Are you considering leaving the Golden State for life in the Pacific Northwest? According to the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, nearly one in five Oregon residents was born in California! Oregon is magnetizing Californians for multiple reasons, including a thriving tech scene, active, outdoorsy lifestyle, diverse entertainment and dining options, and more affordable living.
To learn more about the differences and similarities between California and Oregon, check out our first segment entitled “Living in Oregon: What to Know Before You Move.” Here you can gather a sense for the quality of life you’ll experience in Oregon, and how it compares to Cali. If you’re a little more advanced in the moving process, section two is for you. You’ll find an excellent list of the very best places to live in Oregon. Learn more about major employers, educational opportunities, and what it’s like to live in each city. Our final section is your guide for moving to Oregon. We hope it will keep you organized as you make your big move and join the other Californians moving to Oregon!
Living in Oregon: What to Know Before You Move
Learn more about what to expect from life in Oregon. Read up on the differences between California and Oregon and the benefits of living in Oregon vs California in order to decide if making a move is the right decision for you!
Cost of Living: High Housing Costs, Zero Sales Tax!
Portland is growing day by day, and Oregon overall has seen significant increases in home prices. Living in Portland is still cheaper than living in San Francisco, and other Oregon locations are far more affordable. Some new Oregon residents choose to rent an apartment temporarily while saving up for their first home purchase.
Additionally, Oregon is one of only five US states with NO sales tax. What you see on that price tag is what you’ll pay on everything—food, clothing, you name it. Don’t forget to bring your Oregon driver’s license when you travel to Washington state, because your ID is your ticket out of sales tax there, too!
Driving: City Traffic and Filling Station Attendants
Between construction and traffic, driving through Portland is, unfortunately, slow. The city and surrounding metro area do have plenty of other transportation options including the MAX light rail, trains, and buses. Biking is also extremely common in Portland and throughout Oregon.
Portland’s thick traffic isn’t representative of the uncomplicated driving conditions throughout the rest of the state. And remember: You don’t pump your gas in Oregon! While a new law states that in certain rural Oregon counties, residents can fuel up their vehicles, you can pretty much always expect a filling station attendant to pump your gas for you. For some people, this requires a little bit of an adjustment, but you may be thankful for the policy when it’s snowing outside, and you can sit patiently in your toasty vehicle.
Things to Do: A Good Time to Get Outdoorsy
You’re going to find some fantastic places to visit in Oregon, from Mount Hood to Crater Lake. You can snowboard the dunes or destroy the rapids at Rogue River. The mountains, the lava canyons, the beaches—everything is beautiful in Oregon.
Oregon hosts many state and national parks. Bring your friends and family on a new and breathtaking hike every weekend! You might also consider snowshoeing and other winter fun. Visit Mt. Bachelor or Deschutes National Forest for the best cold-weather activities. These destinations even feature warming huts along some of their trails!
Fishing is another Oregon favorite. Fish everything from salmon to steelhead and explore lakes, rivers, or the deep blue. You’ll find a lot of friendly fisherman throughout the state who are out enjoying their sport almost every day of the year!
The Coast: Don’t Sacrifice Your Happy Place!
One of the appeals of relocating to Oregon from California may be the coastline. The Oregon coast stretches for over 300 miles, and the scenery is everchanging. You can climb spine-tingling cliffs, push through thick forestry, or lay back and relax in the warm sand.
Along with the sand and surf, you can enjoy countless coastal activities. Grab a snowboard and visit the dunes for an epic adventure or take the boat out for a day of skiing and surfing. Take advantage of all of Oregon’s incredible natural formations like Haystack Rock, Thor’s Well, or Yachats Coastline. Of course, don’t miss out on Oregon’s dozens of beautiful beaches!
Environment: Think Friendly!
