Moving to Corvallis, Oregon

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  • 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.

  • Corvallis Oregon

    (2 replies)

    We are considering relocating there with our 12 year old son and would appreciate any information about the town.  Thanks!

    I was born and raised in Oregon, and my husband and I attended OSU in the late 1990s. We returned to Corvallis in 2011 with a newborn and 4 year old in tow when I got a job with the university. We had fond memories and were excited to live there again, but we quickly realized the town does not offer the things we've come to value in where we live (we've moved around a bit over the years). It's not diverse, it's fairly isolated in that Portland is 90 mins away, it has one (sometimes two) of everything but not a lot of retail options or amenities, mediocre restaurants, and a depressing rental market for families! This wasn't all new news to us, but we certainly felt different being there as adults and not as college students. We moved here - for the second time - from Corvallis after 3 years there. All of that said, Corvallis is a very easy place to live if you have a good job - especially after living in the Bay Area! The school district is great and there are plenty of outdoor activities. No traffic, easy parking. Many people do love it, it just wasn't for us - as you may have caught on to, we're definitely city people and we love living in Oakland. I'm happy to answer any more/specific questions you might have!

    I was raised in Corvallis and appreciated my "small town" childhood. As the previous poster wrote, it's not particularly diverse (ethnically) and Portland is approximately 2 hrs away. I visit once a year or so and I still love it for what it offers... In it's offerings, I would include: close proximity to lots of outdoor activities (countless rivers, creeks, forests, and beaches to be explored), good school districts, no traffic, thriving university campus, fun food and brewery scene, bike friendly, affordable housing (relative to the Bay). Depending on what you're looking for and value, I would definitely recommend Corvallis. The biggest issue I had with Corvallis (Oregon in general) was the 9 months of rain. I didn't realize until coming to CA how much it affected my life. If you're seriously considering a move, I would suggest visiting not only in the summer (when it's bound to lure you in with its warmth, abundance of local produce, and charming small town feel) but also in the rainy months when it's still lovely but takes more "work" to enjoy. There are hopper flights from Oakland to Eugene (45 min south) on Allegiant that get you up there in about 1.5 hrs. I would suggest visiting a few times and exploring what it has to offer. I'd be happy to answer any other questions or give more detailed suggestions. Feel free to reach out. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Thinking about retiring in Corvalis

Dec 2014

WE are thinking of retiring in Corvalis, Oregon. Does anyone have any experiences living or vacationing there. Climate, Culture, Crime, things to do, etc.

Disclaimer: I grew up in Eugene so my view of Corvallis is a bit biased. It's quiet there, though OSU helps with making it a bit more vibrant. It has its liberal population because of the school, but also a conservative, more 'redneck' population as well. The weather is typical Oregon: beautiful summers with lots of rain from September - May. Think the Friday after the 'big storm' where it was mostly grey and drizzle. You'll get snow though as well, which is lovely! The weather is definitely changing so the grey drizzle is less than when I was growing up. Nature is everywhere in that area so if you're outdoorsy, most of Oregon is a good pick for you. And farms! I have been so disappointed in the U-pick and 'farm' options around here but that's another story. Personally, Corvallis wouldn't be enough for me, I'd go for somewhere with more going on (Eugene, Bend, Portland area, Ashland) but it really depends what you want in retirement. Oregonian at heart

I have in-laws who retired there. The pluses are that the place is very bikeable, and they had a large yard which my in-laws really liked -- they actually sold surplus produce at the farmer's market which operates in the summer. Culturally, it isn't all that interesting but that wasn't an issue for them. The weather is hotter than here in summer and colder in winter. They had no problems with crime where they lived which was a mile or two from campus and the center of town. I don't think there are any jobs in the area, though she teaches an enrichment class to private students. anon

Considering relocating to Corvallis, Oregon

Oct 2007

Hi, Do you live in Corvallis, Oregon, or know anyone that does? I'm seriously considering relocating my family to Corvallis and would love to chat about Oregon (and the Pacific Northwest). I think that once we leave the Bay Area, coming back will be too difficult, so I want to be as sure as possible before taking the plunge! thanks!

