Re: OR Mommies...please help!
I grew up in the coastal range, then Corvallis and now live in Portland.
I think Corvallis and Bend would be great cities to live in that have a lot to offer but aren't too big. Bend in particular rates very high in quality of life and other factors... at least my sister sings its praise and shows me articles about how great their economy is. I would avoid Salem and Tillamook.
Vancouver does have parts that are very ghetto and run-down, and it has nice parts too. Like others have said, there are great tax advantages there but man that commute over the river is a beast! As long as you wouldn't be going anywhere during rush hour you'd be fine.
As far as other parts of the Portland metro area, it depends on how far out you want to be. Wilsonville and McMinville are a little out there but still pretty nice. Lake Oswego is probably the most expensive place to live. I've only lived on the West side and I love it.