Last Updated November 11, 2022
You’re probably here because you’re considering moving to Bend, Oregon. Maybe you’re already planning on it.
Bend has no shortage of transplants. We get a lot of folks relocating to Bend from places like the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Houston, Texas among plenty of others.
It’s no wonder: simply put, Bend is a lovely place to be. The Oregon Cascades are just as majestic as they’re cracked up to be, and the mountain air (and water) is just as fresh.
But we’re not here to sugarcoat anything. There are some reasons not to move to Bend, Oregon, and the information we’ll provide here could be a good reality check.
If your mind is already made up, then you’ll need to answer the crucial question: where should you live in Bend? We’ve got you covered there, and we’ll finish by talking about Bend’s insane housing market and how you can navigate it.
So, without further ado, here are the things you need to know before moving to Bend, Oregon.
What’s it Like to Live in Bend?
If you’ve landed on this article, chances are decent you have a basic idea of what Bend’s all about. If not, take a peek at our at-a-glance guide to Bend, Oregon.
Maybe you’ve already spent some vacation time in Bend. If not, we highly recommend it. But the main thing to know before moving to Bend is that vacationing here and living here are two different things.
Bend sits at about 3,600 feet of elevation. It’s definitely fun to come ski here in the winter.
But, if you’re coming from warmer climates, living in the snow for long stretches takes some getting used to. We often recommend that potential clients rent for the winter before committing to a home purchase.
Another thing to know if you’re asking what it’s like to live in Bend is that Bend has something of the flavor of a resort/vacation community.
There are plenty of things going on and plenty of great local businesses and spots to eat, shop, drink, walk around, and be merry. Bend’s cultural and culinary scenes are definitely tippy-top for a city its size. Depending on your interests, it won’t be too hard to find your niche here, especially if it involves the outdoors.
But, you might find something lacking in terms of a sense of traditional community. Bend’s population has increased really fast over the past thirty years, and there have been some growing pains.
Traffic has gotten worse. And – we have to address the elephant in the room – Bend has gotten progressively more unaffordable, especially over the past several years. If you want to relocate here, finding housing could be a battle.
It might sound like we’re trying to talk you out of moving to Bend, but we’re really not. It’s just good to be realistic when you’re considering something as life-changing as relocation.
Where is a good place for families to relocate in Bend, OR?
Most likely, there’s something specific drawing you to Bend. Part of it depends on what stage of life you’re at.
Maybe you’re about to start college at Bend’s OSU Cascades campus, or maybe you’re a young professional looking for the next opportunity to advance your career (and have fun doing it.)
You might be thinking of living out your retirement years in Bend, or perhaps you’re thinking of raising a family or already have school-aged kids.
Depending on your particular goals, you’ll probably feel drawn to one particular part of Bend or another. Bend features vibrant neighborhoods right in the heart of town, secluded getaways up in the hills, and everything in between.
Of course, if kids are part of the equation, you’ll need to do some special research. Factors like school districts, safety and, yes, cost of living are paramount.
The short answer is that there aren’t any bad places per se for families to relocate in Bend, but let’s take a brief look at Bend’s schools.
Bend Oregon Schools and School Districts
When it comes to school districts in Bend, there’s really only one gig in town: the Bend-La Pine School District. As the name implies, it covers a pretty vast swath of geography.
Probably though, you’ll want to spend some time studying Bend school attendance area maps. Attendance at most schools is based on your address.
But Bend also has “choice option” schools which grant attendance based on lottery. These include some of Bend’s highest-rated schools, like the Highland School at Kenwood Elementary and Realms Middle School.
Bend is also home to plenty of highly-regarded traditional public schools. The highest-ranked tend to be located on Bend’s west side, which also happens to be the part of town with the most expensive housing.
Several well-regarded schools do serve Bend’s much less expensive northeast quadrant. Our advice, though, is not to put too much stock on rankings.
Your child’s learning needs are completely individual, and choice of school or school district is just one factor making up their overall learning experience.
Ideally, you’ll spend some time on the ground talking with parents and teachers, and of course, the process will be greatly informed by your housing search. More on that in a bit.
Nicest neighborhoods in Bend, Oregon
We’ve led with a pretty vague heading: what is a “nice” neighborhood? It really depends on you.
Maybe you’re looking for a home that highlights Bend’s proximity to the majestic Cascades. Well, mountain views are most definitely on the menu up in the hills on Bend’s west side.
If you want to be up in the trees with quiet seclusion, fresh air, and proximity to wildlife, neighborhoods like Century West, Summit West, and Awbrey Butte are natural choices. Best of all, these locations are still just a few minutes’ drive to all that Bend’s city center has to offer.
(Want a better sense of the local geography? Then check out our interactive map of Bend’s neighborhoods.)
On the other hand, maybe you’re looking to live somewhere that highlights Bend’s vibrant culture. For that, it’s hard to beat the River West and Downtown Bend neighborhoods.
The key word here is “walkability.” From restaurants, breweries, boutiques, and regular events to great parks and walking paths along the Deschutes River, it’s all right there.
There are also plenty of lovely vintage craftsman homes (including historic properties) interspersed with more contemporary homes. For these reasons, River West is our number one pick for Bend’s best neighborhood.
Safest neighborhoods in Bend, Oregon
There’s good news here: there aren’t any neighborhoods in Bend that could be called remotely unsafe. Bend’s violent crime rate is significantly below both state and national averages.
Property crime, on the other hand, is slightly above the national average (but below-average for Oregon.)
Downtown Bend and the neighborhoods to the east (the Orchard District, Larkspur, and Mountain View) have Bend’s highest crime rates. It’s all pretty relative, though.
Meanwhile, Awbrey Butte, Summit West, and Southwest Bend are, statistically, Bend’s safest neighborhoods.
Bend Oregon Real Estate and Housing Market
Let’s not mince words: Bend’s real estate and housing market is brutally competitive.
Over the past several years, appreciation has been off the charts. In 2021 alone, Bend’s market appreciated 26%. In March of 2022, the median sale price for all residential properties was $775,500.
If you’re planning to relocate to Bend, the first choice you’ll have to make is renting versus buying. Rental prices have surged too, and Bend’s rental market is extremely tight.
You can expect to pay at least $2,500 a month to rent a 3 bedroom home and potentially much more. Properties in the most desirable locations may receive a dozen or more applications.
Dollars-and-cents-wise, it makes sense to buy if you’re planning to spend any amount of time in Bend. Especially if you were around in 2008, you might be worried about property values dropping. But even with mortgage rates rising quick, we don’t expect home prices to drop significantly in Bend anytime soon.
Why? Inventory is extremely low in Bend, particularly for homes in the sub-$700k range. Would-be homeowners are competing with with investors and people seeking a second residence in Bend.
Needless to say, you’ll need an experienced real estate agent. Your agent can’t just know Bend’s market, though. They need to know you and understand what makes you tick.
That’s a process that takes time and a lot of insight. Not all agents are up to it. But, as relocation specialists, we’ve got you covered from start to finish, whatever stage you’re at in your (potential) journey.
Relocation is a major process with multiple stages, but it doesn’t have to be a scary one. Our job is to help you gather information and data points so you can start to discern whether relocating to Bend is the right step for you and your loved ones.
If the answer is “yes,” then our job is to help you get here and then make your home here. It’s one we take seriously, but we have a lot of fun doing it.
Our agents have been around the block more than a few times, and we’re ready to get you into a house that will be the best home for you and your loved ones and a great launching pad for all your adventures in Bend.
We are available for whatever you need, so don’t hesitate to reach out using the button to the right!