Looking at a photo of Lake Oswego, Oregon, many might assume the small town is located in some sort of hinterland in an isolated part of the country. Carved out of the western bank of the Willamette River, Lake Oswego sits among a landscape of perfect pine trees and misty mountains in the distance.
From a bird’s-eye view, the town can look like something that ought to be bottled in a snow globe.
It may come as a surprise to some, then, that Lake Oswego lies just 15 minutes south of downtown Portland, and even shares its southernmost border.
The suburb has long served as a weekend location for many Portland residents who purchase second homes a short trip to the south to enjoy the scenic beauty and placid lifestyle.
“It’s like a Hallmark movie,” says Terry Sprague, owner of boutique brokerage LUXE. “When you drive into town, you really feel a sense that you’ve arrived somewhere special, like how you feel when you’re on vacation. In many ways, Lake Oswego is a vacation-where-you-live kind of destination.”
This charm has continued to draw an increasing number of homebuyers, says Sprague. In the wake of the metropolitan exodus and the small-town market boom of 2021, Lake Oswego is fighting to meet the demands of its increasing popularity and an influx of new residents.
“We’re a growing community, but because of Portland’s strict urban growth boundary, there’s very little supply,” explained the leading Portland-area broker and longtime Lake Oswego resident. “The market right now is a bit like musical chairs. You’ve got to move fast if you want to win a piece of the pie.”
Although supply remains constrained, Lake Oswego mayor, Joe Buck, says that the town is working to add a more diverse supply of housing options. “A growing variety of housing types creates a safe community for residents of all ages, backgrounds and lifestyles, and everyone belongs and is at home in Lake Oswego.”
Homes In Lake Oswego
In the 1930s and 1940s, Paul Murphy, who founded the Oswego Lake Country Club, pushed for a wave of new residential development in the area and, as such, a number of historic homes can be found throughout Lake Oswego, some even dating back to the 19th century when the town was known for its iron ore industry.
These older homes cover a variety of architectural styles, ranging from Victorian to craftsman to midcentury modern.
Homes constructed in this century, while similarly diverse, often feature natural accents of wood and stone throughout exterior and interior designs. Buyers in search of more livable space will most likely turn to newer homes whose square footage can far surpasses historical houses.
With land availability constraints, most properties sit on lots less than a quarter of an acre. That being said, larger lots, though rare, can be found on the market.
While the most desirable properties consist mainly of lakefront parcels, riverfront homes are also much sought-after. Common amenities found in luxury waterfront homes throughout the area include sun decks, outdoor kitchens and boathouses.
Lake Oswego Prices
As one of the wealthiest communities in all of Oregon, Lake Oswego is home to some of the most expensive properties in the state.
Averages have reached all-time highs for the suburb, eclipsing $900,000, or a roughly 50% increase from just 5 years earlier.
Sprague attributes the price hike to the town’s limited supply and desirable lifestyle and thus foresees continued growth for the luxury market.
“There’s a large pipeline of people wanting to get into Lake Oswego and even as things have started to move a little more laterally, it’s more competitive than people might expect. There’s a huge population of people sitting on the sidelines and, as soon as consumer confidence improves, we’re going to see our local market explode again.”
Although premier properties on the lake can reach upward of $5 million, more affordable options can be found in neighborhoods located off the water as well as a growing condo market.
The Lake Oswego Vibe
“People who move here choose Lake Oswego because of the community. It’s a place that values the environment, family and creativity,” says Sprague.
The main hub for dining and shopping, Downtown Lake Oswego, is also the locale for many communal spaces such as the public library, the Lakewood Center for the Arts and Millennium Plaza Park, home to many events and a popular weekly summer farmers market.
The city prides itself on its cleanliness, added Sprague, with much effort put into keeping up private spaces and public, such as the over 600 acres around town, which have been dedicated to parks and open spaces.
As a privately owned lake, public access to Oswego Lake remains restricted to those who own properties on or just off the water. However, a few city-owned swim parks do exist for public use by city residents. In the summer months, the narrow body of water is abuzz with swimming, boating and fishing.
Schools in Lake Oswego
The Lake Oswego School District serves approximately 7,000 of the town’s students. consisting of 10 primary and secondary schools. The district regularly ranks among the graduation rates and school performance ratings in the state.
Private schools are also located in the area, both denominational and nondenominational.
Surrounding Lake Oswego
The Portland International Airport sits on the northern end of Portland, some 30 minutes from Lake Oswego by car.
Nature lovers will find themselves amongst many national and state parks, including Mount Hood National Forest, the Tillamook State Forest and Clatsop State Forest, all within a 75-mile drive.
Seattle is a roughly 3-hour car ride away via Interstate 5 North.
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