One of the most unique cities in Oregon to call home is a placed called Bend. Even when you walk around the city today, you’ll find interesting street names that talk about the history of the community. If you visit Drake Park, then you’re visiting a spot in the city that was named after frontier developer Alexander Drake. Then you can visit Mirror Pond, which is actually a river that comes out of the Cascade Mountains.
Bend was a place where those who were traveling west would take refuge. It was a lonely spot in the desert, in the valley where Pilot Butte could be seen on the horizon. When early settlers could see that spot, then they knew that they were almost here. The area was originally called Farewell Bend because most families would eventually keep moving westward from this location.
For the 300 or so settlers who decided to stay, they decided to incorporate as a city in 1904. Railroad tracks would soon come to town to encourage logging and commerce. Bend became a prosperous place with its sawmills. Now it is a place where you can have outdoor activities, enjoy world-class dining, and enjoy a quiet patch of paradise.
List of the Pros of Living in Bend, OR
1. Bend provides you with year-round outdoor activities to enjoy.
When you decide to start living in Bend, then you will be embracing an active lifestyle. The community is located in the high desert of Oregon’s interior, which means you’re in the foothills of multiple mountains from the Cascades range. You can go fishing, hiking, running, or cycling in almost any season. Skiing and snowshoeing are popular winter activities. You can even explore lava fields that are not so far away.
2. Beer and wine are ways of live when living in Bend.
Oregon is arguably the home of handcrafted beer in the United States, which would make Bend the capital of that industry. The Deschutes Brewery was one of the first to embrace the idea of going away from the macro-brews. It was founded in 1988, but it is now the fifth-largest company of its type in the world today. There is a total of 24 craft breweries for you to enjoy in the area.
The Willamette Valley provides excellent wine opportunities as well, so you can enjoy the shorter growing season in each glass because you’ll find the local vintages tend to offer intense sweetness with just a touch of tartness.
3. Bend is the epitome of what it means to live in Oregon.
There are three things to know when you start living in Bend: there is no state sales tax, the community is very laid-back and easy-going, and there are plenty of gas stations where full service is still the only type that is available. With regards to housing value and median income, this city is right on the state averages. If you can find a job here and a property that you can afford, then you’ll find that there are many opportunities to have a good time even if you are somewhat isolated from the rest of the state.
4. People love their dogs in Bend, OR.
Bend was once named the friendliest city for dogs by Dog Fancy in 2012. You will find that there is a healthy population of canines living in the city, and there are plenty of places to go have some fun. There are numerous off-leash areas where you can have a great time running around. Many of the small businesses in the area are pet-friendly as well, including some of the restaurants in the area. There is a perpetual presence of these pets, even at work, which is why if you like dogs, you’ll love it here.
5. There is an emerging tech culture to enjoy in Bend.
Although there aren’t many industrial jobs in Bend and the unemployment rate is higher than average, entrepreneurs are flocking to the city because of the opportunities that are available here. The community is on the verge of becoming the place to go in Oregon outside of the I-5 corridor to start a business. If you can carve out a job as a freelancer, create a startup, or even telecommute, then the lower housing prices and higher income potential could create a beneficial financial situation for your family.
6. It is the home to a significant retiree population.
If you spend some time wandering around Bend, you might think that the city is a retirement destination with a high median age. Many people are surprised to find that the media age in the city is less than 40. About 12% of the city’s population are retirees, which means there is a significant segment of the economy dedicated to meeting their needs. You’ll get to experience all of the seasons when living here, get to know some of the history of the region, and don’t forget about all of those outdoor exploration options that you have.
7. You can’t go wrong with the weather when living in Bend.
If you love to have some sunshine, then moving to Bend is the right choice if Oregon is going to be your new home. This community has the highest average number of sunshine days in the state at 158. The statewide average is about 105. Even when there are clouds in the sky, you’ll still receive a lot of daylight so that you can go exploring. It is an advantage that gives the community an atmosphere that is bright and warm.
8. The cost of living is relatively low in Bend.
People have been discovering Bend over the past decade, so it caused the housing market to experience its own bubble. The median sales price for a house in the city was over $428,000, but you can save about $30k if you live on the eastern side of town. It’s even cheaper in the southeast. Although that’s well above the national median, it’s comparable or less expensive to live here than in Portland or the larger cities along the I-5 corridor. Your expenses for food, utilities, and other daily living necessities is going to be fairly reasonable as well.
