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Is Living In South Portland Right for You? 🏢🌊| South Portland Oregon Guide [South Waterfront + More!]

Last Updated on: 6th February 2024, 02:18 pm

Just south of downtown Portland, Oregon, lies the eclectic and charming community of South Portland. This collection of neighborhoods, incredible restaurants, and beautiful parks is known for its picturesque waterfront setting that blends urban sophistication with natural allure. Living in South Portland presents a mix of historic charm and modern living that make this one of the most desirable, best neighborhoods in all of Portland.

If you’re planning on moving to South Portland Oregon to become a part of this inviting community, here’s what to expect from this all-too-exciting place to call home.

Where is South Portland?

You might know of places like downtown Portland, but where is South Portland?

South Portland is situated just 3 miles south of Portland’s bustling downtown, idyllically along the west banks of the Willamette River. This charming community is a thin stretch of neighborhoods that extends from Sellwood Bridge in the South to the Marquam Bridge in the North, encompassing Lair Hill, Corbett, Johns Landing, Terwilliger, Fulton, and the gorgeous South Waterfront. SW Barbur Boulevard is typically considered South Portland’s western border, and along with other nearby highways like I-5, this is a convenient hub for both local and regional travel.

The iconic Tilikum Crossing Bridge connects South Portland not only to the east side of the city but also to an array of bike paths and public transit options, including the MAX Light Rail and the Portland Streetcar. South Portland OR is also well-connected to other excellent Portland neighborhoods, like nearby Hillsdale, Homestead, Southwest Hills Portland, Portland Heights, and Old Town.


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The neighborhood’s strategic location offers breathtaking views of the river and the city skyline, while still being only minutes away from the heart of downtown Portland, making living in South Portland a hard-to-beat choice.

Map of South Portland

Explore the bounties of South Portland OR with this interactive map!

South Portland History & Overview

South Portland’s origin lies in its diverse immigrant past, particularly in Lair Hill, once home to Italian, Irish, and Jewish communities. The area’s character transformed significantly due to urban renewal in the 1950s. Renamed from Corbett-Terwilliger-Lair Hill to South Portland for inclusivity reasons, this community includes the South Portland Historic District, which is recognized for its historical importance. South Portland is also notable as the site of Portland’s first residence, built in 1842 by a War of 1812 sailor, William Johnson.

Today, this neighborhood blends its historic roots with modern developments, creating a diverse and dynamic community that comprises the South Portland population of 10,852 residents (as of 2020 Census data). Sure enough, the popularity of this community is solidified by the fact that it’s nearly doubled since 2010, rising an impressive 59%!

South Portland Oregon, especially places like South Waterfront, attracts young professionals, families, and retirees, who make an appealing median household income of $97,000/year, considerably higher than Oregon’s median of $76,632. The nearby schools are great, and over 78% of the residents have a bachelor’s degree!

To summarize the demographics of this growing community:

  • South Portland Oregon population: 10,852
  • South Portland Oregon median household income: $97,000
  • Racial & ethnic composition: 76% White (73% white alone, non-Hispanic)  3.7% Black/African American, 3.6% American Indian/Alaska Native, 9.7% Asian, 7.2% Hispanic/Latino.
  • South Portland Oregon median household income: $95,484/year, an impressive 20% higher than the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington median household income.
  • Education attainment: Nearly all South Portland residents 25+ years old have a high school diploma, while 78% have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

What’s It Like Living in South Portland?

Living in South Portland and SW Waterfront Portland uniquely combines the joys of waterfront living with the energy of downtown Portland, just a short distance away. The neighborhood’s demographic is varied and welcoming, hosting young professionals, families, and retirees who prefer the slower pace just outside the major metro.

South Portland Oregon’s walkability is a standout feature. Scenic paths like the Tilikum Crossing Bridge are perfect for a morning or afternoon stroll or bike ride, and there’s beach and kayak access along the Willamette River, seemingly right out front of residents’ front door. It’s easy to get outside in this dog-friendly, active community!

Though it’s not teeming with nightlife like downtown Portland, South Portland offers a relaxed, community-focused vibe, with highly revered dining options and engaging local entertainment. The architectural mix of historic residences and modern apartments adds to its charm, curating an aesthetic that’s hard to beat. The area’s family-friendly parks and inclusive atmosphere make it ideal for a balanced, nature-adjacent urban lifestyle where anyone can feel at home.