Oregon consistently ranks as one of the eco-friendliest states in the entire nation. Portland ranks as one of the greenest cities in the world! Why? Oregon dominates in:
- Energy efficiency
- Producing renewable energy
- Low carbon footprints
- Writing and passing inventive pro-environmental legislation
- Environmental design-certified green buildings
- Farmers’ markets and community gardens
Portland and Eugene are easily some of the most bike-friendly cities in the country.
Oregon has a history of pro-environmental policy, being the first state to instate refundable deposits on recyclables in 1971. WalletHub recently released a study measuring a variety of eco-friendly behaviors and metrics like air and water quality, with Oregon coming in at the second spot in the country! Oregon dwellers encourage each other to protect the environment for future generations.
City Life: Music, Art, and Culture
Like the big city? You’re going to fall in love with Portland. Opportunities to see art, hear music, and attend festivals are abundant.
Eugene offers incredible music venues like WOW Hall, the Jazz Station, and HiFi Music Hall. Shakespeare fans can stop by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland for live reenactments on indoor and outdoor stages. In Portland, do anything from the Portland Rose Festival to the Portland Art Museum to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.
One of the must-do activities in Portland is the Oregon Country Fair in Veneta. This fair has a unique bohemian vibe. Enjoy the live music and dancing along with other incredible entertainment. Of course, there’s no shortage of delicious food or shopping surprises.
Your Neighbors: It’s a Farmer’s Paradise and the Modern Man’s Dream
There’s something for everyone in Oregon! It’s a home for farmers and cowboys due to the favorable growing conditions and vast country landscape. Suburb and city dwellers enjoy excellent produce from farmer’s markets and roadside stands. You’ll find that even the food you get in-store is high quality.
There’s another side to Portland’s more traditional culture, with an up-and-coming hipster vibe in and around Portland. Big Oregon employers include Intel, Nike, and Oregon’s universities. Portland is also considered a hub for startup companies.
Oregon attracts people from all walks of life and with different skills and experiences. Overall, you’ll notice there’s an accepting and laidback attitude throughout Oregon. People are friendly, and not afraid to smile or even talk with strangers. It’s a beautiful place to call home.
Best Places to Live in Oregon
As we mentioned before, there is something for everyone in Oregon. From quirky cities to sweeping coastlines, your new home can be anything you want it to be. We’ve compiled this list of seven of the best places to live in Oregon. We considered population, crime rates, employers, amenities, and overall lifestyle. Read about the following cities to decide where you might be happiest in the whole state.
Sherwood is a small town of 19,000 residents with a crime rate that is 60% lower than the state average. In fact, according to Safewise.com, Sherwood is the #1 safest city in all of Oregon. It is also one of the highest earning metro areas in the state with an average household income of $83,000. In 2013, TIME’s MONEY Magazine even named Sherwood the #5 best place to live in the USA.
Sherwood’s location is appealing due to its proximity to the city, the beach, and the slopes. Sherwood culture offers a mix of Portland modernity and a kind of traditional farmland appeal. You’ll find vast expanses of beautiful land, but you’re never too far away from the city’s best dining and entertainment.
If you’re looking to move your whole family, Sherwood is an outstanding option. High school graduation rates in Sherwood are 15% above the Oregon average. There are plenty of outdoor pastimes and events, including hiking trails, downhill skiing, and festivals.
Over the years, Beaverton has been named by Forbes magazine as one of the best places to live in the US. According to AreaVibes, the crime rate in this city is about 45% lower than the national average. Major employers include Intel, Nike, and Tektronix Inc. Beaverton salaries are higher than the Oregon average, and it boasts lower living costs than Portland.
There has been a significant increase in the electronics industry in Beaverton, making the population grow to nearly 100,000. However, Beaverton is still able to maintain a homey and friendly feel.
Washington Park is one of the state’s best places for hiking and walking. If you’re looking for more fun, Beaverton is only seven miles west of downtown Portland, so you have access to city life and shopping anytime. Being close to Nike’s headquarters is an exciting perk, with a 750-acre campus to explore including historical displays and even Japanese gardens. Don’t be surprised if you see a pro athlete or two when you’re strolling the grounds!
