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From the ocean-crashing western coastline to the high desert in the east — and of course with all the wacky weirdness of Portland in between — Oregon is less of a hidden gem than it used to be. In fact, it ranks among the top fastest-growing states in the country, with a population increase of more than 10% over the past decade, according to recent Census Bureau data.
But newcomers (or those who hope to be) may wonder how much they can expect to spend to live in the Beaver State.
We’ve gathered all the data so you can get your wallet as ready for boulder-strewn beaches and evergreen forests as you are.
What’s the Average Cost of Living in Oregon?
Average Cost of Living in Oregon: $42,055 per year
Oregon may be one of the most beautiful states in the union, but unfortunately, it’s not one of the cheapest. Per MERIC’s third-quarter 2021 cost of living index , Oregon is 46th. Only Massachusetts, California, New York, Hawaii, and Washington, D.C., are more expensive.
To put that in perspective, neighboring Washington state scores 39th on MERIC’s index, and Idaho is only 25th.
Here’s how the individual cost categories break down, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ 2020 Personal Consumption Expenditures by State report.
Average Annual Per-Capita Cost in Oregon
Housing and Utilities
Food and Beverage (non-restaurant)
Gas and Energy Goods
All Other Personal Expenditures
Housing Costs in Oregon
Average Housing Costs in Oregon: $998 to $1,699 per month
Given that there are only 1,808,465 housing units, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, in such a quickly growing state, it’s no surprise that housing comes at a high price. The typical home value in Oregon, per 2021 data from Zillow, is $474,505 — whereas the average sale price of an existing home is $352,800, according to September 2021 data from the National Association of Realtors®.
Of course, where in Oregon you live matters a great deal when it comes to the price of purchasing a home. Here’s what the breakdown looks like by city, with home values as of September 2021 from Zillow (or August 2021 when marked with an asterisk):
Typical Home Price
While which metro area you’re in will also affect rent prices (spoiler alert: Portland, as cool as it is, is also spendy), here are the average rent figures, per 2019 U.S. Census Bureau data:
Of course keeping a roof over your head is only one part of maintaining a household in Oregon — or anywhere else for that matter. From electricity to cable and internet, here are the average monthly utility costs in this part of the PNWonderland.
Average Oregon Bill
Cable & Internet
Sources: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Sales, Revenue, and Average Price, 2021; Inspirecleanenergy.com; DoxoInsights, U.S. Cable & Internet Market Size and Household Spending Report 2021; and Rentcafe.com, What Is the Average Water Bill?
Groceries & Food
Average Grocery & Food Costs in Oregon: $327 per person, per month
No matter where you are, you’ve gotta fill your belly — and whether you’re into seafood or vegan fare, the eats are top-notch in Oregon.
As mentioned, the average per-capita grocery expenditure in Oregon is $3,928, the Bureau of Economic Analysis says. If you divide that by 12, it comes out to about $327 per month, per person — or $1,308 for a family of four, depending on your appetites.
Again, of course, the exact figure also depends on where in the state you live. The Council for Community and Economic Research helpfully calculates the cost of living for major U.S. cities, usually ranking metro areas by the overall cost of groceries. Unfortunately, only one Oregon metro area was studied in the Q2 2021 data, which was Portland. Its grocery item index number was 106.6, which is a fairly high number, though lower than Seattle’s 129.9.
To put that into perspective: According to the same data set, a gallon of milk costs about $2.76 in the Portland area, while you can expect to pay $2.19 for a dozen conventional eggs.
Average Transportation Costs in Oregon: $4,900 to $13,317 per year
Getting around is another important cost to factor in. While major cities like Portland have public transportation resources, there are many smaller, rural communities in this wide-open Western state that rely on personal vehicles to get around.
Your exact yearly transportation cost will, of course, vary based on your circumstances, but here’s some helpful data from the MIT’s Living Wage Calculator based on your family and circumstances.
Average Annual Transportation Cost
One adult, no children
Two working adults, no children
Two working adults, two children
Average Health Care Costs in Oregon: $7,124 per person, per year
Oregon is well known for its opportunities for outdoor recreation and sport — which can help people stay stronger and healthier but can also result in costly injuries.
Perhaps it makes sense, then, that the 2020 Bureau of Economic Analysis Personal Consumption Expenditures by State report estimates Oregon’s annual health care spending at $7,124, or about $594 per month, per person. Once again, your total actual costs will vary depending on your lifestyle, health, location, and family makeup.
Average Child Care Costs in Oregon: $1,085 to $1,580 or more per child, per month
Caring for children is costly just about everywhere in this country, and Oregon is no exception.
The good news is, the exact amount you’ll pay will depend greatly on what kind of child care you’re seeking — and in Oregon, home-based family child care, or nannying, is counterintuitively one of the least expensive options.
Oregon is well known for its progressive social agendas, at least in its major cities — so it’s no surprise that it has one of the highest income tax burdens in the United States.
