There aren’t really any bad places to live in Bend. Depending on your priorities (and your budget), any of Bend’s 13 neighborhoods could be a good choice.
It’s one of the few cities in the United States where that can be said in earnest. In most places, there’s a good part of town and a bad part of town. Here though, there are good parts of town and then there are awesome parts of town.
Still, if you’re planning to make the big move, or maybe just dreaming of the day you’ll be able to enjoy all the charms of the Bend Life, you’re probably thinking about where you’d like to land. Where are the best places to live in Bend, Oregon? Everyone’s looking for something slightly different, but here are five ideas here for you.
Any of them is a great choice. But depending on your lifestyle, one of the ‘hoods below will probably stick out to you more than the others. Each of them offers a unique vantage point into what makes Bend great.
We had to rank them because, well, everyone loves a top 5 list, but keep in mind that the order reflects our own unique predilections. Whatever is bringing you to Bend, you’re bound to find somewhere that you’ll feel right home–even if you don’t have money overflowing from your pockets. Really!
So without further ado, join us as we count our way down… the top five neighborhoods in Bend.
#5. Southeast Bend
It wasn’t so long ago that Bend was a small town of about 20,000 people known mainly for its many lumber mills and its winter skiing. Okay, there’s still plenty of the latter. But apart from the Old Mill District’s iconic smokestacks, you’d be hard-pressed to find evidence of Bend’s sleepy origins.
Today, Bend is bustling. In 2018, it ranked as the nation’s fourth fastest-growing city, second among small U.S. cities. (Job seekers take heart: it was ranked number one for job growth.)
Looking, though, for the majestic solitude, frequent wildlife sightings, lighter traffic, and ranch style living of old Bend? Well, then the Southeast Bend neighborhood may be just the destination for you.
Southeast Bend has the city’s lowest property density, with an abundance of 1 – 2.5 acre lots, 5-ish acre ranchettes, and even 80 acre plus working farms. Many of these larger properties come with irrigation rights, and gorgeous views of the Cascades are not uncommon. Neither are sightings of horses, sheep, llamas, and alpacas.
If maintaining a lot with that kind of acreage isn’t quite your cup of kombucha, worry not: recent years have seen plenty of higher-end subdevelopments with more polished homes on traditional lots.
To date, the Southeast neighborhood hasn’t seen the same infusion of commercial real estate as the rest of the city. At the same time, a 37-acre neighborhood park featuring a dog agility course is in the works, as are various infrastructure improvements. That will make for a great balance between access to amenities and a more laid-back way of life.
And, lest we forget, there’s a pretty decent public golf course too: check out the Old Back 9 for a fun and affordable all-ages experience.
#4. Century West
We mentioned before that Bend has always been known as a ski town. That’s thanks to the Mount Bachelor Ski Resort, the nation’s second largest single-mountain ski resort.
Why do we mention skiing? Well, the Century West neighborhood offers Bend’s easiest access to Mount Bachelor and all that the Cascades Mountains have to offer. From here, you’re just a stone’s throw and a skip away from some of the finest mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, and fishing that you’ll find anywhere. There’s golf too: Broken Top Golf Club is one of Bend’s finest, and the mountain views definitely sweeten the deal.
As for real estate, Century West properties run the gamut from exclusive gated communities and 70s-vintage ski chalets to more affordable townhouse communities and condominiums. Heading down towards lower ground, OSU Cascades is a growing presence on the neighborhood’s north end, and the college scene here is bound to grow all the more vibrant in the years to come.
While Century West itself is predominately residential, Southern Crossing is just to the north and east, home to some of the finest restaurants and boutique shops in Bend.
#3. Summit West
The name implies elevation, and if you head to northwest side of Summit West down Shevlin Park Rd., that’s just what you’ll find.
There, higher-end sustainability-focused developments like North Rim predominate, nestled amid the wilds beneath Shevlin Park, a nature preserve covering 652 acres. Enjoy the park’s hiking, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, and fishing or go up further into the unforgettable scenery of the Cascades.
The focal point of Summit West, however, is Northwest Crossing. One of Bend’s most unique developments, Northwest Crossing was originally envisioned as a self-sufficient micro-community, where residents could live, shop, eat, work, learn and be merry.
The streets spread out in concentric circles from the aptly-named Compass Park, with homes designed by a select few of Bend’s finest builders. The area features a high percentage of contemporary craftsman style and modern contemporary homes, perhaps the highest to be found anywhere in Bend.
High Lakes Elementary, Pacific Crest Middle School, and Summit High School are some of Bend’s newest public schools, and they’re just a short walk from Northwest Crossing’s heart. That makes it a great neighborhood for families.
