Eugene, Oregon downtown cityscape at dusk.

Looking to Retire in Eugene, Oregon? Here’s What to Consider.

Last Updated January 3, 2024

If you’ve found your way to this article, chances are good that you’ve at least put some thought into retiring in Eugene.

Counting down the months and then weeks as you approach your retirement date, maybe you’ve already felt the draw of Oregon’s vast stretches of public wilderness, its relaxed pace of life, and its distinct culture.

Eugene is probably on your radar, it being Oregon’s third-largest city and all. We’re biased, but if you’re looking for a balance between access to wilderness and all the amenities of city life, without the traffic, higher crime, and frenetic energy of a place like Portland or Seattle, we think it’s pretty hard to beat Eugene.

Retirement, after all, is all about getting out of the rat race and settling down, re-prioritizing, and enjoying all the things you’ve always wished you had more time to enjoy. It also helps to be in a place where you have access to shopping, arts and culture, recreation, public transportation, and access to quality healthcare. Also desirable: a climate that doesn’t tilt too far toward extremes of hot or cold.

Family, of course, is important too. It’s no secret that where parents go, adult children and their families often follow. If that could potentially describe you, you’ll want to end up somewhere that your family won’t mind ending up either. At the very least, you’ll want to be in a place where grandchildren can enjoy summer vacations with grandma and grandpa.

Eugene, as we’ve already hinted, is a place with all those features. We’ve already covered a lot of it in our articles on why people across the country are moving to Eugene and why Eugene (along with Bend) is one of the best places in Oregon for families.

In our opinion, it’s one of the best places to retire in Oregon too. But whether or not Eugene is the right place for you to retire will depend upon a few different factors.

To be sure, living in Eugene means putting up with some rain during the colder months. As a reward, though, you’ll get to enjoy some of the country’s finest summers. Freezing temperatures are relatively uncommon, but snow and ice are an occasional fact of life here. We’ve outlined everything you need to know about Eugene’s weather and climate in another article.

But climate and lifestyle perks aside, the most important thing is just to make sure that the dollars and cents line up. What’s the cost of living in Eugene?

Watching Willamette River at Maurie Jacobs Park near Downtown Eugene Oregon
Watching the Willamette River at Maurie Jacobs Park near Downtown Eugene.

Is It Expensive to Live in Eugene, Oregon? 

Oregon as a whole certainly isn’t the cheapest place to live in the United States, and housing is the biggest reason why. As of late 2023, Oregon homes are selling for a median of close to $500,000, compared to $431,000 nationwide

U.S. News and World Report ranks Oregon number 41 on its list of the most affordable states, with a high cost of living and relatively low housing affordability.

Keep in mind that these figures are skewed heavily toward the Portland metro area, home to the majority (about 60%) vof Oregon’s population. Portland is expensive, and though its housing market has cooled off, signs don’t point toward it getting any cheaper.

Eugene is not Portland (and it’s proud of it!) But Eugene’s housing market is pretty hot itself, and available inventory is extremely low. Through 2023, Eugene homes sold for a median of $450,000, and its market continues to appreciate more rapidly than the national average.

2023’s higher mortgage rates have done little to cool down Eugene’s market. While inventory has increased somewhat – particularly for higher-end homes – prices haven’t exactly gone down, with sale prices reaching a new record in the summer. 

Moreover, the market for homes in Eugene’s most desirable neighborhoods is still extremely competitive. Bidding wars are not unheard of. 

Maybe you’re moving from an even more expensive housing market (California, we’re looking at you) and those figures don’t sound so bad at all. Compared to other places in Oregon like Bend and Portland’s nicer suburbs, Eugene is relatively affordable.

But, as a retiree, you’ll also want to keep in mind that Oregon taxes income from retirement accounts at the same rate as any other income, ranging from 5 to 9.9%. (Social security benefits are an exception.) Depending on your tax bracket, that may be more, and in a few cases maybe less than what you’ll find elsewhere.

You’ll definitely want to figure that into your overall financial picture. The answer to the question, “Is it expensive to live in Eugene, Oregon?” is “Yes, probably.” It’s not all mountains, ocean, and majestic forests for Oregon retirees.

Still, you probably don’t want to retire in Eugene because it’s the cheapest place around. You’re coming because the quality of life is worth the cost of living in Oregon, whether in Eugene or elsewhere.

