Moving to Eugene, Oregon

Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

  • Our family is lived in Illinois, Texas and now California, but we're considering a move to Oregon—the Eugene or Corvallis area. We currently live in North Berkeley and love our neighborhood for it's walkability, good schools, fun parks, farmers markets, and proximity to various transit hubs. However, the cost is wearing on us and we feel like we're having trouble maintaining community, even after living in the area for a few years -- everyone seems to be moving away due to high housing costs. Oregon's lower cost of living is appealing, plus the area's proximity to outdoor activities. But, a move has us worried we'll be bored or find ourselves living a life that's more rural that we planned (fewer trips to things like museums, more time in the car, greater distance from international airport, etc.). We're not necessarily concerned about the weather, but would like to know if people in the area make the most of outside time when it's rainy/gloomy—we wouldn't want to me the only ones who aren't afraid to gear up and still have fun. We'd appreciate hearing from other families perspectives on live in Eugene, Corvallis or a town nearby. 

    I lived in Eugene and absolutely loved it. There is a lot of stuff to do in Eugene and a lot of outdoor activities. I don't think you would be bored. Also you are only 2 hours to Portland and from the Eugene airport you can easily fly to a larger airport for any international flights you want to make.  I didn't think the weather was too bad (I've also lived in Seattle which I felt was much for challenging weather-wise). I would highly recommend moving to Eugene. 

    My brother-in-law lived in both Eugene and Corvallis. Both were nice small college towns (they were there because of U of Oregon jobs). Neither had access to large museums. Corvallis is closer to Portland, which also is not a big place for museums. Both have walkable downtowns, and if you are careful you can find a place that is in biking distance of the downtown. The farmer's markets are good, and there are nearby natural areas for walking which people do in all weather. Unless you are very good bike riders, or can find things near home to keep yourself busy, you would need a car per adult in either of them. Both are much less diverse than the Bay Area, or most places in California. There is an IB high school in Eugene. In general the schools don't have the diversity of course offerings and AP classes that a school like BHS has. Neither seemed much like North Berkeley to us, though we liked visiting there.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Eugene is a wonderful place to be a kid. The City of Eugene Recreation Services actually provide a free drop-in recreational program during the summer in all the neigborhood parks; included are big wading pools with life guards, craft projects, and even snacks. The University of Oregon offers lots of enriched and exciting programs for kids. There's also the Amazon Community Center (with summer day camps, and three pools, including a twisty water slide and a very appealing toddler area), a Science factory, Nearby Nature programs at Mt. Pisgah, the Maude Kerns art center, the Oregon Festival of American Music (OFAM), for music, singing, vaudeville classes, you name it) KidSports, The Edge (gymnastics and dancing), the YMCA, and the Downtown Athletic Club, all of which provide classes and camps for kids. The Eugene Public Library is gigantic, and offers many events for kids too. I miss the steam train and merry-go-round at Tilden, but the lack of traffic kind of makes up for it. I can't advise on pediatricians and childcare, since my twins are almost ten, but it's easy to meet people here. They seem less harried than in the Bay Area. Here are a few web sites for you regarding summer camps and kids' classes and programs, just to get you started: Best of luck on your move.

May 2004

We have decided to move to the central Willamette Valley of Oregon within a year or so, and would love to hear more about Corvallis, Eugene and the surrounding areas. We are interested in info about how the schools are, the childcare situation, what the communitites are like, and if there are any parent networks or great places to take young kids. We saw the archives on the subject, but are hoping for more feedback. Gayle

We moved from the Bay Area to Eugene close to two years ago. Somewhat to my surprise, we actually found much of what we were looking for: good public schools, more community, lower house prices, and less traffic. The biggest negative is that there are no jobs; Eugene, like most U.S. cities, is hurting financially, and unemployment, or underemployment, is rampant. I see a lot of women my age (middle years) working counter jobs. If you're moving up here, it helps to have a job to come to, or to bring your job with you. The school situation is complex; Eugene has neighborhood public schools, and also alternative public schools. The latter include Spanish, French, and Japanese immersion schools, traditional, and very untraditional. The alternative schools are public, but you can only get your kid in if they're picked in the lottery, which occurs the year before. We're very happy with the alternative school we're in: there's lot of parental involvement, a class size of about 22 or less, and the teachers are stellar. Again, like most cities, Eugene's in a financial crisis, so there are always lots of fund raisers, and a lot of teachers are taking early retirement so that they won't lose what pensions they have. Because it's a college town, Eugene has a lot of cultural events, independent book stores, and the like. The University of Oregon offers lots of classes that kids can take. Our neighborhood, called College Hill, is very organized and friendly. I thought the rain would get me down, but found that I liked the weather. There's plenty of sun to balance out the rain. Eugene as a town seems very big on microbrews, chocolate, music, progressive politics, books, yoga, biking, and cats. Also, there seem to be parades at any opportunity. House prices have been going up (in fact, Eugene/ Springfield is one of those parts of the country, like the Bay Area, where house prices are considered part of a ''bubble'' that could deflate at any moment). You could buy a house in a leafy, nice neighborhood for about $325,000. A house with character would probably set you back more than $400,000. Best of luck in your venture. briank

May 2001

We're thinking of moving to Eugene, Oregon, and wondered if anyone had any experience with this city. Does it really rain 99.9% of the time? Is there a good sense of community? How are the schools? Would you want to raise your kids there? Thanks for your comments! Brian

I lived and worked for a number of years in Corvallis, Oregon's other college town. My job with the university plus friends and family in the area took me to Eugene quite often. Unless it has changed a LOT it was a great place to raise kids. Comparing it to places I've been here in the Bay Area, I would say it is most like Berkeley. There is (or was) a place for everyone to fit in if they want to. Of course it had the same problems as any larger size community and areas less appealing than others. The positives I remember were a thriving art community, including theatre and music, as well as visual arts. It's large enough to attract headliner entertainment. If you're into it they have a fabulous medieval fair every year. Also, it is is very close to lots of outdoor recreation areas; an hour from the coast, an hour from the mountains, etc. Depending on the age(s) of your children, I'm sure you'll find plenty of enriching activities for them. No, it doesn't rain every single day...but winter and spring are pretty soggy. Be sure you take your umbrella! Oh yes, and watch out for logging trucks! Renay

I grew up in Springfield (bedroom community of Eugene) and highly recommend it for a place to raise children. While you do not have the beauty of the Bay (and all that goes with this area), you do have a great university feel to a city and all that goes with it; Performing Arts, athletics (go Ducks!), good school systems (especially in certain parts of Eugene), some good restaurant (a small variety of ethnic ones),2 rivers that run through the city - I could go on. I have lived in California since I was 17 but visit my parents frequently (and would take an opportunity to move back). It does rain a lot and, if it isn't raining, it can be quite gray, but the summer months (July-Sept) are spectacular. Plan a winter get away and plan to spend a few stormy weekends at the Oregon coast and you'll be fine (with some great rain gear). Good luck JThomsen