21 Pros and Cons of Living in Oregon

An image of a healthy young sea crab sitting on a person's knee who is on a boat

Situated on the west coast of the United States, Oregon was the 33rd state admitted to the union. It is known as the Beaver State and lies on the Pacific Ocean between Washington, Idaho, Nevada, and California.

Oregon is also known for amazing natural beauty and lots of rain. There are certainly many pros and cons of living in this state. If you are thinking about moving to Oregon, it can help to review all sides of what to expect. You need to be willing to take the good with the bad and the highs and the lows.

Here’s our list of pros and cons about living in the Beaver State.

11 Pros of Living in Oregon

There are many reasons why you may want to move to Oregon. National Geographic states its state bird is the western meadowlark, and the state flower is the Oregon grape, which tells you this is a beautiful state with some amazing crops. However, those aren’t the only wonderful things about living here.

1. Natural Beauty and Outdoor Activities

Oregon is a stunning landscape. It has mountains and lakes that will take your breath away. Everything here is so green and lush that you will certainly fall in love with the scenic beauty.

The people here also take good care of the space. They don’t toss litter on the side of the road, and many ride bikes instead of driving to cut pollution. They simply care about the environment and keeping it healthy.

Because there is this natural setting, it means you have a lot to enjoy. Whether you take a trip to the Colorado River or hike the Painted Hills, you can find something to suit you here. Every part of the state has these wonderful outdoor spots that allow you to really enjoy water activities, hiking, biking, and beach fun.

2. Low Carbon Footprint

Carrying on about how much the people here care for the environment, Oregon has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the country. It ranks 5th because the people care. There are many environmentally-friendly buildings here that you won’t see in other states.

It also has a range of programs and policies in place to help it be as green as possible. The Official website of the State of Oregon explains in March 2020; the governor put into place measures that will help the state to greatly reduce emissions by 2035.

3. No Sales Tax

Oregon is one of only five states in the U.S. that does not have a sales tax. When you pay for something at the register, you will pay whatever is on the price sticker. No need to try to figure out how much extra you will pay on most goods. You should note there will be other taxes on some larger items, such as vehicle purchases.

4. Decent Weather

Oregon has a mild climate, so it never really gets too hot or too cold. There are rainy periods along the coast and some snow in the higher elevations, but for the most part, the weather is nice all year.

You will experience all four seasons, but not to the extremes that happen in other parts of the country. There may be some warmer days and some cooler days, but don’t expect periods of polar freeze or excessive heat waves.

Do note the best weather is in the eastern part of the state. The east and west have a vastly different weather situation due to the western portion being along the coast and experiencing weather-related to coastal climates.

Related: Advantages and Disadvantages of Living in Wyoming

5. Bike Friendly

Oregon is a great place if you like to bike ride. Due to the environmental consciousness of the state, many people ride bikes instead of driving. The state also supports biking with trails and paths. Many cities provide special incentives to those who choose to bike.

With decent year-round weather, biking is practical no matter what month it is, so you can easily make it your chosen mode of transportation. Of course, you will find biking to get places easier if you live in a city, but bike riding is also an amazing way to explore the state’s wilderness areas.

6. Ocean Catches

Being right on the Ocean, there is a lot of opportunity for those who love fresh fish and seafood. Crabbing is especially popular. During the season, everyone is eating fresh-caught crab. The season begins after Thanksgiving and can help you save some money on food costs throughout the holidays.

Having direct access to sources also means seafood and fish are much cheaper here than they would be more inland. Salmon prices will shock you because they are super low.

7. Stunning Coastline

The coastline of Oregon is breathtaking. The beaches are clean and comfortable as well. You have more than 360 miles to explore. If you want to take a scenic drive, Highway 101 runs along the coast and provides excellent views.

There are many hidden gems along the coast as well, and some more popular areas, such as the Columbia River banks. Whatever you desire, there is something for everyone. This is a big tourist area so you’ll also find delicious food and many opportunities for shopping as you explore the coast.

8. Amazing Farmers Markets

The state has rich farmlands, which means you can find fresh foods easily. There are many farmers’ markets, and local stores also sell the crops from nearby farms. Everything is tasty and fresh.

The top crops include hazelnuts, berries, green peas, cherries, potatoes, apples, and beets. You can pick them up during the growing season and create amazing meals for your family with food that tastes superior to that made with shipped-in ingredients.

9. Outstanding Theater

Oregon is a great place if you enjoy excellent theater. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is well-known for performing almost 800 times each year. It offers shows that feature Shakespeare and more. You can find something that will suit your tastes from this talented crew.  

The state also prides itself on its culture and arts scene, which means the theater experiences are rich in what they offer. You can check out shows at Portland Center Stage or the Oregon Contemporary Theatre. The Artists Repertory Theatre offers two stages that have done highly acclaimed shows, such as 9 to 5.

10. Local Wine and Beer

A photo of grapes in a vineyard in Oregon. It shows healthy looking vines with large bunches of red grapes

With a grape as the state flower, it shouldn’t be a surprise Oregon has amazing vineyards and wineries. You can find an excellent pinot noir, which is a local specialty. Feel free to tour the grounds or stop for a tasting at any of the many locations, but Willamette Valley is where you will find most vineyards.

Craft beer is also huge in this state. There are more than 260 breweries whipping up tasty beverages. The state even has the annual Portland Craft Beer Festival, where you can explore all the options vendors have to offer.

11. Quiet Paradise

There are many areas in Oregon away from the bigger cities. It is easy to find these quiet pockets where you can relax. You can carve out your new home in the rural areas where you are away from everything but immersed in nature. However, no matter how far out you travel or what small town you decide to call home, you won’t ever really be too far to make commuting difficult.

