Lake Oswego, Portland's High Class Lady of a Neighborhood

Lake Oswego is situated close to Oregon’s major metropolitan areas-- 36 miles north of Salem, the state capitol, and only eight miles south of downtown Portland. Yet Lake Oswego doesn't really feel like either one; nestled on an actual lake, bustling with prosperity, the city is very distinct from other Oregon towns and a special place for someone seeking an idyllic community in beautiful, historic surroundings.

Though today Lake Oswego enjoys some of the highest concentration of wealth found in Oregon, the town has very blue collar roots. Founded in 1847, "Oswego" was then a humble town, peopled by fur traders, lumberjacks, miners, iron factory workers and their families. Among the first neighborhoods established here was "First Addition," build to house a round of "additional" workers needed for booming industry.  

Today First Addition and Lake Oswego in general are among Oregon’s most prosperous enclaves. The city's excellent schools, deep support for art and culture, plus natural and man-made beauty make it one of the most desirable places to call “home” in the Northwest, which is why it commands such high property values relative to the rest of the Portland metro and the state as whole. 

2011 census data illustrate how Lake Oswego real estate and homeownership differs from the rest of the state.

  • Median income in Lake Oswego= just over $89K: in all of Oregon, just over $49K.
  • Median value of owned homes in Lake Oswego= just over $535K: in all of Oregon, median home value was $252K.
  • Homeownership rate in Lake Oswego= just over 71%; in all of Oregon, just over $63%.

Though I enjoy visiting Lake Oswego, I can't afford to live there, and really, the polished beauty it offers isn't exactly my style. I fit better in the more middle-class, do-it-yourself city of Portland. But I love taking the short drive over the Sellwood Bridge to get my fix of posh culture or extreme natural beauty, and Lake Oswego offers both:  a hike in Tryon Creek Park, a picnic on the lake, a day shopping in the many boutiques and art galleries. On beautiful summer days my friends and I like to dress up and enjoy happy hour at a bar on the lake; in the winter, we trek over to enjoy the Holiday Boat Lighting. Lake Oswego never fails to charm.

Though my heart resides in Portland, I can see easily how the historic homes, lush gardens, lake views, and easy, friendly, small-town feel of  this community draws Oregon residents-- particularly when they make life changes, like selling a home, having children, or establishing a successful career. It’s in many ways a “step-up” kind of destination, and if you have the means to step up into Lake Oswego, you’ll be landing in a very special place.

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Photo credit: Esperqii/Wikimedia Commons

Anna Marie Erwert writes from both the renter and new buyer perspective, having (finally) achieved both statuses. She focuses on national real estate trends, specializing in the San Francisco Bay Area and Pacific Northwest. Follow Anna on Twitter: @AnnaMarieErwert.



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