People from all across the United States are moving to Oregon. In fact, Oregon has more people moving in compared to moving out than any other state in the country.
Among all the possible destinations in Oregon, it’s not hard to see why people are moving to Eugene. Eugene has a unique culture, great access to the outdoors, and plenty of things to do and see without having some of the pitfalls of larger cities like Portland.
But Eugene isn’t for everyone. The members of our team who live in Eugene wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, but it’s important to have a realistic view of all the pros and cons.
The best thing to do is pay a visit and see for yourself, but we’re here to help if you’re just in the very beginning stages of considering a potential move to Eugene.
Join us as we describe what makes Eugene unique, and why Eugene might or might not be the ideal destination for you. If you’re relocating from California, you might also want to read our Guide to Moving to Oregon from California.
Something in the Air: One of Oregon’s Best Cities for Outdoor Lovers
Let’s start with a fairly simple observation: there’s something about the air here.
If you’re thinking of moving to Eugene and decide to pay a visit, that’s the first thing you might notice when you step off the plane. You can pretty much smell the green–appropriate, considering that Eugene is known as the “Emerald City.”
Riding into town and glancing around at the streets, neighborhoods, and surrounding valley, you’ll certainly see a lot of green. When I was a student at the University of Oregon, my friends from large cities would actually remark: Eugene isn’t a city. It’s a forest!
Climb to the top of one of Eugene’s two main overlooks, Skinner’s Butte and Spencer’s Butte, and what you’ll see is a lot of trees with a few low-rises interspersed. (We’ve featured the view from Skinner’s Butte above.)
The vista may lack somewhat in glamour, but this forest green runs through the blood of Eugene’s residents. For Oregon Duck fans (they’re not too hard to find here), throw some bright yellow in there too.
Eugene’s real estate features plenty of green, naturally. Especially in the hills, heavily treed lots predominate. Down below, you’ll find plenty of pear, apple, plum, and fig trees. Ask your neighbor for a bite: they probably won’t mind!
But let’s get back to the air: it’s not just a particular smell, it’s a whole atmosphere. Even if the other green that you’ll find in the air here–Oregon’s legal recreational cannabis–is of zero interest, you may find that just being in Eugene kind of mellows you out.
After you’ve taken in your surroundings, it won’t be long before you notice something else remarkable: nobody seems to be in too big of a hurry.
Take the traffic, for instance. If you need to switch lanes in a hurry people will usually let you merge. Wait a few seconds too long at a green light, and people don’t blare their horns. Wait really long, and maybe you’ll get a gentle tap.
Mind you: this is still a city, and stuff is going on. You’ll meet plenty of passionate people here. Missing, though, are the East Coast’s edgy speed, the sun-baked vibe of SoCal and its artificial suburban paradise, and the Bay Area’s sometimes insular quality.
We mean no offense to residents of these other fine locales: naturally, we’re biased. If you’re coming from a more fast-paced environment or are used to people “telling it like it is,” certain aspects of the Eugene vibe may start to drive you crazy after a while. But if you want to slow down and enjoy yourself while remaining active and engaged, Eugene could be a great place to live.
Defining the Eugene Vibe: Comparing Eugene and Portland
Probably, you already have some sense that things are a bit, well, different in the Pacific Northwest. Many people move to Oregon for its unique culture and way of life. And Eugene is one of the best places to find out about what the Oregon vibe is all about.
Maybe you’ve seen the show Portlandia. In some ways, Eugene is Portland’s cool but kind of shy younger sister. She marches to a different beat, but she’s not an exhibitionist like her older brother.
Get to know her though, and she’s super friendly and unpretentious. At heart, she’s down-to-earth but kind of deep, and she really cares. She’ll go to a political rally, plant an organic garden, or volunteer at a school. Yet she’s also not afraid to let loose and have a beer or maybe even go to a football game. (People do relocate to Eugene from Portland for these and other reasons.)
This image is a generalization, of course. To truly get to know Eugene, you have to spend some quality time here. We’ll offer just a few suggestions.
Things to See and Do Before You Move to Eugene
Like we mentioned, if you’re looking to move to Oregon, then you’ll want to come here first. We recommend you see firsthand why Eugene lives up to its reputation as one of the best places to live in Oregon. Get out there and explore.
So, where to begin? We have just a few suggestions for things to do in Eugene. Well, more than a few.
Tour local wineries, or go to one of the area’s many organic farms. Hit up the Saturday Market, or even better, the annual Oregon Country Fair. Join a block party–the Whiteaker Block Party is the biggest. Go to a local microbrewery, or maybe attend a bluegrass or gypsy folk show at Sam Bond’s Garage. Eat dinner at Rye and discover the joys of Pacific Northwest cuisine and its locally sourced, farm-to-table ethos.
Float down the Willamette River, go sailing at Fern Ridge Reservoir, cycle along the city’s many bike paths, or hike up Mount Pisgah and admire the wildflowers and other foliage. Heck, tour the dispensaries, if you’re so inclined. Or go to a workshop: watercolor, indigo dying, dance, pottery, gardening, tai chi, bird-watching, home fermentation, fiction-writing, plant identification, West African drumming, Japanese tea ceremony, kombucha brewing, basket-weaving, witchcraft, live-action role-playing, glass-blowing, you name it. There’s a community here for you.
And don’t forget to explore the surrounding area. Just an hour to the west, you’ll reach the majestic Oregon coast, with its towering cliffs, majestic lighthouses, expansive, completely public beaches, and noisy but somehow endearing sea lions. An hour to the east, you’ll enter verdant rainforest before coming to the foot of the Oregon Cascades and some of the most majestic mountain scenery you’ll find anywhere.
