It’s not exactly news: people are moving to Oregon (and moving to Bend) from all across the United States. Currently, Oregon has more people moving in compared to the number of people moving out than any other state in the country.
But if you’re thinking about living in Oregon, then we need to get more specific. It’s a big place. So which Oregon are we talking about here?
Is it the lush, green Willamette Valley, home to Portland, Salem and Eugene? Southern Oregon, with its yellow, rolling hills and distinctly NorCal vibe? The Oregon Coast, with its towering cliffs, thundering waves, and vast stretches of completely public beach?
Or, is it the high desert stretching hundreds of miles east from the Cascades mountain range, Oregon’s mecca for outdoor lovers of all stripes? That, incidentally, is where you’ll find Bend, the nation’s third fastest-growing city as of October 2019.
Head to any of these places, and you’ll know right away that you’re in Oregon. At the same time, each region showcases a particular facet of the Oregon life. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question: where is the best place to live in Oregon? The best answer we can honestly give is: wherever you feel the most at home.
So, is Bend, Oregon a good place to live? Is it the awesome place to live that some folks in the national media are making it out to be?
That depends on you. But one thing is for sure: people are moving to Bend and making their new home in Bend at an astonishing clip. Look more deeply into what makes living in Bend special and it’s not hard to see why.
Bend’s real estate market has reflected this trend: home prices in Bend are high and getting higher. Based on our 2020 year-end market report and 2021 forecast, this trend shows no signs of reversing, and that’s the main factor making the cost of living in Bend, Oregon significant. So why do so many people want to live in Bend? We think you’ll have a pretty good idea by the end of this article.
Living in Bend, Oregon: A Place and a State of Mind
If you’re approaching Bend from the west, you’ll notice an immediate difference as you start to climb into the Cascades. Lush Pacific rain forest gradually gives way to pines, volcanic landscapes, and breathtaking vistas of water, mountains, and sky.
The air too begins to change. You’ll want to stop your car, step outside, and inhale the crisp, clear air for a few moments. You can almost taste the spaciousness, the vast, uncharted expanse of the American West.
We’re not just waxing poetic. It’s something you can take for granted after living in here for a while, but if you’re thinking of moving to Bend, the first thing to do is just breathe the air. It could be love at first inhalation. Try the water too: it’s some of the finest public drinking water in the world. These are some of the small, but quite significant pleasures of living in Bend.
Of course, you won’t want to stop there. Bend is a place you need to explore to fully appreciate, whether it’s the hundreds of miles of singletrack that line the Cascades, the pristine waterways of the Deschutes, or the well-trod pathways of the Bend Ale Trail. With 20 local microbreweries, it’s the biggest such route in the West.
If you’re in Bend, then you’re not far from adventure. And if you’re moving to Bend from somewhere a bit tamer, you may very well find that there’s more of an adventurer in you than you’d suspected.
People in Bend certainly know how to relax and enjoy themselves. The thing to keep in mind about living in Bend though is that there’s a definite culture of earning that relaxation. It’s the burgers and rounds of cold beer after coming down from a five-day backpacking trek in the Jefferson Wilderness area. There are beautiful views of the mountains all over Bend, but Bend’s residents know: it’s not enough just to look at and admire them. To know the mountains, you have to be in the mountains.
Burgeoning and experienced adventurers alike will have more than plenty to do. Try rock climbing at the world-renowned Smith Rock, or let Wanderlust Tours take you underneath the rocks for a spelunking experience you’ll never forget. Come wintertime, hit the slopes at Mount Bachelor. Even better, join a dog-sledding expedition.
For the stout of body and heart, consider taking part in one of Bend’s many world-class outdoor athletic competitions, from trail running, cycling, and mountain biking to cyclocross, bouldering, multi-disciplinary races, kayaking, snowboarding, and, of course, beer runs.
You can definitely go at your own pace. But there’s a certain recognition here that it’s important to push the edge, if only just a little bit, and to have fun doing it.
Bend Homes for Sale: Most Recent Listings
What to See and Do Before You Move to Bend, Oregon
Before you commit to living in Bend, Oregon and start looking for real estate, you’ll likely want to check it out and see if the lifestyle is right for you.
You may be thinking: this outdoor stuff sounds pretty great, but it also sounds kind of like summer vacation. Maybe extreme feats of physical endurance aren’t your thing, or maybe they sound more like your day job than what you’d do for fun. Maybe all of it sounds like something a younger version of yourself might have enjoyed. Or maybe your focus right now is on raising a family.
We understand. But we think you’ll love it here too. So will your family. We’ve written elsewhere about why Bend (and Eugene) are two of the best places in Oregon for families.
