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.
With 16 breweries per 50,000 people, Bend has the third most breweries per capita of any US city.
#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 Living in Bend
#1. It’s 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.
#2. 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.
#3. 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.
#4. 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 fires of 2020 are NOT common, but sadly I think they are reflective of changing weather patterns (climate change) and may get worse in future years.
#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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This is an excellent summary of Bend-life. Thank you. We’ve lived here for 3 years, and can easily see and feel each of the pro, and the con, points. A very good job, and service to those considering living in (or near) Bend
Antonina Pattiz says
Thank you for the kind words! I’m glad to hear you agree with these pros and cons too. They’re not the same for everyone but seems like we had a similar experience. 🙂
yes! lived here since 1996
Patrick Marchese says
How does bend compare to Klamath falls
Gordon Kling says
Great article! Please note that the Redmond airport is NOT serviced by Southwest Airlines.
Only Delta, United, Alaska, American, Allegiant and Boutique air are serviced at the airport.
Antonina Pattiz says
Great point, Gordon! Thanks for stopping by 🙂
I was looking forward to read it has the last Block Busters in the U.S.!!! That is amazing in itself!! Bend looks like a beautiful, calming place to live!
Antonina Pattiz says
Lenny — you are so right!! I need to include that somewhere in the article! I love that fact too. 🙂
Patricia Meloy says
Having relatives in Camas WA, I see a visit to the PNW coast in my future w/ possible real estate shopping. What negatives are there re: salt on homes, plants and vehicles if close to ocean? How far do you have to be from coast to avoid salt damage? What building mat’ls are resistant?
Susie Wayland says
Bend is on 2 mountain ranges away from the ocean, 5-6 hour drive, possibly more if you’re traveling in the winter. No salt here except for the de-icers in winter.
You might be thinking of North Bend. Which ironically is 6 hours southwest of Bend. Absolutely no connection between the two.
Signed, Bend Lifer
Great article! I lived in Sunriver in the 90s and going to town was going to Bend. It was a comfortable cow town back then sounds like it’s grown up somewhat.
The beauty of a high desert is probably a bit of a shock to those that grow up in wetter climates. I enjoyed living there and I think it’s a good place to raise a family too.
Antonina Pattiz says
Sunriver is SO beautiful, I visit every chance I get! And yes, Bend is a really great place to raise a family.
I lived in Bend for 2.5 years and it’s a fun town. Great downtown, healthy food stores. Many people do live in outer towns like Redmond which is cheaper. There are a lot of commuters which bring up a con. Bend has serious traffic issues.The trains run thru several times a day which shuts down many streets causing congestion.
In the short time I was there the increased drastically.
With the new high school its worse.
It was great though.
Scott MORRISON says
Yes Bend is wonderful place on earth. About 8 years ago pro-growth proponents started in earnest advertising Bend as a place to live. People who wanted out of high tax and regulatory states began to move here and they brought their politics with them. Bend used to be very conservative town but has now become liberalized. And that is reason the long time residents are a little put off. So Bend has now become the place you tried to escape.
True statement, thanks for posting fact.
Steve Sterlynch says
Exactly. There is a major influx of Californians who try to reimplement everything they ever ran away from. In addition, more recently a left wing city council was voted in which seems to promote more diversity. The result is an exploding homeless population and all the associated crimes. Those lefties seem to be able to ruin every nice town on the west coast. My wife and I are looking to move to Wyoming.
The new permit system on the hiking trails was the final drop in the bucket. We were able to book 1 hiking trip for the Summer…it will be in September.
I am a native Oregonian and I voted for the “liberal” Bend council members. These folks were voted in, not given the positions. Also, voters aren’t asked where they most recently lived before Bend so its a big assumption to make that our new council members are due to Californians moving here.
Homelessness has existed in Bend for a long time. The great recession saw a similar increase due to increase in unemployment. We have seen a recent increase due to unemployment and housing shortage. To blame it on the new council members is pretty funny since they have held their positions for a couple months. The new council with old council members is trying to make more short-term housing and approve low income housing = trying to house the homeless.
As a long time local, I like seeing people that look different then me (light skinned European-American) living in my community. If Bend is too Liberal or too diverse for Bend residents, they can move to many other Oregon towns that hold similar isolationist values. I don’t like all the ways Bend is changing and I welcome more diverse voices when thinking of Bend’s future.
Well said Mary!
The best part is the conservative locals are leaving.
Eh, I’ve lived here a long time and there has always been a lot of homelessness. I don’t see a diversity of the homeless population either. Homelessness has more to do with lack of mental health and no affordable housing. Most jobs here don’t pay enough to live here. You have to have money before you come, work remotely or be in the health and development businesses.
Jan Rayne says
What is the permit system what a nightmare. I’ve been waiting to move to Bend for 19 yrs with my soon to be college student. I’m a single ma and have also looked at Wyoming as I’m conservative and cannot stand lib run cities they are just getting ruined. Any ideas for me in Wy? I need to get near a college. Ps. My it’s not all Californians moving there right? Calif is literally south of the border now. Open gates. Pray that doesn’t spread.
yes absolutely! Good call
Wow you think that’s why locals are put off . This town was never a uncultured town rich people needed to fix ! It was a town where snowboarding and hippies growing weed was the essence! Now it is rich people who think oh wow this was not a liberal town until we moved here !