With all of that out of the way, it isn’t enough just to find a house you can afford. You’ll also need to find a house that you actually want to live in, and Eugene’s unique inventory of homes presents specific challenges.

View of downtown Eugene and Coburg Hills
View of downtown Eugene and Coburg Hills.

What Retirees Need to Know about the Eugene Housing Market

For most people, retirement means unwinding and relaxing from the stresses of working life while still remaining active, investing more time and energy in the hobbies and other pursuits that are most meaningful to you.

Maybe home improvement is one of those hobbies. But if it’s not, we’re willing to bet that working on a fixer-upper is not the way you’d like to spend your retirement.

Like the majority of people, retired or not, you’re probably looking for a turnkey home in a nice neighborhood. You may have your eyes out for a single-story home, or at the very least one with the master suite on the ground level. A fact of aging is that we become less mobile, and making allowances for that is simply a wise investment for the future.

You may also be looking to downsize: you’d like a home with all the right finishes but without the extra square footage typical of homes at higher price points.

In choosing where to live, you may be looking for peace and quiet up in the trees, or you may want to be able to go out on the town regularly with as little hassle as possible. Maybe health issues are on your radar, and you want to live somewhere you’re less likely to be stuck in traffic on the way to hospital care.

Maybe you’d like to start your own vegetable garden. There’s good news on that front, because larger lots are common in Eugene. Most vegetables grow well here, especially if you have a greenhouse.

Anyway, the point of all of this is that you’ll definitely have certain priorities in your housing search. Depending on the specific items on your wishlist, however, it may be difficult to find a home in Eugene that checks off all the boxes, even if money is little or no object.

King Estate Winery and vineyards outside Eugene Oregon
King Estate Winery and vineyards, one of many fine wineries just outside Eugene.

What Kind of Homes Can You Buy in Eugene, and Where Can You Find Them?

For the past several decades, new construction has been in very short supply in Eugene. A lack of urban growth boundary expansion coupled with a lack of medium density housing has created one of the nation’s most constrained housing markets.

In the hills of Southeast Eugene, including the Crest Drive Neighborhood, 70s-vintage split-level, and multi-story homes predominate, with a sprinkling of luxury homes off Spring Blvd. You’ll find some newer developments in the hills around the Churchill Neighborhood and Far West Neighborhood. These include some ranch-style homes, but 2000 sq ft-plus homes with multiple floors are more common.

In the flatlands, 40s, 50s, and 60s-vintage bungalows and ranch-style homes are the norm, with pockets of craftsman-style or contemporary homes. Some of these have been spruced up with contemporary finishes, but a number of them have not. With these homes, roof, foundation, and sewer issues can sometimes pop up on inspection reports.

Newer homes are more common in North Eugene neighborhoods than they are in South Eugene. That includes the northern parts of Santa Clara and the North Gilham section of the Cal Young Neighborhood. Pockets of Cal Young feature some of Eugene’s largest concentrations of higher-end housing, particularly off Goodpasture Loop and in the North Gilham area.

Generally speaking, North Eugene has a more suburban feel than South Eugene. If you want easy access to shopping, that could be right up your alley. Valley River Center is Eugene’s only traditional shopping mall, complete with a cineplex, and Oakway Center is the city’s largest boutique shopping center, with restaurants and a Trader Joe’s.

If you’re looking for 55 and older communities in Eugene, there are a few options available in the Northwest and Northeast quadrants of town. We can certainly help you examine your options.

All of this is just the barest summary of Eugene’s housing market. With the housing inventory as low as it is, you’ll want to become as familiar as possible with the market as possible before you commit to moving here.

Jefferson Westside Neighborhood Eugene nice charming home
Home in the Jefferson Westside Neighborhood of South Eugene.

How Your Agent Can (and Should) Help You Retire in Eugene 

Once you get to a certain stage of your life, moving into something else if it doesn’t work out becomes less and less attractive. Finding that forever home takes some special care, and it also takes having a knowledgeable guide who can steer you through all of the potential twists and turns.

Visiting Eugene and getting to know the different neighborhoods yourself is an important step. At the same time, first or even second or third impressions can be deceiving. That certainly applies to online real estate listings.