Bend is small enough to provide a safe and close-knit community. At the same time, it’s big enough that your kids and even your teenagers will have plenty to do and plenty of opportunities to engage and to grow.
Bend’s spirit of exploration, adventure, and zest for life runs deeper than just the surface. You’ll find it everywhere you look, from Bend’s music and art scenes, its restaurants, festivals, shopping, to its top-notch parks and recreational opportunities.
And while there’s a lot of fun to be had in the wilderness surrounding Bend, you don’t even really need to leave town. Grab your inter-tube, kayak, or surfboard and hit the rapids at Bend Whitewater Park. Take your dog and yourself for a walk along the Deschutes River’s 12+ miles of pathways and trails then hit the food carts and taproom at The Lot. Stop at Thump Coffee for a delicious, locally-roasted pick-me-up.
Then, head down Galveston Avenue for a world-class yet locally-sourced dinner at Ariana and start off your trip down the Bend Ale Trail with a pint at 10 Barrel. Go deeper into Beer Country, follow the music to one of Bend’s many fine venues, or head up Pilot Butte to watch the sunset.
And all of that’s assuming that there aren’t any special events going on in town. Chances are actually good that there are. If you time it right, you’ll be able to catch one of Bend’s major music, microbrew, culinary, film, or city festivals. Though summer is obviously festival season, there are plenty of special events to keep you busy during the spring, fall, and winter in and around Bend.
Next Steps: Touring Bend Neighborhoods and Finding a Job in Bend, Oregon
Once you’re done surveying Bend’s cultural, culinary, recreational, and entertainment scenes, you’ll want to spend some time getting acquainted with its neighborhoods. Nothing beats spending time in Bend to get a feel for what it’s really like to live there, and we suggest you plan for at least a week’s vacation.
Rather than booking a hotel, consider staying in homes in one or more of the neighborhoods that you’re interested in. Alltherooms.com is one place to look to find the perfect vacation rental: check out their Guide to Oregon Vacation Rentals.
The Bend real estate market is a tough one for buyers, but some neighborhoods are more affordable than others. But if walkability, mountain views, and access to shopping, restaurants, and entertainment are important to you, there are a few obvious choices for Bend’s best neighborhoods.
Oh, if you’re moving to Bend you’ll probably be looking for a job too, unless you’re lucky enough to be transferring or are able to work remotely.
There’s good news on that front: Bend’s economy is growing just as much as its population, with a 5.8% increase over the past year. That’s way higher than the national average of 1.6%. In 2016, Forbes Magazine named Bend its Best Small City for Business and Careers.
Naturally, Bend has a ton of jobs in the outdoors industry, but there are also a number of career opportunities in the medical and tourism industries. With the recent opening of OSU Cascades, a satellite campus of Oregon State University, higher education is also a growing presence.
Navigating the Bend, Oregon Real Estate Market: Expect Competition
We think you’ve heard enough of the “Why” when it comes to relocating to Bend. Now, it’s time to get more into the nitty-gritty of “How.”
You know that this has been coming, and we wouldn’t want to disappoint: you’re going to need a good real estate agent. Scratch that–better get a great real estate agent.
You’re not the only one who wants to relocate to Bend–far from it. For several decades now, Bend has been a hot-ticket destination for Californians looking for a change of pace and maybe a little less strain on their pocketbooks.
We mentioned earlier that the number one factor driving the high cost of living in Bend, Oregon is its housing market. There simply isn’t much inventory to go around, particularly following an unprecedented summer and fall buying season in 2020.
As of November 2020, Bend’s available housing inventory weighed in at an extremely lean 0.8 months. Notably, new inventory is dominated by higher-end developments. If you’re looking for affordable real estate in Bend, Oregon–something cheaper anyway than the $560,000 median reached in Q3 of 2020–expect few choices and even stiffer competition. Again, living in Bend, Oregon comes with a steep price tag, Oregon’s lack of a sales tax notwithstanding.
We’ve outlined the struggles would-be Bend homeowners might face in another article: Tips for Home Buyers in a Tight Real Estate Market. Simply put, it’s a sellers’ market here, and you’re going to need an agent who is willing to knock on doors and create opportunities for you.
We just happen to be the kind of agents who will do just that. Check out our Team Page for the lowdown on what we do and how we like to do it. Or, contact our Bend office and we’ll get started on your home search right away. You can also search for Bend homes for sale from the comfort of our website.
If you’re still on the fence about whether the Bend life is the right life for you, then don’t be shy. You can delve further into the Bend area’s many offerings and learn more about the Bend real estate market on our Bend Blog.