11 Pros and Cons of Living in Coos Bay, Oregon

A picture of an old dock in Coos Bay Oregon in the Pacific Northwest. It shows a calm blue waterway, beautiful pine trees and several boats

Located only 200 miles south of Portland, Coos Bay is a medium-sized hamlet with a lot to offer. Whether you love heading out to the beach or on a hike in one of the stunning state parks, you can always find a way to enjoy your time in Coos Bay, Oregon.

Even with all the positives, Coos Bay has a few downsides. From ticket-happy police officers to difficulties finding housing, Coos Bay shares many of the problems that face other towns in Oregon. Read on to find out the 11 pros and cons of living in Coos Bay, Oregon. 

Pros

Cost of Living

If you’re leaving a major city or any town in Oregon, you’ll be surprised at how much cheaper items are in Coos Bay. Everything from necessities like shampoo and food to transportation costs is cheaper here than in many other places in the USA.

We compared the cost of living in Coos Bay to the average costs in Oregon and then to the US average. In comparison to the rest of Oregon, Coos Bay was much cheaper than anywhere else in the state. Coos Bay was also marginally cheaper than the US cost of living average.

One reason why the cost of living is cheaper in Coos Bay is the relatively low housing costs. The average home price in Coos Bay is $190,000, while the rest of the state’s average price is around $340,000. With home prices like these, Coos Bay is an attractive place to live.

Beaches

You can find the town of Coos Bay, as the name suggests, on the mouth of Coos Bay.  The bay provides a natural harbor for boats and helps create a multitude of beaches along the outer shore. Within a half-hour’s drive, there are more than a half dozen beaches for you to enjoy!

Whether you want to enjoy the sand-swept Horsfall Beach north of Coos Bay or to the rocky shores of Lighthouse Beach to the south, there’s always a beautiful ocean setting for you to enjoy. 

In the summer, the weather is perfect for dips in the ocean to cool off. My favorite beach is Sunset Beach; a small cove tucked away between two imposing stone cliffs. I love the peace and quiet this place offers me when I visit, along with the beautiful sights. It’s called Sunset Beach for a reason!

Nature

An aerial photo of Coos Bay Oregon. It shows an undulating landscape with thousands of trees and the bay on the far right of the shot

If beaches aren’t your thing, maybe a nice stroll through a state park is what gets you excited. Luckily, there are more than a dozen state parks, nature reserves, and protected areas within an hour’s drive from Coos Bay, including the famous park trifecta of Sunset Bay, Short Acres, and Cape Arago State Parks.

Many of Oregon’s state parks offer camping plots, hiking trails, kayaking, and more! If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’ll love the abundance of options the Coos Bay Area offers you. Even if you need to stay in town, there are plenty of options for you to get out in nature. Just to the south of Coos Bay is Pony Creek, a lengthy but thoroughly enjoyable hike through the hills of Oregon.

Small Town Amenities

Coos Bay is no Portland or Seattle, but that doesn’t mean it lacks interesting sights, delicious restaurants, or exciting nightlife. With more than 15 independent restaurants to choose from, you can always find something to your liking. My favorite is the 7 Devils Brewing Company, where you can get fresh seafood along with some local brews.

The Egyptian Theatre, which may look small to anyone from New York City or Los Angeles, is a cultural staple in town. It has been in operation since 1925. It has a storied history, beginning as a garage and service station in the early 1920s. Entering the Egyptian theatre is almost like taking a tour through history. 

Coos Bay also has a surprising number of bars for such a small town. You can enjoy a casual drink at one of the local pubs, or you can try your luck on the dance floor at one of the nightclubs in town. No matter the time of day, you can always find something exciting to do in Coos Bay.

A Surprising Lack of Mosquitos

Being this close to nature, it came as a surprise to me that there weren’t millions of mosquitos attacking me every spring and summer. Compared to the east coast of the USA, there practically weren’t any mosquitos at all in Coos Bay. 

The lack of mosquitos is due to the terrain and temperatures. The area around Coos Bay has mild temperatures all year round. Mosquitos like warm, stagnant water to lay their eggs in. Since the temperatures are mild and the hilly terrain doesn’t allow for stagnant water, mosquitos have a harder time breeding than in other places.

Mild Winters and Summers

A photo of an old ship moored in Coos Bay, Oregon with Highway 101 in background. It also shows a car dealership and long jetty

So, if you’re from California or Florida, this isn’t much of an advantage, but if you’re from one of the colder places in the USA, you’ll love the mild weather in Coos Bay. The average temperature in the winter months never drops below 40ºF, while the summer temperatures never go much higher than 80ºF.

