Many people planning for retirement are attracted to Oregon’s scenic beauty, many outdoor recreation activities, and moderate weather. With its location along the Pacific coast, and rivers and mountains in its geography, Oregon offers opportunities for hiking, biking, and canoeing.
Additionally, the climate is relatively mild, with few temperature extremes. The moist air from the ocean largely influences the climate; the western part of the state has precipitation and rain forests (average annual rainfall in Eugene is over 50 inches), while the central and eastern part can be dry. Besides the natural attractions of snow-capped mountains and lush valleys, Oregon offers a dynamic environment of arts and culture in both small towns and larger cities.
The cost of living in the Beaver State, although lower than neighboring California, is high. The overall tax burden is 10%, putting it at number 16 of 50 states. There is no sales tax, but the top marginal income tax rate is 11%, one of the highest of any state. Social Security benefits and some military retirement benefits are exempt.
Property taxes are also 16th in the nation, and there is no homestead exemption. There is also an estate tax on estates over $1 million. The median home price was $242,000 in 2015, higher than the national average. These costs led Bankrate.com in 2013 to rank Oregon as the worst state to retire.
Nevertheless there are places in Oregon to enjoy the benefits without the high costs. Here are a few.
Although parts of Oregon can be expensive, there are small towns that offer outdoor as well as cultural and artistic attractions at an affordable price. Located in the southwest corner of Oregon is Ashland. A small city with a population of 20,000 located just north of California, Ashland, and its neighboring town Medford, have gathered national attention for its cultural and artistic amenities and has been rated by national publications among the best places to retire in the U.S.
The area is bounded by mountains to the east and west and is close to the Rogue and Klamath Rivers. The town itself has a 100-acre park in the center of town and miles of walking and bike trails.
In addition to the annual Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland also hosts an eight-month long schedule of theatrical presentations that draw thousands of visitors each year. Other events include the Britt Festivals, an outdoor summer event that includes nationally known musicians representing every genre, and the Medford Jazz Festival in October.
Situated on the northwest tip of Oregon, on the south shore of the Columbia River and just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean, Astoria is sometimes compared to San Francisco because of its coastal setting, hilly terrain, and historic Victorian homes, The downtown area recalls the town’s founding in the late 1800s. The historic Astoria Riverfront Trolley runs along the river and past the north end of downtown.
The Columbia River Maritime Museum and Clatsop County Historical Society Heritage Museum are two of the attractions that help preserve the area’s history. The town’s location along the coast keeps the climate moderate; temperatures typically stay in a narrow range from the 50s to the 70s.
Astoria is host to the Fisher Poets Gathering, where those in the fishing industry from the Pacific Northwest and Alaska come to tell their tales to about the fishing industry and lifestyle.
Lincoln City is another coastal town situated on seven miles of beach on the central Oregon Coast. The local chamber of commerce boasts that the community is ranked as one of the top 25 places to retire in the country because of its mild climate, beautiful scenery and many recreational opportunities.
The Lincoln City Cultural Center, housed in the historic DeLake School building offers a wide variety of classes and events year-round. Two kite festivals are held annually in Lincoln City, the Summer Kite Festival in June and the Fall Kite Festival in October.
A unique local attraction is watching for whales making their annual migration along the Pacific Coast. Another unique activity in town is the annual float search. Local artisans create hand-blown glass floats, similar to those which were historically used by Japanese fishermen on their nets, and hide them along the beaches to be found by residents walking the shoreline.
With a population of about 600,000 Portland is the largest city in Oregon, located in the northwest part of the state. Located between the Pacific Ocean and the Cascade Mountains, its climate is marked by warm, dry summers and damp, cool-to-chilly winters.
Portland is known for an abundance of outdoor activities, as well as restaurants and microbreweries. Bon Appetit magazine in 2009 named Portland “America’s Foodiest Small Town” and dozens of restaurants serve organic, locally grown cuisine. Portland is also home to the most total breweries and independent microbreweries of any city in the world. There are 58 active breweries in town and over 600 food trucks.
The artistic and musical environment is active. Portland has a range of classical performing arts groups including the Oregon Ballet Theatre, Oregon Symphony Orchestra, Portland Opera and the Portland Youth Philharmonic. In 2006 American Style magazine rated Portland as the tenth best Big City Arts Destination in the U.S. Art galleries abound downtown and in neighborhoods throughout the city. The Portland Art Museum is one of the 25 largest museums in the country.
Seven miles west of Portland, Beaverton has been named by Forbes as not only one of the best places to retire, but one of the 100 best places to live in general. Besides its many amenities, it has a crime rate 31 percent lower than the state’s average, and it is highly walkable. Beaverton was ranked one of the most walking-friendly cities by Prevention Magazine, and hiking trails are just a few miles away.
In 2010, Beaverton was named by Money magazine as one of the 100 “best places to live”, among smaller cities, in the country. Beaverton is also a top employment center, with numerous corporations in a range of industries located there. Local attractions include the Tualatin Hills Nature Park, a family-friendly place for hiking and walking in the woods. Art on Broadway is a place to shop for local artwork. The area is also home to the Cooper Mountain Vineyards and several other wineries.
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