Get real, you bought the town and now no one can live here but you ! Build another pointless building why don’t you . We don’t need trees in this town just more buildings and less affordable housing!
Exactly, It had always been artsy and relaxed and real. Now we have what I call the Patagonia hippy. I grew up coming to ski Mt. Bachelor now I couldn’t afford a lift ticket. It’s sad the big diversity is in INCOME.
Bend was never conservative, I grew up here! I know! Yes, Bend has a lot of Hicks, trashy people. Bend is very boring socially, you’ve got the retired, the people who grew up here and never left and the wanna be outdoorsy people. Very simple minded people, not a lot of intellectual stim. Bachelor is a joke, if you want a real ski mtn, don’t waste your time at flatulore.
You must not be very old, because Bend was traditionally Republican until fairly recently. Political changes started with the mass influx of liberal Californians that started moving to the area in the 90s, and it has snowballed in recent years due to huge advertising efforts in the Bay Area and LA for people to relocate to Central Oregon. It didn’t take long to turn the county blue, due to the hordes of progressive Cali transplants moving in, and it shows in all the dramatic ways Bend has changed for the worst in recent years. The negative way you speak about long time locals, I’m betting you weren’t born in Bend, and may have grown up there only because your parents moved there from California.
How did the last Blockbuster on earth not make the “pros” list?
Antonina Pattiz says
A serious oversight indeed… Will have to update! 😉
I was born and raised in Bend 46 years ago. I just moved away from the town I once loved. For me the cons eventually outweighed the pros. Call me a reserved local if you will.
Cost of living is insane, these beautiful outdoor places where you once had it to yourself even on a Saturday is now so busy on a Wednesday you can’t even park or it’s like finding a sliver of sand to claim at Waikiki, any undeveloped land, side streets are infested with drug addicted transients with mounds of garbage, transplants coming by the droves take it upon themselves to change laws and make Bend “even better”, the only wave you get now days driving is with the middle finger,
Anyway I could go on………enjoy Bend.
Antonina Pattiz says
Thank you for sharing your perspective. I think it’s very important for folks to have the knowledge only long time residents can share. I’m sorry to hear that Bend has changed so much during your time there. As with all great things, it was discovered and now folks want this little slice of heaven for themselves. I hear you and understand your perspective 100%.
The discovery of a great town is an age old problem we have yet to solve. Everyone wants to live in a beautiful place that speaks to who they are. However, by so many “new” folks moving in, it completely changes the feel and narrative of the town. I’m so conflicted about that!
We were all “new” once and even those that were born and raised in Bend probably didn’t have a say in the matter because they were kids — but there is clearly a deep sense of loyalty and pride in being a Bend native and now that the city has changed drastically it’s easy to cast blame on everyone “new” that is moving to the city in the same way that current locals did 20 years ago, or maybe their parents did before them.
I don’t know what the solution is and often ask myself how Bend can remain a quaint little town now that everyone knows how great it really is?
I want you to know that I hear what you’re saying while also understanding the perspective of the folks that want to live the very life you were fortunate enough to enjoy in Bend. I hope that makes sense, and again — I am very appreciative of your input on living in Bend.
This was a great response as the comment of frustration is completely understood. We moved to a small town on the coast, one that most ppl fail to visit, and locals are fine with that. 😉
But 1989 we moved up from Santa Barbara and the Oregon coast is definitely opposite of CA beaches. I left the state to be in the Army, then went to school in LA. LOVE DIVERSITY. My hometown was all white and I experienced culture shock going to Savannah GA. Missing Oregon, I came back after 10 years to a place I never saw myself, in Bend. In Army times I read Bend Oregon was 5th fastest growing city, and I was deployed in 05. I was shocked, bc Bend was too cowboy for me growing up. Now I’ve been back 7 years. My rent is nearly that of LA when I left in 2013.
The cons are still flooded with fluff. There’s a true housing crisis, homeless crisis, and it’s not about a certain political party, it’s about the constant desire of selling a city that has no infrastructure to sustain it. I’m seeing another hotel going in near the water park. The locals are being pushed out and that’s because money trumps humanity. I’m glad you point out the positive light in the cons, but I think poverty doesn’t need fluff, it needs to be a real stab of reality here. I’ve been at food banks, and I’m a veteran, OSU-C graduate.
There’s too much money from satellite companies… ppl who fly to silicon valley to work, but live here bc it’s cheaper. Those work taxes don’t get implemented into our city. Ppl working out of state but reap the “cheaper” rent are becoming an issue for a town that fails to be progressive with the influx of ppl moving here.
I get where the locals come from, we have a culture here, and it’s not 24/7 service, and that’s a real inconvenience for those moving here from larger cities. If some of things ppl are leaving, stayed where they left them, I think others wouldn’t battle the influx.
At the end of the day, climate change will force ppl to migrate north, and unfortunately gems will be used and abused, it’s finding common ground and for that, you’re completely right with your response-
A great place to live eventually goes from unknown to widely desired in 1-2 generations. Of course it will change and morph into something different than what it was 10,20,30,40 or 50 years ago, but the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape is still some of the most beautiful in the US.