The central artery here along Northwest Crossing Drive and Northwest Mount Washington Drive is your one-shop stop (well, many-shop stop) for shopping, dining, professional services, beautification, and even medical and dental services. Try the Sparrow Bakery and Restaurant, Poke Row, and Thump Coffee.
If there’s one word that sums up the experience here, it’s “walkability,” but with a bit of breathing room compared to the more congested streets of Old Town Bend and River West.
Old Town Bend usually gets all the buzz, but let’s talk Midtown for a moment. If you’re looking for something on the affordable side but still want to be close to the action of Old Town, this neighborhood deserves to be on your shortlist.
Traditionally, this neighborhood has been known as the Orchard District. Of late though, the name “Midtown” has been catching on. It makes sense: find yourself here, and you’ll be smack dab in the middle of Bend. North, South, East, or West: take your pick; you’ll be bound to land somewhere interesting.
That’s not to say that you’ll necessarily need to go anywhere else. Traditionally, Midtown has been primarily residential. 50s and 60s mid-century modern homes predominate with a sprinkling of 70s-vintage properties. A number of these were lovingly built by Bend’s original production builder, Clyde Purcell, the mastermind behind the impressive Riverhouse on the Deschutes.
NE 3rd Street on the western edge of Midtown, however, is one of Bend’s main shopping corridors. Truth be told, it’s a bit of a pedestrian-unfriendly traffic snag at present, but with a redevelopment plan in the works, that’s due to change soon.
The Bend Central District Initiative will create new mixed-use housing/office complexes, improve walkability and bikability, and improve access to downtown. The Makers District already features a number of local businesses that are leading the push to bring new juice to Midtown–some of them quite literally.
These include several cycling and outdoor stores, an indoor year-round farmer’s market (Central Oregon Locavore), and not one but two kombucha brewers (Caboost Kombucha and the Humm Kombucha Taproom.)
Apart from Midtown’s busy commercial district, there’s another landmark you’re not likely to miss: the iconic Pilot Butte, one of the only volcanoes you’ll find in city limits in the Continental United States.
Wait, a volcano?! Relax: it blew its lid long ago and is now extinct. Hiking trails wind up to the caldera, and the views can’t be beaten. It’s also the launch site for Bend’s annual Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza.
The Orchard District is our pick for Bend’s number two neighborhood because its future is bright. We advise prospective Bend homeowners to get in before Midtown home prices go the way of Old Town, Southern Crossing, or our pick for Number One…
#1: River West
If you’ve spent any amount of time in Bend before, then our number one pick for the best place to live in Bend probably won’t come as much of a surprise. River West is the beating heart of all that makes Bend what it is.
Whatever is bringing you to Bend, you’ll probably find it right here. Unless what you’re looking for is affordable housing: River West is pricey, especially the coveted real estate along the Deschutes River. Even one or two-bedroom Additional Dwelling Units (ADUs) here often rent for close to the price of the main properties they sit upon.
What you will find in River West is many of the city’s finest cafes, retail stores, concert venues, outdoor shops, organic food stores restaurants, day spas, craft breweries, and food carts.
Let’s name names: on the upper side along Newport Avenue, you’ll find Spork, Chow, Kebaba, Backporch Coffee Roasters, Jinsei Spa, and the Newport Avenue Market. On the lower side along Galveston Avenue, check out Ariana Restaurant, and Primal Cuts Market, Sunriver Brewing Co. and 10 Barrel Brewing.
There’s even more delicious beer to be found down SW Century Drive: try the Ale Apothecary and Good Life Brewing. During the warmer months, don’t miss The Lot, featuring an outdoor taproom, entertainment, and some of Bend’s most popular food carts.
If you haven’t guessed already, walkability is huge in River West. Take your dog and yourself on a walk along the bank of the Deschutes and stop for a rest at Brooks Park, Pageant Park, Harmon Park, or Columbia Park. There are a lot of parks here, basically. Then there’s the Overturf Butte trail system off the neighborhood’s western edge, perfect for a short hike and views of the city.
Property-wise, River West features a number of old traditional-style craftsman homes, some located in Bend’s historic district. You’ll also find a number of lovingly improved and remodeled old mill homes, with a sprinkling of sixties and seventies vintage homes in the hills.
Well, that wraps up our list of Bend’s top five neighborhoods. Read about the rest of the competition on our Bend Neighborhoods Page.
Ready to hit the ground running with your Bend home search? Well, we’re ready to help you do just that. Get started today on our Find Your Home page.