The Best Places to Live in Oregon (A 2019 Guide)

Here are the best places to live in Oregon.

Oregon is interesting… it is a big state that is relatively small in population. And, to make things even more interesting, half of Oregon’s 4 million person population lives in and around the state’s largest city… Portland.

Anyway, we’ve compiled a short list of the three best places to live in Oregon. So, if you’re considering moving here, read this list thoroughly because each city is vastly different from one another (oh, and by way of introduction, we’re Bellhops—movers in Oregon and throughout the country).

Portland… heads or tails?

Everything about Oregon’s largest city is quirky. Even how the city was founded is a story that will make you scratch your head.

Believe it or not, Portland was almost “Boston.”

Back in 1843, when Portland was becoming Portland, two of the largest landowners in the area were debating on what to call the city.

A gent by the name of Francis Pettygrove who was born and raised in Portland, Maine naturally wanted to call the city “Portland.” And, another gent by the name of Asa Lovejoy from Boston, Massachusetts argued the city would be better off called “Boston.”

Which side note, why did our ancestors have such cool names? Francis Pettygrove? Asa Lovejoy?

Anyway, the pair settled the matter like true gentlemen. They pulled a penny from their pocket, chose a side and sent it sailing through the air –– the Portland side found the most luck that day, obviously.

And, to be honest, we are pretty thankful that it did. Imagine how crazy confusing it would be if two of America’s most popular cities were called “Boston.”

Yeah, no thanks.

Nearly two centuries have passed since that fateful coin toss and the city of Portland, Oregon has grown by leaps and bounds, all the while keeping its bizarre quirky vibe.

It wears many faces… almost as many faces as it wears nicknames like Rose City, Rip City, PDX, P-town and Stumptown (the last one being Portland’s oldest nickname). Even if you aren’t from Portland, you are probably familiar with the nickname “Stumptown”… there is a coffee company called Stumptown Coffee Roaster whose cold brew seems to be scattered all over the place.

Which speaking of coffee, if you’re a connoisseur, you are certainly considering moving to the right city. Believe it or not, Portland is the fifth in the United States for having the most coffee shops per capita. The city literally has one coffee shop per 2,322 people… that’s a lot.

With that said, coffee is not the only thing that races through the streets of Portland like wild horses. The city’s craft beer scene is just as (if not more) impressive than its coffee culture. As of 2016, Portland reported having a gargantuan 68 craft breweries, each of which brews up some of the best-tasting beer in the country. So, if you like coffee or beer or both… Portland is your jam.

Now, coffee and beer aside, what is the culture of Portland like?

When most people think of Portland, Oregon… they think of the hit series Portlandia. While it is an exceptional show, absurdly hilarious and perhaps mildly indicative of the people and culture you’ll find in Portland, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

While Portland is certainly filled with beautiful quirky, free-spirited people. It’s also home to outdoor enthusiasts, sport’s fanatics, business elites, startup superstars and more creatives than you could shake a stick at. The wonderful thing about Portland, Oregon’s culture is that it’s so colorful –– a smorgasbord of sorts.

So, no matter what your interests are –– be them work or play or organic farming –– you’ll find plenty to keep you occupied in the city of Portland.

Now, we will admit, we painted a pretty picture of Portland. But, like any city, Portland has some underwhelming aspects about it, too. We want you to feel right at home no matter where you choose to call home next so we want to tell you the good, the bad and the ugly before you start packing up moving boxes –– which by the way we can help with that.

The average rent for an apartment in Portland is a little under $1,500/ month. That’s expensive. Not as expensive as Seattle or Los Angeles or San Francisco… but expensive nonetheless. The high rent coupled with crazy growth is causing the homeless population in Portland to rise substantially.

We certainly don’t think this should prevent you from moving to the city, but it is more or less just something to keep in mind. In addition to this, residents complain that the dreary weather during the winter time can have quite an impact on one’s overall mood. If you’re moving from somewhere super sunny, this might be a bit of an adjustment. But, you’re resilient, we think you’ll be just fine.

