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September 14, 2009


Ahh Bend, my hometown! I was lucky enough to be raised there when the population was 15,000! I can hardly believe my eyes whenever I go there these days; my alma mater St. Francis is a McMenamins now **sniff**, although I had to laugh when we drove by there and all the folks dining and sipping at outside tables were sporting khaki shorts and polos instead of the uniforms we had to wear!

My family still lives there in "Old Bend" near the Mill District were we used to catch frogs and look for duck eggs in the reeds. The main "takeaway" point I've gotten from them is the cost of living is really high, so you may want to do a little research on that.

I don't blame you for exploring an option to live there; as for me, I'm still saddened to see what it has become.

Having been there and done that, let me list some observations. My wife and I moved to central oregon a few years ago from salem. Our friends had moved over there for a job, and we enjoyed the drier climate so much after visiting, we decided to make the move. Long story short, it sucked. The weather is more sunny, yes...but it is very cold and windy (something nobody seems to notice, even though our deck chairs were literally blowing off the patio every other day.) And the cold is there nearly year round...even in the shoulder seasons, it cools down signifancantly at night. While it does have more "sunny" days than salem, its not by much, according to our observations...they just calculate it differently in order to sell houses.
Point 2: The people suck. The bulk of the people currently living in Bend came from Californa or other similar places, and brought their shitty attitude with them. I have never met so many people so self absorbed, so convinced that they are God's chosen people, simply because they moved to Bend. Truly, utterly amazing. If you do move there, just be prepared to be surrounded by fake tits, auspiciously expensive cars, and penis extenders...none of which are paid for, and most of which will end up going back to the bank.
Point 3: Lack of culture. Aside from the outdoor recreation, there is not much to do there. Sure, there are lots of crappy, repetitive "events" in the downtown area, most of which piss off the local merchants something fierce. Most of these events are geared towards luring tourists to buy houses...and the food/shopping/etc at these events are not much better than the state fair in salem...mark my words, you will be disappointed. As for the recreation, it is nice enoough weather-wise to enjoy the outdoors during the summer. in the winter, there is skiing, although Bachelor gets bad weather all the time and much of the mountain is unusable on a regular basis...the company that owns Bachelor has been milking it dry for years, and facilities/amenities are lacking...better skiing can be had elsewhere...and besides, it doesn't sound like you are going to be die-hard skiers anyway. We thought we would ski more when we moved over there, but we didnt cuz the weather was shitty most of the time we had a weekend off.
Point 4: Terrible economy. True, just a few years ago, it was booming. But it was all built on lies. Builders built so many homes because they thought people were moving into them, only to find out that over half the homes sold during the boom years were bought by speculators...yes, there was a national problem with this, but in Bend, it was epidemic. The town is so overbuilt it will not recover for a decade at least. There os nothing else in the town's economy that can provide living-wage jobs, now that the building boom has gone bust...the trades have all moved on, the realtors have slowly but surely closed offices, the developers have sent their land back to the banks, the banks are being shut down by FDIC...the real estate industry employed some 50 percent of the ppeople in that town, one way or another...not the unemploment rate is worse than flint michigan. And there's nothing that will replace thoser jobs and local tax base. Thus, the only people that remain are those who have enough money it dont matter (handful) or those that can't afford a moving truck (most).. Crime has skyrocketed, drug addicts are everywhere. This has resultted in a dramatic drop in homme prices, but even now, the median home price is still very much overvalued, and the prices will continue to sllog down for the foreseeable future.

Other than that, good luck.

Bozo, thanks for the informative comment (you too, LillyDePlume). Much appreciated. You got me researching Bend weather last night. It does look like the sunshine is a bit exaggerated, judging from this web page:

It looks to me like the average monthly high is only 4-7 degrees or so warmer here in Salem. But the average monthly low is considerably colder in Bend. That's our impression when we visit Camp Sherman. A day that ends in the 80s can start in the 40s.

There's a lot to like about Salem, so we'll continue to ponder the pros and cons of Bend. I like how Salem is an hour or so from the coast, Portland, Eugene, and the Cascades. I like to call Salem the nothing at the center of enjoyable somethings.


Bend is excellent horse riding country year 'round. Endless trails, great scenery and sandy soil. Not the sticky clay you get west of the Cascades.