Oregon’s highest marginal tax rate is 9.90%, according to the most recent available data from the Tax Foundation’s State Individual Income Tax Rates and Brackets. That’s higher than every state except New Jersey (10.75%), Hawaii (11%), and California (13.30%). Keep in mind that this figure does not include federal income tax.
Portland residents can also expect to receive a yearly bill for the Portland Arts Tax, a special fund that goes to support schoolteachers and arts-focused nonprofits in the state’s capital.
The bright side? There’s no sales tax in Oregon — even when you order things online from out of state.
Enough of the pedestrian stuff. How much does it cost to have fun in Oregon?
As was touched on in the first section, the Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates the average per-capita personal expenditures in Oregon at $21,752 per year. While the specifics depend on where you are and what you’re into, here’s where some of that dough might be going (costs accurate as of Nov. 2, 2021).
• Entrance fee to Crater Lake National Park, home of the deepest lake in America: $30 per vehicle for a seven-day pass. (An annual pass to the park costs $55, if you plan to visit often, and the National Park Service also hosts fee-free days for all of its properties each year.)
• Entry to the Portland Art Museum, the seventh-oldest in the United States: $25 per adult; children 17 and under get in free.
• Tickets to see the Portland Thorns: Starting at around $15 per seat, though they can go much higher from third-party vendors, depending when you buy them.
• Lift tickets to ski on Mount Bachelor: $119 for a full-day adult pass, though discounts are available for late arrivals and active-duty military members.
Of course, in a state known for its plethora of natural beauty, there are many wonderful recreation opportunities that are free of charge — or close to it. The vast network of hiking trails around Mount Hood and the Columbia River Gorge are generally free to enter, though you may need to purchase a parking pass depending on where the trailhead is, and permits may be required on popular trails during the high season.
Wandering along many of Oregon’s stunning beaches is also free (not counting the seafood you’re likely to enjoy while you visit the area), and Portland is known for its many well-manicured, free-to-enter parks, including 5,200-acre Forest Park, one of the largest urban green spaces in the nation.
How Much Money Do You Need to Live Comfortably in Oregon?
Definitions of “comfortable” vary, so it’s impossible to say how much money you’d need to earn to feel comfortable in Oregon (or anywhere else, for that matter).
But all things considered, Oregon is a fairly spendy state by any reckoning: U.S. News and World Report Affordability Ranking , ranks it 46th, with only Alaska, Massachusetts, California, and Hawaii costlier. That’s the positioning MERIC has, too, which is to say: Living comfortably in Oregon will likely require a decent income, or some budgetary creativity.
Of course, you can tip the scale in your favor by choosing a city with a lower cost of living.
What City Has the Lowest Cost of Living in Oregon?
While the Council for Community and Economic Research only studied the Portland metro area in its latest cost of living index, good data exists on which Oregon cities have relatively low housing costs — which is, after all, one of the largest budget line items for most families.
According to late 2021 data from Zillow, homes are costliest in Bend ($643,071), Portland ($528,038), and Hood River ($520,040) and least costly in the following three towns.
Situated in the northeastern quadrant of Oregon, where the lush vegetation of the Columbia River Valley gives way to the sprawling high desert of the eastern part of the state, La Grande has the lowest-priced houses in the state, Zillow’s data shows. The average home in La Grande goes for about $222,805, the company says.
La Grande has excellent access to both the Umatilla National Forest and the Wallowa Mountains, both highly sought-out recreational zones for all manner of Oregon outdoors folk. It’s also home to Eastern Oregon University, which means that residents can bank on plenty of music, art, and culture making its way through town.
You don’t have to have a passport to go to Ontario, Oregon! This town lies along the Snake River just over the border from Idaho, only about an hour outside Boise — which means despite its population of about 11,000, you’ll have access to plenty of big-city resources when you need them.
Better yet, the average home here sells for about $227,579, according to Zillow. Be sure to check out the Four Rivers Cultural Center & Museum, which offers information about and celebrates the various cultures that have come to thrive here in what’s rightly known as the Treasure Valley.
A drop-dead gorgeous city straddling two epic bodies of water, Klamath Falls is nestled right at the place where Upper Klamath Lake starts pouring itself into the Klamath River, which eventually runs all the way west to the Pacific Ocean at Klamath, California. You don’t have to go that far at all, however, to enjoy the epic view: The lake offers deep blues offset by the high desert landscape, and it’s even more beautiful when it’s rimmed in snow.
With a population of just over 21,000, Klamath Falls is large enough to offer whatever resources you need but small enough to be comfortable — especially since the average home costs only $263,478.That’s less than half of the average home price in Portland … and you won’t have to deal with I-5 traffic.
SoFi Home Loans
The cost of living in Oregon? Not low in Portland and Bend, but fairly low in some small towns. The state’s natural beauty might be calling you west on your own version of the Oregon Trail to look for a new home.
Although there are many home loans on the market to choose from, SoFi offers a range of fixed-rate home loans at competitive interest rates and with as little as 5% down.
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