If you’re considering moving to Bend, be wary of car theft and prepare to spend all your money on food, beer, and outdoor adventures—but prepare to be amazed by the warm culture, jaw-dropping landscape, and exciting job opportunities.
The original inhabitants of the Central Oregon region that includes Bend are now known as the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. Because of the high desert ecosystem, the area around Bend was historically seasonally inhabited.
Today, Bend is home to nearly 100,000 people. What began as a logging town in the early 1900s is now a hub for outdoor enthusiasts attracted by the sun and the slopes. Bend also hosts tech companies, tens of breweries—and the last remaining Blockbuster video rental store.
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What you need to know about Bend before you move
Just 166 miles south of Portland is the enchanting mountain city of Bend. With snowy slopes, high desert plateaus, and the rushing Deschutes river within spitting distance, Bend is bursting with outdoor recreation opportunities. It doesn’t hurt that Bend gets approximately 250 sunny or mostly sunny days every year.
This family-friendly region balances laidback goodwill with rugged intelligence. Bend is also affectionately known as Little Beervana for the proliferation of craft breweries in the city.
But you’re probably more interested in the cost of living, job opportunities, and transportation options—so let’s dive in! Here’s what you need to know about Bend before you move.
1. It may be more expensive than wherever you’re moving from
You may know that Portland is very expensive, but you might be surprised to learn that Bend is pretty unaffordable, too. The Cost of Living Index (COLI) in Oregon is 114.3—for reference, the national average is set at 100.
In Bend, the cost of living index is a whopping 131.3. Living costs in Bend are continuing to skyrocket, unfortunately. In fact, Bend rated as the
4th fastest increase in cost of living in the entire country.
But let’s break down these costs a bit further.
The cost of a home in Bend is about $363,000, which is about double the national average. You can expect to pay between $1,700 and $2,000 per month for a one-bedroom apartment.
There’s a silver lining, though! Utilities in Bend cost about 16% less than the national average, partially due to Oregon’s commitment to renewable energy and the abundance of solar power in Bend.
Food costs in Bend are slightly more reasonable. Expect to spend about $6 for a beer and $5 for a cappuccino. You can buy a dozen eggs for $4.78 and a fast food meal for about $10. Bend is full of expensive health food stores, so you can relax knowing that hemp seeds and almond butter are easy to find.
2. Job growth is seriously major—and industries are diverse
Job growth in Bend is expected to boom in the next few years. Tech companies like Sony and Facebook have already established offices in Bend, and others won’t be far behind. If you’re not interested in software engineering, you’ll be glad to know that tech is not the biggest employer in town.
Here are some of the biggest industries in Bend, Oregon:
Tourism, recreation, and hospitality
Automotive and construction
The biggest companies in Bend are Les Schwab Tire Centers, St. Charles Health System, Ae Solar Alternative Energy, and the City of Bend.
10% of the population lives below the poverty line. The minimum wage is set at $13.50 and the median household income (in 2020 dollars) is $67,973. At the moment, Bend still feels like a smallish city—but change is already afoot as job prospects attract more people to the region. All signs point to a lot more wealth in Bend within the next decade, and now is a great time to get in on the party.
3. Car theft is really, really common
Violent crimes in Bend are minimal, with a rate of 1.81 violent crimes per 1,000 residents. So you don’t have to worry too much about walking your dog at night or being robbed at home in Bend.
However, property crimes in Bend occur at a rate of 19.79 crimes per 1,000 residents.
Car theft is the biggest category of property crime in Bend. In fact, Oregon and Washington are in the
top 10 states for the highest rates of car theft. In 2020, the rate of car theft increased by 56%, and it increased by another 22% in 2021.
If you’re bringing a car to Bend, it might be worth investing in some additional security measures for your vehicle. A new alarm system could not only help deter thieves but it could lower your
car insurance rate, too!
4. Bend is super friendly to kids (and furry kids)
21.6% of Bend’s population is under 18 years old. That’s a lot of young people! Luckily, Bend is well-suited for raising a family, with plenty of resources to keep kids entertained and educated.
Public schools in Bend
rank higher than most other schools in Oregon. There are also destinations such as the Sun Nature Center and the High Desert Museum to provide extracurricular educational opportunities for young learners.
So what about your canine kids? Well, dogs love life in Bend. Bend is also known as Dogtown, USA—a moniker that speaks to the deep affection of the city (dog parks) and its businesses (dog-friendly breweries) to pups of all sizes. Nearly half of all Central Oregon residents own a dog, so you and Fido will be in good company if you end up moving to Bend.