Some of the best places to live in the state, according to Visit Oregon, include West Linn, which is a small city of around 26,500, Lake Oswego, which is near Portland but far enough away to be peaceful; and Milwaukie, which is along the Willamette River.

10 Cons of Living in Oregon

While there certainly are many reasons why you may want to find some real estate in Oregon and call it home, there are also some not-so-great things you will want to consider. The following outlines 10 things people do not like about this state.

1. Full-Service Requirement

It is illegal to pump your own gas in Oregon. This might be frustrating to some people because you can end up having to wait in long lines at busy stations. Plus, gas stations will add an extra fee to the gas to cover the service, which means you pay more at the pump.

Do note a 2018 change does make it legal for stations in towns of less than 40,000 to open self-service pumps, so you may be able to find one if you go to a small town.

2. Nightmare Traffic

A photograph of gridlocked traffic. It shows several cars sitting stationary on a large highway

One of the worst roadways in the state is the I-5 corridor, which is constantly backed up with traffic. Unfortunately, this major roadway is often one you will have to use at some point. In addition, Portland traffic is notorious for being so horrible. Unless you stick to the rural areas outside of the cities, you can expect to find yourself sitting in traffic at some point.

To make things even worse, the highest speed limit in the state is 65 MPH, so you can expect it will be slow going even at the best of times. You should always plan extra time whenever you travel within the state.

3. California Transplants

With its close location to California, Oregon gets a lot of transplants. Many people from the San Francisco bay area make their way here, which has led to inflated housing costs. It also has shifted things in the state, so it is becoming slowly more like California. Not to mention, people from California like to think they are superior to those in Oregon, so there is a rivalry that can be unpleasant in some areas. It also means if you are from out of town, you may not get the warmest welcome.

4. High Cost of Living

The cost of living in this state is pretty high. You need to have solid employment to afford to make it here. That is if you can even find real estate that suits your budget. The Oregonian explains housing costs are high, and they keep getting higher. Not to mention, there is a shortage, so even if you can pay the prices, you may have a hard time finding something.

If you want to rent, you are also looking at a high price tag. There are just too many people who want to call this place home that there isn’t enough housing to meet the need. This drives the prices up to unreasonable rates.

As if this isn’t bad enough, property and income tax rates are some of the highest in the country. Plus, it is hard to find a job. You must make sure you have somewhere to work before you move here.

Related: Living in Beaverton, Oregon

5. The Rain

A photo of Fremont Bridge in Portland, Oregon on a rainy day

This is one of those things that hits on the pros and cons of living in Oregon. We did say overall, the weather is a pro, but the rain is a con. Unless you stick strictly to eastern Oregon, you will have to deal with the rainy period. Portland, for example, sees an average rainfall of 35 inches each year, and some of that is snow, which, depending on your opinion, may be worse.

It isn’t just the inconvenience of rain but the troubles that come with it. As a homeowner, you may face many problems, such as leaks and flooding, due to excessive rainfall. Plus, all this rain makes for gloomy skies, which can drag your mood down.

6. Earthquake Risk

Being on the west coast means Oregon is prone to earthquakes, and it hasn’t had a big one in a while, so it is likely something will happen soon. If a large quake hits, it can also cause a tsunami that would devastate western Oregon. There is the risk of an earthquake of 9.0 or more that would create waves over 100 feet high.

Recent earthquakes have been minor. They usually hit along the coast, but a big one could impact the whole state. In general, more significant earthquakes are more common here than smaller ones, so you probably won’t have to deal with minor quakes often.

One of the most important things about living here or anywhere along the west coast is to prepare yourself for an earthquake. You will want to check out any potential homes as well to be sure they are ready for one, especially if you plan to move along the coast. Not being prepared can put you at a higher risk for devastating loss and injuries.

7. High Crime Rate

In many ways, Oregon seems idyllic. It is known for a hipster vibe and stunning scenery. You may think it seems like a lovely place where everyone gets along and just co-exists easily, but that isn’t quite the reality.

Oregon has a higher-than-average crime rate. Both property and violent crimes are high. The places to avoid include Portland, Lincoln City, Ontario, Medford, and Warrenton. These areas rank high for crime, and even though some are smaller cities, they all run along the coast, so you may want to stick with areas inland.

8. High Income Tax

Since it doesn’t collect sales tax, the state makes up for it with high-income taxes. In fact, it is one of the highest in the country. Almost anywhere else in the country, you will pay less. The tax rate ranges from around 5% to 9.9% on your income. If you are a higher earner, expect to pay a lot in taxes.

The Oregon Center for Public Policy justifies this high rate because it uses the money to fund state needs, such as roads and education. It also explains the progressive tax system helps to ensure those making more money pay more, which is the fairest way to assess taxes.

9. No Football

Oregon can’t seem to nab an NFL team. There is no prospect for this to happen either. If you are a huge football fan, then you will have to head to California for a pro team to root for. If you are a die-hard NFL fan, this may be a deal-breaker.

10. Failing Education

The public education system in the state is not that great. It comes in at 38 in a ranking of the states. The graduation rate isn’t any better. Oregon has the 4th worst rate in the country. So, if you have kids and want to move here, you may need to add private school tuition to your budget.

Wrapping Up

Oregon is a beautiful state with plenty to offer, but looking over the pros and cons of living in Oregon, you can see there are some things about living here that are not that wonderful. To make a final decision about whether or not a move here would work, you need to consider everything on these lists.

You want to think about what matters to you. Some of the cons may not even impact you, or you may not care about some of the pros. It is all about figuring out if the state suits you in the right ways, and if it does, then Oregon may be the state you next call home.

Related: Pros and Cons of Living in Coos Bay, Oregon