Moving to Oregon

Oregon at a Glance

From the Blue Wallowa Mountains to the crashing waves of the Pacific, Oregon is a haven for naturalists, rugged individualists and hard-core foodies. The iconic peak of Mount Hood has long been a beacon for the most populous region in Oregon — the Willamette River Valley — which anchors the state’s agricultural and cultural production. But Oregon’s terrain is as unmatched in its splendor as it is in its diversity. Snowy mountain crests draw throngs of skiers and misty forest trails are a haven for hikers and cyclists, but the arid lands can prove just as rich, with astonishments like the Painted Hills rising out of the dry earth like radiant signs of wonder.   

Oregon offsets its high cost of living with a high quality of life — the state offers some of the greatest access to nature and culture in the entire country. If that doesn’t quite balance the scales for your wallet, the state also imposes no sales tax. While the state is still driven by traditional industries like lumber and agriculture, Oregon has leveraged its creative capital to drive emerging economies like technology, advanced manufacturing and design. The green energy of other states’ futures is today’s reality in some of Oregon’s cities. The latest trend in running shoes or home furnishings means nothing more than shopping local in this state. Farm-to-table fare is easy when there’s fresh rockfish and Dungeness crab on one side of the state, beef on the other, and fresh apples, wine and cheeses in between. As a quirky bonus, you’ll never have to worry about pumping your own gas in the Beaver State. That’s a job you leave to the professionals here.  

If you think a move to Oregon is in your future, check out some of the pros and cons of living in this Pacific Northwestern beauty below.  

What It’s Like Living in Oregon

The population of Oregon is now 4,256,301, a gain of more than 425,000 people over the last decade. It seems that not even the high cost of living can mute the shine of this coastal gem. As one of the 10 most expensive states to call home, housing is the single largest expense. The median home value in Oregon is $362,200 — more than $115,000 than the national average. Rent averages $1,250 per month, also higher than national rates. Income levels are slightly higher in Oregon— the median household income is $70,084, whereas the U.S. average is $69,021.  

The unemployment rate in Oregon has remained stubbornly elevated since June of 2022. Pre-pandemic unemployment rates in Oregon hovered around 3.6%, but the rate has been stuck at or above 4.6% since September of 2022. All sectors of the Oregon economy have seen growth over the last twelve months except the mining/logging industry, now one of the smallest divisions. Meanwhile, the non-farm job market overall has grown by 3% overall in the past year. Construction saw the biggest gains, followed by leisure and hospitality and other services, all of which make the state an appealing destination for those moving for career advancement or new jobs.  

Oregon has one of the most diversified industry bases in the U.S. — outdoor gear/apparel, green technology, advanced manufacturing, aviation, biosciences, tourism and creative/design are just some of the leading sectors. Portland is an important base for companies large and small, from Fortune 500 companies like Nike and Precision Castparts Corp. to housewares retailer Schoolhouse Electric. 

Weather in Oregon

Oregon’s climate varies tremendously from the western coastal area to its interior. On the coast, the marine environment keeps temperatures relatively cool and consistent throughout the year. In January, expect averages in the low 40s F. Averages in the upper 50s F are what you can expect in July. Skies are overcast more often along the coast, and rain is frequent and plentiful — you might see more than 120 inches per year! Summertime is usually the driest season. 

Oregon’s inland areas are not a unified lot. In the lowland regions in the central and eastern portions of the state, you’ll experience more of a range of seasons, but each will still be fairly mild. Summer temps average around 70 F and winters usually hover in the 40s F. October through April is the rainy season in central Oregon, when over 35” of precipitation can fall during these months alone.  

If you live in the Cascades, you’d better like snow! This winter haven is typically blanketed from October through April. An average of 300-500 inches of snow falls here every year, making it one of the snowiest places in the U.S. By contrast, the coast might only see three inches of snow each year.  

The plateau regions of northern and central Oregon are the driest in the state — annual rainfall amounts to less than 20 inches each year, and there is no rainy season. Temperatures also fluctuate the most. Summers are warm and sunny, with temperatures in the low 70s F. Winters are chilly and sunny, with averages right around freezing.  

