Moving To Oregon? (The Truth About Living Here)

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Oregon, affectionately known as ‘The Beaver State’, sits up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, bordering California, Nevada, Washington, Idaho, and the Pacific Ocean. It’s rapidly gaining in popularity for those looking to relocate, and is one of the most desired states to reside in the nation. In fact, there are more people moving in versus moving out than any other state in the country.

Let’s dive in and find out everything you need to know about moving to Oregon before you pack those moving boxes.

Where Are The Best Places To Live In Oregon?

 

When many people think of Oregon, they immediately think of Portland. Although it’s not the capital city (that’s Salem), it is the biggest and most action-packed city in the state.

Unlike many big cities across the country, being close to the center doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on safety or space. There’s an abundance of suburbs that offer the perfect mix between vibrant city life and a relaxed, small-town feel.

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In no particular order, let’s take a look at some of the best places to live around the city of Portland, as well as other cities around the state of Oregon.

Portland

picture of a great view of portland oregon

Bethany

Despite being relatively close to downtown, Bethany is known for its quaint small-town feel. Although it’s becoming an increasingly sought-after area to live, it has a manageable population of 22,340 people, as well as an extremely low crime rate.

Bethany is an affluent area, with a median household income of over $110,500 per year, which sits well above the national average. This reflects on the property prices here, with the average home valued at $412,300. It’s not a cheap place to live by any means, but for those with a suitable budget, it could be a fantastic choice.

Northwest Heights

Northwest Heights has been voted the best place to buy a house in Portland, according to a recent survey from niche.com. This is partly due to its fantastic location close to the heart of downtown, as well as its super charming neighborhood feel.

With a population of only 9,769 people, you can easily forget that you’re only a stone’s throw away from the Central Business District of Portland. This kind of convenience comes at a high price; family homes in this neighborhood go for an average of $600,000.

picture of central business district portland oregon

Healy Heights

Healy Heights is in the West Hills area, southwest of downtown Portland. This area is known for its abundance of nature, especially the Marquam Nature Park which has some fantastic hiking and biking trails. The area has a tranquil village feel to it, and despite being firmly within the city limits, its population is only around 1,500 people.

With the benefits of both nature and city on your doorstep, it’s not surprising that house prices here are even higher, with an average family home costing around $700,000.

Bridlemile

In the northwest corner of Healy Heights is the much more affordable neighborhood of Bridlemile. It’s becoming increasingly popular with young families and millennials, and has a higher concentration of people who rent their homes. The average monthly rental in Bridlemile is less than $900 per month, much less than the neighboring suburbs.

The population is around 7,200 people, so it still manages to maintain a community feel. There’re plenty of dining and leisure options, and its proximity to Healy Heights and downtown Portland only adds to the options of amenities.

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Markham

Another, more affordable option for Portland living is Markham, where the average price of a family home is $329,601. The area has a more urban feel than some of the other areas on our list, however, there’re still plenty of larger, spacious properties on the market. There’re plenty of open, green spaces dotted amongst the urban landscape which makes for a lovely blend of both city and suburban living.

Arnold Creek

With a much more urban feel, Arnold Creek sits adjacent to Portland’s city center and offers less in the way of open spaces. While it doesn’t have the same small-town feel like many of the other areas on our list, it certainly offers plenty of local amenities and easy access to downtown Portland.

Despite its proximity to the Portland Central Business District, it still boasts a close-knit community, with around 9,500 residents. Affordability wise, it’s an affluent area comparable to Bethany. The median income is $115,000 a year, and the average price of a home is $430,000.

Southwest Hills

This affluent pocket of Portland is one of the most desirable areas to live in and around the city. It’s a trendy neighborhood with high-end restaurants, hipster coffee shops, and boutique clothing stores.  The suburb is home to the Oregon Zoo, the Portland Japanese Garden and Washington Park.

picture of the japenese garden in southwest hills portland

The views from Southwest hills are among the best in the city, with many properties offering sweeping panoramic vistas of downtown. Property here is extremely sought after and the market is competitive, with houses being snapped up as soon as they go on sale.  The average home in this exclusive neighborhood costs $630,500.

Beaumont-Wilshire

Bordering Southwest Hills, a little further from the city center of Portland is the slightly more affordable, but still high-end area of Beaumont-Wilshire. Still popular with commuters and those who like to be close to the action, there’re some extremely desirable townhouses and condos, as well as larger, sweeping estates.