South Portland Things to Do – Best South Portland Restaurants on the Water, Attractions & Shopping

Living in South Portland opens up a world of diverse experiences, from sensational South Waterfront Restaurants to outdoor activities and more leisurely pursuits, like enjoying the local South Portland shopping scene. The neighborhood is a gastronome’s delight, and Lebanese cuisine shines at Al Hawr with its family-style servings, while Bamboo Grove Hawaiian Grille offers a Hawaiian taste near Willamette Park. These South Portland restaurants on the water not only provide a delightful dining experience but also add to the charm of the area.

For Mexican cuisine enthusiasts, Cha! Cha! Cha! in South Waterfront is a must-visit. Café Du Berry serves up French café classics, delighting patrons for over three decades. Elephants on Corbett is the go-to spot if you’re after a cozy coffee or a hearty sandwich, while JoLa Cafe is a hidden gem for coffee enthusiasts tucked away in a residential area.


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The South Portland bars and breweries are equally impressive. Wine aficionados can indulge at Frank Wine Bar, and beer lovers will enjoy the historic charm of McMenamins Fulton Pub & Brewery.

When it comes to things to do in South Portland, the neighborhood offers a myriad of activities in addition to the beautiful South Waterfront Restaurants and lively South Portland bars.

Willamette Park provides a vast waterfront space ideal for sports enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. The park is a hub for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and enjoying the serene riverfront. For those who prefer a more urban setting, the neighborhood’s shopping and entertainment options cater to a variety of interests, ensuring there’s always something to do or explore at places like Wonderful PDX Jewelry & Gifts, or Pioneers Space, the upscale urban shopping mall!

These things to do in South Portland don’t disappoint. The dynamic blend of dining, beverages, outdoor activities, and urban amenities makes moving to South Portland Oregon a uniquely appealing choice!

Intrigued yet? Here’s where to find these top destinations:


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Schools in South Portland Oregon

South Portland Oregon is served by several public schools, including Capitol Hill Elementary and Wilson High School, catering to the educational needs of various age groups. The district takes pride in offering quality education, which can be further explored through the South Portland School District’s website.

Private schools like St. Mary’s Academy also provide alternative educational environments. The community values learning and access to knowledge, with the Multnomah County Library serving as a resource hub. This emphasis on educational excellence reinforces the appeal of living in South Portland OR, where educational opportunities are abundant, and community support for learning is strong.

Is South Portland OR Safe?

There are sometimes safety concerns when speaking of Portland; is South Portland Oregon safe?

Yes, South Portland is a safe community where the overall crime rate is near the average for communities of its size. To give you an idea, the overall crime rate in Portland is 43.52 per 1,000 residents during a standard year, and residents typically consider the southern part of the city to be the safest.

While the chance of experiencing violent crime is lower than the national average, property crimes are more prevalent, with risks comparable to other cities.

South Portland is a community where safety and vigilance go hand in hand, and efforts continue to reduce these numbers daily. The Portland Multnomah Police Department proudly protects the South Portland community, located at 501 SE Hawthorne Blvd #350, Portland, OR 97214.

South Portland, Portland Real Estate

The South Portland neighborhoods offer a real estate market with something for everyone, from the contemporary Condos for sale in South Waterfront Portland Oregon, known for their upscale amenities and riverfront views, to diverse housing options across the community. While the median home price of homes for sale in South Portland sits at a competitive $465K, slightly below Portland’s average of $501K, the Portland South Waterfront area reflects this range with a variety of houses, condos, and apartments that appeal to different tastes and budgets.

Rental options in South Portland also show flexibility within the average rent in Portland of $1,728 with prices starting at a more affordable $1200, stretching to about $2000 for those seeking luxury. The active South Portland NA enhances neighborhood livability, making South Waterfront Portland and all of Portland South a desirable location for prospective homeowners and renters.

Delving into the eclectic and vibrant world of South Waterfront Portland Oregon, and uncover a neighborhood that’s as diverse as it is captivating, perfect for people from all walks of life. With its blend of urban appeal and natural splendor, living in South Portland accommodates every preference, whether you’re starting a family, forging a career, or finding a peaceful place for retirement. If you’re considering a move to this picturesque corner of Portland, reach out to our expert South Portland movers at 503-746-8795 for a free quote and a worry-free, seamless transition!


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