So, long story short, who is Portland for?

If you’re looking for a big city to call home in Oregon, move to Portland. It dwarfs all other cities in the state. Not to mention, it has some pretty unique culture there that gives the city a distinct flavor you won’t find in other parts of the United States. But, you’re going to pay for it, too.

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Portland, Oregon

2. Eugene… more than just a miniature Portland.

Jump in the car and drive two hours Southwest of Portland and you will find a much smaller city, called Eugene. Often referred to as Portland’s little sister, don’t let Eugene’s size fool you –– it has a lot to offer. At 168,000 people, Eugene is nearly a fourth of the size of Portland and offers a beautiful small town feel its “big sister” just can’t.

The Guardian named Eugene one of the best small cities in the United States for a variety of reasons.

For one, it’s home to the University of Oregon… which gives the city as a whole a crazy fun sport’s culture. Residents often say there is nothing quite like watching a Duck’s football game.

Also, Eugene gives residents some of the best access to Oregon’s beautiful outdoors. The city allows folks to camp out by the McKenzie River, hike along the Cascade foothills, rock climb on Skinner Butte and enjoy an ultra-relaxing steam in the McCredie Hot Springs.

And, finally, with a newly renovated downtown area, the small city has plenty to offer in the way of food, bars, and entertainment.

With all that said, while Eugene is quite a bit smaller than Portland… rent prices are still fairly high… coming in at a little over $1,200/ month. Some might argue, why not pay the additional $200-$300 to live in Oregon’s largest city?

Now, with all that said, who is Eugene for, exactly?

If you’re digging the Portland vibe but aren’t a fan of the city’s size, Eugene is a nice alternative. It’s still a little pricey, but less so, and it offers plenty to do if you’re a fan of the great outdoors. And, if you’re an Oregon Duck’s fan… well that alone is a sell. Finally, with Eugene being a short two-hour drive from Portland, you can still enjoy that big city life for a weekend without having to fuss with the busyness on a day to day basis.

Oregon Road

3. Bend isn’t a bad option, either.

After Portland and Eugene, coming up with the next city on our list of best places to live in Oregon becomes a bit fuzzy. Oregon is filled with some pretty incredible towns and cities and choosing one to wear the number three hat is no easy task. We love Beaverton, and Oregon City and the list goes on. But, we really really love a city called Bend, located in the central part of Oregon. For one, it’s two hours from Eugene and three hours from Portland, so it is within close proximity of the states two largest cities.

And, for two, Bend is consistently ranked as one of the best travel destinations in the United States for its endless outdoor activities and unparalleled beauty. During the winter you have access to some of the best skiing in Oregon, and during the summer you are within a stone’s throw of foothills, hiking trails and the hugely popular Deschutes River that residents love to float down when the weather is nice and warm.

With that said, like Eugene, you’re still going to be paying a pretty penny for living in this smaller city. According to Rent Cafe, an apartment in Bend is going to run you about $1,200 a month.

So, with all that said, who is Bend for?

Bend is too big to be a town but perhaps too small to feel like an actual “big city” per se. In addition, it’s different from Eugene and Portland because it’s less eccentric, something that could be a pro or a con depending on the person that is considering moving there. We think Bend’s huge selling point is its beauty and outdoor activities. You simply can’t beat it.

Oregon

So, what exactly is the best place to live in Oregon?

Okay, so we just gave you a list of three great cities in Oregon… all of which you’d have no trouble calling home. With that said, of the three, there is certainly an MVP. Being that most larger cities in Oregon sport similar rent prices, we just don’t think you can beat Portland. Yes, it’s going to cost you another couple hundred dollars a month in rent, but with it, you’ll get to live in one of the coolest and most eccentric cities in the United States. We think that is a fair trade-off.

If you decide to move in or to Oregon, don’t hesitate to reach out. We coordinate local and long-distance moving services in Oregon and we would love to help!

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