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Portland's neighborhoods conjure up too many stereotypes to count. You've got hipster areas, preppy places, neighborhoods where college kids thrive, and of course, ghettos.
It seems as if there's a neighborhood for everyone in Portland.
And while the city consistently ranks as one of the best places to live in the country thanks in part to a strong economy and tons of entertainment, it's not all rainbows and sunshine in Portland. Some neighborhoods aren't as great as others.
So the question arises, which Portland neighborhoods are the worst, and which are the best?
Today, we'll use science and data to determine which Portland hoods need a little tender loving care - the sore thumbs of the Portland area if you will. Realistically, you can't expect all the neighborhoods to be amazing, although Alameda ranks way above the rest.
We examined 63 of Portland's neighborhoods to find out the worst places to live. These places don't quite measure up to Portland's reputation.
So what's the worst neighborhood to live in Portland for 2022? According to the most recent census data, Centennial looks to be the worst neighborhood in Portland.
Read on to see how we determined the places around Portland that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don't blame the messenger.
Once you're done, you can look at the bottom of the story for a complete chart of every neighborhood we looked at from worst to best. Looking for places to avoid outside of the city? You can also check out the worst suburbs of Portland.
For more Oregon reading, check out:
The 10 Worst Neighborhoods In Portland For 2022
Located in the eastern part of the city, Centennial forms part of Portland's outer boundary. Head further east and you reach the suburb of Gresham. If you want to escape the urban sprawl entirely, you can turn south. There, you'll find Powell Butte Nature Park.
This kind of escape to nature represents a key feature for Centennial's residents. The hiking trails and scenic views might help them forget their financial troubles. Because Centennial has more than its fair share of those. The area suffers from an unemployment rate of 7.7%. At the same time, the median income hovers at $41,022.
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $165,638 (3rd worst)
Median Income: $41,022 (7th worst)
More on Centennial: Data
Bordered on one side by the Powell Butte Nature Park and cut through by SE Powell Blvd., the "Powell" part of the neighborhood's name seems well earned. Originally, the moniker comes from early settler Jackson Powell, though the neighborhood is actually directly named for the Powellhurst school, which got its name in the 1920s.
The school part makes sense. Powellhurst still has a reputation for solid public schools. Housing and crime present a bit of problem, though. That's not a surprise, though, given the underlying economic realities.
Not that the area represents a financial sinkhole. Far from it. But with a 6.5% unemployment rate and a $40,114 median income, it's difficult for many locals to make ends meet.
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $186,475 (4th worst)
Median Income: $40,114 (5th worst)
More on Powellhurst: Data
Old Town-Chinatown has an inviting cultural footprint. As you've probably guessed, it houses Portland's Chinatown, with a collection of restaurants and shops. This is centered around Lan Su Chinese Garden, complete with a botanical garden and tea room. Meanwhile, the neighborhood borders the Willamette River, providing excellent waterside strolls.
All this promises an excellent excursion for a night out or a day browsing through an interesting part of the city. But don't get fooled into settling down here. Even with the thriving shopping district, jobs remain tough to find. The unemployment rate hovers at 9.0% and the median income only reaches $30,369.
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $135,400 (worst)
Median Income: $30,369 (worst)
More on Old Town-Chinatown: Data
Mill Park lands at number 4 on this list of worst neighborhoods in Portland for 2022 because of a weak economy and a high cost of living. You'll have trouble finding work in the neighborhood, with an unemployment rate of 7.3%. Meanwhile, even if you land a job, it probably won't pay very well. The median income sits at $38,634. Adding to the woes, it's not even easy to find affordable housing for the underpaid residents of the neighborhood.
Located in the eastern part of the city, Mill Park has its bright spots as well. The area is dotted with green spaces, including its namesake park and Midland Park. You've also got plenty of amenities, especially a retail strip along 122nd Ave.
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $205,840 (9th worst)
Median Income: $38,634 (3rd worst)
More on Mill Park: Data
Some of Sunderland's features make it seem quite appealing. It sits along the Columbia River, giving it some waterfront property. It contains the Riverside Golf & Country Club, perhaps suggesting a touch of class and elegance.
But then zoom out a bit and you'll notice that the neighborhood sits right by the airport. That's a spot in most cities where people usually avoid putting down roots. If you buy a house near all that noise and traffic, you probably don't have a lot of other options.
The economy in Sunderland isn't bad, however. The unemployment rate sits at 2.1%. However, it isn't a haven for great-paying jobs either. The median income sits below $40,000.