I grew up in and around Bend, left to go serve in the military and eventually college. After which I got married, had kids and moved back. Is it more expensive than many places? Yes! Is it worth it? YES! Wonderful places eventually become popular and then expensive.
Like all other reasonable human beings, if someone can’t afford to live Bend, quit complaining and move somewhere you can be happy. We live in a very prosperous nation with so many ridiculous options. Sorry you can’t afford to live in Bend anymore. Sure glad I developed a much needed skill where I can make the kind of living where a place like Bend is a dream lived, not a dream lost.
Thank you, Ramon!
Both my daughters were born and raised in South Orange County, California.
In the last 4 years both have moved to Bend.
They are very hard working Women and successful…employed in Bend!
They absolutely DO NOT have a “sense of entitlement” being that they were born and raised in California!
People born and raised in Bend need to “get off their soap boxes” about Californians and welcome ALL with “open arms!”
Bend is available to EVERYONE!
The problem isn’t really the growth (although it is a problem as it is adding to the amount of poverty and congestion) – it’s that the city has no expansion plan. Housing density is off the charts, traffic is dangerously fast and crowded, and there is no blueprint for how to accommodate the rising influx of remote workers and families. The city management gets a pass every time because everybody ignores the fact that they’re setting us up to fail.
Antonina Pattiz says
This is a great point, do you have resources folks can check out to become more informed on this? Perhaps recent transplants would be interested in being involved with local government, I know I was!
Last note. I was curious about why Bend is a transplant like city. I’d meet really cool people then they’d move. As a lover of Anthropology I read Bend was always a pit stop. Ppl would camp at Farewell Bend to regain strength and continue onward. It’s kept that in its environment.
You go to Eugene, it’s very rooted. But Bend, you’ll never see the same ppl unless you’ve rooted here. Ppl stay about a year here. I’d be intrigued to do more research survey on this. 🙂
Transplant is why I brought this up, it’s close to transient, for me.
But yes, everyone seems to be on the same page about cons. Another interesting note. While you try to shed some positivity on pros and cons, it’s got many of us pointing out more negatives strongly. But to which I am involving myself in as well. I think of it as being a realist. ????
Will Brook says
A great article. My wife understands both sides of the equation when it comes to those that great up in Bend versus the new transplant. We move to Bend part-time back in 2017 and every year we increase our stay. It started out as a vacation spot to being more like 8 months a year.
Both my wife and I were born in San Diego in the late ’50s. It’s hard to put into words but for most of our lives, we enjoyed a sleepy beach town/city which is now a major city with major traffic. We can totally understand what few natural-born Bend residences are going through.
It’s all perspective, coming from a major city I see very little traffic.
Ashley Hazdra says
I do love Bend for many reasons including the ones above. I would add a few to the cons list though. While the weather is beautiful often there is another side to it. Be prepared to wear every season of clothing in a 24 hr period as temp rise and fall drastically from day to night.
Gardening or growing your own food is hard to do here as most of the year could see frost at night. There is little to no moisture. The climate is a bit harsh between the dryness, elevation and intense sun. Be prepared to wear sunscreen year round and go from dressing in winter gear at night to being baked by day. I go through bottles of lotion.
Also the alcohol culture here is overly accepted and repetitive. It seems like everyone has to drink to socialize. Not much in the way of museums and such.
Kenneth Egan says
I have not read all the other comments, but as a person who has lived on both coasts, and has been here in Bend for 16 (happy) years, here are some of my thoughts on the con side:
lack of culture is evident; roads, both current conditions and planning for the future, are poor;
for 6 months the average lows are in the 20″s…for 4 more months, lows are in the 30’s–that’s 10 out of 12 months!!;
And guess what? A lack of humidity is almost as bad as too much humidity. Wondering why your eyes are scratchy?? Answer, low humidity. Dust!!
Hope this is useful to others..
I’ve been living in Bend for 3 years now, semi retired, with children and grandchildren here. Pro’s-it is such an easy place to live if you don’t have to many financial constraints. Con-Housing costs are out of control and new housing is everywhere, but not impacting the demand to bring down costs.
Con-winter lasts 8 months, no joke. They say it’s not bad weather just bad clothes. Pro-no matter the season the sun is shining. Con-lack of diversity is an understatement. No diversity, zero. My grandchildren are being raised here but it would be a deal breaker for me to raise kids in such a homogenized community. That being said it feels like a warm open arms environment.
Education??? I haven’t looked at the numbers in regards to how education is measured on a national level but I have heard many parents complain about their kids math and writing skills being low. They have stated they were surprised to realize this. The changes in educating over the past year has opened their eyes to some real deficits in their children. They are helping their kids improve skills that go further back than the pandemic.
I’ve lived in Central Oregon for 18 years and have definitely seen the ups and downs of life here. While I mostly agree with your article, there are a few missteps.
-There’s not a lot of fall color here. Certainly not a lot of maples and larches. Maybe in the Columbia River Gorge, but not down here. Bend is primarily pine forest and the outlying areas are Juniper forest and high desert. There are pretty colors along the river or in residential areas.