Best Cities to Live in Oregon

Most of Oregon’s most popular and populous cities are on the western side of the state along the I-5 corridor: Portland, Salem and Eugene are all connected by this one thoroughfare. The Willamette River is the natural connection. The Willamette Valley has historically provided a ready source for trade, water, agriculture and recreation in these near-coastal cities that are bound on the east by the Cascade Mountains and on the west by Oregon’s Coast Range. It’s worth noting that the Pacific Ocean is still a decent distance from any of these metro hubs — it will take you over an hour by car from Portland to reach one of the smaller seaside towns, like Tillamook (where the cheese is made) or gorgeous Cannon Beach (where the final scene in “The Goonies” was shot). But don’t discount towns throughout the rest of this state, many of which are tucked into the 30 million acres of forests, from the pine and juniper regions in the middle and east to the Douglas fir, spruce and hemlock regions in the west.  

Portland

Portland is Oregon’s largest city, with 641,162 people now keeping the city “weird.” The city’s reputation for being quirky and creative really does precede it — you’d be hard-pressed to find another city of this size that lives up to the hype.  

One of the city’s greatest assets is its public transportation. Portland’s TriMet network combines buses, light rail and a streetcar network to connect its numerous unique neighborhoods in an approachable and efficient fashion, making it easy to get to museums, restaurants, the airport and home. The city is also ridiculously bike friendly. Portland has an affordable e-bikeshare program, Biketown.  

These are just some of the reasons the city has gained nearly 60,000 new residents in the last decade. The city is rich with amazing restaurants and food trucks, interesting shops and world-class museums and cultural venues. But all of this does make the city a spendy place to live. The median home value in Portland is $462,800 — that’s nearly $100,000 higher than elsewhere in the state. Meanwhile, rent averages a hefty $1,406 per month. Incomes in Portland are above average, but at $78,476, the math doesn’t quite work out in favor of residents. 

Salem 

Just 45 miles south of Portland, you’ll find the state capital, Salem. With a population of 177,723, it is growing at an even faster rate than its northern neighbor, gaining upwards of 23,000 new residents over the last 10 years.  

Housing in the capital is much more affordable than the state average ($362,200). The median home value in Salem is $289,500 and rent averages $1,125 per month. The primary business sectors in this midsize capital city are the government, health care, advanced manufacturing and technology, transportation/distribution, and food processing. Salem serves much of the region’s agricultural base. Some of the diverse companies based in Salem include Don Pancho Authentic Mexican Foods, Garmin AT and Gilgamesh Brewing.  

What’s more, you’ll find plenty of family-friendly attractions in this historic city. The B-17 Alliance Museum & Restoration Hangar preserves the legacy of WWII fighter pilots. At the Gilbert House Children’s Museum, your kiddos can create wall-size, motion-based digital works featuring themselves and their favorite beats. Or take a ride on the historic downtown Salem Cycling Route, where you’ll see sights like the Oregon State Capitol, Reed Opera House and historic Elsinore Theatre. 

Eugene 

About an hour south of Salem, you’ll find Eugene, home to the University of Oregon. This stunning college town of 175,096 is the perfect combination of creative city life and nature. Since 2010, 20,000 people have moved to this counter-cultural mecca, drawn to the majestic hiking trails and natural swimming holes in the Willamette Valley, as well as the cultural treasures in town, like the Schnitzer Museum of Art. On Saturdays from April through November, you’ll find Eugene residents at the Saturday Market, shopping for locally made masterpieces of art and food. This weekend tradition has been going strong for nearly 50 years.  

The dominant industry in the Eugene area is lumber/ wood products, but the food and beverage and technology sectors are also substantial sources of jobs and wages in the city.  

Although the median household income is only $55,776, housing in Eugene is still far above the U.S. and state averages which may be one reason that 19.6% of Eugene residents live at or below the poverty line. The median home value in Eugene is $337,200 — and the median gross rent is $1,134 per month.  

Bend 

If you travel east through the Willamette National Forest, you’ll find the friendly, adventuresome mountain town of Bend. This low-key hotspot in central Oregon is home to 102,059 people. The city has grown by over 25,000 since 2010.  

