Oregon is an inspiration. Whether you come to it, or are born to it, you become entranced by our state's beauty, the opportunity she affords, and the independent spirit of her citizens. - Address to 1973 Legislature
The Best Thing About Salem?
Wine Life in Willamette
Life in the capital is a bit slower than life in the city (Portland) but Salem residents are just fine with that. Trading the urban metro for some peace and quiet is a deal they’d take any day. If a life with beautiful outdoor opportunities and wine tastings galore is a appealing then put Salem on your shortlist.
Here are some pros from a local on living in Salem:
-Convenient to get around and to beaches, mountains, etc. Traffic is congested during commute hours, not bad during other times.
-Parts of town are relatively attractive, downtown is nice, several good parks.
-Summer is great, but quite short, although it varies year to year. One year it rained almost daily with temps in the 60’s until the end of June when the rainy season started again in early Sept. One year it was 106 in May and rainy season held off until late Sept, which locals tell me was a rare season.
-People generally friendly and conscientious.
-Surprising number of good local restaurants and grocery stores.
For more reviews of what living in Salem is like from locals check out: The Buzz
The Worst Thing About Salem?
If peaceful glasses of wine and bike rides inside and outside the city don't sound like you, Salem’s probably not an ideal fit. It’s more or less a large small town, where everything’s closed by 10 and the places that are open before then tend to be quiet. Young, non-white, and liberal people in particular tend to not like it in Salem with the exception of pockets near the university, and you might be shocked by the number of confederate flags you see in the capital of a state with Oregon’s general reputation. Portland’s only an hour away for those looking for an escape, but it would make more sense to live closer if you're looking for that vibe.
Here's a local on living in Salem (vs. Portland):
Salem, on the other hand, is a great place to settle down and get comfortably domestic. It’s cheaper to live here than Portland (though affordable housing is becoming increasingly rare), and there is a lot less competition for jobs. And, of course, it’s the state capital so there are a lot of state agencies and employees. It’s easier to get around town, and just generally getting stuff done is simpler. But the trade-off is that Salem has a lot less to offer culturally. It’s a lot more homogenously white, middle and lower-middle class folks. There aren’t nearly as many high-quality restaurants or cultural events. There are some parks and nice natural spaces, but none of them really rise to the level of Portland’s better park areas. There’s adequate shopping and other services, but it’s much more middle America.
Lifestyle of Salem
The benefits of living near the Willamette Valley and the Willamette River highlight the lifestyle of Salem. Kayaking, hiking and camping spots are bountiful near the city, and trips to the vineyards are popular for residents and tourists alike in the summer months when rain is less frequent. Native Salem-ites are described as "small-town friendly" and conservative, tending to live more slow-paced lives than their Portland neighbors.
If you're interested in seeing what's happening in Salem check out the calendar of events: https://www.travelsalem.com/events/
Workstyle of Salem
Unless you’re working for the state, jobs are hard to come by in Salem. Outside of politics, education jobs from the public school system and Willamette University are the only other major hiring block Salem itself really has to offer. If you're moving here without a job then best to be a WFH'er.
Why You Should Move Here Now?
If you find the stress-inducing pace of Portland (or Seattle or SF or LA) exhausting, and having a locally grown glass of wine on a quiet Friday evening is appealing, put Salem on your shortlist. Many of the people who move to Salem are doing so to escape something: a more expensive or chaotic city, a population they think is too liberal, or a population they think is too conservative. Whatever your reason for trying to escape where you presently live know that for some Salem has served as an excellent alternative.