Are you thinking about moving to Bend? I’ve been here a while and decided to share a quick list of the pros and cons of living in Bend, Oregon.
The recent influx of residents have officially made Bend Oregon the second fastest growing city in America.
Known for sunshine, great outdoor recreation and affording locals an easier way of life, I’ll admit that living in Bend has its perks. But is the city right for you?
Today I’ll share what I love and don’t love about living in Bend. As you read this, keep in mind that these pros and cons are based on my personal experience, not everyone feels the same way.
Hopefully this answers some of your questions, if not, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d love to help!
With that said, let’s jump right in!
Pros of Living in Bend
#1. It’s an outdoor lover’s paradise
Bend is a nature lover’s dream — a true outdoor mecca! Think endless hiking trails, horse trails, world-class mountain biking and skiing — not to mention the plethora of water sports at your disposal.
Think Jackson Hole but (somewhat) less expensive and with way more diversity of terrain, beauty, and recreation opportunities.
Winter brings no shortage of snow sports with world-class ski resorts like Mt Bachelor. Summer reveals some of the most beautiful hiking trails on the planet along with a plethora of river action including world-class fly-fishing. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better city for outdoor enthusiasts than Bend, Oregon.
#2. You’ll never go thirsty
Pining for a pint after a long day on the slopes, in the river, or hiking the trails? Bend is a beer-lover’s paradise! In fact, it often ranks in the top 5 best beer cities in all America.
Bend is home to more than 30 craft breweries. Which means there’s roughly 16 breweries per 50,000 people — which means Bend has the third most breweries per capita of any US city.
But (as you know) not all breweries are created equal. Here’s my personal roundup of the 15 Best Breweries in Bend.
#3. Bend is very dog friendly
Bend was named the best dog city in US by dogster in 2017. There’s plenty of cute pups in Bend and folks are very friendly toward dog owners.
With more than 50 miles of urban trails, plenty dog off-leash areas and dog parks to choose from — you and your pooch will love living in Bend. Plus, many of the restaurants and small businesses in the area are pet-friendly as well.
#4. The weather is gorgeous
Few people can confidently (and truthfully) say they live in a city with great weather year-round, but if you live in Bend, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Bend is a four season town averaging 162 days of sunshine per year.
Summer temperatures range near 80-90 degrees and humidity is non-existent. Winter may see a handful of snow storms but by and large the days are dry with average 45 degrees. Fall brings some of the most spectacular displays of fall color in the state and on the west coast for that matter with vibrant maples and stunning larches.
#5. Bend is beautiful
Like, really beautiful. Where most cities have cement, Bend has sweet, vanilla-smelling Ponderosa pine forests and expansive mountain views.
The pristine Deschutes Wild and Scenic River runs right through the center of town with people even surfing on it. The brick-clad downtown core is as charming as can be, especially in the snow.
#6. Laid-back and easy going culture
About 12% of Bend’s population are retirees — safe to say the easy going and relaxed culture is all but expected. If you’re not retired, you probably spent the day in the mountains … so of course you’ll be happy (and laid back) most of the time too.
Bendites are nature-loving folks by and large — the easy going culture reflects that.
#7. Food options
Bend has SO many great restaurants to choose from and the list of great spots seems to grows every day. I often think it’s one of the most underrated foodie cities in America.
Two personal favorites of mine include McKay Cottage for brunch and Spork for dinner. Not to mention all vibrant food trucks peppered throughout the city — it’s hard to go wrong!
#8. Bend is an artsy city
Whereas the arts are concerned, the southwest has Sedona and the northwest has Bend. How can someone not be inspired by the jaw-dropping landscape of Bend? It’s no wonder that the city attracts artists in droves!
There’s a plethora of folks striving to make a living in this pretty city — from writers to painters, musicians and more.
#9. Bend is a great place to raise a family
If you have kids or plan to have them, Bend is a great place to raise them. Bend is rated among the safest cities in Oregon and is packed to the brim with family-friendly activities and great schools.
Cons of Moving to Bend
#1. Wildfire season
Like I mentioned earlier, Bend is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts but it can get troublesome during fire season. Evacuations aren’t commonplace, but folks know to be prepared regardless. I don’t want to scare you — it’s not too crazy (yet) but it’s worth consideration as the problem doesn’t seem to be improving.
Bend is surrounded by forest, so naturally the area will be prone to wildfires. This became very evident during the record-setting wildfire season in 2020 when many cities in Oregon were placed in the hazardous air-quality category and folks weren’t able to leave their homes for 4-5 days.
The constant fires and subsequent haze are reflective of changing weather patterns (climate change) and may get worse in future years.
#2. Living in Bend is (super) expensive
If you’re moving to Bend from a larger city you might find the prices in Bend incredibly reasonable. However, if you’re a local to Bend you probably know how much prices have increased over the years. Real-estate hasn’t quite hit Jackson Hole prices yet but that seems to be the direction it’s headed.
#3. Lack of diversity
As with most mountain towns, Bend is predominately white. In fact, as of January 2021, the city is nearly 93% white. The lack of diversity is even being acknowledged at the city level — city council is discussing how to make the city more diverse.
#4. Job opportunities
Here’s the thing — Bend is still technically a small town. As such, job opportunities aren’t as abundant as they are in larger metropolitan areas. You’ll find jobs mostly in the hospital, tourist and hospitality industry but finding employment can be challenging — especially if you’re not part of that employment pool.
Fun fact: the third largest employer in Bend is Les Schwab Tire Centers.
#5. The locals are reserved
Okay, let’s cut to the chase. As do many cities experiencing the pains of rapid growth, a lot of long-term residents of Bend harbor resentment towards recent transplants.
Like with any beautiful spot in America, the secret is bound to get out. Folks are flocking to Bend and some locals are unhappy about it.
This is understandable, when a town becomes popular the lines get longer and the homes become more expensive. Since I’m sharing the honest pros and cons of living in Bend, Oregon, I want to be transparent about it.
I know the tendency is to focus on the negative, but there should also be some acknowledgement of the benefits of a growing city. Things like new restaurants, shops, school, jobs and diversity. It’s not all bad!
#6. It’s a small city
This can be a pro or con, depending on you — but with a population of 100,000 Bend is a small city. Some folks love the feel of a smaller city (more power to you!), but If you’re moving from a bigger city, this may be a bit of a culture shock, there’s a lot to be desired in terms of museums and nightlife.
#7. Bend is remote
Bend is located in central Oregon, the closest large city is Portland a 3-hour drive. The high desert is beautiful, surrounded by Mt. Bachelor and the mighty Three Sisters and the Deschutes river runs through the town. It’s beautiful alright, but goodness — it’s quite remote!
The advantage here is that there is an sizeable airport in Redmond (20min drive from Bend) that’s serviced by several major carriers like Alaska, a short flight to Portland!
Moving to Bend, Oregon (Summary)
In sum, these are the best pros and cons of living in Bend, Oregon
- Bend is a beautiful city
- The city is dog-friendly
- You’ll never go thirsty
- Bend is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts
- Bend is an artsy city
- It’s a great place to raise a family
- There’s great food options
- Easy going and laid back culture
- The weather is gorgeous
- Bend is expensive
- The locals are reserved
- It’s a small city
- Bend is remote
- Wildfire season
- Lack of job opportunities
- Lack of diversity
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Until next time!
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