Context is everything. A property might look like it hits all the right notes, and the neighborhood might seem nice enough, but you won’t really know if it’s right for you until you’ve completed the most thorough of investigations.

On the buyer’s side, a skilled real estate agent is kind of like a matchmaker. They get to know you and what you’re looking for as well as they possibly can, and then they have tools to match you with what will be the best long-term fit. A skilled agent also has the tools to counteract obstacles that might come up in that process.

It’s an awkward metaphor, but the bottom line is that in a market like Eugene’s, real estate is often more of an art than a science. You can gather all of the right data – and an agent can help you do that too – but there will still be a journey ahead. Where that journey ends up will depend upon how you proceed, and an agent’s job is to guide you each step of the way and make sure you don’t make any missteps.

We’re ready to help you in whatever stage of the journey you may be at, whether you’re just starting to think about retiring in Eugene or you’ve spent plenty of time here already and are ready to hit the market. Contact our Eugene office today or click the button to the right, and we’ll get you started on the right foot.

17 thoughts on “Looking to Retire in Eugene, Oregon? Here’s What to Consider.”

    1. Thank you, Wahnema. Just let us know if we can answer any questions or provide any further guidance about retiring in Eugene–that’s what we’re here for!

  1. Having lived and worked in Eugene during the 1980’s, the worst mistake of my life was leaving Eugene and moving to Denver.
    Now that I am able to return next year, I must have a job in place as well as a place to call home.
    I’m drawn to The Willamette Valley as if my soul has a place there. That does sound totally bizarre but I feel that intensely about the region.
    I lived in South Eugene, but I will search elsewhere before making a final decision.
    I can’t wait to return home.

    1. Hi Annie–Totally hear you, speaking as someone who has kept finding myself drawn back to the Eugene area again and again. Other places are nice, sure, but there’s something about it that’s more than the sum of it’s parts.

      We’re happy to help you get reacquainted with the market here!

  2. He is eugene diversified neighborhood I’m not prejudice but I’m afro American 58 yr old divorced outdoors woman my son lives in California but wildfires and earthquakes scare me I’m in Pennsylvania need a change at 60 yrs old

    1. Hi Consuela,

      Compared to many parts of the country, Oregon in general and Eugene included lacks diversity, but the University of Oregon does bring in more of it. We’re happy to help if you want to explore the possibility further!

    1. Hi Kristine,

      We don’t get nearly the volume or duration of smoke that many parts of California are getting lately, but there have been more fires in recent years than in the past. Last summer was pretty much fine in Eugene, but this summer we had some unprecedented wind gusts and dry lightning causing fires throughout the state. That was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of event, but if you’re concerned about smoke, of course you’ll want to do your own research. Just let us know if you have any other questions!

  3. Ryan, we are looking to retire, and Eugene is top on our list. Your article on retiring to Eugene, by far is the most thourough and well written article I have read for people who are looking to relocate. Thank you for your professionalism.

    1. Hi Christine, thanks so much for the compliment, and I’m glad we can be a resource for you as you’re considering relocation. I’m happy, of course, to answer any questions that might pop up along the way as you’re doing your investigation!

  4. Hello, My husband & I recently retired to the Western Slope (Montrose, CO) from Bothell, WA. For a variety of reasons we are now very interested in moving back to the PNW and specifically are considering Eugene. We like the active lifestyle, proximity to the coast, healthcare, hobbies (quilter here), and educational opportunities for seniors, as well as a more humid environment (high desert here). We were considering spending some time there this coming Fall, and would need help with that (where to rent a place for a couple of weeks etc). Please reach out to me at my email address to talk about this. Thanks so much.

  5. We are contemplating moving to the Eugene from Boulder, Co area. Thinking of buying land to build. What is the average cost per sq Ft to build a custom home?

  6. I’m interested in this area and am actually a soon to be retiree that enjoys a fixer-upper opportunity. Of course I want a safe neighborhood with access to walking/hiking trails, and a small residence, maybe around 1,000 sq ft. I live alone and have a son not too far away. Are homes on a sewer system or septic tank? How far away from an airport? What are the zoning laws? Are there rental units in the area in the event I wish to rent before buying? Is there a link you can provide for both fixer-upper opportunities and rentals of homes or apartments?

    Thank you.

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