Milwaukie is impressively affordable, with a median home cost of just $1,000 per month. Milwaukie’s population is around 21,000 with a crime rate of only 1.39 per 1,000 people.
If you’re in Milwaukie, that means Mount Talbert and Mount Hood are right in your backyard, giving you abundant opportunities for hiking and skiing! In the summer, enjoy the exciting waterslides of North Clackamas Aquatic Park. Art and music lovers will also be pleased that they are not alone in Milwaukie. The artMOB group hosts regular art events and different performances. Don’t forget to check out the Milwaukie Farmer’s Market every Sunday morning May through October, with over 75 vendors and live music
Milwaukie is home to over 1,500 successful businesses like Bob’s Red Mill and Dark Horse Comics. This city is an optimal place for both startup businesses and experienced employees.
On a typical Saturday, you’ll find Oregon City residents enjoying some of the best hiking in the state at Mount Talbert Nature Park, or golfing at the exceptional Stone Creek Golf Club. Alternatively, they may be enjoying the epic views of Willamette Falls, which is only exceeded by Niagara Falls by way of waterfall volume.
Oregon City is also defined by its history, as it was the last stop on the Oregon Trail and one of the first western cities to be inducted into the U.S. There are various historical and unique spots to check out in this town, including the Oregon City Municipal Elevator—the only outdoor municipal elevator in the country.
Oregon City’s income inequality and poverty rates are both considerably low. Some of Oregon City’s major employers include Clackamas Community College, Intel, and Corizon Health. The population of the city is just over 36,000.
Tigard is next door to Portland, giving residents easy access to vast employment opportunities. The median household income in Tigard is over $62,000 per year, which is well above the state average. Housing costs are also reasonably low, at about $1,200 per month. That leaves Tigard’s residents with an ample disposable income! Tigard’s population is about 53,000. The crime rate in Tigard is about 31.21 per 1,000 residents, with only about a rate of 2.41 being violent crimes.
What is there to do in Tigard? Cook Park is an enormous open space perfect for playing sports or running the dogs. You can paddle the Tualatin River or examine the lush wetlands on the river’s trail. For even more variety, make the quick 20-minute drive to Portland. Enjoy some sales tax-free shopping or indulge in some incomparable eats.
The price of living in Portland may surprise you. Overall living costs are lower than many other big cities, and Portland home values are 35% higher than the Oregon average. Portland is home for savvy business people and ambitious employees. Business and culture reign supreme in this big city. Major employers include Intel, NIKE, and Precision Castparts Corp. Portland’s population is nearing 650,000 with a violent crime rate of 5 per 1,000 inhabitants.
The best part of living in Portland is the buzz of the city life. You can visit the Lan Su Chinese Gardens, Pittock Mansion, or the Portland Art Museum. Don’t forget about the annual Rose Festival! To top your experience off, dig into high-class dining and stop by the local microbreweries. Finally, you can still see the great outdoors in the big city. Portland boasts over 10,000 acres of parks and open space. The metro area is one of the most well-known in the nation for biking, walking, and hiking.
Lake Oswego is a fantastic location for families. It has one of the best high school graduation rates in the state and award-winning schools. The town also boasts some of the best home values in all of Oregon! With beautiful nature and life on the water, Lake Oswego is almost like a vacation spot—but what’s stopping you from living there for life?
Of course, this is the city for you if you enjoy a day on the lake. Or you can visit Mount Sylvania, an astounding inactive volcano. Lake Oswego also has rich culture and history. Visit the Lakewood Center for the Fine Arts or look at the historical Victorian homes and cottages. Lake Oswego offers an old-timey charm that makes it stand out from other US cities.
Lake Oswego’s population sits at 38,860 with a property crime rate at 11.48 and a violent crime rate of only 0.80. Because it is considered a suburb of Portland, many Lake Oswego residents make the short commute to the city for work.
