Certain cities, it’s obvious why they get populated.
You’ve got the metropolis, prom queen types like San Francisco, Denver, New York, etc. What’s fascinating is that next tier, the up-and-coming towns. The ones that were once stopovers, a place to stretch your legs perhaps, and are now a destination unto themselves.
There are tons of these small, quaint towns in America, though. What makes these so valuable, and what makes one more “livable” than the other?
In short, according to Sunset Magazine’s standards, these are where you can get the most “bang for your buck”: homes are affordable, income is reasonable, job market’s open, and there’s fun stuff to do.
Sunset Magazine listed 20 cities in all as “value towns”. They divided it by region, all of which were in the western US. Of those, Vancouver topped off the list for Northwest. The reason, as the article states, is that Vancouver is where “Portlandia goes to grow up”.
Meaning, Vancouver, WA is one of the best cities around for raising kids. The article cited two reasons: top notch schools and family-friendly neighborhoods. We’ll elaborate.
To start, 72.5% of Vancouver’s district teachers have a Master’s Degree, with an average of 11.2 years of teaching experience.
The elementary schools are known for having high parent and community involvement. There’s also 21 elementary schools in the 58-mile district, so families have a decent amount of options. Several of the high schools are nationally recognized, with especially high graduation percentages, low drop-out rates and high test scores.
The neighborhoods were practically designed for families. Most are “pocket neighborhoods”, with wide, tree-lined streets and limited through traffic. Most houses are within a five minutes’ walk from a neighborhood park, some even less.
The adults have some places to play, as well. Vancouver’s downtown, once thought to be largely unremarkable, has picked up dramatically with the rise in gastropubs, craft beers, art galleries and coffee shops.
Now, for some numbers.
Being so close to Portland, Vancouver naturally draws comparisons with its neighbor across the Columbia River. Vancouver’s always been the more low-key city, but cost of living is gradually increasing, as home prices saw an appreciation of 12.7% over the last year. Granted, prices are still low enough to quality as a “value town”, and there’s also the absence of income tax.
- Average median home price: $268,500. (Portland average: $406,200)
- Average median monthly rent: $1,495 (Portland: $1,603)
- Average median income: $50,379
The numbers don’t lie: Vancouver’s rising quickly. We encourage interested buyers and renters to get in sooner rather than later.
Examples like Portland and Vancouver, where big cities are spilling over and its homes are mostly unaffordable, the smaller, suburban cities of America are quietly tugging at your sleeve for some attention.
Let us know what you’re looking for. We’ll help you find everything you need.