Since you and Laurel have been doing some riding lately why not just jump in and get a horse property around there and a couple of horses to go with it? It's a commitment not to be taken lightly, but can be a fun, very satisfying and absorbing lifestyle.

Better do it while Serena can still keep up!

In the 90's I used to do endurance rides in N. California and Oregon. Bend is central to some of the best rides. Kind of like living in Hawaii if you're a surfer. A great sport for all ages, serious or casual. By the way, famous Pipeline surfer Gerry Lopez has been living in Bend for skiing on Bachelor, etc.

Check out: AERC.org

also google "American Endurance Ride Conference" for other links.

Just a thought.

I like your blog. There are some really interesting articles featured by our experts on the bizymoms Bend community experts page.

My husband and I were interested in moving to Bend. We have visited from the East for the past 7-8 summers. However we have school age children and were not terribly impressed with the schools (or lack of diversity). We come from Washington, DC so the comparison is hard. However we thought it was spectacular scenery and would be a fabulous place to retire--which we are looking to do in the next seven years so we hope the home prices hold low. I thought the people were very friendly! Come East some time and then the Bend-ers seem even friendlier!

I bought 20 acres in the Tumalo area and cannot wait to get there. I have lived in Calif. most of my life but my heart has always been in the North/West. I promise with all my heart that I do not have that Ca attitude. I can't stand it here in Santa Barbara any more.......This whole town was built on pretense.....I haven't fit in for 28 years and I never will. When I finally get out of here, I will never look back. I really hate it here. It will be so wonderful to know real people. Please give me a chance.......Love

i have found bend to be just the opposite of what lillydeplume posted. ive been visiting bend for 12yr now and find it and the people very charming; im from NoCal and we are seriously considering moving there in the near future. my husband grew up there and most of his family is still there so we visit every july... and october during hunting season. i love it there, it's hard to leave and come back to nocal. i love CA too, it's beautiful here (mt., ocean, desert, big city) but the cost of living is outrageous; OR has no sales tax, vehicle registration & insurance, is a fraction of CA's. still waiting to see where God wants us!

Any ideas for someone looking to move from Jackson (Hole) Wyoming. I was considering Bend just based on some recomendations never having been there but already know the city is way too big for me. I like the sound of that part of Oregon for the milder weather but I need a small town, more of a western influence, horse country,rivers and fishing but still need work. I am a working class single woman with her dogs and horse looking for a new adventure.

Teri, consider Sisters. It sounds like the perfect place for you. Half an hour to Bend. Horse country atmosphere. Home of Sisters Rodeo. Charming downtown. Great shopping. Friendly people. Small. Close to Camp Sherman and the beautiful Metolius River, where we share a cabin.

Do a search on "Sisters Oregon" in my blogs and you can read my posts about this wonderful town. Well, I'll save you the trouble. Here's a link:

And take a look at the Nugget weekly, which has an online presence. It'll give you a feel for Sisters. (This sounds a bit erotic, but that's OK.)

DC Girl - Question for you. We too have been visiting there for years and also have elementary school age children. We are currently "on the fence" about heading up there again and are hesitant about the schools. We have excellence in the SF bay area and I'm nervous I'll be unimpressed... Could you please share your research?

A move to Bend is in our future....I can't wait to be a Bendito! This is the last place I will live forever.....Paradise for me.

I'm planning a move to Bend from San Diego, with no illusions about either place. The thing that convinced me to move to Bend is the total friendliness and openness of the people. The economy in Bend is not as rich as socal: it's 'beer, rec and tech' so there is no guaranteed corporate cubicle in my future (yay!). Like many places in the rural west, you have to be tougher and work harder (and get along with people) to survive. But I'm 50, I live for fishing, hiking and dogs, and now is the time. To me the climate in Bend is the same as Flagstaff, and I can handle that.

