Oregon, not only is it one of the best states to live in the U.S., but it also has a long history of beckoning newcomers to explore the state’s forests and Pacific shoreline. We will be discussing the best places to live in Oregon. Thankfully, today’s home-seekers have an easier trip than the 2,000-mile Oregon Trail trek made famous by those early westward-bound pioneers.
Between 2018 and 2019, Oregon’s net migration rate the number that indicates how many people are moving in versus how many people are leaving was more than four times higher than the national average. What makes the best places to live in Oregon isn’t just the history of beckoning newcomers, or its wonderful weather conditions, but these places are not too expensive to live in.
Some of the Factors We Used to Determine The best places to live in Oregon
While what makes a city ideal for you will not be a perfect match for someone else, there are common factors that everyone seeks when searching for a new place to settle. Here’s a rundown of the key factors that shaped our research:
Affordability – Buying or renting a home is typically the No. 1 expense on anyone’s list. We analyzed each city’s cost of living compared with median household income figures from the Census Bureau.
Safety – There’s at least one essential piece to loving where you live: feeling secure. We analyzed per capita statistics on violent crime and property crime incidents in the biggest cities in Oregon.
Job market – We looked at Bureau of Labor Statistics city-level unemployment data from the fall of 2020 to get a sense of how each of these cities has recovered from the initial shockwaves of the pandemic in early 2020. In addition to having a job, we also considered how much of each day is consumed by getting to and from work (if you can’t work from home, that is) based on average commute times from the Census Bureau.
Educational attainment – Education translates to achievement, so we looked at Census data on the number of residents with bachelor’s degrees in each of these areas.
Culture – Everyone has unique preferences about what to do outside of work hours, so our cultural metrics are a subjective evaluation of opportunities to see, do and experience these cities. We looked at convention and visitors bureau information and chamber of commerce listings to get a sense of some of the top arts and entertainment activities and food and beverage establishments.
5 Best Places To Live In Oregon
Listed below are some of the best places to live in Oregon, following this we will be explaining some of the criteria which helped us compile this list of best places to live in Oregon.
Portland is the biggest city in Oregon, so it naturally grabs a lot of the headlines about the state. However, thinking about living in Portland means considering the entire metro area, which includes standout places like Hillsboro (home to a huge Intel campus) and Beaverton (the corporate headquarters of Just-Do-It giant Nike). No matter which enclave you call home in the area, there are employment opportunities at several big-name companies, including Boeing, Columbia, and The Standard.
Away from work, you’ll find an endless number of reasons to love the area, including 80 miles of trails in Forest Park, dining options that satisfy every palate, and a creative scene filled with art walks and concerts.
Things You Should Know About Oregon
Affordability: 7 out of 10
Safety: 5 out of 10
Job market: 8 out of 10
Education: 8 out of 10
Culture: 9 out of 10
Biggest upside: A metro area flourishing with big-name companies and a second-to-none cultural scene
Biggest downside: Safety
The term “big city” is relative, especially in Oregon. With roughly 60,000 residents, Corvallis still manages to be the 10th-largest city in the state. Home to Oregon State University, the city offers a youthful college-town feel balanced with plenty of options for more sophisticated tastes: More than two-thirds of the state’s wineries and vineyards are spread across the Willamette Valley, where Corvallis is located.
OSU is the largest employer in Corvallis, and HP also has a significant presence. No matter where you work, you probably won’t spend much time getting there if you do have to return in person this year: The average commute time in Corvallis is just 16 minutes.
Things You Should Know About Corvallis
- Affordability: 6 out of 10
- Safety: 9 out of 10
- Job market: 9 out of 10
- Education: 9 out of 10
- Culture: 7 out of 10
- Biggest upside: A highly-educated population and super-low crime rates
Biggest downside: A small town means a smaller number of activities, particularly over the summer break at Oregon State University
A bit further from the Pacific Coast than the other cities on our list, Bend is one of the fastest-growing mid-sized cities in the country, according to business insurance resource AdvisorSmith. The city is home to the Cascades campus of Oregon State University, but students find plenty of reasons to stay after graduation, including a booming craft beer scene and an abundance of outdoor activities.
All that good news for Bend translates to one serious shortcoming: The cost of living in the city was already fairly high, but when the pandemic pushed many to search for more space, the city quickly registered on everyone’s radar. As of early December 2020, the average home sales price in Bend reached a whopping $576,000, according to real estate brokerage Redfin.
Things You Should Know About Bend
- Affordability: 4 out of 10
- Safety: 9 out of 10
- Job market: 7 out of 10
- Education: 7 out of 10
- Culture: 8 out of 10
- Biggest upside: Hiking, skiing, breweries, and basically all the activities that attract people to Oregon
Biggest downside: The secret is out about Bend, so you’re going to have some stiff competition finding an affordable place to live
With the University of Oregon as its foundation, Eugene’s heartbeat has a young, creative pulse with a vibrant arts scene. The majority of job opportunities are found at the university or in government positions. While Nike’s headquarters may be located in Beaverton, the company’s roots are here, which has helped earn the city its “Running Capital of the World” and “Tracktown USA” monikers.
Even if you aren’t competing at a Premontane level, you can still enjoy the city’s 42 miles of jogging trails. When you’re done, you can take a different kind of path on the Eugene Ale Trail, which maps the area’s esteemed craft breweries.
Things You Should Know About Corvallis
Affordability: 6 out of 10
Safety: 6 out of 10
Job market: 6 out of 10
Education: 7 out of 10
Culture: 8 out of 10
Biggest upside: A college town with plenty of cultures to go around
Biggest downside: The job market
Salem tends to fly under the radar of Portland’s big reputation, but this is the city that makes all of Oregon tick: It’s the capital of the state. The government is one of the biggest employers, and there are also plenty of opportunities in manufacturing, agriculture, and distribution.
Like all the cities on our list, Salem offers easy access to the outdoors. If you’re looking for something less grueling than a hike, stroll downtown along the Willamette River or visit a wide range of museums and historical landmarks before enjoying the area’s favorite pastime: craft beer and wine. Salem has high hopes for its future, too, with one forecast projecting an additional 60,000 residents by 2035.
Things You Should Know About Salem
Affordability: 8 out of 10
Safety: 6 out of 10
Job market: 7 out of 10
Education: 5 out of 10
Culture: 7 out of 10
Biggest upside: The most affordable real estate market on our list
Biggest downside: A smaller pool of job opportunities than you will find in other places around Oregon
Oregon is one of the most historic cities in the U.S., giving it a very high attraction for tourism, especially given the historical background of Salem. This gives it the natural ability to beckon newcomers to explore the State. However, should you want o relocate permanently to Oregon, we have discussed some of the best places to live in Oregon in this article.
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