-The population of Bend is technically only 92,000- not quite 100,000 yet- but if you count the outlying areas then it feels bigger. We currently live in Redmond which is almost half the price of Bend and only 15 minutes away.
Overall it’s a great view of life in Central Oregon. When we moved here we heard it described as “poverty with a view” which certainly hasn’t changed for most working class people. Unless you’re self-employed, retired or work in real-estate, you’ll have a hard time making it, here.
The pro’s are real, though! Just to keep it positive.
I think smoke season is an under rated con. In a bad wildfire year the air quality can go to hazardous for weeks.
Local for 39 years says
Bend is a beautiful place but the new people moving here have to much money to compete with. Most local people who grew up here can’t afford million dollar homes and are forced to move from the place they grew up and love.
This has affected the enjoyment this town once offered. We now must register and there are a limited amount of passes given daily to walk in our forest and use our trails to prevent the over population from destroying the wildlife and land . That means no more packing the car last minute and heading out for a weekend of camping like ur in a forest.
It now resembles a beach in California! Hopefully u can get a tiny little spot in between some people. So with that said Bend is now focusing purely on the rich and making them as happy and at home as they possibly can .
Trees in the city get cut down all day long for new ugly stuff there building or sewer lines ! So if you have a lot of money and don’t mind displacing all the locals who do not have the resources to compete this is the place for you !
A lot of people are now moving to Redmond, 15 MLS down the hwy. This has been a lower cost town for years! Now? Housing, hotels, big business is taking over! Almost can’t afford to live here either! I wish we could monitor all of this in a better way.
Do not overlook nearby LaPine to the south of Sunriver- near great fishing and rafting by the Deschutes And skittle Deschutes rivers and abundant trees ( so far).
Only about 35 min from Bend and still much more affordable. Diversity will come.
I first moved to Central Oregon (Redmond) in 1974. Bend’s population was only 16,000 and the two major complaints were (1) Californians moving in and driving up the real estate prices, and (2) Third Street traffic and pot holes. I moved to the Willamette Valley for 20 years for a job that paid a living wage but eventually returned because Central Oregon is still a great place. If it wasn’t a great place people would stop coming. If it’s too crowded, too liberal, or too whatever, you can always move to John Day!
Antonina Pattiz says
Jim, I love your take on this and am intrigued to hear that the two most common complaints from the 70’s are exactly the same as they are today (how interesting!).
Bend opened it’s arms to me when my ex wife and I moved here in 2000. Raised my kids, built a house, built a career in community service.
Now staying here feels like swimming upstream. I make too much money for this to be the case, but I can’t afford it. And yes, all the places I used to go have been overrun for years. And I don’t hate Californians but I do hate the impact of their money and the culture changes that have happened. Bend locals weren’t reserved when we moved here. They were down to earth and friendly and humble. They still are but they are no longer The predominant culture. Instead it’s people from cities who don’t even know how to say hi on the trail.
It sucks, but when my youngest graduates high school, I’m leaving.
Jan Rayne says
Scott I hear you. I was hoping to move to Bend from Carmel CA when my high schooler graduates ( talk about not being able to afford your hometown, it’s all Texas money here, it’s not just Bend) next year but I’m really unsure. Where else is there to go? I’m in dire need of ideas. Any appreciated. Visited CoeurDAlene, too cold. Help! Jan
Jason McGuire says
1 of your comments was asking where to go in oregon. I have the answer. Powers oregon the hidden gem . Moved here from bend wow clean affordable snow cap mountain 4 months a year 1 hour to the beach. My garden plants are 8 ft tail come see for yourself
I’ve lived in Bend for 20 years. This town is great and the wildlife is awesome. But people can hardly move here because every house is priced at half a million and higher. Locals can’t buy, soon I’m gonna have to leave too.
The city never fixes the roads by the way. 3rd street has been broken on the north end for years. The city turned my street into a scenic byway instead of putting in sidewalks so I’m still likely to be hit by a car walking my dog but what else is new right? And speaking of dogs its only dog friendly here if you own your home. Finding a rent or that allows anything over 20lbs is impossible. I’m really lucky my landlord likes my big dog.
The growing season is short but doable. There are pot shops everywhere which is great and beer galore. But if you can’t drive in the ice and snow please consider a valley town, not a mountain town. The snow comes fast and hard then its gone, then its back, then gone again.
And fire season is a lot worse than this article says. There were days I couldn’t take my class outside because the air quality was toxic. The smoke turns the air yellow and it lasts for weeks. Fire season means no campfires at all the campsites too so remember that on your big outdoor adventure.
There is plenty to love about Bend and a lot to hate. But what locals REALLY hate is how expensive it is here. It didn’t used to be this way. My parents own homes here but 20 years has done a number. Many young locals who work here, are being forced to leave here. You can’t even rent without 2 roommates to be able to afford it.
So enjoy Bend while it still is Bend, because soon its just going to be rich white Californians, and the homeless people who sprinkle the streets. They won’t go by the way, not even in the winter. Don’t know how the city plans on helping them, so far they haven’t.
Antonina Pattiz says
Wow, this is very thorough! Thank you for taking the time to share your perspective on life in Bend. It sounds like you have called this city home for a while and have lived through many changes.
