Best Places to Live in Oregon
The Beaver State has several scenic, thriving communities
Here are our picks for the best cities in which to live in Oregon based on their excellent quality of life for residents, along with a few examples about what makes each especially attractive.
Known as the “City of Roses” with many gardens including the International Rose Test Garden, Portland, OR is the largest city in Oregon and one of the most environmentally green communities in America. Its position near the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette rivers allows recreation enthusiasts to enjoy multiple outdoor activities.
Oregon’s capital is nicknamed “The Cherry City,” and Salem, OR remains a major agricultural food processing center to this day. The State of Oregon is the city’s largest employer with 21,000 employees, while Salem Health is the largest private employer. Students have access to Corban University and Willamette University, and Salem features many parks, trails and museums.
The college town of Corvallis, OR is home to Oregon State University, with NCAA Division I sports teams that provide good sports entertainment. Corvallis is recognized as a Tree City USA and features 47 public parks, while several art galleries and museums also add to the quality of life. Major employers include Samaritan Health Services, Siga Technologies and Hewlett-Packard.
In central Oregon is the community of Bend, OR, a tourism destination for outdoor adventurers who enjoy biking, camping, fishing, hiking, paragliding, rock climbing, skiing and whitewater rafting. The Mt. Bachelor ski resort and nearby Cascade Lakes attract vacationers, and Bend features a dozen microbreweries, two college campuses, St. Charles Medical Center and a growing retiree population.
Hillsboro, OR houses several technology companies and is part of Oregon’s Silicon Forest. Intel is the city’s largest company with 16,000 employees, and other thriving businesses include Epson, Sun Microsystems, Synopsys and Yahoo! Hillsboro has 20 parks along with upscale shopping centers such as The Streets of Tanasbourne and Sunset Esplanade.
Seven miles west of Portland in the northwest corner of Oregon is Beaverton, OR, which is part of the Silicon Forest and home to several high-tech companies. Those companies include major employers like Maxim Integrated Products, Tektronix and VeriWave. Students who seek higher education can attend Anthem College and Portland Community College.
Eugene, OR is near the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette rivers, and the city is home to the University of Oregon. Eugene features an urban forest, numerous parks, and recreational opportunities for activities like bicycling, rafting, kayaking and running/jogging. Several multinational businesses got their starts here including Broderbund Software, Nike and Taco Time.
Tigard, OR in northwest Oregon is sectioned into 13 geographic areas situated around elementary schools, with each area assigned a number from 1 to 13. Area 6 contains the downtown district and City Hall, for example. The overall economy of Tigard is based largely on retail: Macy’s, Nordstrom, Albertson’s and Costco are four of the city’s top 10 employers.
Gresham, OR is the fourth-largest city in Oregon and offers amenities such as parks, trails, art galleries and multiple shopping options. The city’s heritage is based on agriculture, while today Gresham has also evolved into an urban area with an expanding economic base. Students can earn two-year degrees at Mount Hood Community College.
In southwest Oregon near the Rogue River is Medford, OR, whose economy is largely driven by the health-care sector. Two major hospitals are Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center and Providence Medford Medical Center, and the community is also becoming a retirement destination. There are many parks, with Prescott Park and Bear Creek Park being the two largest.