Bend, Oregon

Farewell Bend

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What's it like to live in Bend?

Everything you need to know about Bend Oregon

Living in Bend Oregon is an amazing experience. There is no other city in the country like it. The recreational opportunities that exist here are limitless. From the amazing mountain views of mt. Bachelor and the three sisters, to the weather and the job opportunities, we cover everything in this video.

What is it like to live in Bend, OR?

It entirely depends on what your income is. Bend has become a very expensive place to live due to the invasion of developers from California. Property prices became obscenely expensive creating a serious gap between those who work there and those who can afford to live there. When I first moved to Bend in 1984, the population was small but it had a thriving economy of wood products, retirement needs, and recreation. After the San Jose earthquake of the late 80’s, people moved north in droves bringing much of their ultra liberal ideals with them. Clinton’s moratorium on logging killed the wood products industry leaving Bend ripe for rape of California developers. After a few short years starting in the early 2000’s, property was bought for cheap and created a surge of investments, much of the money went out of state. Now it is a California Palm Springs wannabe and a mecca for recreation. Unless you are a business owner or earn six figures, you can forget about living there. The people who are employed in the service industry have to live in Redmond, 20 miles to north due to cost of living.

I moved back to Bend from the midwest in 2012 with promise of a $65,000/yr job which was considerably more than what I earned in the Midwest. I quickly witnessed how disparaging the income and housing divide is. Unless you drive an expensive SUV and own lots of toys, you are shunned. Equally troubling was the attitude of the church community… if you did not give generously, you were treated as a commoner. $60,000 is scraping by in Bend unless you can live dirt cheap, certainly not for a family of four. You really can not afford many of the perks and recreational activities. I moved to Portland in 2014 and can live considerably more comfortably. I still go to Bend during the summer for fishing and mountain bicycling… but certainly can not afford to live there.

What is it like to live in Bend, OR?

I moved to Bend 8 years ago after living 18 months in Park City, UT and 40 years in Orange County, CA. Short answer is Bend is heaven. Why?:

It is beautiful. 3,500′ elevation, a calm river goes right through downtown. Trees everywhere, on the leeward side of the Cascade Mountains that are covered with snow year round. Downtown is a quaint 110 years old: brick buildings and filled with restaurants, shops, bars.
It is an outdoor meca. World-class mountain mountain biking, hiking, horse trails, skiing of every kind, Cascade lakes for water sports, white-water rafting/kayaking, and Mt. Bachelor is one of the largest ski areas in North America with snow that lasts till Memorial Day (or longer).
With a new 4-year University (OSU-Cascades) and a vibrant business community filled with successful start-ups, the economy is thriving.
Compared to California, everything is half-price. Restaurants, bars, etc. We bought a 3,000 sq. ft. home with 2 1/2 acres on a stream for $625k. I saw a 19-year old with a high school education post here that housing was not affordable. A nice 1,800 sq. ft. home costs $350k. Rents are up due to the demand (a 3-bedroom home costs $1,900 per month).
It is a foodie town. I’ve had an office in downtown San Francisco for 15 years, and we have 3 restaurants in Bend that would be in SF’s top ten, plus many more affordable places with amazing food (like 30 in town to chose from). And, we have 15+ food trucks that kick butt that park around town.
Lastly, the perfect weather if you like four seasons. Averages 300 days of sunshine a year since we are East of the mountains. Summer averages 85–90, with no humidity and a couple weeks with 95+ temps. Winters usually have a couple snow storms in town, a few days in the teens. But, most days in winter are dry and days average 45+ degrees.

Net, I’ve travelled the world. This is the place.

What is it like to live in Bend, OR?

I currently live in Redmond, OR but did live in Bend for just over 4 plus years (2012 to 2016). When I first moved to Bend it was a cozy town where everyone seemed very welcoming and friendly. I remember cars would ALWAYS stop for me when crossing 15th street to go to the park with my dogs. As the summers went by though, less and less cars would stop, until eventually no one would anymore.

Traffic was a breeze when I first arrived too. People did not seem in a rush and it was quite easy to get across town with zero traffic. Those days are long gone! Not only is there traffic but the road rage is in full effect and understandably so as the more traffic there is, the more anxious and in a hurry people become. What once took 10 minutes to drive from the east side to the west side now takes 20 or more.

The home values in Bend were ridiculously low when I first arrived. I was in school and not making much money and neither was my wife. The recession was still being felt in Bend in 2012 thru roughly 2014-ish. We rented a house the whole time we lived there and were lucky our rent never exceeded $1,100. That same house now rents for over $1,500. I remember a house around the corner was listed at 109k…….that same house today would list for close to 300k (on the eastside I mind you). My parent’s once looked at a home on the west side listed at 285k, that same home is now worth well over 650k. Jobs were few and far in 2012 but are now in abundance. The only problem is, can you find a job that pays enough to afford the rent or a mortgage?

thoughts on moving to Bend Oregon as an early 30s divorcee with no kids?

Bend seems to be an oasis of normalcy, surrounded by conservative wingnuts, here in Central Oregon.

The local demographics are skewed by the hospitality/outdoor recreation businesses. That has drawn a big following of younger poorly paid single people, who bump up against the highly compensated Digital Nomads that have migrated from CA. COVID-19 will force a number of small business closures, that disproportionately impact the poorly paid workforce.

The local social scene is outdoor recreation focused, during all four seasons. You will be building friendships through: skiing, mountain biking, hiking, and possibly the equine community. Good luck, but be patient!