I agree on a lot of points you made, with the exception of wildfires. 2020 was an unprecedented year for wildfires in Oregon, as such the severity of wildfire season was much more extreme than normal. Don’t get me wrong, Bend has it’s fair share of wildfires annualy (it’s surrounded by forests) but before 2020, wildfire season wasn’t much to write home about.
During the raging fires of 2020, the air quality was toxic in Portland as well and folks weren’t able to go outside, but in my 20+ years of living in Portland, that was the first time that has happened. I want to be transparent about wildfires so folks can make an educated decision about moving to Bend. Wildfires happen, but they don’t typically stop day-to-day functions (with the exception of the record setting fires in 2020).
But as you know, the weather patterns are changing (climate change is real). I worry that Bend will become more and more prone to wildfires, similar to California.
I want to thank you for being so honest in your comment, I appreciate your perspective and am sure other folks will find it very helpful as well. Thank you for taking the time to share your insight.
Sparky Harlan (Ms.) says
I find these comments really thoughtful; however, to be upfront, I am one of those dreaded Californians looking to move out of the Bay Area when I retire at age 70 next year. First off, I have been working with homeless youth and families in SF and San Jose for 40 years. So, I am really good at working with homeless populations and wouldn’t mind sharing my expertise in a new community as a volunteer.
I currently live in the Santa Cruz Mountains and the fires this past year just destroyed me emotionally, and destroyed 90% of my hiking area. I now have tech workers competing with my fellow mountain residents trying to rebuild one of the 1000 homes we lost. They have money to burn and we also resent them outbidding locals with all-cash offers way over asking. So, if we want a home we have to move.
I grew up in Sierra Nevada Mountains north of Yosemite so I am looking for a semi-rural area that I can afford, will have some healthcare for me, and doesn’t snow too much. Plus, I cannot handle worrying 6 months of the year about fires. Yes, Bend is on my short list. If I end up there, know that I bring my expertise on working with homeless people and I am a hike leader that loves to lead hikes for those scared to go out alone.
All Californians are not alike — but I understand that I am part of the problem in driving up prices in Bend, because I can now sell my Santa Cruz Mtn. home to some crazy tech worker who can work remotely and doesn’t worry about the fires. Also know that my family has been in the Bay Area or gold country since the 1800s and no one has ever lived out of California. I would not take leaving CA lightly. But I hope I would be welcomed, just like I welcome everyone who moved the SF area and into my home turf.
David A Sloan says
I have worked with Sparky…I know her well…She would be a huge addition to your community through her service…You should pray that she comes…
Hi Sparky…Hope all is well…
You are spot on.
I am a native Southern California transplant of over 20 years living in Bend. I love Cali but, boy have things changed and not for the better! Yikes! I totally get what you are saying.
California is still in my heart, but sorry to say, the governments there have been failing the working class for many years.
You are so welcome here; you sound like some more awesomeness that Bend loves!
The air is magnificent!!
Jose Rizal says
I left Bend due to its lack of Diversity. Housing diversity, cultural diversity, food diversity, job diversity, and racial diversity. When that time comes where the local governance, and the locals themselves embrace diversity, and all the good and bad that comes with it, Bend will nevee be a good starting point for blue-collar workers, and will just be stuck in what it is now, a utopia for the well-to-do, and a dead-end for those who are not.
Local Defender says
Articles like this totally ignore the death of our Native, Oregonian, culture from the influx of “yay me, screw everybody else, including the Native Locals” attitude that these selfish, often rich, and always entitled, transplants bring to our town.
Why cant at least one of you write about the death of our culture rather than,”eff em and their culture, move there and force the Natives to deal with your crummy, selfish attitude”.
Not a Local says
Out of curiosity, what is the native Oregonian culture and when was it established? Was the native Oregonian culture established before Christopher Columbus “re-discovered” America?
You may have been born and raised in Bend, but your parents (or their parents) made the decision to move here. Lucky you! Your family was able to experience Bend before people like myself were even born. Does that mean that I can’t enjoy Bend because I was born too late?
Not all people that move to Bend are “selfish, often rich and always entitled.” Some of us are regular folks looking to live in a beautiful town with ample outdoor opportunities.
The current Bend culture (which is 93% white) can stand to benefit from diversity. The culture isn’t dying, it’s reinventing itself, the way every other growing city does.
C’mon now. People aren’t trees with roots, we’re allowed to move around.
By diversity do you mean $ or lack of?
Lived here my whole life. All the people who were born and raised here are not fans of the new transplants. The crime rate has gone through the roof. Multiple murders within the last year. One of which still has yet to be solved, or given any answers about. Dang dude or lady is walking around free. The homeless problem has gotten way way worse, the drivers have no patience. Growing up, bend and the surrounding areas used to be clean… not anymore.
I’ve lived in Bend for 24 years. Just waiting for my kids to graduate H.S. before I finally leave.
While, yes, many people love it here, it’s not uncommon for some to move here in the summer thinking it’s amazing only to find out when the cold comes it lasts a good 8 months of the year. It should also be mentioned that if there is an hour of sunshine with 23 hours of cloudy weather, it’s considered a “sunny day”. It’s a mistruth and marketing plot that is continually perpetuated. The weather is probably what I hate most about Bend – it’s a cold weather lover’s paradise. If that’s your thing then it might be a great fit for you!