Your Moving to Oregon Guide: Tips for Planning Your Move
Significant changes lie ahead, but they don’t have to be overwhelming. We hope our essential moving task checklist will be helpful!
1. Set a Schedule
As soon as you decide to make your move to Oregon, it’s time to make it real by setting a moving date. Decide on the exact date you would like to move your things out and the day you will drive out to your new home. Plan some milestones for packing and preparing so that you can be sure you’ll have everything completed by moving day.
There’s a lot to do when it comes to a cross-country move, so without a carefully crafted plan, it’s easy to let it all get away from you! Talk with anyone involved in the move, like family members and realtors, and fill them in on the schedule. To learn more about which tasks you should include in your preparations over the following weeks, keep browsing our moving checklist!
2. Pick the Perfect Moving Company
Helping hands should be one of the first things on your mind. During busy moving seasons, the best moving companies may be at capacity months ahead of time. We suggest:
- Getting estimates from different moving companies (you can easily do so right here on Great Guys!)
- Looking at online reviews and asking friends about previous experiences
- Expressing your concerns and expectations to the moving company
Not all moving companies provide the same level of service. You want a reputable moving company that values both your possessions and your overall moving experience. Do your research, hire a trustworthy, licensed company, and book your desired moving date!
3. Don’t Forget to Update Information
Keep a day or two free to update your important information. After you inform your employers, schools, and financial institutions about the move, you will also want to:
- Change your address on USPS.com/move
- Update your driver’s license and car registration
- Update insurance policies and purchase moving insurance
- Switch your utilities and service providers to your new address
4. Organize the Chaos
The more organized you can be as you pack, the more stress-free the whole move will be! Organize boxes by room and label them accordingly. With more detail, your boxes are easier to unpack. We also recommend compiling an inventory list of all your boxes so that you can be sure everything makes it to Oregon with you. You might snap photos of the boxes or take notes of all label names the old-fashioned way.
Don’t forget to consider the size and layout of your new place. Perhaps the bookshelf goes in the bedroom now, but it will only fit in the living room at your new home. You may want to sketch out or outline where all your furniture and possessions will go.
5. Don’t be Afraid to Downsize!
The longer we live in one place, the more mess we accumulate—it’s inevitable! Your long-distance move is your opportunity to purge anything you don’t need so you can enjoy a simpler life in Oregon. Less stress is not the only reason to donate, recycle, or throw away belongings. Money is another factor. The cost or your move depends on how much stuff there is to haul!
The most critical part of downsizing is honesty with yourself. When is the last time you used your second toaster? How many Halloween decorations do you need? Only keep the things you use on a regular basis or that you love. We promise you won’t miss that stuff you haven’t brought out in years! And don’t forget to consider changes in weather, yard size, and other day-to-day differences that will affect what you need to bring with you.
How can you get rid of all that unwanted stuff? Consider hosting a garage sale or selling them online or with apps. An early start is a good idea. Leave yourself plenty of time to sell your unneeded assets, especially large furniture. You can also donate unnecessary items to Goodwill or the Salvation Army, or gift them to neighbors or friends who want them.
6. On Moving Day, Let the Professionals Take it Away!
The most stressful and hurried part of moving is moving day itself! Maybe you plan to have friends and family help you move. Hiring a professional cross country moving company is a great way to keep your stress to a minimum. Whatever you do, make sure you have the help that you need to ensure an efficient moving day.
If you have a lot to move or have too much going on in your work or personal life to pack, you may even consider hiring professional packers to come before moving day. You might also choose to hire a professional cleaning service to do that final, thorough cleaning after everything is moved out.
When you hire a moving company, you will have access to the moving supplies you need, like bubble wrap, boxes, and packing tape. Your moving team can help you properly pack and put away your belongings to ensure their safety. On moving day, your movers can take care of all the heavy lifting. You won’t have to worry about hauling that awkward furniture. You can gather up the things you need with you, say your goodbyes, and get ready for the trip!