Hello. I'm glad that I found your blog! My husband and I are about 90% sure we are retiring to Bend from Portland in the next year. In fact, our home is up for sale right now. If we sell it, we're going. We have been going there for 25 years for long weekends. We like to run, cycle and hike, and we can do it all there. We like the fact that the outdoors is so quickly accessible. It has just enough culture for us, a laid back lifestyle, a lot less rain and, of course, the Deschutes Brewery. It reminds us of Boulder, CO in the '80s. Since we'll be retired, the economy isn't an issue with us, but it would be nice to live in a community that is thriving and dynamic. It's such a beautiful place; that will never change. Eventually things will rebound there. The cons are maybe getting over the passes in the winter if you have to be in Portland, the lack of a major airport (although the Redmond airport is really picking up), perhaps not enough middle class for us (although it's shrinking all around the country). When we go, we will probably rent and take our time finding just the right home. There's lots of inventory right now. We are looking forward to the change. We're really active and very healthy. We want to be in a community that makes it easy to go out the door and do all the things we like.

My husband and I are from PA. We have lived in the mountains of New Mexico and also in Springfield/Eugene Oregon. On our way moving to Eugene..we stopped in Bend. I never wanted to leave. We are now back in PA for the last 2 years..mainly due to missing family. I have been doing some researching and have found mixed reviews on people's opinion of Bend. When we visited Bend I was in love with the scenery and the feel. There is nothing like Bend on the east coast. I am in nursing school right now and my husband is self employed (residential paving). I can not get Bend off my mind. I know I want the west coast vibe where ever we live. My husband loves fly fishing and I would be happy if I could walk/bike trails everyday. My concerns are about the weather, economy, and crime (only because of what I've read from others that live or have lived in Bend). We wouldn't be moving for a few years anyway, but I'm trying to set a goal. If anyone can set the record straight and not be so biased one way or the other, that would be greatly appreciated. Living in PA we are subjected to lousy weather most of the year. Hot and humid summers and freezing icy winters. There really isn't four seasons here. I don't mind cold nights but I do need a lot of sun. Living in Eugene was too dreary for us. The economy is crappy everywhere so I'm not concerned about that as much.

I grew up in Bend, and have since lived in CA and on the East Coast. The only thing holding me back from moving back to Bend is I am still early in my career and I am not yet married. After living in other awesome places, Bend is still the best, to me. For it's size and if you love the outdoors, you will enjoy it. I am at the point where I don't need night life all the time, and the Bend lifestyle is just so laid back and unpretentious, it's refreshing. Not to mention excellent cost of living!

Hi there, we're a UK family with two preschool children and two labradors.
We're relocating to Bend in spring/summer next year (my husband's job) so I get to be a stay-at-home Mam for a few years (yay!!)
I'm finding it a little difficult to research where to live, how to find furnished rentals etc from here - can anyone help me please? We're really excited about the move and looking forward to embracing a more outdoors lifestyle that includes all the family (especially the dogs!). I've not yet had a chance to visit but am hoping to scout out some properties to rent in the new year; what areas do people recommend?
Thanks iin advance for your help... hopefully see you all soon!!!

Ceri, I'm not an expert on Bend housing. But here's some ideas for you.

-- My wife and I were impressed with the Northwest Crossing development when we looked around there a few years ago. Check out:

-- My impression is that the other side of the river, meaning the non-HIghway 20 side (main route through town), is the desirable side to live. I recall maps of crime rates, housing price declines, and such in the Bend Bulletin that indicated this. NW Crossing is on that side.

-- I believe the Bulletin has a "firewall" and you need to be a subscriber to access online stories. It might make sense for you to become a subscriber, so you could follow real estate and other news, giving you a better feel for Bend and the surrounding area.

-- My daughter is going through sort of a similar experience to yours. She and her husband sold their house in the Hollywood, California area, but weren't able to find a house to buy in the area where they want to live now. So they rented an apartment in Studio City, close to my granddaughter's school. Now they can take their time looking for a house, and are getting to know the area by living there. Sounds like you're focused on renting, though, rather than buying.

-- If you do ever decide to buy: Bend housing prices are way down from what they were before the real estate crash. You should be able to find some great deals. Don't wait too long, though, because housing prices are on an upswing both in Oregon and elsewhere in the United States.