Antonina Pattiz says
Thanks for offering this perspective!
You hit the nail on the head with many of your points! A few others are debatable but one was a swing and a miss: diversity.
Bend is extremely diverse, and you can both read and gather from the comments here. There are ski bums, retired seniors, outdoor lovers, homebodies, young families, grisled veterans, union workers, artists, funny people, happy people, grumpy people, you name it, Bend has it!
I was shopping at Trader Joe’s a few days ago and went back to grab a forgotten item while my wife was checking out. I had one of our kids with me so I didn’t make it to the checkout before the transaction had already processed, and a line had formed. The next lady in line, clearly one of the “snobby rich newcomer” types went right ahead and paid for my item along with her own before we even knew what had happened. Here’s where it gets back to your Diversity mistake. Nobody paid any attention to skin color. Nobody cares how much or how little melanin anyone else has.
Melanin amount is no indication of diversity, regardless of that narrative still being pushed by big media and certain elected and unelected officials decades after the country moved past it. Be the bigger person. Be the judged rich person in line who does a kind act just because that’s the type of thing that demonstrates God’s love in your heart and no other reason.
Susan Watkins says
Truth spoken so well !,
Michele Clark says
I came to Be d in 2004 and I have loved it since. I am disabled and can’t take advantage of the beauty that surrounds us. When I came here I marveled that there was snow on the mountains in August. I love the 4 seasons. I called, Spring physco spring because it can be 45 one day and 80 the next. All in all I agree with everything in your post.
I can’t stand going to big cities now.
Patricia Lovering says
I don’t have a printer. Possible to send me a written copy of your article. I am a retired lady who moved to Bend to be near her daughter. Thanks Patricia Lovering
Antonina Pattiz says
Hi Patricia, I’m happy to send this to you via email! Would that work?
Moved out of Bend late last year after living there for a few years: The town has a nice little downtown with great bike shops, a nice library and Shevlin Park. In the end the smoke from wildfires, overdevelopment in Northwest Crossing, crowded trails and a “resort feel ” with smug influx of second homeowners became too much. Now in Vermont…
Maria Cristina Baird says
Beautiful pics and Bend story.
We’ve lived here for over 20 years and love so much about our little (getting bigger) city.
One thing I would like to mention is your comment on diversity.
The city cannot do anything more, in my opinion, on improving it.
It is what it is. Whomever wants to venture here is more than welcome at any time.
Trust me! I’m a brown Hispanic that adores the city, so really, like much that is mentioned today-
suggesting cities and governments to improve non-white numbers is kinda crazy.
People have choices and it is up to them to come to Central Oregon where I have never, ever
had any ‘racial’ problems. All are welcome!
Retired and loving it! says
Hi there. I just retired and am thinking of moving to Bend. I have a 29 year old son who is also contemplating moving there if I decide to move. He is bisexual and wondering if your community would welcome him and others in the lgbtq community. Thank you.
I moved to Bend over 14 years ago with my three children, from Anchorage, AK. after my divorce because my mom lived here. Since moving here I have lived on the NE side of town and after 3 years moved to the NW side so my daughter was in walking distance of both her jobs, then at the 3 year mark the landlord issued a no cause order and we were forced to move again, this time to the SE side right next door to Fred Meyer, where again at the 3 year mark we received another no cause notice and were once again forced to move, this time back to the NW side across from the COCC Library. The apartment my youngest son and I share is a 1 bedroom, 507 sq. ft. apartment with no air conditioning, so with the wildfire smoke in 2020 and 2021, it has been like living in a sauna. My rent goes up again in December and I will be paying 55.6% of my income as a personal support worker towards rent. Eventually, we will be forced to leave Bend in search of a more affordable place to live, as will many others who are not making a living wage.
And who will be left to work in the restaurants, the bars, hotels, grocery stores, senior care facilities,etc. when those people can no longer afford to live in Bend?
Being on the other end of the money spectrum I can honestly say it has been a struggle living here, but being resilient and knowing how to live frugally I have managed over these 14 plus years to stay here and to keep a roof over our heads. My daughter and her boyfriend live in my complex, as well. Both have bachelor’s degrees and they still struggle to make ends meet, with the cost of medical co pays, student loans, not being paid enough money in their respective fields and the ever growing cost of living here in Bend. I hope to stay here until we can all move away somewhere affordable where we can thrive, not just survive.
Truth be told, if I could afford to move us all, we would have been gone awhile ago.
Bend isn’t all that, in my opinion. I grew up in Northern California and have lived in Hawaii, Germany and Alaska, and Bend ranks last out of all those places. I do think it is a beautiful place, but the roads are not well maintained, it is lacking in culture, diversity, and so on. The summers have become increasingly unbearable with the temperatures rising, the wildfires and drought, the number of houseless people continues to grow, rent is ridiculous, drugs and addiction, mental illness are also problems that need to be addressed, as safe places for these populations to get help are sorely missing in this community. And resources for struggling families who have children with disabilities are lacking here, as well. I speak from experience. So, someone who lives paycheck to paycheck Bend is not the ideal place to move.
