These Are The 10 Worst Portland Suburbs For 2019

We used science and data to determine which Portland suburbs are the real pits.

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2019. This is our fourth time ranking the worst suburbs around Portland.

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Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Portland.

So the question arises, do the suburbs maintain a semblance of the larger-than-life appeal of their more famous neighbor?

Today, we’ll use science and data to determine which Portland ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Portland area if you will. Realistically, you can’t expect all the suburbs to live up to Portland proper, although Sherwood certainly tries.

Of course, not all suburbs of Portland are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado…

We examined the 37 biggest suburbs of Portland to find out the worst places to live. And while you won’t necessarily find them on the worst places to live in Oregon lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of Portland in terms of quality of life.

Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Portland for 2019:

  1. Columbia
  2. Woodburn (Photos)
  3. St. Helens (Photos)
  4. Gresham (Photos)
  5. Estacada
  6. Woodland
  7. Vancouver
  8. Hubbard (Photos)
  9. Molalla (Photos)
  10. Forest Grove (Photos)

Read on to see how we determined the places around Portland that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don’t blame the messenger.

Or, if you’re thinking of moving to elsewhere in Oregon check out the best places in Oregon overall or the worst.

And remember, there are some good places to live around Portland too.

Editor’s Note: If you see a slight difference between the worst in state rankings and this suburb ranking, it’s because of the methodology. We needed a way to include more places, so we eliminated crime and commute times as criteria for this analysis.

For more Oregon reading, check out:

Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Portland for 2019

To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2013-2017, this is the criteria we used:

  • High unemployment rate
  • Low median household incomes
  • Low population density (no things to do)
  • Low home values
  • A lot of high school drop outs
  • High poverty
  • High rate of uninsured families

FYI: We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of Portland.

Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 37 suburbs to evaluate around Portland.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 37 in each category, where 1 was the “worst”.

Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality of life index.

And finally, we crowned the city with the worst quality of life index the “Worst Suburb near Portland.” We’re lookin’ at you, Columbia.

Read on below to learn more about what it’s like to live in the worst of the worst. Or skip to the end to see the list of all the suburbs ranked from worst to best.

1. Columbia

Columbia Location In Pennsylvania

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,430
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Income: $40,982 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.1% (1st highest)
Median Home Value: $101,100 (1st lowest)
More on Columbia:

We’ll get the ball rolling with Columbia, the absolute worst place to live around Portland according to the data.

And in the world of worst rankings, Columbia beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 1st worst in the Portland area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 1st worst when it comes to home values.

But hey, at least it’s cheap to live there. But there’s a reason for that… it’s Columbia.

You won’t feel bad about not having a great income for the area, there aren’t a bunch of places to spend your money anyway.

Woodburn, OR

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 25,067
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Income: $47,042 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.4% (13th highest)
Median Home Value: $167,500 (2nd lowest)
More on Woodburn:  Data | Photos

Welcome to Woodburn. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.

This city is 28.7 miles to Portland. Income levels here are the 3rd lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $47,042 a year, which doesn’t go a long ways even on a shoestring budget.

But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.

St. Helens, OR

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 13,254
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $45,789 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.3% (14th highest)
Median Home Value: $188,400 (3rd lowest)
More on St. Helens:  Data | Photos

Back up the highway we go for the third worst Portland suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see St. Helens on here. While the cost of living is low, your entertainment and work options are limited. And that’s an understatement.

In terms of numbers, it’s in the worst 15% for insurance, and the adult high school drop out rate is poor compared to other Portland suburbs.

But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.

Gresham, OR

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 110,336
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $50,675 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.0% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $242,800 (13th lowest)
More on Gresham:  Data | Photos

If you live in Gresham, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 4th lowest Portland suburb when it comes to residents making money.

Not only that, but this is the 3rd worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Portland. Remember, we looked at 37 cities for this study.

Gresham is about 10.4 miles to downtown.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,155
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Median Income: $54,837 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.4% (28th highest)
Median Home Value: $247,500 (16th lowest)
More on Estacada:  Data

Estacada has the distinction of being a Portland suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.

All snarkiness aside, Estacada has the 16th lowest home values in the metro Portland area, where the median price is $247,500. To put that into perspective, in Sherwood, the median income is $115,718, which is the best in the area.

