Best Places to Live

Salem, OR

Population: 170,316
LIV
SCORE
573
iStock/svetlana57

If you want to live in an affordable city in a prime Pacific Northwest location with an endless number of things to do, then turn your attention to Salem. Oregon’s capital made this year’s list of the Top 100 Best Places to Live because — especially when compared to Portland — housing is mind-bogglingly affordable for a city that ranks so high on amenities. While the rest of Oregon has seen skyrocketing housing prices, Salem has remained a welcoming and accessible city for young families.

With 46 parks, a multitude of museums, theaters and year-round events and festivals, you’ll be pressed to recall what it means to be bored. Salem also scored well in healthcare and education, making it the perfect place to call home.

Local Obsession: Water! Salem is known for having the best tasting water in the Pacific Northwest.

Climate Described in 6 Words Or Less: Moist and moderate.

Top Industries and Employers: The top industries in Salem are advanced manufacturing and agriculture. The top employers are the State of Oregon, the Salem-Keizer school district and Salem Health.

Local Dream Job: Event planner for one of the many cool year-round festivals like the Salem Art Festival and the popular Cherry Blossom Theatre Festival.

Favorite Weekend Activity: Go shopping at the historic Reed Opera House Mall or taste wine at a local vineyard.

Best Brewery/Local Beer: Gilgamesh Brewing is a fantastic family-owned brewery. Trail Blazer fans love the Terry Porter!

After-Work Meetup Spot: Stop by Coin Jam and enjoy a cocktail while playing vintage arcade games.

Beloved Bookstore: The Book Bin is a family-owned shop with a feline mascot (say hi to Rose!) and a large variety of mainstream, rare and antiquarian books.

Free Way to Have Fun: Explore Riverfront City Park and its wonderful open space filled with hiking trails, playgrounds, boat docks and fantastic views of the Willamette River. 

Truly Hidden Gem: Big Derek’s Barber Shop in the Reed Opera House, where you’ll find a glass of top-shelf bourbon and the best barbers in town.

- Annette Benedetti

Read More:

Salem is the Most Affordable City in Oregon

Why Salem is a Top 100 Best Place to Live

Salem is One of the Best Places to Raise a Family in Oregon

“The relative affordability and great schools make Salem ideal for our large family and work-from-home lifestyle.”

Patrick May
Father of five and Salem-based BIM Software Consultant

Salem, OR Ranking Data

Civic
50
Demographics
56
Economy
52
Education
53
Health
56
Housing
64
Infrastructure
57