Antonina Pattiz says
Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, I’m sorry to hear about your plight. I agree, Bend isn’t affordable (housing costs are a huge culprit) and I do not know what the solution is. I hope you are able to find a city where your family can thrive, as you mentioned.
Housing seems to be affordable across the country and so many folks are struggling to find a reasonable place to live (especially with medical and student debt). I often find myself wondering how much worse things can get because we start seeing massive changes.
Your situation is unfair, especially since you are working for your keep. Yet sadly, your situation is not unique because so many of us are struggling to stay afloat even though we’re doing everything right.
Thank you again for sharing such a thoughtful comment, I am confident a lot of folks will find your honest perspective helpful.
Sparky Harlan says
Hey, it was great to check back in and see someone responded to my comment that I was connected to my work years ago. Any chance you could forward my email address to David A. Sloan who responded to my comment months back? What I have noticed in the past six months of rocketing housing prices in Bend is that prices are starting to soften and people have had to lower some of their asking prices. That is a good thing for residents, although it seems like Bend is now way more expensive than the Portland area for housing.
I wanted to make a new comment about the requirement for hiking permits and how crowded hiking trails now are everywhere. Where I live in the Santa Cruz Mountains the trails now have double or triple the hikers than before Covid and the fires. Everyone discovered the outdoors and hiking during Covid which is good, and bad. I hate it. I especially hate the AllTrails app that let’s everyone post and find trailheads that were only know to locals. That being said, I also use it. Sigh. We can only hope these new hikers will return to other activities once Covid dies down, but I am not hopeful. Being outdoors is great if people respect the trails and learn the “leave no trace” practice. Maybe Bend can set-aside some permits for same day use that locals mainly can access. Having to plan ahead for a hike sucks if the trail is in your neighborhood! However, my guess is most of the area is controlled by state or feds so you have little say, like us in California.
Theresa Kuper says
I lived in Bend in 1979-1983. Bend was beautiful then. A sleepy mountain town.
My friend who has lived for 40+ yrs loves the beautiful geography but the traffic, overpopulation and expansiveness really bothers her.
I wanted to move back but now I see how Bend has evolved…no thanks. Bend is a playground for the wealthy.
Good report and to the point on both the positive and the negatives so a fair shake to make a rational decision as to whether or not its the place you want to be.
It’s seldom easy to make a life and geographical change. Re growth, unfortunately since most humans are slightly unconscious with regards to the reality of worldwide overpopulation which we need to wake up to and address the migration of persons worldwide is a reality and has to be looked at in a serious manner ie regional population limits so as not to destroy what we cherish and also to be realistic as to how many persons can drink from one glass of water ( that being used as a metaphor) until there is NO more water.
It to much regional growth is a reality and unless excessive growth and expansion are not addressed, the very things people move to be a part of may be the things that disappear if not protected and properly overseen.
Try Colorado. Boulder, Longmont, Ft. Collins, and in-between. BEST state in the US. Been here 40 years from SanFran. Too many Californians (me) and prices are high. No homes in town under $1M. Higher than Bend. Less than Aspen.
Jan Falk says
Really excellent honest commentary I would add another con because of labor shortage you can do anything or get anything
Many of your positions are accurate. However the influx from other areas has vastly affected Bends culture. Not all good. We relocated there the fall of 1970 with two little fellows in tow. Great place then to raise those boys. Scouts, hunters satety great school sports. However it vastly evolved with years and unfortunately many new residents brought with them issues that prompted them to relocate in the first place. We left in 1996 and now live a little north of Tucson. We enjoyed what we believe were some of Bend,s best years.
Couldn’t agree more. I wanted to move to Bend for 30 years. After living there for 7 years I couldn’t get out fast enough. And I did.
My only resentment as a Bend native is the speeding traffic. It’s a small town which means people still walk around and peoples driveways are still attached to the highway, everyone needs to slow down. ?✌️
Yep. A year later it all holds true. Very good analysis. I’ve lived here 11 years and am looking for a place that rivals Bend but have come up short
I am 20, and I still remember the Bend that was quiet and simply ethereal. I miss my home 🙁
To be more up to date,
Arc’teryx hippies 🙂
Try Carson City, NV
International airport in Reno, 395 south to the eastern Sierra. Large medical centers and gateway to the Great Basin and Range of central NV. !
Dave Z says
Good article. I like the pros and cons approach. Too may articles only address the pros. Bend is still a great place but the growing pains is definitely stressing the town. The cons list is growing quickly.
The cost of living is skyrocketing. Lots of food choices is nice, but the cost of that food has blown up and comparable to resort prices. Used to pack lunches when going up to Bachelor and now its almost cheaper to eat up there than in town. Not to mention the cost of Bachelor exploding and no longer affordable.
Lots of dog friendly trails and lots of leashed trails with off leash dogs and owners that don’t train for recall or pick up after their dogs. Some at least pick up poop in plastic bags and then just toss it on the side of the trails along with wrappers and other trash.
As for the remoteness, that kills many people. Lots move here and then realize that the nearest big city is 2.5 hours away. We no longer have direct Portland flights like you mentioned, gotta connect in Seattle with sometimes longer layovers than it would take to drive.
Housing is unobtainable for many people. Average home is over 750K and rents are well above what the average income can afford. Plus, the quality of the construction in the cookie cutter mass produced homes is pretty poor compared to other places unless you can afford a million dollar + custom build.