Housing costs in Bend are some of the highest in the state. The median home value is $462,400 and rent averages top $1,500 a month.  

Located along the beloved Deschutes River, rafters in the region enjoy the challenge of the white-water rapids, while gravel bikers tackle the rugged trails on the river’s edge. Mountaineers have their pick of activities in any season — hiking and mountain biking in the warmer months and skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling in the winter.  

Bend is home to the premier ski team of the Northwest: Oregon XC. The U.S. ski team also trains here in the spring. Kids will be cheered to know that tubing is a popular pastime in Bend — the Autobahn Tubing Park at Hoodoo is a thrill.  

Off the slopes, Bend has a prosperous economy with diverse industry drivers, from tourism to tech, financial services, housing and manufacturing.  

Unique Attractions and Events in Oregon

Oregon is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, with snowy mountain ranges, dense inland forests, rushing rivers and 362 miles of coastline along the Pacific Ocean. Hiking, biking and skiing are just some of the popular diversions, with fun for every level of enthusiast, from novice to professional.  

A quarter of the land in Oregon is considered high desert. This arid terrain has beauty of its own. The Painted Hills are one of the most spectacular features of the region, where the treeless slopes glow golden as a lion’s nape in the sunshine and a rich, variegated black in the shade. The area is a part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, where you and your family can travel 50 million years into the past to see hundreds of fossilized plants and animals and learn about some of the area’s earliest and most unusual residents, like giraffe-deer, bear dogs and shovel-tusked elephants.  

No recreational area in America has a more dramatic origin story than Crater Lake National Park. This geologic wonder was created some 7,700 years ago when a violent volcanic eruption caused a mountain peak to collapse and fall into the Earth. Now, this alpine basin in the Cascades is the deepest lake in the country. You can take in the view from one of the many overlooks along a 33-mile scenic drive around the rim, or you can hike in for a closer look. With deep snow in winter, astonishing wildflower blooms in the spring and summer, and 250 species of birds the park is a joy to visit in all seasons.  

One of the most unusual winter thrills in this snowy state is dogsledding. The professional mushers at Mount Bachelor can take you on a truly unforgettable snow ride. Then, you can even help water and feed the dogs afterward. If this sounds a little too thrilling for your group, this mountain resort offers a full range of activities all year long — even scenic chair lifts in the summer — so keep them on your list for skiing, biking and zipline tours, too. 

Oregon is a mountain biker’s paradise. There are great parks all over the western half of the state, from the high-speed singletracks in Ashland to technical trails in the Mount Hood and Columbia River Gorge area. The Post Canyon trail network outside of Portland offers 3,400 feet of vertical descent and highly scenic trails for every level of rider. Many ski resorts become hiking and biking paradises come summer, so any place you’ve enjoyed during the winter will likely be equipped for warm-weather fun, too.  

If you’re looking to swim in the wild, head to Dabney State Park — a cozy spot on the Sandy River outside of Portland, where families flock for summer picnics. The 18-hole disc golf course nearby is also one of the best in the region. Farther north, near Astoria, Fort Stevens State Park is a destination for longer getaways, with campsites, yurts and even deluxe cabins for rent. Prepare yourself for some serious RV envy — West Coasters travel in style.  

The seaside is the place to be in Oregon from December through January and late March-June if you’re a whale watcher. During this time, roughly 18,000 gray whales pass through the area on their annual pilgrimage from Baja California to Alaska and back. There are designated whale watching sites up and down the Oregon coast. 

To get the full experience of the state’s spectacular shoreline, you can hike the Oregon Coast Trail. The mostly beachside route begins at the Columbia River Jetty at Fort Stevens and terminates at the California border, just south of Chrissey Field State Recreation Site. The intrepid travelers who complete the full trek pass through wildly popular sites like Cannon Beach, humorously named Humbug Mountain, lighthouses in Newport and breathtaking Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. 

Oregon is also a home for the arts, with world-renowned visual and performing arts organizations in Portland, Eugene and elsewhere, including Chamber Music Northwest, the Oregon Ballet Theatre, the Portland Art Museum and the Rogue Valley Symphony. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) in Ashland produces several shows every year, from favorites of the Bard like “Twelfth Night” to contemporary productions like “Where We Belong.”  

