Renowned for its natural beauty, Oregon is one of the more expensive places in the country to call home. Living costs are significantly more than national averages in this Pacific Northwest state, especially in its urban areas.

But that doesn’t seem to deter people. Oregon attracts a steady stream of new residents each year, many of whom are transplants from neighboring California (perhaps fleeing the even costlier living prices there). Between 2010 and 2020 the Beaver State’s population increased from 3.8 million to 4.2 million people.

Thinking of joining them on the Oregon Trail? Here’s what you need to know.

Oregon’s best places to live

Some of the most popular places to live in Oregon are its cities: Eugene, which is known for its abundance of culture, and Portland, an urban hotspot popular with craft beer fans, coffee lovers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Beyond the big cities there are many other alluring locales, including Hillsboro, which is just 20 minutes outside of Portland, and Bend, in the high desert. Or perhaps you prefer the seacoast? Fishing villages-turned-vacation-home spots include arts and craftsy Newport and Lincoln City.

What’s the average cost of living in Oregon?

Living in a state known for its scenic coastlines and striking pine-covered mountains comes with a steep price tag. The cost of living is 24 percent more than the national average, which makes Oregon the seventh most expensive state to live in, according to a cost-of-living analysis by insure.com, an insurance consumer guide.

Housing costs: owning vs renting

Housing is a significant expense in Oregon, particularly in urban locations where inventory is tight and there’s stiff competition for available supply. As they have nationwide, mortgage interest rates have been climbing here all year.

Statewide, the median sale price for a single-family home sits around $525,000 (compared to a national median of $454,900 as of Q3 2022). The good news for those looking to purchase a home is that prices are steadily declining — down 4.6 percent in September 2022 compared to one year earlier, according to Redfin. Homes are taking a little over two months to sell at the moment, which is longer than a year ago, when the average time on the market was about 54 days. Just 26 percent of homes are selling above list price at this point.

Renting, of course, can provide the opportunity to experience a location before putting down roots and comes with less upfront and ongoing costs. The rental cost for a city-center one-bedroom apartment averages about $1,399 per month while a three-bedroom that’s also in a city center averages about $2,482.

Utility costs

Energy costs in Oregon are one area where you may catch a break on living expenses. Utility bills are far less than the national average. According to EnergySage, an online marketplace for solar energy products, the average monthly electricity bill in the state runs about $119. That’s about 42 percent lower than the national average electric bill of $204.25. Electric rates in Oregon cost about 13¢/kilowatt-hour (kWh), vs the national average rate of 18¢.

Other utilities in the state, such as natural gas, water and internet, have also been historically cheaper than national averages.

Grocery costs

Groceries are not inexpensive in Oregon. Food will cost you about 8 percent more than the national average. Measured another way, the annual food costs for a single individual living in Oregon are about $3,999, according to MIT’s living wage calculator. For an adult with one child, the annual food tab in Oregon is about $5,893, and two adults with no children can expect to spend about $7,332.

Transportation

Like many other things in Oregon, transportation is more expensive than national averages. You can expect to spend about 26 percent more than you would elsewhere in the country.

The good news, for those looking to cut costs, is that some of Oregon’s major cities are known for being bicycle-friendly. Portland, in particular, is one of the top cities for cyclists in the country, as is Eugene. Throughout the state as a whole, there’s more than 350 miles of bike lanes.

Taxes: income, sales and property

Oregonians get a major tax break in one sense: Oregon has no state or local sales taxes, which makes everything from everyday purchases to big-ticket items (like houses) more budget-friendly. The state does impose a graduated individual income tax, with rates starting at 4.75 percent and increasing to 9.90 percent, according to the Tax Foundation.

Property taxes in Oregon, meanwhile, vary from county to county. In Multnomah County, where Portland is, homeowners pay $22.05 per $1,000 of assessed value, according to the most recent data available from the Oregon Department of Revenue.

Overall, though, they’re fairly low, averaging .97% of home value. The state is ranked 17th in the nation for most-friendly property tax rates, according to data from the Tax Foundation — which also notes that property taxes here actually dropped from 2021 to 2022.

Job market and unemployment rate

Oregon’s job market is strong, though the unemployment rate ticked upward slightly in August to 3.7 percent from 3.5 percent in July, according to the state’s Employment Department. Over the preceding six months, the state’s unemployment rate had been historically low, however, averaging about 3.6 percent.

Oregon’s July and August unemployment figures were the same as the U.S. rate for that time period. Also in August, the state’s non-farm employment levels grew by 9,300. The state’s largest job growth was experienced in the government sector, followed by leisure and hospitality construction, and professional and business services.

Ready to move to Oregon?

If you’re seriously considering packing up and moving to Oregon, It’s a good idea to research the state’s various cities and regions ahead of time. From vineyard-filled valleys to rocky seacoasts, from culture-rich cities to family-friendly suburbs, Oregon offers a variety of terrains and a lot of lifestyle options. While the cost of living skews high overall, it will of course vary from place to place.

Finding a local real estate agent who can help you explore the options and find an area that makes the most sense for your needs is a good first step, especially if you’ll be buying from out-of-state.

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