-- You'll love Bend. Congratulations on your impending move. Your dogs will love it too. Lots of room to roam, both in town and out of town.

i am considering moving to Bend hear the weather is alot like here in Colorado Springs that semi arid desert (am alittle concerend about the wind comment which can ruin a perfectly beautiful day) love to hike wondering how far away trailheads into mountains would be will be renting not buying wondering if $750/month is able to pay for a small decent apt in nice area of town

I was born and raised in Bend, OR. lived there for 43 years decided to move from My home town when the economy turned south and have never regretted. The best choice I ever made, moved to a small city in Western Oregon and immediately gave myself a pay raise of over five dollars an hour doing the same work. Bend is over priced, with cost of living really bad. Now I'm up in Western Washington, I love it even better the weather on the west side of the Cascades is so much nicer even though there's rain the winters are so much more tolerable on the west side of the Cascades.The wind in Bend sucks in the winter time the wind blows right off the cascade Mountains and really cold. It does cool of at night due to the high elevation, summer time can be in the 100's in day and 30's at night, I don't think I would ever move back to Oregon after living in Washington. I would much rather pay sales tax over income tax any day. I still have brothers and sisters that live in Bend and they are struggling, unless you're a doctor or in the medical field of some type, really there are not many good paying jobs. Friend of mine from Portland recently relocated to Bend and he got a $800 apartment at a crappy location and that was the cheapest he could find for a one bedroom. Now I know after moving from Bend why people referred to Bend as poverty with a view, all the time I lived there. Seems like there was always a scandal going on in the realty profession fraud ripping off people mortgage money laundering, Sheriff and Bend city Police Department scandals, I have friends that have worked as Bend police and sheriffs department and have quit because of all the BS. Oh and also when I go back to visit the roads are full of potholes I think the town is going broke, due to mismanagement. They do have four seasons and lots to do recreation. But pretty much you can do that any place in the Pacific Northwest. Back in the day when Bend was about 17,000 people it was a great place to live but not anymore too many people sold there overpriced housing in California and moved found out about Bend and relocated there, paying more the property was worth. Good luck.

Bend was Californicated back in the 90's. Schools, real estate prices, services and infrastructure were negatively impacted. I can only imagine what it is like now.

Why did it get Californicated? Because of the positives about Bend...scenery, many outdoor recreational opportunities and what was a good quality of life at a reasonable price. Even the climate was good overall. Yeah, cold winters but fairly dry so the snow wasn't all that deep and could melt off. Many cold but sunny days in winter.

Great for horse riding around Bend because of the footing. West of the Cascades the soil tends to be clay. Very sticky and sloppy, especially during the wet months. You were always getting off your horse and cleaning clumps of clay from your horse's feet and they would get bogged down in it. Not much fun. But in the high desert country around Bend the soil is sandy and drains well. You can ride year 'round with no hassle for mile after mile. That is why back in those days Bend and the surrounding country was sort of the endurance riding capital of the Northwest. Maybe it still is.

Growing up on a ranch 7 miles east of Bend, had horses and there were numerous years in the winter time I remember where there was a lot of snow and sloppy ground from constantly snowing/raining/freezing/thawing, to where not much good for riding horses, I do think times have changed in the last decade as Bend does not get the snowfall as it did when I was younger but this all goes in cycles. Bend has been Californicated since the 90's and continues through today, as the largest increase in it population was between 2003-2009. Population was 35,000 in 2003 and when I moved in 2009 it peaked to around 80,000. Don't know if its the endurance capital of the northwest, but I do know good friend that runs the penning circuit just relocated from Bend to the Portland area for working with her horses all year long, but they can train inside for this. All I know is Bend is definatly not the Bend that made it appealing to live in, if you knew what It was like in the 60-90's, if you want that charm try John Day, Baker City, or La Grande.

Bend Oregon used to have two small indoor malls when we visited in the early 2000s before the economy crashed. The bigger one was Bend River Mall with Penny's/Sears and I think The Bon.

I heard that both were totally closed down in replacement of the outdoor Factory Store mall in the SW part of Bend which IMHO is a very stupid move because while it's dry in Bend it is MUCH MUCH colder then Salem and contrary to popular belief roundabouts don't make things any easier.

We recently took a visit because we thought we were going to move to Prineville but didn't due to other technical reasons and absolutely HATED the traffic in Bend.

Everybody was driving to that outdoor shopping mall *which we didn't go* and driving in/around the mall to go to each store making the streets bumper cars.

The streets in Bend Oregon compared to Salem are much narrower and almost NO street lights at night except the immediate downtown area.