Another of the state’s open-air treasures is in the hills of Portland — the International Rose Test Garden. This botanical oasis in Washington Park boasts over 610 varieties of fragrant blossoms. While you’re there, you can also visit the Oregon Holocaust Memorial, the Japanese Garden and the Oregon Zoo.  

Oregon Eats

Thanks to Oregon’s wealth of natural resources, the Beaver State is awash in delicious fare from land and sea. But the kitchen magicians who turn those products into exquisite plates certainly deserve their due. Vegans will find a full bounty in Oregon’s farm country, from hazelnuts and Rogue River Valley pears to watermelons, cranberries and onions. Beef cattle dominate the arid southeast region, while dairy farms proliferate along the coastal towns, including the state’s most famous spot, Tillamook. 

With the rich soil and the hospitable climate of the Willamette River Valley, Oregon is a natural wine country. But it’s also a relative newcomer — winemaking didn’t really take off in this area until the 1970s. While Oregon may be overshadowed by its southern California neighbor, wineries like Penner-Ash have really made a name for themselves in this part of the country. Tyee Wine Cellars, which has produced wheat, dairy and livestock in its 130-year history, is now tended by the fourth and fifth generations of Buchanans. Those who are tannin-averse can hop on the Bend Ale Trail instead, trying out tasty brews at Boneyard Beer, Bridge 99 Brewery and Monkless Belgian Ales.  

If your pick of poison is the caffeinated kind, you may never sleep again if you move to Oregon. With outfits like Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Coava Coffee, Portland is Oregon’s unofficial coffee capital. However, you’ll find impeccable roasts from the coast to the inner corridors. We are suckers for Sisters Coffee Company’s High Desert Sunrise — what better bean to pack when you’re hiking in the Painted Hills?  

It would be hard to have a complete Oregonian experience without a seaside meal, though. Dungeness crab is certainly the state specialty, but salmon and oysters are fierce competitors. Rustic dives dot the beachside towns, like Novelli’s Crab and Seafood and the South Beach Fish Market. For finer fare, try the elegant and unexpected Restaurant Beck, where foraged and farm-fresh ingredients are accented with unusual elements like orange salt, chive oil and compressed apple.  

Hiring a Moving Company to Help You Move to Oregon

Now that you’ve considered the pros and cons of moving to Oregon, you can start looking for a national, reputable moving company like Mayflower to help you with your move.  

Our dedicated team can assist you with your upcoming move to Oregon, whether you’re moving from a nearby state or cross-country. The Mayflower Move Portal can help keep your move to Oregon organized and hassle-free.  

Planning a cross-country move to Oregon? Mayflower’s long-distance movers can help you move to Oregon from anywhere in the country. Our long-distance moving services include custom, full-service moving packages and a personal moving coordinator to make your journey as simple and easy as possible.  

Moving locally within Oregon? Mayflower’s Oregon movers can provide moving services in Oregon independently under their local brands and business names.  

Even if you’re planning a DIY move, Mayflower can still provide you with helpful moving tips, essential checklists and other important resources.  

No matter how you want to move, Mayflower is here to guide you Every Step of the Way®.  

Let's Get Moving

Other Moving Tips and Guides

  • Moving for school district - Kid and his parent with moving boxes - Mayflower

    Moving for the School District: How to Find the Right School for Your Kid’s  

    Finding the right school for your kid is as important as Finding Home itself. Check out these tips for making a good match.
    Continue Reading
  • Nashville Tennessee skyline sunset view - Moving to Nashville - Mayflower

    7 Essential Things You Need to Know Before Moving to Nashville

    Moving to Nashville? Renowned for its vibrant music scene, budget-friendly housing and plethora of entertainment options, discover 7 essential insights about calling Nashville home!
    Continue Reading
  • a woman planning a move on her computer - Manage your move - Mayflower

    How to Manage — Not Micromanage — Your Move

    When it comes to moving, there’s a difference between managing and micromanaging. Try our tips for dialing down the stress and trusting the process.
    Continue Reading