Hello, Oregon! Known as the Beaver State, Oregon is home to many unique attractions such as Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the United States. It’s also known for the wide flood basalt plateau, Columbia Plateau, a region dotted with rugged mountain ranges, canyons, lakes, and one of the largest outpourings of lava in the world. There’s always something to explore in this state whether you’re looking to retire or buy your first home. With 197 state parks, trails, and other public recreation areas, Oregon is an affordable state with many attractions and even retirement-friendly cities.
If you’re looking to build a new home in Oregon, let’s see which cities are the best places to live.
7 Best Places to Live
Corvallis tops our list of the best places to live in Oregon! The tenth most populated city in the state, Corvallis is a bustling hub of nature trails and parks, arts and culture, restaurants, local shops, Oregon State University, and wineries and breweries. You will also find three major suburbs: Cedarhurst, Harding, and Lewisburg. As for climate, the city sees mild temperatures all year round with dry and sunny warm summers and wet winters. Snow is rare in Corvallis, but Mother Nature pours out an average of 51 inches of rain per year (with 159 sunny days a year to boot). With an emphasis on arts and culture – three annual art and music events, three major galleries, and the Corvallis-OSU Symphony – this creative region leans liberal and loves dogs. Speaking of dogs, Corvallis boasts at least nine dog-friendly spots for pups and their owners to take in the sights – along with a meal and drink.
A literary and buzzy spot in Oregon is Medford-Ashland, known for its annual Oregon Shakespeare Festival. This city’s population clocks in at over 80,000 and is home to many award-winning restaurants, galleries, and theaters. The conservative-leaning city includes five hospitals and three school districts (with 23 zoned schools). Like Corvallis, it has three popular suburbs: Ashland, Jacksonville, and Talent. The city enjoys 195 days of sunshine annually with less than three inches of snow). The advantages of living in Medford-Ashland include 60 dog-friendly restaurants, which makes this area a significant win for pet owners.
Next up, Eugene-Springfield which fun fact – influenced the iconic cartoon The Simpsons! A somewhat liberal city, Eugene-Springfield is one of the sunniest cities in Oregon; it is sundrenched 205 days a year but does receive 55 inches of rain annually. Snow is somewhat common, falling at around four inches per year. With a robust arena of nature and outdoor activities like the MacKenzie River and Dunes City, Eugene-Springfield is home to the University of Oregon Duck football team. Its lively historic downtown district is home to wineries, a local symphony, opera, ballet, theater performances, and 12 dog-friendly restaurants. Popular suburbs include Amazon, Crest Drive, and Friendly.
Another spot to consider? Salem. Oregon’s capital city is dotted with lush scenic gardens, flower fields, green lawns, and vineyards. An hour from the Cascade Mountains and an hour from the Pacific Ocean, the city is equidistant to various natural touchpoints. Salem has many urban amenities city dwellers crave, but with more access to the vibrant outdoors. With a large population—nearly 170,000—access to care and culture is the best. There are 64 hospitals in the city alone, plus historic estates, museums, riverfront parks, and botanical gardens. This liberal-leaning city is pet positive, with over 50 dog-friendly restaurants. However, you might want to invest in a raincoat for your furry friend as Salem garners an average rainfall of 45 inches each year, with as few as 154 sunny days per year. Considering the suburbs? Check out Salem Neck, Gallows Hill, and North Salem.
5. Oregon Coast
Coastal living awaits you at Oregon Coast. Scenic views and heavy rains are prevalent here, with 51 inches annually, making it the second wettest area on our list (Eugene-Springfield takes the top billing). A liberal-leaning enclave encompasses a wide berth of historic towns and charming beach-side living. There are 11 hospitals and 160 school districts, making this one of the more densely populated areas with over 420,000 residents. State parks, sea lion caves, aquariums, stunning beaches, and historic lighthouses are main attractions as well as beach-side restaurants, resorts, and cafes. If you’re thinking of suburban living, take a look at Cannon Beach, Newport, and Pacific City.
6. Central Oregon
Situated near river bends, canyons, and natural springs, Central Oregon is a nature lover’s delight. The area is well-known for hiking trails and fly fishing. Like nearby cities, overcast gray days are common. One of the driest cities in Oregon at just a mere 11 inches each year, this liberal area sees more cloudy days than not (162 days of sun). While this is the driest area on the list, note it’s the snowiest; it receives an annual snowfall of 21 inches. The population of 30,000 is served by 62 hospitals and 30 schools. Looking at suburb-style living? Keep Bethany, Cedar Mill, and Cedar Hills on your shortlist.
Welcome to the Washington-Oregon border, in Portland-Vancouver which stretches along the Columbia River. This strongly liberal city mixes the attractions of small town communities and big city living from Vancouver to Portland. The temperate but rainy climate—41 inches per year—precludes an atmospheric, overcast sky (144 sunny days per year). It has an energetic city hub including a robust arts district, stellar breweries, waterfront attractions, and world-class dining. You’ll find it has a large school system (over 800 schools), and 74 hospitals. Portland is perhaps one of the most dog-friendly areas in the state, with over 400 restaurants that will seat humans and pups alike.
Stephanie Valente is a Content Director and Editor in Brooklyn, NY. She’s previously held writing and social media positions at Barkbox, Men’s Journal, and currently works at a full-service advertising agency. She’s a self-confessed home and design enthusiast. Stephanie is an award-winning poet and fiction writer. When she’s offline, you can find her taking a yoga class, running, hanging out with her rescue dog Pepper. Find her on stephanievalente.com.