The rocky coastline. The enchanting fog. The cadence of life slows to appreciate nature over a ridiculously good cup of coffee. Few regions of the country have the mysterious allure of the Pacific Northwest and Oregon embodies them all. What’s more, the state has so many unique regions to explore, from its cool coastline to the high desert; slopes of Mt. Hood; and the pine forests, canyons and river valleys in between.
With all its natural wonders, plus the charming, creative cities throughout the state, it’s no mystery why Oregon has been one of the top 10 states people have moved to in the past five years,15% of whom have relocated for lifestyle reasons alone.
Oregon prides itself on being different, and one of the state’s many quirks is that you cannot pump your own gas at most filling stations in the Beaver State. This is possibly one of the few things Oregon has in common with New Jersey, the only other state in the country with such a law. Additionally, Oregon is one of only five states that charges no sales tax. It does rank in the top five states with the highest state income tax rates, though.
If you’re moving to this uniquely innovative state, you’re sure to find your own element and reason you love to call Oregon home. Get the ball rolling with a quote on moving to Oregon.
Living in Oregon
If you’re thinking of moving to Oregon, you are not alone. The state’s population has increased 10% over the last 10 years. According to the United Van Lines 46th Annual National Movers Study, over half of the individuals who have relocated to Oregon in the last year did so for work. At 4.4%, the state’s unemployment rate is higher than average, but overall job growth in the state has been positive, expanding 4.3% from 2021 to 2022, with the construction industry and leisure and hospitality seeing the biggest jumps.
Oregon’s strong job market comes as no surprise since the state has some of the most diverse industry clusters in the U.S., many of them drawing from the state’s local resources and talent pool. These industries include clean and green tech, outdoor gear and apparel, advanced manufacturing and aviation, high tech and biosciences, natural resources and tourism, and creative industries. Many of Oregon’s largest companies are based in Portland, including footwear giant Nike and aerospace manufacturer Precision Castparts Corp. — the state’s two Fortune 500 companies.
But with a cost-of-living index of 122.2 — higher than all its neighbors except California — Oregon can be an expensive state to reside in. The median home value in the state topped $362,000, while rent averages $1,250 per month. Thankfully, the median household income also exceeds national levels, averaging over $70,000.
Weather in Oregon
The climate of Oregon is truly a mixed bag. Generally speaking, the state gets warmer and drier as you move from west to east, but changes in elevation cause great climatic variations across this vast landscape.
The coastal areas are consistently mild and wet, with July seeing average temperatures only in the upper 50s ºF and average January temperatures in the low 40s ºF. Precipitation in this marine environment is serious: Up to 120 inches of rain can fall annually.
In the lowlands, temperatures rise, precipitation drops, and the rainy season is considerably less rainy than on the coast, bringing a modest 35 to 40 inches of rainfall each year.
And if you live near the Cascade Mountains? Expect lots of snow — temperatures usually remain below freezing throughout January, allowing snowfall to accumulate to great depths.
Many of the central and eastern portions of the state are considered high desert, seeing the smallest amount of rain each year — only 10-to-20 inches, in fact.
Top Growing Cities in Oregon
Oregon has seen a surge in popularity over the last few years, with a population increase of over 409,000 people. Some of the biggest influx has been to cities like Portland, Eugene, Salem and Bend, which are attracting millennials and new retirees alike.
Much of the state’s economy is dominated by cities in or near the West Coast and forested regions of the state. These regions are rich in timber; the state has historically been and still is still a top producer of wood products in the U.S. But as mentioned above, the state’s economy, much like its terrain, is remarkably diverse. So, each city has carved out its own unique culture and industry specialization.
Oregon’s largest city is Portland, an unconventional, laid-back metropolis along the Columbia River. Only growing in popularity, it gained 57,386 people over the last 10 years. All told, the city’s population has risen to 641,162.
Housing costs here are nearly $100,000 higher than in the rest of the state — the median home value is $462,800 and rent averages $1,406 per month. However, the city’s income level is also above average: $78,476.
Portland is a base for diverse industries, from apparel to aerospace, but the residents also provide an important consumer base for the state’s niche industries — design companies like Schoolhouse Electric, craft breweries, vineyards and high-end coffee roasters (more on those below), to name a few.
The city is also home to several colleges and universities, which keep the vibe young and lively, including the University of Portland, Reed College, Portland State University and the Pacific Northwest College of Art.
Adding to its appeal, Portland has dozens of interesting and distinctive neighborhoods and has made a major investment in a streetcar system to connect them. So, it’s easy to get from the airport to the Portland Art Museum to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and back home again.
The home base of the University of Oregon, Eugene (pop. 175,096) is a large college town on the Willamette River. Long known as an agricultural and artists’ haven, the city has an open and welcoming environment.
Not surprisingly, it has seen an influx of roughly 20,000 new residents since 2010. Along with that, the median home value in Eugene is above average — $337,200 — and the median gross rent is $1,134 per month. Yet, income levels in the city are far lower than the national and state averages and the poverty rate is very high at 19.6%.