The average property price is $462,500, and renting is also on the higher side, with an average cost of around $1,500 per month. The population is 8,300, and its residents earn a high income, with an average salary of around $100 per year.

Arlington Heights

Arlington Heights, another popular suburb of Portland, is a great choice for those starting a family, as it boasts 19 outstanding public schools, including Lincoln High School, one of the best schools in the state.

The crime rate here is incredibly low, with a fantastic neighborhood watch policy, and there’s a really close-knit, family-friendly community.

Elsewhere in Oregon

Eugene

Eugene is a haven for those who love the great outdoors and want to live on nature’s doorstep. There are endless opportunities for hiking, biking, camping, and adventure sports. Despite being in the lap of nature, Eugene still offers residents and visitors a vibrant city center, with a thriving arts scene, excellent dining options, a healthy sprinkling of craft beer bars and independent, quirky cafes.

Eugene is also known for its excellent school system and is a popular place to raise a family, due to its focus on outdoor living and community spirit.

One of the many benefits of living in Eugene is the affordability factor; the overall cost of living comes is at 19.5% cheaper than Portland, and the cost of buying a home here is a staggering 25% cheaper.

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Corvallis

Corvallis is home to Oregon State University, and like many university towns, it maintains a vibrant, dynamic culture that’s popular not just with students, but the families and retirees who call this place home.

picture of Autzen Stadium at oregon state university

Residents of Corvallis, like their Portland and Eugene counterparts, place a large emphasis on a green, eco-friendly lifestyle. Many people choose to ditch the car and walk or bike to work, and during downtime, residents partake in outdoor recreation activities such as hiking through a vast 60 mile network of trails that surround the city.

It’s less than an hour’s drive to the pacific coastline, and just over 80 miles to the nearest ski slope, meaning you can both swim and ski in the same day.

Again, it’s a much more affordable option for those on a smaller budget; the cost of living here is 18.3% cheaper than Portland and it’s 9% cheaper to buy a house.

Salem

The capital city of Oregon has received a bad rap in the past, however with a growing population of young, progressive residents and an influx of job opportunities, it’s a city on the rise.

Salem sits at the center of the Willamette River valley, and offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. Just an hour from the coast, and only an hour from the beautiful Cascade Mountains, there are also plenty of options for day trips and adventures.

Not surprisingly, the cost of living here is much lower, coming in 22.2% cheaper than Portland overall. Homes are also a staggering 32% less on average, making this a highly attractive yet affordable area to live.

Bend

Bend offers a different climate to many other areas in the state, with much less rainfall, lower overall temperatures and many more hours of sunlight throughout the year.

The city sits between two high desert plains next to the Cascade Mountains. The Deschutes River runs alongside the city and offers the chance to try white-water rafting in Oregon’s first-ever urban white-water park, as well as plenty of fishing and camping spots.

picture of cascade lake near bend oregon

The downtown area is vibrant and thriving, with plenty of independent microbreweries showcasing their creations. The area boasts a fantastic restaurant scene and nightlife, with no shortage of entertainment options for the young and old alike.

Perhaps surprisingly, the area’s house prices are actually more expensive than Portland, with a family home costing on average 6.6% more. The overall cost of living, however, is calculated at 5.6% less than Portland.

What can I say, I love Oregon! Portland specifically.

 

I would recommend Oregon for the diversity of outdoor climates: proximity to the ocean, mountains, desert and beautiful greenery everywhere. The outdoors are easily accessible wherever you are, and whatever your interests are. Portland has my favorite climate as it rarely gets below freezing in the winter, and it doesn’t get too hot in the summer.

 

In terms of culture, its a great place to start a business. We have an abundance of support for entrepreneurs, and a large community to help you get started.

 

The food, accessibility via public transportation, breweries, progressive culture, sustainability efforts, wine country there’s so much to love! In comparison to similar markets on the west coast, cost of living is significantly lower than Seattle, Vancouver, or San Francisco, while still getting all of the value in a smaller city.

 

The rain isn’t as bad as they say either. But you didn’t hear that from me.

 

Devin VonderHaar

Owner, the modern minimalist 

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How Is The Job Market In Oregon?

 

Oregon’s job market is thriving. In fact, during 2018 the state added over 45,000 new jobs to its economy, which is an increase of 2.5% as compared to previous years. Unemployment remains comfortably low at 4%, sitting right around the national average.

The average salary in Portland currently sits well above the national average at $66,000, and in such a thriving job market, there’s plenty of potential to earn more. The average annual wage for the whole state is slightly lower but still above the national average, at $53,050.