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $198,900 (6th worst)
Median Income: $39,875 (4th worst)
More on Sunderland: Data
St. Johns, located on a strip of land sandwiched between the Willamette and Columbia rivers, was once its own city. The town was annexed by Portland in 1915. More than 100 years later, it ranks as the number 6 worst neighborhood in Portland for 2022.
Economically, this section does well. It sports a median income of $60,428 and an unemployment rate of 6.0%. However, things can get expensive on this side of town. The median home value stands at $227,860, out of range for many locals.
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $227,860 (13th worst)
Median Income: $60,428 (29th worst)
More on Saintjohns: Data
If you come to Portland on business, it's a good bet you'll spend some time in the Lloyd District. Built along the north bank of the Willamette River, it houses the Oregon Convention Center, perfect for anyone in town for a professional gathering. You'll also find the Moda Center arena, home of the Portland Trailblazers NBA basketball team.
All these amenities come with a price, however. The median home value sits at $260,100. That's a hard mortgage to manage when the local median income only reaches $40,808. At the same time, Lloyd suffers from other signs of economic weakness. For instance, the unemployment rate stands at an elevated 7.0%.
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $260,100 (24th worst)
Median Income: $40,808 (6th worst)
More on Lloyd: Data
Settled into the intersection of I-84 and I-205, with the south bank of the Columbia River forming its northern boundary, Parkrose sits in northeast section of Portland. Look out over the river and you'll seen Government Island. No, not a sight of secret deep-state conspiracies. Rather, a nature recreation area with a notable population of blue herons.
Unfortunately, now we have to talk about Parkrose's other distinction: it's the number 8 worst neighborhood in Portland for 2022. Turns out, waterside real estate facing prime heron-spotting areas costs a sizable chunk of cash. The median home value hovers at $206,845. Compare this to the median income in the area, which runs just $48,714.
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $206,845 (10th worst)
Median Income: $48,714 (14th worst)
More on Parkrose: Data
If you came to Bridgeton for a bridge, you won't be disappointed. I-5 runs through the eastern side of the neighborhood, where it crosses the Columbia River. That stretch of road will take you first to Hayden Island, and then on to Vancouver, Washington. This makes Bridgeton one of the last stops in Oregon before leaving the state.
So should you stop or keep on driving? Well, there are signs that you might find a better spot to put down roots.
Located on the far northern end of Portland, Bridgeton lacks some of the amenities found closer to the center of the city. Also, prices are a bit high, with a median home value of $214,900 compared to median income of $50,927.
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $214,900 (11th worst)
Median Income: $50,927 (16th worst)
More on Bridgeton: Data
Got a few weekend hours to burn? Head to Kenton. You can hit the Heron Lakes Golf Club. Or, if you want something a little more fast-paced, you could check out the Portland International Raceway. Or maybe there's an event planned at the Portland Metropolitan Expo Center.
Whatever you end up doing with your Saturday, you might want to look for somewhere else to call home. Kenton counts as the number 10 worst place to live in Portland for 2022. As we've seen on this list before, affordability represents the culprit here. Homes in the area demand a median price of $261,390, a stretch when the median income sits at $54,400.
Rank Last Year: 10 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $261,390 (25th worst)
Median Income: $54,400 (20th worst)
More on Kenton: Data
Methodology: How we determined the worst Portland neighborhoods in 2022
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 places have the least amount of those things. We threw the following criteria into this analysis in order to get the best, most complete results possible. We used this set of criteria for each neighborhood in Portland:
- High unemployment (Less jobs)
- Low median income (Less pay)
- Low population density (No things to do)
- Low home values (No one's willing to pay to live here)
- High crime (Estimated)
Then, we ranked each neighborhood in Portland, Oregon for each of these criteria from worst to best.
Next, we averaged the individual rankings for each criteria into a "Worst Score".
The neighborhood with the lowest "Worst Score" ranks as the worst neighborhood of Portland.
Read on below to learn more about these terrible places around Portland to live. Or skip to the end to see the list of all 63 neighborhoods ranked from worst to best.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased. Hold on to your pants.
Summary: The Worst Neighborhoods Around Portland
Well there you have it -- the worst of the neighborhoods in Portland with Centennial landing at the bottom of the pack.
As we mentioned earlier, the neighborhoods in Portland aren't all bad. Alameda takes the cake as the best place to live in Portland.
We ranked the neighborhoods from worst to best in the chart below.
For more Oregon reading, check out:
Where Are The Worst Neighborhoods To Live In Portland For 2022?