5. Transportation is complicated in Bend—and likely to change soon
With a Walk Score of 91/100, Bend is a very walkable city. The catch is that you have to live in town to benefit from the urban design, and most Bendites live outside the walker-friendly zone.
A small public transportation system is available via the Cascades East Transit. However, urbanites accustomed to a robust transit system may find themselves disappointed in the service. The routes don’t reach many rural areas and vehicles don’t run as frequently as they would in a bigger city.
On the bright side, the cost index for transportation costs in Bend is 82.6 (the national average is set at 100). If you drive your car to work, the mean commute time in Bend is just 16.6 minutes. Bear in mind that driving in the snow on mountain roads can be dicey in the winter—and you’ll have to learn to use roundabouts.
6. The weather and the landscape are a match made in heaven
The high desert of Central Oregon is beautiful and fierce—and it’s a rare biosphere compared to the rainy Portland area and the overheated smog of California.
Firstly, there’s the gift of the sun. Everyone knows that it rains a lot in the Pacific Northwest. But that’s what makes Bend extremely special. Bend is the sunniest city in all of Oregon with about 200 sunny days every year. In warm weather, you can meander in Drake Park, hike the hills, float the Deschutes River, or find a quiet nook for fly fishing. Sometimes, wildfire smoke taints the sky, but otherwise air quality in Bend is excellent.
Winters are cold and snowy in Bend, with an average low of 25 degrees F in the coldest months. But you can head to Mount Bachelor for skiing or carve up some backcountry powder at Tam McArthur Rim on the edge of a frozen cinder cone peak.
7. Beer is a way of life in Bend
Ski bum culture and happily grimy hikers are the backbone of Bend’s culture—and that means beer. Beer is not only a cute hobby in Bend. Beer is a way of life, a business opportunity, a means of creative expression, and a uniting force amongst Bendites.
If that sounds like an exaggeration, it’s not. Here are just some of the excellent breweries that call Bend home: 10 Barrel Brewing Company, Silver Moon Brewing, Bend Brewing Co., Ale Apothecary, Crux Fermentation Project, Sunriver Brewing Company, AVID Cider Co., Deschutes Brewery, Worthy Brewing, Bridge 99 Brewer, Boneyard Beer, Monkless, Immersion Brewing, and Oblivion Brewing Company. Check out the
Bend Ale Trail for a complete guide.
Remember to be kind to waitstaff, too. It’s a Bend thing.
Does Bend live up to its stereotypes?
Some of the stereotypes of Bend are indeed true. Yes, Oregon is really white—Bend is 91.3% white. Yes, Bend is full of breweries and outdoor enthusiasts who tend to make it into their whole personality. But that’s why people move to Bend, Oregon! These could be your people! Life’s too short to not love what you love, right?
Of course, some of the rumors are false. There are more than just tech jobs in Bend. You can find world-class arts and culture in Central Oregon, like the comedy at Craft Kitchen and the Hayden Homes Amphitheater, which has hosted the likes of John Legend.
Ultimately, you’ll find a warm welcome in Bend if you can just accept people the way they are. So long as you can afford the cost of living, the rest is up to you.
Key Takeaway Incredible outdoor recreation and a booming economy are balanced out by a high cost of living and car theft rates in Bend.
Finding a place to live in Bend
In between scoping out hikes and breweries, you’ll need to find a place to live if you’re moving to Bend.
Homes are way more expensive than the national average in Bend, but still more affordable than in many other major cities. Renting is pretty expensive, too. Budget carefully! Think about your transportation needs, your nightlife preferences, and proximity to outdoor recreation.
The city of Bend is divided into four quadrants. Each neighborhood offers a unique flavor. Some are better for walkability to city amenities and others offer backdoor access to Central Oregon’s best landscapes.
Here’s a quick overview of the four neighborhoods in Bend, Oregon:
NW Bend = best for outdoor living: This area includes Summit West, River West, Old Bend, and Awbrey Butte.
NE Bend = most affordable for home-buying or investing: This area includes Mountain View, Orchard District, and Boyd Acres.
SE Bend = acreage and community: This area includes Larkspur and Old Farm District.
SW Bend = new developments and natural recreation: This area includes Southern Crossing and Century West.
If you’re able, try to spend some time in each quadrant before making a decision. Look for a vacation rental and see how life really looks in each area. For instance, does the road get plowed in winter?
Pro Tip If you don’t have a car, make sure you choose an area that’s on the transit line.
Moving to Bend checklist
Got a plan? Great! Now, it’s time to plot out your actual move. Here are some lists to guide you through packing up to locking up on your first night
in your new home.
Before you go
Before you move, make sure to:
After you get there
Don’t forget these final steps to settle into your new life in the high desert of Central Oregon:
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