The state’s current minimum wage is $11.25 per hour, and has been adjusted for inflation yearly since 2003.

Industries Across Oregon for Employment

Tech

Tech is big business in Oregon. From December 2017 to December 2018 the industry grew by 3.1%. The figures get even more dramatic when you look back a little further. From 2010 to 2017, employment in the industry grew by a whopping 47%.

Software and computer systems design jobs have seen some of the fastest growth in the tech field. Based on data from 2018, there are around 27,700 workers in these two industries, and they make an average salary of $116,997 per year.

picture of a tech worker in oregon

To break it down, an average software developer in Oregon makes $101,940 per year. A database administrator earns slightly less, at $92,150, and a computer programmer can expect to pull in somewhere in the region of $92,150.

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Semiconductor and Electronic Components

A large part of Oregon’s tech industry is the famous “Silicon Forest”, which specializes in the production of semiconductors and electronic components. There are around 38,000 people employed in this field, with workers making an impressive average wage of $136,000.

There are more than 100 manufacturers providing jobs in this sector, including HP, Intel, Tektronix, FLIR, and Oracle, plus a long list of others.

Utilities

Another large job sector in Oregon is utilities, which is growing, albeit slowly, at a rate of 0.5% per year over the past 8 years.

As of 2018, there are around 8,920 workers across more than 400 utility organizations across Oregon. Many of these organizations are small, publicly owned companies, while some bigger companies are also providing a large number of jobs, including Portland General Electric, The Bonneville Power Administration and Northwest Natural Gas.

picture of power from portland general electric

The average wage in this field during the period of 2018 was an impressive $125,412. Some of the most common roles include skilled jobs such as electrical power line installers, who make an average of $93,000 per year, and electrical engineers, who make an average of $90,140 per year.

Along with tech and utilities, there are some large employers boosting the job market for 2020 and beyond, the largest being Oregon State University, located in Corvallis, which currently employs over 8,000 people.

Another notable and famous employer here is Nike Inc, located in Beaverton, just 7 miles west of downtown Portland, which currently employs over 6,000 people.

How Is The Oregon Real Estate Market?

 

Over the past few years, Oregon’s real estate market has seen rapid growth. The average house price across the state in January 2015 was $239,000, while just 4 years later in January 2019, it sat at $345,000. This includes the homes that sold fsbo in Oregon.

The city of Portland tells a slightly different story. Overall, it is much more expensive to buy property here, with the current average house price sitting at $464,496.

In previous years the city saw a real estate boom, reaching a peak in 2018. In recent months, things have slowed down considerably, with many houses staying on the market for much longer than in the past. Some experts chalk this up to sellers pricing their homes too high for the current market. Despite the slowdown, Portland’s incredible popularity means the city still boasts a 45 day list-to-closing turnaround time, which is far below the 68-day national average.

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The takeaway here is that if you want to buy a house, Portland’s housing market is competitive, to say the least, even in the slower periods it can be tough to find a house for sale.

picture of Real estate in Lincoln City Oregon.

Data from Zillow suggests that sellers benefit from unloading their homes between April – June, netting them an average of $3,000-$5400 over asking price. For buyers looking for a bargain, those months represent the worst time to make a purchase. Alternatively, those buyers seeking the best deals would be well-advised to purchase in August, July or September, months when the number of available houses on the market surges, with around 15% of that inventory typically being discounted.

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How Much Does It Cost To Live In Oregon?

 

As we’ve seen, house prices can vary greatly depending on where you live, and Portland is obviously a much more expensive location for buying a property in Oregon.

Rental properties also follow this trend. According to Apartment List data from 2019, prices in the state overall are fairly close to the national average, with a one-bedroom apartment costing an average of $982, and a two-bedroom coming in at $1,205. Head over to Portland, and you can expect to pay around $1,130 for a one-bedroom, and $1,334 for a 2 bedroom.

One important thing to note is that Oregon has a 0% sales tax. This is definitely a draw for many folks; however, bear in mind that the flip side of this is that Oregon has one of the highest income tax rates in the nation.

Is Oregon A Good Place To Retire?

 

Oregon ticks all the boxes as a wonderful state to retire in. Many people make the most of their golden years here by staying active in the great outdoors, keeping themselves fit, happy and healthy by taking regular hikes in the stunning natural landscape, trying water sports such as kayaking and rafting, as well as joining outdoor adventure groups aimed at retirees.

picture of a retired couple enjoying the oregon outdoors

Magnify Money, a financial comparison website, conducted a recent survey that found Oregon to be a ‘highly desirable’ state to retire in. It reports that 6 percent of Portland’s over 65’s moved there from elsewhere in 2016.

