Many families find suburban bliss in Clackamas County’s West Linn. The boot-shaped city with a population of 27,000 is hugged by the Willamette River to the east and south, and the Tualatin River to the west. So natural beauty abounds close to thriving restaurants and retail shops. And a huge plus for families is the top-rated public school system. Niche gives West Linn’s public schools an A+ rating and ranks it the second best public school system in the state of Oregon. (Part of that rating is undoubtedly due to the fact that the median household income in West Linn is just over $124,000. For comparison, Portland’s median household income is $78,000.) A high percentage of home ownership, large home lots, and lower crime rates compared to Portland also add to the city’s appeal. Drawbacks include high housing prices, a lack of diversity, and low walk, bike and transit scores.
What Neighbors Say
Lauren and Andy Labunsky are the parents of 3-year-old Ben and 9-month-old James, and have lived in West Linn for five years. They love the area for its close-knit feel and proximity to parks, fun on the river and delicious dining options. “It’s a beautiful place to live,” says Lauren. “There is so much to do here and it’s incredibly family-friendly. It feels very safe and welcoming.”
Lauren also notes the City of West Linn does an amazing job at hosting community events. “We love the Old Time Faire (pictured bottom right) that usually takes place in July,” she says. “There’s a parade, a carnival, a car show, a boat show, a pie-eating contest, a beer garden with live music at night, and fireworks! Other favorites throughout the year include the Christmas parade, concerts and movies in the park on summer evenings, and the farmers market that takes place Wednesday evenings in the summer.”
The downside to the area is that all that fun comes with a cost. “Home prices are on the more expensive side, which may deter some young families,” says Lauren. “Most of our neighbors are older than us and are empty-nesters, and it would be nice to have more young kids living close by.”
West Linn is home to several beautiful parks and nature areas, some along the Willamette or Tualatin Rivers. The heavily forested Mary S. Young Park might make you forget you are in the city. And its Willamette River access makes it a scenic spot for rockhounding. Rock lovers can find jasper, quartz, agate and petrified wood on the river’s banks. For sports-loving families, Tanner Creek Park (pictured above) offers a host of amenities including play structures, a skate park, a splash pad that operates in the summer (although West Linn calls them “spray pads”), and basketball, tennis and pickleball courts.
Families in West Linn have an abundance of dining options, especially along Historic Willamette Main Street, aka Willamette Falls Drive, which is dotted with restaurants and shops. “One of our favorite things to do is take a walk up to the main street and go out to dinner!” says neighbor Lauren Labunsky. “Our top spots are Willamette Garage cart pod, Lark Café, Allium Bistro, and J. Willy’s Public House and Eatery. A new favorite is Sushi Kuni.”
$850,000: Median home price
$1,716: Average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment
Source: Realtor and Zumper