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 out of 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 in East Asia 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.
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 wont 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, by and large people will 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: stuff is going on. You’ll meet plenty of passionate people here. Missing, though, are the edgy speed of the East Coast, the sun-baked vibe of SoCal and its artificial suburban paradise, and the insular headiness of the Bay Area.
We mean no offense to residents of these other fine locales: naturally, we’re biased. Most people who live here are. And they wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Moving to Eugene from out of state, you may soon find yourself singing a similar tune.
Defining the Eugene Vibe
Probably, you already have some sense that things are a bit, well, different in the Pacific Northwest.
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 really get to know Eugene, you have to spend some quality time here. We’ll offer just a few suggestions.
What to See and Do Before You Move to Eugene
Where to begin? 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 Grit or 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 rain forest 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 the move to Eugene, Oregon, you can enjoy the full-course meal and more.
To be fair, you’ll probably want to find a job before you make 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’s a lot of them.
And if you have a family, rest assured that Eugene is an excellent place to raise children. 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.
Practical Matters: the How and the Where of Moving to Eugene
We think you’ve heard enough of the “Why” when it comes to relocating to Eugene. Now, it’s time to get more into the nitty-gritty of “How” and “Where to?”
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.
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 the beginning of 2018, Oregon is the country’s number 2 relocation destination. And Eugene is a prime target.
For evidence, look to the fact that through 2017, Eugene ranked as America’s second most constrained housing market, trailing only Seattle.
What that means, basically, is low inventory. Like, stupendously low inventory: the most recent figures from June 2018 show an inventory of only 1.7 months.
If you want to get a piece of this pie, you’re going to need some help on the ground. Particularly in desirable neighborhoods, homes often close in a matter of days, and for prices well above what’s listed.
Go ahead and browse our Eugene Neighborhoods Page for detailed descriptions. Eugene’s neighborhoods are diverse, and they all have their unique charms. But some will probably draw you more than others. For our own take on Eugene’s very best, check out our list of Eugene’s Top 5 Neighborhoods.
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 Team Page for the lowdown on what we do and how we like to do it. Or, let us know what you’re looking for and we’ll get started on your home search right away.
If you’re still on the fence about whether the Eugene life is the right life for you, then don’t be shy. You can delve further into the Eugene area’s many offerings and learn more about the local real estate market on our Eugene Blog.
And if you are ready to make the big move, look no further than our Beginner’s Guide to Eugene: 5 Steps to a Successful Relocation.