Estacada has an unemployment rate of 4.4% which ranks 28th worst.

6. Woodland

Woodland, WA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,765
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 3)
Median Income: $63,933 (15th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.8% (24th highest)
Median Home Value: $212,700 (5th lowest)
More on Woodland:

Woodland has 5,765 residents that probably know it’s a pretty crummy place to live when you look at the data. (Or, if you’ve ever been there, you don’t need to look at the data.)

Incomes are towards the bottom and the poverty rate sits at 14.5%.

7. Vancouver

Vancouver, WA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 171,393
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Income: $55,593 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.1% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $238,300 (9th lowest)
More on Vancouver:

Ah, Vancouver. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Portland.

It’s the place with the 6th most out of work residents in the Portland metro area (7.1%).

Hubbard, OR

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,321
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 4)
Median Income: $60,338 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.1% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $191,200 (4th lowest)
More on Hubbard:  Data | Photos

Hubbard is a city about 25.7 miles from Portland, but Portland probably wishes it was further away. It ranks as the 8th worst burb for 2018.

You’d be hard pressed to find a worse place to live. Hubbard has the 1st most uninsured people, 13th worst incomes, and has the 6th highest unemployment rate (7.1%) in the entire Portland metro area.

Homes only cost $191,200 for a reason. That’s cheap for Portland standards.

Molalla, OR

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,987
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 5)
Median Income: $57,542 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.7% (10th highest)
Median Home Value: $223,100 (7th lowest)
More on Molalla:  Data | Photos

If you absolutely have to live near Portland, then Molalla might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Portland suburb.

About 6.7% of residents are out of work.

Forest Grove, OR

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 23,554
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 1)
Median Income: $54,503 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.0% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $249,300 (17th lowest)
More on Forest Grove:  Data | Photos

Rounding out the ten worst Portland suburbs to call home is Forest Grove.

Located 22.3 miles outside the city, Forest Groves is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 8th highest unemployment rate (7.0%), and poverty is far above the area average.

The areas around Portland where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2019

Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding Portland with Columbia casting itself ahead of the pack.

As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Portland aren’t all bad. Sherwood takes the cake as the best place to live around Portland.

  • Sherwood
  • West Linn
  • Lake Oswego

For more Oregon reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Portland Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Columbia 10,430 $40,982 $101,100
2 Woodburn 25,067 $47,042 $167,500
3 St. Helens 13,254 $45,789 $188,400
4 Gresham 110,336 $50,675 $242,800
5 Estacada 3,155 $54,837 $247,500
6 Woodland 5,765 $63,933 $212,700
7 Vancouver 171,393 $55,593 $238,300
8 Hubbard 3,321 $60,338 $191,200
9 Molalla 8,987 $57,542 $223,100
10 Forest Grove 23,554 $54,503 $249,300
11 Cornelius 12,423 $60,766 $215,900
12 Newberg 22,898 $56,910 $251,800
13 Troutdale 16,557 $66,224 $252,500
14 Gladstone 11,936 $57,346 $240,200
15 Fairview 9,261 $58,032 $242,400
16 Beaverton 95,710 $64,619 $328,400
17 Scappoose 6,975 $71,780 $237,000
18 Battle Ground 19,439 $64,888 $244,200
19 Hillsboro 102,396 $75,599 $282,300
20 Canby 17,337 $66,220 $273,700
21 Milwaukie 20,627 $58,911 $269,300
22 Sandy 10,581 $64,057 $243,000
23 Tigard 51,355 $70,120 $345,200
24 Tualatin 27,135 $72,580 $365,700
25 Wilsonville 22,789 $67,694 $374,800
26 Dundee 3,205 $75,663 $258,300
27 Washougal 15,241 $76,998 $270,500
28 Damascus 10,909 $88,750 $379,500
29 Camas 22,086 $101,167 $381,500
30 North Plains 2,100 $81,607 $287,700
31 La Center 3,122 $88,173 $288,800
32 Oregon 10,033 $88,250 $238,800
33 Ridgefield 6,637 $93,958 $330,500
34 Happy Valley 18,477 $115,718 $454,400
35 Lake Oswego 38,212 $93,993 $559,100
36 West Linn 26,307 $100,188 $433,300
37 Sherwood 19,107 $95,309 $353,500

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