Renting is fairly competitive in Bend compared to the rest of the state as well. It will cost about $1,200 to rent about 900 square feet here, which is a 7% increase from the year before.
9. There is a thriving arts community in Bend.
Because of the beautiful sunsets, mountain summits, and lava fields that you can discover when living in Bend, this community has become one of the go-to places for artists in Oregon. You’ll find that there are a variety of creatives making a living here, ranging from musicians, writers, artists, and more. You’ll find platforms that help to get people to work, on-site studios to tour, and plenty of arts and educational opportunities to pursue.
Les Schwab has a robust presence in the community, so much so that there is an amphitheater with naming rights for the tire brand. There are several small venues for people to display their work or play when living in Bend too, and outdoor concerns happen almost every night of the week in the summer.
List of the Cons of Living in Bend, OR
1. You may need to get used to the winters in Bend.
If you are coming from a community that sees a lot of snow each year, then this might not be an issue when you start living in Bend. You’ll receive an average of two feet of snow per year, and there are times when all of it comes in a single storm. Although summers can stretch deep into September, this community’s location can make you feel a little isolated when the roads become more challenging to navigate.
This disadvantage also means that your growing season is going to be shorter than you expect if you love to plant a garden or want to start a farm.
2. You’ll be living with a volcano.
Bend is only one of three cities in the United States where an extinct volcano is officially within the city limits. Much of the community is even built on the remains of the volcanic activity that once occurred in the area, although much of it is several centuries old. That means you’ll be dealing with a lot of volcanic rock when you purchase a property here.
There’s always the miniscule risk that the extinct nature of the volcano might change, which is one of those small risks that many people take when they decide to live on the west coast of the United States.
3. Diversity is a bit of an issue when living in Bend.
Oregon is not a state that provides a significant amount of diversity. Although this disadvantage is slowly changing, you can expect that 90% of the population in Bend is going to be Caucasian. You’ll find some different political leanings and religious ideas in the city, but unique ethnicities and cultures are only now starting to make their way to this community. If you want to raise a family in an area where there is a melting pot of ideas and perspectives, then this city might not be the place to be right now.
The primary emphasis on culture in the city is on the region’s history. If you like music or museums that cover more than the Oregon Trail or some bluegrass, you might be disappointed in what you find. Most of the folks who live here are in it for the recreational opportunities.
4. It can be a challenge to find employment opportunities in Bend.
Because Bend is a city of about 90,000 people, you won’t find a lot of manufacturing or industrial positions available in the city. Finding employment can be challenging, especially if you’re not part of the hospitality or tourism culture. On any given year, the unemployment rate here is about double of what it is nationally. That means it’s hovering around 6% in 2019, and has been as high as 8% in recent years. It says something that the largest employer in town after the hospital and the tourist resorts is Les Schwab Tire Centers.
5. Driving can be difficult in Bend if you need to go anywhere.
If you start living in Bend, then you will want to invest in a high-quality set of chains or cables for your vehicle. Because of its location on the eastern side of the Cascades, you’ll be navigating either Highway 20 or Highway 26 to get over the mountain passes to reach the I-5 corridor. On a good day, that will take you a couple of hours if the traffic is light. When the snow flies and you need to strap your tires, it could take 4-5 hours to complete the journey – and that is assuming that the road stays open for you in the first place.
It may be wide to invest in a vehicle with four-wheel drive as an option if you decide to start living in Bend. On the flip side of this disadvantage is the fact that those mountain summits are downright beautiful.
6. You’d better love geese if you live in Bend.
Because of its location in the high desert, many migrating geese decide to stop in the city. Some of them decide to stay there all year long. If you catch one of those birds in a bad mood, then it is not unheard of for them to come after you.
7. You will start to watch the burn forecast more than the weather.
Bend’s location can make it a favorable destination for anyone who loves a good outdoor adventure, but it can also be problematic during the fire season. Although the city is fairly safe with its location in the foothills, you will experience traffic delays, train closures, and the occasional evacuation happening in the city. You’ll also notice that the summer can smell a little like burnt grass thanks to the controlled burns and wildfires that occur in the region.
The pros and cons of living in Bend, OR, show that this community could be a challenging place to be if you arrive without a plan of action. You’ll want to secure employment before moving here or have a plan to start your own business. It will help to scout the housing market as well, especially if you plan to buy instead of rent. Once you find yourself here; however, you may discover that there is no better place to call home.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.