In town, there is a lot to see, including public murals, the Museum of Natural and Cultural History, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art and the Cascades Raptor Center. But the big draw here is the picturesque Willamette Valley. This fertile terrain is home to dozens of farms and wineries, which are terrific for weekend day trips. There are also amazing near-city hikes, like the one to the summit of Spencer Butte, the area’s highest peak. So, whether you’re looking to stomp your own grapes or simply find new stomping ground, Eugene is a great place for explorers.
Midway between Eugene and Portland, Salem is the state’s capital.
Housing in Salem is slightly about U.S. averages but far less than Portland and Eugene. The median home value is $289,500 and rent averages $1,125 per month.
The population of Salem (177,723), which is roughly the same size as Eugene, has risen even faster, gaining upwards of 23,000 new residents over the last 10 years.
Government and health care unsurprisingly dominate Salem’s economy, but the city is also a major food processing hub for the surrounding area’s agricultural businesses.
In this mid-size city, interesting cultural sites abound. Families will certainly enjoy a trip to the Gilbert House Children’s Museum, which comprises five historic houses and the 20,000 Outdoor Discovery Area, all connected to the city’s Riverfront Park.
The Gallon House Covered Bridge is the oldest of its kind in the state, celebrating its centennial in 2016. We’re hoping locals marked the occasion by clinking jars of moonshine to honor the bridge’s bootlegging heritage.
Frank Llyod Wright’s Gordon House — the architect’s only project in the state — is located just outside Salem in Silverton. Meanwhile, at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, part of Willamette University, you can see one of the world’s most significant collections of art from the Pacific Northwest, including substantial holdings of Native American works.
A trip to the state capital is also worthwhile. The marble art deco building is not the original, but within its modernist walls are excellent exhibits on Salem history and many works by Oregon artists.
On the far eastern edge of the Willamette National Forest lies Bend, Oregon (pop. 102,059). Since 2010, the city has gained over 25,000 new residents, despite housing costs being some of the highest in the state. The median home value is $462,400 and rent averages over $1,500 a month. Poverty rates here are surprisingly low — several points below the national and state average.
Tourism is big business in this central Oregon city on the Deschutes River, an understandable fact given the many different indoor and outdoor activities there are to enjoy. Mountain biking is a major obsession in Bend, and enthusiasts have over 500 miles of trails and a downhill mountain bike park to ride.
In the wintertime, families will head to the nearest neighborhood park for sledding, but you can make a special trip to the Autobahn Tubing Park for the sweetest, slickest hills. Aspiring mushers can try a sled dog ride at Mt. Bachelor.
On the educational side of things, the High Desert Museum offers a unique blend of history, art and culture (plus live animals), and the Deschutes Historical Museum takes an expansive look at the area from prehistoric times to the modern era.
Fun and Unique Experiences in Oregon
All bookworms visiting Portland must make a pilgrimage to Powell’s Books. Otherwise, your bookworm card will be revoked. With a huge selection of hard-to-find titles, this 50-year-old independent bookstore has been family-run for three generations. Suffice it to say, you could lose yourself for at least an afternoon in the fiction section alone.
If you’re committed to keeping Portland weird, stop and see the interactive art installations and wacky collections at the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium, where you can stock up on all things strange and Bigfoot-related.
Better yet, visit the city’s quirkiest architectural salvage store, Hippo Hardware, where you might enter seeking Victorian milk glass doorknobs and exit with a pair of Pullman wall sconces, an antique industrial drain basket and a 1910 nickel-plated toothbrush holder.
In August, you can watch the annual Adult Soapbox Derby, which is — apart from some PG-13-themed vehicles and the occasional excited utterance to an unexpected spill — highly entertaining for the whole family.
In the hillsides of west Portland lies Washington Park, where you’ll find a week’s worth of family-friendly destinations, including the Oregon Zoo, tranquil Japanese Garden and International Rose Test Garden, which has over 10,000 plants and 610 varieties that bloom from May through October.
Thespians will enjoy the Oregon Shakespeare Festival — one of the oldest regional repertory theatre companies in the country. It features original plays by the Bard, as well as contemporary productions, like Rent. Among its three venues is an open-air theatre that’s one of the oldest Elizabethan stages in existence.
Plenty of Outdoor Views
If you are moving to Oregon, one of the things you can look forward to exploring is the 362 miles of coastline in the state.
One of the most-visited spots is Cannon Beach, famous for the town’s laid-back, creative vibe — not to mention Haystack Rock, one of the beach’s iconic sea boulders where part of “The Goonies” was filmed.
At Ecola State Park, which is part of the Oregon Coast Trail (OCT), as well as the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, you can hike and comb the beaches to your heart’s content, all while taking in some truly epic sea views.
Intrepid hikers can also make the trek to the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse viewpoint, where you can spy the offshore, decommissioned lighthouse nicknamed Terrible Tilly. There are eight other lighthouses down the coast to Cape Blanco, if you want to make a pilgrimage of it.
