The criteria for deciding where to live changes with our life situations. Lake Oswego scores high on much of the criteria parents must consider when deciding where to move to start and raise a family.
- Schools. You can’t go wrong no matter where you decide to live in Lake Oswego because the entire Lake Oswego School District is strong. Niche, a national organization that researches schools, neighborhoods and businesses, ranked the Lake Oswego School District as the best school district in Oregon in its 2020 annual report. Data is drawn from test scores, graduation rates as well as parent and student reviews and surveys. Lake Oswego High School came in as the top public high school out of 282 with Lakeridge close behind at fourth but in first place when it came to best teachers. Their respective junior highs garnered the same spots out of 357 in the state and the six elementary schools claimed the top six spots in their state’s category as well. The school district earned an A+ in academics, teachers and college preparation; an A in sports; and an A- in administration and health and safety. The lowest score came in at a C+ for diversity based on economic and social diversity and input from parent and student surveys. In an effort to address this issue, the school district created a new position in 2018 for a Director of Equity and Strategic Initiatives and has instituted targeted programming at both the student and community level.
As I’ve said before, the reputation of Lake Oswego schools is one of the most common reasons people decide to move to Lake Oswego. Residents of Lake Oswego realize that whether they have children in the school system or not. That explains the creation and success of the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation whose donations fund the full-time equivalent of 20 teaching positions making it possible for PE and music instruction at all the elementary schools and more elective choices for junior high and high school students.
And if you have little ones and are in the market for a preschool, you’ll be happy to know that there are about 12 preschools operating in the city. The Lake Oswego Mom’s Club holds an annual preschool forum to provide a venue where parents can learn about the different opportunities both in Lake Oswego and nearby communities. (The LO Mom’s Club is another reason Lake Oswego is a great place to raise a family with its social events for both moms and couples as well as support).
- Safety. The National Council for Home Safety and Security deemed Lake Oswego the safest city in Oregon in its 2019 ranking based on data from the FBI Uniform Crime Report. For a more anecdotal look at crime in Lake Oswego, it’s best to look at the Police Blotter than runs in the local newspaper, The Lake Oswego Review, every week, offering a journalist’s tweak to the calls that come into the police station. Entries include:
- A wild goose chase? Officers were unable to locate an injured goose that reportedly was seen hobbling near the Lakeshore Motel on State Street.
- A case of beer was sitting in the roadway near Hidden Springs Road and Santa Anita Drive.
- A man who appeared to be intoxicated was reportedly doing yoga near the dumpster behind a business on B Avenue.
The entries have developed such a reputation that a book of them has even been published called No Call Too Small.
All kidding aside, Lake Oswego’s reputation as a safe place to raise your kids is another reason parents are drawn here. When my kids were growing up, we used a dinner bell hung from our front porch to call them home from playing in the park down the street. It’s one instance where old-fashioned is a good thing.
- Activities for young kids. Whether your child is an infant or in elementary school, between the Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation Department, Lake Oswego Public Library, and several private organizations, your problem will be whittling down the opportunities for engagement for your child. Some of the offerings include:
- Indoor Playground. This drop-in program is offered three mornings a week and features fun and interactive activities such as climbing, active play, sensory toys and featured programs organized around the themes of Music and Dance, Art and Sensory experiences.
- Library Storytime. The library hosts special storytimes for babies, one-year-olds, toddlers, and preschoolers as well as regular meetings of the LEGO club, Kids Maker Club and frequent Family Movie Nights.
- Camps. The Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation Department is there when you need them during winter, spring and summer breaks with a wide array of camp offerings to engage your resident artist, athlete, dancer, actor, engineer, musician, or chef. The same variety can be found year-round in classes offered on a weekly basis that run the gamut from mini-ballerinas to Super Hero Engineering with LEGO® Materials.
- Play Boutique. This indoor play space offers options to stay and play with your child or drop and go, taking advantage of their Peake Academy’s enrichment classes for kids one to ten years old. They even offer Parent Date Night services giving you three hours of worry-free time away from your kids.
- Dance Lessons. Got an aspiring ballerina or hip-hopper in the family? Lake Oswego is home to a couple dance studios and a community theater that offer classes. Check out the Academy of Ballet and Dance Arts in downtown Lake Oswego, the Lake Oswego Academy of Dance in Lake Grove or the Lakewood Center for the Arts on State Street.
- Kumon Math and Reading Centers. Looking to give your kids solid building blocks in math and reading? Many parents praise the Kumon approach to assessing and strengthening these skills and Lake Oswego has two centers on either side of town to check out.
- Parks and Playgrounds. No matter where you live in Lake Oswego you and your family are close to one of Lake Oswego’s parks. The recreation department manages over 45 acres of recreational facilities that include athletic fields, outdoor swim park, 18-hole Golf Course, indoor tennis center, and a water sports center. Not to mention the nature trails and pathways and playgrounds. Each park has its own personality with features that will delight any child from the outdoor splash fountain at lower Millennium Plaza Park to the covered playground at Westlake Park.
- Nic & Fig’s. This special community gathering spot offers classes to nurture the creative spirit in you whether you’re a kid or an adult. January offerings included a sewing class to make unicorn pillows and headbands and a cooking class to make raviolis for eight-year-old’s and up.
- Activities for Teens. Teenagers are made to feel welcome here.
- Many of the resources listed for elementary school-age children also apply to teenagers with classes, camps, and activities offered through the Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation Department, Lakewood Center for the Arts and Nic & Fig’s year-round
- The Lake Oswego Teen Lounge operated by the Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation Department hosts a variety of teen programs and activities including classes, clubs, teen events (think movie and trivia nights), field trips, parties, Youth Action Council (YAC) & more!
- Aspiring journalists can apply to become a member of Pamplin Media’s Student Writers Advisory Group (SWAG) and see their viewpoints published in the local newspaper, The Lake Oswego Review.
- Volunteer and job opportunities abound for teenagers in Lake Oswego as summer camp counselors, swim park lifeguards, members of the Lake Oswego Youth Advisory Council, sports referees, and members of the National Charity League of Lake Oswego and the National League of Young Men.
- With two high school and junior high schools in Lake Oswego, teenagers have more opportunity to participate in extracurricular sports. The crosstown rivalry is one of the state’s best with the showdown referred to as The Battle of the Lake.
Lake Oswego is a great place to raise a family. That could be why many kids who complain of living in “the bubble” tend to come back here when they’re ready to settle down. Just this past holiday season we were greeted at our front door by a group of about 10 kids between the ages of 8-12 singing Christmas carols with their parents standing in the background taking it all in. Those are the kinds of scenes that I hold in my memory bank:
- my kids hovering around the lifeguard at the swim park every summer afternoon
- my kids trick-or-treating down neighborhood streets and returning home with pillowcase-sized stashes of sweets
- our family lining up for the 4th of July pancake breakfast at George Rogers Park
- our fivesome crossing the finishing line of the Lake Run with smiles of pride that we’d done it (granted one may have been carried over!)
We specialize in good family memories here in Lake Oswego for many of the reasons I’ve mentioned. If you’re looking for a place to put down roots for you and your kids, Lake Oswego should definitely be on your list if everything else like jobs and affordability align.
I’d love to help you figure out how you can make Lake Oswego your home for you and your family. Give me a call at 503.939.9801, complete the form below and/or check out my website. I’ve been helping families move in, out and around Lake Oswego for more than 30 years and would be more than happy to put that experience to work for you.