers living in Beaverton have the option of commuting through the MAX Light Rail system, which has a station here. It is the fourth busiest light rail system in the U.S. and runs every 15 minutes, although commuting this way could take around 20 minutes longer than driving to work.
Beaverton is home to a movie theater, wineries and art galleries, and is in the vicinity of several nature parks. Investment is picking up speed here, as well. The town is set to open more affordable housing units in the near future, and mixed-use developments are also underway. Portland Community College also has facilities in Beaverton.
Camas, WA: The Commuter Town Across the Columbia River
Situated in Clark County, Camas is the only town from Washington state to make our list. Commuting from Camas will take approximately 30 minutes, which is one of the longer commute times among the cities we studied. However, its median housing price of $381,500—32% cheaper than that of Lake Oswego—and its great school score of 21.4 makes Camas a commuter town worth considering.
The town prides itself on its vintage appearance, green spaces and views of nearby Lacamas Lake. Serving as a local community hub, the city’s Crown Park is being improved to feature an outdoor amphitheater and a large playground, among other amenities. Camas also hosts a multitude of events and festivals for residents, such as Camas Days in July.
Check out the interactive chart below to see how all of the towns in our top 10 fared in each metric.
Other Cities in the Series
- We analyzed towns located between 5 and 50 miles from Portland. The 25 resulting towns were given points based on their commute time, median house prices and school ratings.
- We awarded points for commuting times and house prices inversely proportional to their value. For school ratings, we awarded points directly proportional to their value.
- Points were distributed evenly between the lowest and highest value for each metric.
- Towns could earn up to 40 points for commuting time, 30 points for housing costs, and 30 points for school ratings.
- We calculated commuting time using Google Maps directions estimates for arriving in Portland by 8 a.m. on a Monday.
- Housing costs are based on U.S. Census estimates between 2012-2017 for owner-occupied homes.
- We based school ratings on GreatSchools.com reviews as of August 2019.
- We omitted the crime rate metric used previously in the series due to lack of data.
- The study excludes towns with a population less than 10,000.