Despite the positives, many retirees will have to think twice before they make the move; the state has a higher than average cost of living, and despite having no sales tax, residents still pay higher overall taxes compared with many other states in the US.

Property prices are also high, which will inevitably put a lot of folks off whose financial situations are not suitable to sustain the higher cost of living. However, if you have the funds, Oregon is a wonderful place to enjoy retirement.

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What Are The People And Culture Like In Oregon?

 

Oregon is a famously liberal and progressive state. Locals overall have a forward-thinking, open-minded attitude towards social issues like same-sex marriage and LGBT rights.

Environmental issues play heavy on the minds of most Oregonians, and the state makes huge efforts to live in an eco-friendly and sustainable way. For example, many people choose to cycle to work rather than taking the car, and recycling systems are in full swing in the vast majority of places. Those who choose to own a car often drive a hybrid or fully electric vehicle, and a focus on using renewable energy is a priority for many homes and businesses.

picture of an electric car charging

These attitudes are seen as the norm across much of the state, however no more so than in the city of Portland. The city also embraces its multicultural demographics, and has a rich and vibrant arts and social scene that reflects the varying backgrounds of its people.

Despite the higher than average rainfall the state sees, people in Oregon are prone to a sunny disposition, and many people have noted how welcoming the locals are to new arrivals.

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What Are The Coolest Things To Do In Oregon?

 

Oregon boasts some of the most spectacular natural scenery in the country, and lovers of the outdoors will find a never-ending list of new places to discover and activities to try. On top of this, there’s a wealth of cultural activities and areas to visit.

Let’s take a look at some of the top things to do across the state.

Crater Lake

This beautiful blue lake is the deepest in the United States and was formed by a violent volcanic eruption around 7,700 years ago.

picture of crater lake in oregon

For the best views, visit the Sinnott Memorial Overlook, or those who enjoy a challenge can traverse the steep trail leading down the crater ridge to the crystal clear waters below, just be prepared for a tough hike back up.

Mississippi Avenue, Portland

Mississippi Avenue is a haven of weird and wonderful sights and sounds. There are rows of colorful quirky houses transformed into art spaces, boutique shops, independent coffee houses, and trendy eateries. It’s a fantastic place to soak in the atmosphere, partake in some people watching and immerse yourself in Portland’s cool, avant-garde culture.

Crux Fermentation Project

Oregon boasts some of the finest craft ales in the United States, but it’s not just Portland with the best independent breweries. Over in the city of Bend, you’ll find the Crux Fermentation Project, a brewery and taproom which has been operating since 2012.

picture of bartender at Crux Fermentation Project

The brewery uses some interesting, non-traditional methods to make their beers, including barrel aging, open fermentation and the use of wild strains of yeast to find new and unusual flavors.

Domaine Drouhin

Moving on from beer to wine, fans of pinot noir will be especially delighted by a tour of this vineyard and winery. Perched on the rolling hilltops of Dayton, you can enjoy a wine sampling session as you relax on their sunny terrace and take in the impressive views.

Take a tour around the vineyards and enjoy the fine selection of meats and cheeses on offer to accompany your drinks.

McKenzie Lava Fields

These lava fields provide a mesmerizing backdrop for a hike in nature. Just up Highway 242, the McKenzie Pass traverses through jagged magma rock at a whopping 5,325 feet above sea level.

To get the best views, make sure to visit the Dee Wright Observatory, which is an otherworldly viewing platform built from piles of volcanic stone.

Terwillinger Hot Springs

Willamette National Forest is home to serene geothermal hot spring pools, which are carved into the hillside and bordered by towering pine trees.

picture of Oregon's Willamette Valley

The pools range from 85-112 degrees Fahrenheit, and bathing in them is a truly wild and magical experience. In true liberal Oregon style, clothing is optional here.

Toketee Falls

These stunning falls are located in Douglas County, and although they’re not the tallest or the most powerful in the state, they certainly top the list of the most picturesque.

You can enjoy a short one-mile hike through mossy woodland and quaint wooden bridges, where you’ll find strange and beautiful cylindrical basalt rock formations formed from years of water erosion.

Jetty Fishery Marina

Heading over to Oregon’s spectacular coastline now, you’ll find Jetty Fishery Marina. Located just off the famous Highway 101, this seaside crab shack has been in the same family since 1979. Seafood lovers can enjoy fresh clams, crabs, oysters, and other shellfish, caught and prepared right there and then.

