Beaverton, Oregon is a 20-square mile suburb to the west of Portland and is home to nearly 100K residents. It is the sixth most populous city in the state of Oregon.
The area was originally inhabited by the Atfalati tribe of the Kalapuya people, who had named the area “place of the beaver”, as it was “mostly swamps & marshes connected by beaver dams to create what looked like a huge lake.” Early settlers who arrived around 1850 called the area “Beaverdam”, and the city was officially incorporated as Beaverton in 1893.
The city of Beaverton always had close ties to Portland. In the early 1850s, a wooden plank road was built through Beaverton to connect Portland to the farmlands of the Tualatin Valley. This provided Portland with ample products to ship up the Columbia River, into the Pacific Ocean, and towards the profitable California markets.
Today, the two progressive cities of Beaverton and Portland remain closely linked through roads and light-rail lines. Beaverton provides a suburban location for the workers of Portland to live, while Portland provides jobs and shopping opportunities. Unfortunately, Portland also has become a source of problems such as political unrest, homelessness, and violence.
The following will analyze the pros and cons of choosing Beaverton, Oregon as a place to live.
The Benefits of Living in Beaverton, Oregon – Pros
1. Close Proximity to Portland Jobs
The City of Beaverton borders the westside of the City of Portland. It is just a 5-mile drive from the edge of Beaverton to downtown Portland. This puts Beaverton residents very close to big-name employers such as Intel, NIKE, US Bank, Wells Fargo, Adidas, and many more.
The average commute for a Beaverton resident is 25 minutes each way which matches the national average of 26 minutes.
The average income of a Beaverton resident is $30K per year, very near the national average of $28K. The median household income is $57K per year versus the US average of $53K.
2. A Few Hours Away From Some Great Destinations
Scottsdale is in a great location with several major destinations just a car drive away. If you head 2 hours west you end up on the gorgeous Oregon Pacific coast. A little over an hour to the east are the Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood. Seattle is just 3 hours away to the north, as is Mount Ranier.
If you are looking to get away a little further, Beaverton is just 20 miles away from Portland International Airport and is frequently ranked the best airport in America.
However, you may not even have to travel far to find a wonderful place to spend time because many of the residents of Portland only need to travel a half-mile to reach one of the city’s 300 parks.
3. Great Food
The Portland area is regularly rated as the best food city in America, ranking high on diversity, quality, and affordability. You won’t find too many national chain restaurants here as 80% of Portland-area restaurants are locally owned. There are a ton of food options in the area, with Portland ranking 6th in America for most restaurants per capita. These food locales are often trendy, innovative, and sometimes a bit odd. There are a lot of farm-to-table and vegan shops to choose from.
Beaverton, specifically, also receives high marks for its local food options. The city’s top restaurants include Puerto Rican, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Indian, and Korean; lots and lots of Korean. The rise of local tech company Tektronix in the 1970s attracted a large population of Korean immigrants to Beaverton. The company still has its headquarters in Beaverton and the Korean-Town (K-Town) section of the city still thrives.
4. Coffee, Cannabis, and Beer
No matter your vice, Portland is probably one of the best places in America to buy your goods.
Portland is one of the country’s largest coffee markets, with more than 80 coffee roasters (manufacturers) calling the city home. And the city is ranked #5 in America for most coffee shops per capita.
The Portland area has been cannabis-friendly since the 1970s and was one of the first states to legalize cannabis for both medical and recreational uses. The area consumes 40% more cannabis than the average American city and they have the most dispensaries per capita in the country.
The local craft beer scene is also world-class. The Portland area has been ranked the Best Beer City in America with over 70 breweries in the city.
5. Progressive Drug Policies
In addition to being a cannabis-friendly city, the Portland area is much more sympathetic towards those residents suffering from drug addiction. In 2021, the state became the first in the nation to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of hard drugs.
The goal of the state policy is to treat drug addiction as an illness, not a crime. They want to push residents suffering from addiction away from prisons “and toward more appropriate and culturally competent, community-based treatment and recovery programs.”
6. A Diverse Sanctuary City
The huge diversity of food options (Pro #3) is a reflection of the diversity of the city’s people. Beaverton has the following demographics:
- White 67%
- Hispanic 18%
- Asian 13%
According to the City’s “Welcome to Beaverton Packet”:
“One in five Beaverton residents was born outside the United States, and more than 100 different languages are spoken by families in the Beaverton School District. Beaverton officially became a Welcoming City in 2015, expressing its commitment to welcoming newcomers from all backgrounds and promoting cross-cultural relationships. In 2017, the City Council also voted unanimously to declare Beaverton a Sanctuary City.”
7. Decent Schools
Overall, the Beaverton School District is ranked in the Top 93% of Oregon school districts. Of the city’s 56 schools, there are several which are considered the best in the state.
Note, not every school in the City is top-ranked. For instance, the schools along the I10 road that cuts through the center of the city do not perform as well as the schools in the north and south sides.