The mild weather you’ll find in Coos Bay is conducive to the outdoor lifestyle that’s best suited for Coos Bay. As long as you can handle the rain, you can go out for hikes all year or enjoy the stunning scenery. 

Friendly People

The people of Coos Bay are among the friendliest people I’ve had the chance to meet. Whether you’re at the Walmart or in the Egyptian Theatre, everyone in town has a smile on their face. If you need directions while in town, don’t hesitate to ask the locals. They were always willing to help me. 

Neighbors were also willing to help me when I needed it. I left town for a few weeks in the spring, so I needed my lawn mowed. Luckily, my neighbor was nice enough to mow it twice while I was gone. She almost didn’t accept my money, but I insisted.

When you live in a place like Coos Bay, it’s hard to be an unpleasant person. Living in such proximity to the beautiful sites and beaches puts a smile on your face. I mean, who could be unhappy when they’re watching a gorgeous sunset from cliffs overlooking a beach? 

Cons

Visible Drug Use

The biggest downside to Coos Bay is the visible drug use. The opioid epidemic that has swept across America has ravaged small towns like Coos Bay. It is not uncommon to find discarded needles in town or see the occasional person slumped over. 

In my experience, opioid addicts are usually harmless to residents, so although these people’s situation is disheartening, you shouldn’t feel unsafe.

Coos Bay does have another drug that has seen a comeback in recent years—meth. Meth addiction often causes users to become unpredictable and sometimes violent. That’s why, in recent years, the crime rate has gone up. Most of these crimes are property or petty crimes, such as theft or vandalism. You should avoid the downtown areas late at night.

Ticket-Happy Police

A close up photo of a police car's sirens, representing the strong police presence in Coos Bay Oregon

If you take anything away from this article, I hope it’s not to speed on the coast highways near Coos Bay or the surrounding suburbs. Although speed limits are for your safety, too, I’m letting you know because the police tend to hand out tickets, even if you’re only 5 miles above the speed limit.

Some people, especially locals in the area, may appreciate the work that police do. By handing out so many tickets, it deters drivers from going too fast. But as someone who hasn’t been to the Coos Bay area, you may get a ticket for going only a few miles over the speed limit. 

The main highways where police set up to catch speeders are Highway 101 to the south of Coos Bay and the Cape Arago Highway, which hugs the coast. Watch out for police on these highways, and you’ll avoid a ticket. 

Related: Pros and Cons of Living in Beaverton, Oregon

High Unemployment Rate

The unemployment rate in Coos County is higher than the national average, even during good times. The main industries of Coos Bay used to be fishing and forestry, but within the last two decades, the main employment sector has shifted towards services. 

The shift towards the service sector gutted the town of its main industries. When those higher-income jobs went away, many workers felt that the low-wage service jobs couldn’t support them or their families. The result is a significant increase in the unemployment rate.

If you’re planning on moving to Coos Bay, make sure you have a job lined up before arriving. You don’t want to enter a competitive job market without solid leads on work. It could take months to find a job that suits you. And although the costs of living aren’t too high, you don’t want to use all of your savings before you find work. 

Lack of Housing

Although housing may be cheaper here than in the rest of Oregon or the USA, that doesn’t mean there’s an abundance to go around. The lack of housing is quickly driving the prices of homes higher. The lack of housing is especially apparent in the rental market. 

The average rental price in 2021 is $800, which is $300 more than the average price in 2016. A jump in prices like that can only mean that some workers are being priced out of their neighborhoods. If you’re planning on moving to Coos Bay, make sure that you line up a place to stay before heading out there. You don’t want to arrive in Coos Bay and have to stay in a hotel for a month before finding a home. 

Wrapping Up

Overall, Coos Bay is a wonderful place to live. If you love nature, you can’t go wrong with Coos Bay. With the close beaches and wonderful spots to hike within a half-hour drive of town, any outdoor enthusiast would love living in Coos Bay!

It’s not only nature that brings a diverse cast of people into Coos Bay but also the friendly locals and small-town feel. The town is extremely welcoming, and you’ll feel at home as soon as you get out of your car.

Although Coos Bay mainly has positive traits, the negative ones do pop up every once in a while. From ticket-happy police to the high unemployment rate, Coos Bay has some problems it has to deal with. But then again, nowhere is perfect, right?

These were just some of the most distinct advantages and disadvantages of living in Coos Bay. Let us know in the comments if you think we missed anything about the beautiful town of Coos Bay.

Related: Pros and Cons of Living in Oregon