Best places to live in Oregon in 2020

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The best places to live in Oregon in 2020 offer a combination of traits like high affordability, desirable culture and a solid job market.

Nestled in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S., Oregon offers easy access to both outdoor recreation and city life. You’ll find mountains, beaches and farms along with excellent restaurants, entertainment and coffee shops.

Overall, five cities total made the cut, with Bend, Oregon, taking the top spot. But the majority of cities on our list are within a 30-minute drive of each other in the Northern half of the state near the coast.

If you’re looking for a place in Oregon to call home, this list can help you with your search.

What to consider in a best place to live

There’s a lot to think about when deciding on the best place to live in a particular state. Factors like proximity to family and the size of a city are often just as important as cost of living, career opportunities and safety.

To assemble our list of best places to live in Oregon, we looked at the most populous and fastest-growing cities in the state. Then we measured affordability, culture, job market, safety and educational attainment. Each city was ranked for all of those factors on a one to 10 scale, with 10 being the highest.

Here’s how we measured each of those traits:

Affordability: Looking at both housing prices and the overall cost of living in each city compared to its median income, we gave an overall score for affordability.

Culture: Using Gallup’s research, the well-being of each city was ranked. In addition, we considered the number of activities, events, restaurants and nightlife in each place.

Job market: Unemployment rate and commute times were taking into account using data from the Census Bureau.

Safety: Violent and property crime rates were measured and ranked with data from the FBI.

Educational attainment: We used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to get a sense of the educational attainment of a city.

In addition, we considered the net migration of each area and how fast its growing, according to government data.

Keep in mind that these are larger cities throughout the state. There may be smaller towns around the major metros on this list that are more desirable places to live for your situation, but this list can serve as a starting point.

Here are the top five places to live in Oregon in 2020:

1. Bend

  • Affordability: 8 out of 10
  • Culture: 9 out of 10
  • Safety: 9 out of 10
  • Job Market: 8 out of 10
  • Education: 7 out of 10

Biggest advantage: Affordability/Culture

Biggest limitation: Education

Bend’s excellent culture is just one of the reasons why it’s one of the fastest-growing cities in Oregon. Dubbed as an outdoor playground for adults, it offers an abundance of hiking, skiing, snowboarding and other outdoor recreation at nearby Mount Bachelor and Deschutes National Forest. There’s also a growing selection of restaurants and breweries in the area. Despite its fast growth and attractive culture, this central-Oregon city maintains a relatively low cost of living, a high degree of safety and a solid job market. Since it’s home to three higher education institutions, including Oregon State University, it also has a well-educated population.

2. Hillsboro

  • Affordability: 9 out of 10
  • Culture: 5 out of 10
  • Safety: 9 out of 10
  • Job Market: 7 out of 10
  • Education: 8 out of 10

Biggest advantage: Affordability/Safety

Biggest limitation: Safety

An affordable cost of living combined with a low crime rate and a strong economic base make Oregon’s fifth-largest city by population one of the most desirable places to live. Situated to the West of Portland, Hillsboro provides the high affordability of a smaller community with easy access to the amenities of a larger metropolis. Intel is the major employer in town, but several other large companies are located nearby. As the location of two higher-education campuses, residents have a high degree of educational attainment. And though its culture isn’t quite that of its larger neighbor to the east, it still offers 28 parks for outdoor enthusiasts and plays host to a slew of community events.

3. Beaverton

  • Affordability: 8 out of 10
  • Culture: 8 out of 10
  • Safety: 7 out of 10
  • Job Market: 6 out of 10
  • Education: 6 out of 10

Biggest advantage: Affordability/Culture

Biggest limitation: Education

Beaverton boasts both a desirable culture and high affordability. It’s just seven miles to the west of Portland, so it provides access to the liveliness of a larger city. Yet since it’s home to more than 100 parks, there’s plenty of opportunity for outdoor activity as well. Plus, attractions like Mt. Hood and Willamette Valley are just a quick day trip away. The job market isn’t as strong as other cities on the list. Still, it’s the headquarters of Nike and residents can easily commute to Portland for work.

4. Portland

  • Affordability: 7 out of 10
  • Culture: 9 out of 10
  • Safety: 6 out of 10
  • Job Market: 7 out of 10
  • Education: 9 out of 10

Biggest advantage: Culture/Education

Biggest limitation: Safety

It might not come as a surprise that Portland’s culture is what makes it one of the best places to move to in Oregon. The city offers an accessible downtown where coffee culture reigns supreme. But there’s also tax-free shopping, ample green spaces and a thriving food scene. It even has NBA and MLS soccer teams. Since it’s the location of numerous universities and colleges, it’s also one of the most-educated cities in the nation. And despite a slightly higher unemployment rate, there’s still ample opportunity for job seekers. Major employers headquartered in the area include Daimler Trucks, Adidas and Leatherman Tools. That’s along with nearby employers like Nike and Intel.

5. Eugene

  • Affordability: 6 out of 10
  • Culture: 7 out of 10
  • Safety: 7 out of 10
  • Job Market: 5 out of 10
  • Education: 8 out of 10

Biggest advantage: Education/Culture

Biggest limitation: Culture

With nearly 23,000 enrolled at the University of Oregon, Eugene is a well-educated city. It’s a college town that’s naturally steeped in culture. Being located in Willamette Valley, residents have direct access to Oregon Wine Country. But there are also numerous concerts, festivals and opportunities for outdoor recreation. It will even be the site of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials. The University of Oregon is one of the largest employers in the area, but job seekers can also find options at employers like PeaceHealth Oregon, the State of Oregon and Monaco Coach Corporation.

Next steps

If you’re planning a big move, there’s no substitute for visiting the place. Bankrate has a host of resources for homebuyers, including mortgage rates and news, tools and information about real estate and more.