It’s a lot to pack into a single visit. But once you’ve tried a sampler platter, if you decide to make a move to Eugene, Oregon, you can enjoy the full-course meal and more.
One thing to make special note of is Eugene’s weather. Depending on what time of year you visit, your experience may be vastly different.
The rumors are true about it raining a lot in Eugene. In exchange for putting up with rain between late October and April, though, the weather the rest of the year is pretty darn gorgeous. We’ve covered everything there is to know about Eugene’s weather and climate in another article.
The Practical Stuff: Finding a Job in Eugene and a Place to Live
To be fair, you’ll probably want to find a job before you take the plunge. There’s good news in that arena: Oregon’s economy, Eugene included, is thriving. Wallethub recently ranked Oregon’s economy 8th in the nation.
Lane County, meanwhile, has added new jobs for seven years and counting, one of the country’s most sustained economic expansions. (Most of Lane County’s residents live in Eugene.)
Education and healthcare are the largest fields, while technology is a growing presence. Go to the Silicon Shire homepage for a convenient guide to Eugene’s tech companies. There are a lot of them.
With all of that said, employment opportunities will obviously be more limited than in larger cities like Portland. Depending on your field of work, you’ll need to do plenty of due diligence before you commit to a move.
Switching gears, if you have children or are planning to start a family, it’s our opinion that Eugene is one of the best places in Oregon for families (or anywhere for that matter.)
Eugene’s neighborhoods are close-knit, with a high value on fostering a sense of community. They’re also eclectic, particularly in South Eugene, a popular choice for parents looking to expose their kids to progressive values.
South Eugene High School, sometimes referred to affectionately as the “University of South Eugene,” is one of the state’s top public schools and certainly one of its most outside-the-box. For the young ones, alternative options like the Ridgeline Montessori School and Eugene Waldorf School abound. Of course, a more traditional schooling experience is available as well.
We’ve prepared a list of Eugene’s 5 Best Neighborhoods that you might want to check out. Any of the neighborhoods on our list would be a great choice for families.
Where’s the Rub? Why Eugene Might Not Be Right for You
By now, you should have a pretty good sense of what the Eugene vibe is all about. You won’t know for sure if it’s your cup of kombucha until you’ve paid a visit here, but we’ve tried to paint at least a basic picture so you can look elsewhere if it’s just not what you’re into.
We’ve also dropped some hints about other possible disadvantages of the Eugene life. You do need to be ready to deal with the rain. While we’ve highlighted many of the things there are to do in the Eugene area, those looking for shopping, nightlife, restaurants, or arts and performance scenes rivalling those in Portland or other large cities will likely be disappointed.
In addition, Eugene does have some of the problems that are associated with most cities in the United States. Homelessness is a growing issue in Eugene, and property crime is on the rise. Most of it localized in the areas around downtown, certain parts of West Eugene, and the University of Oregon campus, but it’s an important factor to consider.
While the local government is starting to do more to address homelessness, there’s a lot of ground left to cover. In spite of Eugene’s progressive reputation, it doesn’t always live up to it on the level of policy.
Political gridlock has been one of the major factors influencing Eugene’s housing shortage. Yes, there is a housing shortage, and a pretty severe one at that – we’ll go more into that below.
In summary, Eugene has a lot of great feautures, but it isn’t perfect. All in all, it’s up to you to determine whether the pros outweigh the cons.
What You Need to Know about Eugene Real Estate
We think you’ve heard enough of the “Why” when it comes to relocating to Eugene (or not). Now, it’s time to get more into the nitty-gritty of the “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. Eugene’s real estate market is a tough one for buyers.
The thing is, other people are in on the no-longer-so-secret charms of the Emerald Valley. The number of people moving to Oregon as a whole continues to swell. As of May 2019, Oregon was the country’s number 6 relocation destination.
As a result, the Oregon real estate market is soaring to heights unheard of in previous decades. 2020 and 2021’s rock bottom interest rates have created unprecedented buyer demand, causing prices to soar.
Eugene’s housing market has certainly weathered the storms. We wrote an article recently about why Eugene’s market isn’t heading for a housing bubble or even a slowdown necessarily. Prices continue to increase significantly from year to year, and especially at the lower end of the market, there are fewer and fewer available homes.
That should be of some concern to most first-time home buyers. Several years ago, Eugene ranked as America’s second most constrained housing market, trailing only Seattle, and things have only gotten tighter since.
What that means, basically, is low housing inventory. Like, stupendously low inventory: the most recent figures from Spring 2021 show an inventory of only 0.7 months.
That will increase through the Spring as more homes hit the market, but we can expect inventory to hover around one month through 2021. For the latest picture of Eugene’s market, check out out our May 2021 Market Report.
If you want to find yourself a home in Eugene, you’re going to need some help on the ground. Particularly in desirable neighborhoods, homes often go pending in a matter of days and for prices well above what’s listed.
We’ve outlined the struggles would-be Eugene homeowners have to 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 Why Work With Us page for the lowdown on what we do and how we like to do it and get to know Eugene’s market by searching for Eugene homes for sale from the comfort of our website.
If you’re still on the fence about whether the Eugene life is the right life for you, we’re happy to set up a discussion where we can talk about the specifics of what you’re considering. Relocating is a big deal, and we won’t feel comfortable helping you find a home here unless we feel confident that it’s the right choice for you and your family. Contact our Eugene office, and let’s get the ball rolling.