Healthcare is a major con. Lots of people retire to Central Oregon. They also like to bring mom and dad with them. So you can imaging that the age of Central Oregon is trending on the older side. The problem with that is we have a health system that cannot provide the care they need. St Charles is at or near capacity on nearly any given day. retirement homes, nursing home, rehab facilities, home health services are all at breaking point and busting at the seams. A family that can no longer care for their aging parents doesn’t have much help unless they have lots of money left over after the already high cost of living. Need memory care or assisted living, get on the wait list early. and that goes for child care as well. Wait lists for preschools and if you can get a day care, nanny or sitter, it will also cost a small fortune.
I know I focused on a lot of negatives. Bend is a wonderful place to live. And there are lots of articles about the utopian society people portray it as. But it does have lots of negatives and people should know these before making the mistake of packing up their life and moving here without factoring them into their decision. I meet tons of people that say they never visited but heard how great it was from articles and pics online and decided to pack up the car and move here only to leave in under a year.
I grew up in New Jersey. Enlisted into the USAF in 1964 and served 3 years in Burns, Oregon (yes, Burns, there was an Air Force radar station in Burns once). My wife and I would drive to Bend every so often for pizza and beer at Shakey’s. We fell in love with Bend and decided to make Bend our home someday after we retired.
We retired in 1998 and wanting to leave the crime and dirt of life in ‘Jersey ‘ we moved to Bend.
In 1998 Bend WAS A BEAUTIFUL TOWN. The people, the living, the countryside, everything was perfect. Twenty two years later the population grew with transplants, and yes, we were transplants too, but these new transplants left their crime and dirty states and brought that culture with them and ruined the quaint living of Bend.
In 2020 we moved to Tennessee. Bend can now be classified as, ‘Little LA’ or ‘Little San Francisco. Anything other than ‘Little old Bend ‘.
As someone from Bend and being only in my 20s it is insane to see how much it has changed just in my lifetime. The house I grew up in once had fields behind it and is now filled with an astonishing amount of cookie-cutter homes. After travelling to Europe for a couple of months for someone with lots of local connections finding a job was nearly impossible and the rising prices of rent forced me out of my home town. It’s crazy to think that my rent in Portland is now cheaper than the small town of Bend.
Antonina Pattiz says
Hi Dakota — I grew up in Portland and share the same sentiments! It seems that this happened all over the country (based on what some of my friends in the east coast have shared). Couldn’t agree more!
Arby Smith says
If you have kids, you might want to consider that drug use among middle schoolers and high schoolers is prevalent and getting worse.
Chasity Morris says
We just moved here from Sedona,Az
And we hope it is as you’ve stated! Safe, good place to raise a family with good hospitality!
Great article and even more informative comments. Me and my gal just went to Bend a few weeks ago on a lark. We’ve been thinking about relocating out of the SF Bay Area for a while and, after a weekend in Bend, we are/were considering it. But many of the comments on here are disconcerting.
For example, diversity? You guys really want it? Coming from the SF Bay Area I’ve seen what diversity does and, more worrying, what it is: Reverse racism. If this is the trend that Bend is heading in… it’s definitely a con. Diversity is getting your car broken into constantly, quality of life crime and petty crime exploding and going unpunished. Diversity is trash all over the streets and more riff raff and the problems they bring. No thanks!
The weather sounds a bit daunting too. Had no idea it was that cold so many of the months. Was thinking it would be nice to get back to 4 seasons but not sure about the sort of weather people in the comments are talking about. Maybe I’ll look at Tennessee like the other commenter said.
I’ve lived in Bend long enough that I have felt lonely at Pioneer Park, lol. Those days are gone for sure. Also I’m a homegrown more left than liberal, I hope.
Klamath falls is much much ulgier and there’s way less to do!
Shockingly there is no direct air service to Portland from RDM (Redmond).
This may be redundant but there is no direct air service to Portland from nearby Redmond Airport RDM.
11) The Old Mill district is a great place to shop and eat with river views and the three smoke stacks sporting the American flag atop create an iconic view.
Yay! I’m glad I took out all of those student loans and became a successful doctor and businessman. Now, I have plenty of opportunity to live anyplace I choose and don’t have to worry much about cost of living 🙂
I have lived in Oregon for most of my life and my mom and grandma lived in this area in as early as the 1950’s so our family has seen a lot of change. I just moved back 8 years ago after spending time In Montana and it is now hotter and drier than it was. We have had several years with terrible wildfires and smoky skies that make it unsafe to spend much time outdoors.
In fact, the only year that wasn’t awful for at least several weeks was 2022. We have been evacuated from our home due to nearby wildfire, and other times had to leave the area because the air tasted so disgusting and our windows were constantly filthy from soot. It’s not just from wildfires either. Long before wildfire season starts, the Forest Service starts burning slash piles and these ‘prescribed’ burns create smoky air on days that would otherwise be clear.
There are lots of pros and cons to living anywhere, but the air quality here is a big con. Air quality is compromised for sometimes three months out of the year. It’s a huge factor that people should consider when visiting or moving to the area.
neil hughes says
well done. good infonhughes@