If you’re lucky you might even spot some of the wildlife, including whales, sea lions, bald eagles, and brown pelicans.

Newport

Newport is a rich coastal town full of activity. Take a walk down the promenade and take in the views of the rolling sand dunes set beside a picturesque lighthouse. Visit the independent art galleries, delectable seafood restaurants, a bizarre wax museum, and the fantastic local aquarium.

Sea Lion Caves

About the height of a 12 story building, these caves are not for the faint-hearted. It’s worth testing your nerve though to see the caverns glimmer with spectacular mineral deposits which give them an unearthly feel.

picture of the Sea Lions in Oregon

As the name suggests, you can spot hoards of sea lions frolicking around the edge of the cave. These animals are protected by the Oregon/Cape Perpetua Marina Reserve, and your entry fee goes towards the conservation of the local marine life here.

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The Pros And Cons Of Living In Oregon

 

So now that we’ve taken a look at what Oregon has to offer, let’s examine at the pros and cons of moving to the state.

Pros of Moving to Oregon

No sales tax

As we’ve mentioned, there is a 0% sales tax on all items purchased in Oregon. This certainly keeps the locals happy and goes a long way in terms of keeping daily living costs down.

Ditch the car and ride your bike

Portland has topped the charts as the most bicycle-friendly city in the United States. And it’s not just Portland; Eugene, plus a handful of other towns and cities, also sits firmly in the top 10.

picture of riding a bike in portland

Improved Carbon Footprint

Oregon proudly has one of the lowest carbon footprints of any state in the US, in fact, there are more certified environmentally friendly buildings here than anywhere else in the nation. From recycling programs to affordable renewable energy, Oregon is light-years ahead in terms of environmental protection.

The Outdoor Life

Oregon is a rich wonderland of forests, mountains, lakes, and rivers. From the stunning depths of Crater Lake to soaring peaks of the majestic Mount Hood, those who love the great outdoors will be hard-pressed to find a better state to call home.

Cons of Moving to Oregon

The Traffic

The city of Portland is unfortunately blighted by its traffic problem. Like many other major cities across the nation, traffic jams are an everyday occurrence and can make your regular commute a long-winded affair. Just another reason to ditch the car and hop on your bicycle instead.

Grey Skies and Rainy Days

Oregon is famous for its rainfall, with much of the year being blanketed by grey skies and drizzly weather. This lack of sunshine can certainly get some people down. Luckily, most places in the state get at least a couple of months of pleasant sunshine during the summertime.

picture of a woman enjoying the rain

Earthquakes

Oregon, along with much of the West Coast of the US, is overdue a large earthquake. Experts predict the chances of a quake measuring more than 8.0 are around 1 in 10. Potential new residents will have to weigh up that risk when they consider making the move.

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Strange Laws On The Books In Oregon

 

Every state has its fair share of odd or antiquated laws that can both puzzle and delight residents and visitors. Let’s take a look at what Oregon has to offer, starting with a surprising one which is in full force today.

You’re not technically allowed to pump your own fuel in Oregon…crazy right?

Brought in 2018, the law states that all gas stations must now be full-service. This means prices are a little higher overall, but the bonus is that attendants will often wipe down your windows and check your fluid levels as part of the service. While many people find this law puzzling, most residents are more than happy to oblige.

Let’s take a look at some other laws which are a little more bizarre and antiquated

  • Canned corn is not to be used as bait for fishing – It’s unclear how this law came about, however we like to imagine the fish population lobbied for only the fresh, organic variety.
  • Ice cream may not be eaten on Sundays – This is obviously a law made to be broken.
  • Dishes must drip dry – A great excuse to delay putting away the contents of the dishwasher.
  • Juggling is prohibited without a license – Clowns are subject to regular spot checks.
  • In Portland, it’s illegal to whistle underwater – We’d like to see them try though.

 

Let’s Close With Some Fun Facts About Oregon

 

To wrap up our overview of moving to Oregon, let’s look at some fun facts from the Beaver state.

  • Portland has more breweries than any other city in the world.
  • Portland has more strip clubs per capita than any other US city.
  • The state flag of Oregon is the only US flag to have a different design on each side.
  • Residents of Oregon own a quarter of the entire nation’s llama population.
  • Oregon is home to the largest cheese factory in the world, the Tillamook Cheese Factory.
  • The Roe River near Great Falls, Oregon, is the shortest river in the world.

 

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