8. Robust Public Transporation
The City of Beaverton has a robust public transportation system that makes it easy to get around town and into Portland. In total, the City of Portland has 84 bus routes, 5 light rail lines, and a commuter rail line. All of these routes criss-cross the city and lead to 17 different transit centers. The Beaverton Transit Center is the busiest hub in Portland
9. Top-Rated Hospitals
Portland is home to the two best hospitals in Oregon (Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and Providence Portland Medical Center). The OHSU Hospital is ranked the 29th best hospital in the country and the second-best in the entire Pacific Northwest region. Overall, the Portland area is ranked the 4th best health care system in America.
10. A Green City
Portland was ranked the 9th greenest city in America in terms of the environment, transportation, energy sources, and policies. The city was one of the first in the country to offer bottle deposits, ban plastic bags, and impose a green tax on its large corporations.
Portland is also the most bike-friendly town in America, with 5% of its residents using a bike to commute to work versus the American average of 0.5%.
Related: Living in Coos Bay, Oregon
The Downsides of Living in Beaverton, Oregon – Cons
11. Boring Nightlife Inside City Limits
Around 9 pm, the City of Beaverton rolls up its sidewalks, businesses close down, and everyone goes to bed. There is little in the way of nightlife except for a small number of unimpressive bars and pool joints.
If you want to party, you’ll need to get on the light rail and head east into Portland, where you will have a ton of dance floors to choose from.
And if you are hungry, be sure to grab a bite before midnight, because very few of the fabulous food options in Beaverton are open 24-hours.
12. Traffic is Bad
Despite having great public transportation (Pro #8) and being the most bike-friendly city in the county (Pro #10), the Portland area is ranked 10th in the nation for having the worst traffic.
The average commute for a Beaverton resident is 25 minutes each way which matches the national average of 26 minutes. That doesn’t sound too bad, but consider the fact that downtown Beaverton is only 10 miles from downtown Portland. Taking nearly half an hour to cover just 10 miles means cars are averaging a snail’s pace of 20 miles per hour.
13. Gloomy Weather
Temperatures in Beaverton stay cool year-round; summer highs max out around 80 degrees and winter lows bottom out around 32 degrees.
Beaverton rests on the edge of the Pacific temperate rainforest region (yup, rainforests exist outside of jungles). It is interesting to note that Beaverton does not receive a large volume of rain; the city’s 40 inches per year is very close to the national average of 38 inches.
The Pacific Northwest region just gets a little bit of rain on a very frequent basis. During the 8 months between October – May, residents will receive some sort of rain on 15-20 days of the month. Beaverton has 155 days of rain each year compared to the national average of 106. The city receives only 144 days of sun each year versus the average of 205 days.
For 8-months of the year, it always seems cloudy. For this reason, the cities of Seattle and Portland have been ranked the Gloomiest Cities in America. Given this, it is little surprise that the Portland area suffers from a high rate of Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD).
14. High Cost of Housing
Overall, the cost of living in Beaverton is 24% higher than the American average. This is driven mostly by the fact housing is 70% more expensive.
The Median Home Value in Beaverton is $376K, nearly double the national average of $217K. Average rent in the city is also a bit more expensive at $1,338 per month versus the national $1,062.
Reminder (per Pro #1), the average incomes and household incomes are about the national average. So average salaries + 70% more expensive housing = living in the Portland area is going to take a chunk of your paycheck.
The fact that rental costs are lower than mortgage costs may be a key reason why only 50% of Beaverton residents own their own homes and the other 50% rent.
15. Political Unrest, Homelessness and Gangs in Portland
Peaceful protests over the George Floyd murder turned violent in many cities across America. But in Portland, the violence occurred almost every night for 100 days. City landmarks were damaged or destroyed, and vandalism forced businesses to close. Today, the downtown area remains fenced off and boarded up. The central business district is empty with a commercial vacancy rate of nearly 20%. In 2017, the Urban Land Institutes ranked Portland as the third most desired real estate market in America. In 2021, Portland has dropped like a rock to 66th out of 80 cities.
Over the last two years, Portland has also seen a dramatic rise in the homeless population. A visit into downtown takes you through areas covered in trash, graffiti, human waste, and makeshift shelters. The city’s social services resources have dried up due to the rioting and Covid-related budget cuts.
Portland has also undertaken dramatic cuts to its police department due to budget cuts and progressive attempts to redirect police funds to community organizations. Morale in the police department has plummeted due to the strain of riots and loss of support within the community. Today, the Portland police are short of at least 100 officers. Criminals have sensed the opportunity and Portland is on track to set a record for shootings and murders, the majority of which are gang-related.
Final Thoughts on Living in Beaverton, OR
Beaverton is an impressive progressive city with a lot to offer its residents, but expensive home prices and the economic damage caused by COVID and violent protests are deterring people and businesses from moving into the Portland area. Time will tell whether the area can restore itself to its former success.
Related: 21 Pros and Cons of Living in Oregon