For an inland adventure, Cline Falls State Scenic Viewpoint is a picturesque spot along the rolling Deschutes River, perfect for picnicking, fishing and even swimming — if you don’t mind chilly water.
On the central northern border, Cottonwood Canyon State Park offers dramatic views of the rugged cliffs and grasslands along the John Day River. The park is popular with campers, anglers and equestrians. But beware — it’s also home to rattlesnakes and cougars.
Not to be forgotten, a trip to see the Painted Hills at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument will be jaw-dropping for everyone in your family.
Then there’s Crater Lake National Park, a spectacular retreat located in southern Oregon’s Cascade Mountains. The deepest lake in the United States, the basin was formed nearly 8,000 years ago by a volcanic eruption. The park is beloved by hikers but offers dozens of year-round activities, from birding to biking to skiing. And boat and trolley tours promise a less strenuous way to take in the majestic scenery.
When the temperatures drop, it’s good to know that Oregon boast’s the nation’s longest ski season. The place to experience it is on Mt. Hood, the state’s highest point. A dozen glaciers encircle the perpetually snowy, 11,245-ft. peak and area resorts offer activities for beginners to experts, including night skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing. Warm lodges and restaurants are a respite for the slope weary.
When you tally up all the crops that Oregon provides, it’s hard to imagine eating in the U.S. without the produce from the Beaver State.
Oregon produces 99% of the country’s hazelnuts, which is critical to know in case you run out of Nutella. The state is also known for its signature marionberries, a hybrid blackberry developed roughly 80 years ago in Marion County. They’re often cleverly marketed as “the cabernet of blackberries,” ooh la la. Carrying on a fierce and ongoing rivalry with Montana, the veritable land of huckleberries, Oregon still produces a sizable amount of these wild fruits.
If you want to experience all of Oregon’s edible delectables, take yourself on a self-guided tour of the Willamette Valley Great Oaks Food Trail, where you can sample what’s in season at local farms, starting with cherries and blueberries in June, hops in July, and then apples and wine grapes from August through the fall.
Dairy lovers have Peter McIntosh, the “Cheese King of the Coast” to thank for bringing his cheese-making techniques to Tillamook County in 1894, where a cooperative of creameries soon banded together to produce high-quality cheese, ice cream, and other products — marionberry yogurt included!
When it comes to food, you can’t ignore one of the state’s greatest assets — its rivers and coastline. Oregon boasts some of the world’s finest fish and seafood. The state is a commercial leader in Dungeness crab, known for its sweet and distinctive flavor. Of course, Oregon is also well-known for its oysters, trout, salmon and bass.
Some of the places to catch the state’s amazing fare are right on the water. You can dine dockside at Local Ocean, which also has its own market. In Pacific City, Riverhouse Nestucca prepares their ale-battered dory boat fish and chips using local rockfish. And, in Astoria, at the Bridgewater Bistro offers elegant and unfussed bayside dining.
Portland is Oregon’s caffeine capital, home to artisanal producers, like Stumptown Coffee Roasters, as well as commercial outfits like Boyd’s, which has been around since 1900 — 70 years before Starbucks, Oregonians will have you know. You just can’t go wrong with a cup of its French No. 6. In the coffeehouse department, Coava is a hands-down favorite, with its artful, inviting interior and single-source, house-roasted in-house beans. Its compelling David Mburu brew tastes of rhubarb, cocoa nibs and graham crackers.
Coffee isn’t Oregon’s only famous brew, though. Its other elixirs usually carry an ABV of 4.5% or more and are made by companies like Omission, Deschutes and Rogue, best known for its Dead Guy Ale. Culmination Brewing is a popular brew pub in Portland that has perfected the warehouse chic vibe and pours cheeky pints like I Put a Spelt on You and Sauvie-Non Blanc.
If you’re looking for actual Sauvignon Blanc, head to the Willamette Valley, where the majority of the state’s vineyards are located. Oregon is actually one of the world’s premier producers of Pinot Noir — the unique topography of the region protects it from harsh weather extremes.
Oenophiles rejoice in the fact that there are well over 200 vineyards in the area, some of which cater to casual, elegant tastings, like Apolloni Vineyards. Others offer immersive agritourism experiences, like Antica Terra, which will take your group on a chartered fishing trip followed by a Dungeness crab boil.
How to Relocate to Oregon
Using a reputable moving company like United Van Lines helps make your move as easy and stress-free as possible. Our professional movers can help you move to Oregon from anywhere in the U.S. We also provide full-service moving packages so you can concentrate on settling into your new home.
If you’re moving long-distance, United Van Lines’ long-distance movers can help you move cross country to Oregon. We can manage all of your moving needs, from packing and unpacking to storage, debris pick up — even car shipping and more.
Moving within Oregon? United Van Lines’ local Oregon movers can help you move from one city in Oregon to another under their own businesses and brands.