The 10 Worst Portland Suburbs

The worst Portland suburbs are Woodburn and Gresham based on Saturday Night Science. Find out where your town ranks.

More and more people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Portland to avoid all the hustle and bustle.

So the question arises: what suburbs of Portland are the worst?

Today, we’ll use Saturday Night Science to determine which Portland ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Portland area if you will. Realistically, you can only expect some of the suburbs to live up to Portland proper, although Sherwood certainly tries.

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.

Table Of Contents: Top Ten | Methodology | Summary | Table

The 10 worst suburbs around Portland for 2024

  1. Woodburn
  2. Gresham
  3. Estacada
  4. Woodland
  5. Fairview
  6. Vancouver
  7. St. Helens
  8. Columbia
  9. Cornelius
  10. Molalla

Now don’t freak out.

What’s the worst suburb of Portland? Woodburn ranks as the worst suburb of Portland for 2024 based on the most recent Census and FBI data.

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.

The 10 Worst Portland Suburbs To Live For 2024

Woodburn, OR

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 26,222
Median Income: $58,916 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.8% (15th highest)
Median Home Value: $403,723 (2nd lowest)
More on Woodburn: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

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

And in the world of worst rankings, Woodburn beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 2nd worst in the Portland area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 2nd 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 Woodburn.

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.

Gresham, OR

Source: Wikipedia User | CC BY 4.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 113,525
Median Income: $69,437 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.8% (10th highest)
Median Home Value: $451,470 (5th lowest)
More on Gresham: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

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

This city is 10.4 miles to Portland. Income levels here are the 3rd lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $69,437 a year, which only goes so far even on a shoestring budget.

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

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 4,619
Median Income: $78,594 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.1% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $531,656 (19th lowest)
More on Estacada: Data

Back up the highway we go for the third worst Portland suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Estacada 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 dropout rate is poor compared to other Portland suburbs.

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

Woodland, WA

Source: Wikipedia User Oldhippy1947 at English Wikipedia | GFDL
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,463
Median Income: $78,870 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.8% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $547,514 (2lowest)
More on Woodland: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

If you live in Woodland, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 11th lowest Portland suburb for median household incomes.

Not only that, but this is the 5th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Portland. Remember, we looked at 37 cities for this study.

Woodland is about 26.8 miles to downtown.

Fairview, OR

Source: Wikipedia User Finetooth | CC BY-SA 3.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,515
Median Income: $78,407 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.3% (26th highest)
Median Home Value: $456,132 (6th lowest)
More on Fairview: Data | Cost Of Living

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

All snarkiness aside, Fairview has the 6th lowest home values in the metro Portland area, where the median price is $456,132. The median income is $134,116.

Fairview has an unemployment rate of 4.28% which ranks 26th worst.

Vancouver, WA

Source: Wikipedia User Drown Soda | CC BY-SA 4.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 190,700
Median Income: $73,626 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.6% (12th highest)
Median Home Value: $487,468 (12th lowest)
More on Vancouver: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

Vancouver has 190,700 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 12.332576256076074%.

St. Helens, OR

Source: Wikipedia User Cacophony | GFDL
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 14,015
Median Income: $77,475 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.8% (18th highest)
Median Home Value: $407,724 (3rd lowest)
More on St. Helens: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

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

It’s the place with the 18th most out of work residents in the Portland metro area (4.75%).

8. Columbia

Columbia Location In Pennsylvania

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,203
Median Income: $50,309 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.2% (27th highest)
Median Home Value: $250,459 (lowest)
More on Columbia:

Columbia is a city about 26.1 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. Columbia has the 32nd most uninsured people, worst incomes, and has the 27th highest unemployment rate (4.21%) in the entire Portland metro area.

Homes only cost $250,459 for a reason. That’s cheap for Portland standards.

Cornelius, OR

Source: Wikipedia User M.O. Stevens | GFDL
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 13,245
Median Income: $83,051 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.4% (23rd highest)
Median Home Value: $471,048 (8th lowest)
More on Cornelius: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

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

About 4.36% of residents are out of work.

Molalla, OR

Source: Wikipedia User Ian Poellet | CC BY-SA 3.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,147
Median Income: $77,442 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.0% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $478,905 (10th lowest)
More on Molalla: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

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

Located 26.8 miles outside the city, Molallas is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 3rd highest unemployment rate (6.99%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Methodology: Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Portland for 2024

To figure out how bad a Portland suburb is to live in, we used Saturday Night Science to identify the kinds of things people like and then decide what suburbs have the least amount of those things.

Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2018-2022, 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 dropouts
  • High poverty
  • High rate of uninsured families

We defined a suburb as any town within 30 miles of Portland.

We also limited the analysis to places with 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 looking at you, Woodburn.

We updated this article for 2024, which reflects our tenth time ranking the worst suburbs around Portland.

Summary: The areas around Portland where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2024

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

The worst suburbs of Portland are .

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
  • Lake Oswego
  • Camas

For more Oregon reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Portland Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Woodburn 26,222 $58,916 $403,723
2 Gresham 113,525 $69,437 $451,470
3 Estacada 4,619 $78,594 $531,656
4 Woodland 6,463 $78,870 $547,514
5 Fairview 10,515 $78,407 $456,132
6 Vancouver 190,700 $73,626 $487,468
7 St. Helens 14,015 $77,475 $407,724
8 Columbia 10,203 $50,309 $250,459
9 Cornelius 13,245 $83,051 $471,048
10 Molalla 10,147 $77,442 $478,905
11 Gladstone 11,996 $88,043 $504,640
12 Forest Grove 26,160 $77,977 $512,087
13 Troutdale 16,150 $86,307 $469,436
14 Hubbard 3,427 $89,016 $484,033
15 Washougal 16,828 $97,295 $584,262
16 Wilsonville 25,992 $83,210 $637,996
17 Scappoose 8,003 $96,339 $474,121
18 Newberg 25,379 $87,873 $519,518
19 Canby 18,127 $91,823 $566,045
20 Milwaukie 21,195 $78,676 $502,721
21 Tualatin 27,804 $105,542 $637,027
22 Hillsboro 106,612 $98,891 $527,280
23 Dundee 3,224 $98,152 $571,189
24 Battle Ground 20,888 $94,360 $574,680
25 Sandy 12,592 $98,341 $500,027
26 Beaverton 97,554 $88,899 $534,974
27 Ridgefield 11,486 $107,308 $645,057
28 Banks 2,047 $82,708 $604,265
29 Oregon 11,240 $95,453 $422,070
30 Tigard 55,161 $101,354 $601,645
31 North Plains 3,365 $109,559 $581,941
32 Happy Valley 24,381 $126,108 $682,410
33 La Center 3,685 $112,758 $627,222
34 West Linn 27,167 $134,116 $759,031
35 Camas 26,387 $133,829 $713,685
36 Lake Oswego 40,457 $127,252 $880,600
37 Sherwood 20,286 $109,770 $628,898
About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends.

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 260,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.

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