Salem Oregon has a few small narrow areas such as the Liberty Parking Garage area *mostly due to the one way streets making it hard to find you're way around* but there is plenty of street lights at night and the streets are still wider then Bend.

Bend is full of dangerous corners where someone will come right at you at freeway speeds thinking they are driving on 1-5 there.

Highway 95 should actually be a freeway all the way from Redmond to Klamath Falls for better traffic control with more off/on ramps for a quick way around those towns.

As for the shopping in Bend
Nobody in the winter *unless they are asking to get sick* will shop much in the winter without driving around constantly due to the lack of an indoor mall that is climate controlled.

Sure it may initially save costs on (some) air conditioning and heating all the stores at once but it's at the price of people using their cars more to get around from one end of the outdoor shopping center to the other.

We have something here in Salem called Keizer station that is almost like the one in Bend where you have to drive and drive to get anywhere with screwy street names.

1-5 should actually have an exit JUST for the Keizer station so people who are driving there can get on/off without clogging up the main street so much.

In other words if you like lighter traffic Salem is strangely enough better because of the wider streets just don't drive near rush hour and it's pretty easy zipping thru Salem.

If you get caught in Salem's rush hour be prepared for insanely long lights and to take 45 minutes to get from one end to the other though you can make right hand turns against a red light in Salem which I give pros too.

Prineville Oregon is a traffic perfect model with wide streets like many small towns in Utah and the drivers were very friendly we have notice when visiting there for two days at different times of the day.

Prineville doesn't really have a *rush hour* as Bend Oregon does and it would be better to shop in Redmond if you can if you choose to move there.

Either stay in South Salem if you can or move to Prineville and shop in Redmond and sometimes Portland over the *hill* there.

By the way blog author what did you wind up doing?

SortingHat, we're still here on our ten acres in rural south Salem. Now and then we venture out and look at retirement/senior communities, then come home and think "we never want to live in one of those unless we really need to -- for health reasons or whatever."

We've pretty much ruled out a move to central Oregon. Too cold. Too far away from Willamette Valley civilization, like Portland. So we're focused for the moment on the possibility of moving to a house in Salem when our current house/property gets to me too much for us to maintain comfortably.

We're from SF Bay Area and want to move to Bend, OR. We visited Bend and loved it! originally we were planning on retiring there but now we are thinking, why wait? :)

We keep hearing how cold it gets there, long winters, etc. can someone tell us how bad is the snow there? does it snow non-stop all winter? How do people go to work, commute then in the cold/snow?

Lena, we don't live in Bend but we often go over to Sunriver, south of Bend for Christmas or sometime in January, and many times there is no snow at all. Snow in the winter for Central Oregon is off and on, not remotely all winter. Of course, it can be icy when there isn't snow. You learn to drive on ice.

Bend has changed a lot in the last 10+ years. People who lived here 20, 30 and 40 years ago despise the growth and say the attitude of the residents suck, but we don’t find that to be the case. Rarely do we have negative experiences with people here. We have lived in Bend since 2004.

The weather is not the nirvana you hear about. It’s cold 6-8 months of the year, frigidly so from the first of November through march, and it doesn’t get warm until mid-late June, with a few warming days starting in late April, but highs in the mid-60s are typical until June, with lows at, or below freezing. By April, the locals start counting “false start summers”.

The cold months are cloudy and extremely windy. 20+ mile/hour winds are common more often than not. They don’t tell you about the wind.

However, Bend is a great town, with plenty to do, see and enjoy. If you’re a foodie, you will find Bend a little lacking. There are some good restaurants, but not as many/capita as similar sized towns.

Healthcare is good, if not great. Schools are average, but generally seem to be improving with the growth and new schools being built.

If anything would eventually cause me to leave, it’s the weather, in particular the constancy of the wind.

Housing is now sky high. If you want to buy a house in Bend right now, you need all cash and a quick trigger offer. Otherwise, no go. But, that could change over time. No real estate market stays hot forever.

Bend’s greatest asset is the great outdoors. Skiing, hiking, boating, rock climbing, fishing, hunting, etc. are all a stone’s throw from Bend and they all rate with the best of them the world over.

There is a good bit of California influence here now. That may appeal to some. It may turn off others. It just depends upon what you’re looking for.

Good luck!

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