I grew up in Philomath, Oregon, which is a small town right next to Corvallis. I know Corvallis well since that was/is the place you hang if you live in a town like Philomath. My family still lives in the area. I also lived in Portland, OR until 4 years ago. Email me if you want to set up a time to talk about the PNW. I really like Corvallis and it has become a great place for families with young kids. There are also a number of other places in Oregon which would be nice for raising a family, including Portland, Eugene and Ashland. Nicola

You cannot go wrong moving to Corvallis, or the Pacific Northwest. I graduated from OSU and loved living in Corvallis. The pace of life is much slower, stores are not crowded, but more importantly, it is a intellectual community. The weather is great too. We just moved from Portland Oregon and I miss it very much. I would definitely consider Portland or Corvallis one of the best cities to live in in the US. The only downside to Portland is that the public school system is not very good, but it is good in Corvallis. Oh yeah, now, if you are particular to East Bay weather, you will definitely be in for a shock because in the PNW, it does rain several months out of the year, it is darker, cloudier and can get very cold and down right depressing. Definitely visit in the winter as fall is perfect time of year. Good luck, and GO BEAVERS~! Oregon, home sweet home

I grew up in Corvallis, lived there 'til I was 17 & went away to college. It was idyllic then. My brother's in-laws have lived there for years and, I'm told, like it very much. They've reared two children there. I sometimes dream of retiring there. Don't know how it would be after living in the Bay Area! I would be happy to respond if you want to e-mail me. Carol

We moved our family to Eugene in May of this year; our goal was to find someplace slower and less expensive than the Bay Area, but with similar political and weather climate. In our search, we also considered Portland and Corvallis. We finally decided that while Portland is a fantastic city, it is still a city, and is too big, expensive, and crowded for what we wanted. On the other hand, Corvallis was nearly perfect. It's gorgeous, fairly liberal, has a USO campus, good schools, etc. What finally swung us toward Eugene was that the size of the city felt better than that of Corvallis (~150,000 vs. ~50,000). We liked the ''culture'' available in the bigger town of Eugene (performing arts center, an opera, a ballet, an annual Bach festival, a gorgeous new library, a UO campus, Trader Joe's, etc.).

But both cities are very similar in temperament, and I think Corvallis would be a great place to live. Both cities are one hour from the coast, and one hour from the mountains; both are an easy trip to Portland (1.5 hours from Corvallis, 2 hours from Eugene) and even Seattle (4.5 hours from Corvallis, 5 from Eugene). Both are extremely family-friendly, with good schools. Both are environmentally progressive. Neither has rock-bottom housing prices, but both are definitely cheaper than the Bay Area.

After working so hard to just pay our mortgage in the Bay Area, it's very strange and wonderful to be able to actually save some money. My only hesitation about moving to either city (as opposed to Portland, for example) is that jobs are not as readily available as in Portland or the Bay Area. My husband was able to bring his Bay Area job with him, and I'm currently a SAHM, so we didn't face that issue (yet, I suppose).

Oh, and if you have seasonal allergies, your allergies might be worse (we're right next to Linn County, the ''Grass Seed Capital of the World'' Achoo!) Otherwise, living in the Willamette Valley is really exceptional. Aside from having to leave most of our friends behind, we really wish we had moved years ago.

I'm not sure I have more Corvallis-specific info for you that you couldn't already find in their relocation packet, but you can feel free to contact me if you have any other questions or would like any more pro-Eugene propaganda. Tori

I grew up in Corvallis and visit my parents regularly, so I may have a distorted view since I have not lived there full time for many years. It is a very nice, small university town. You should be prepared for many cloudy days--some people have a hard time with that when moving from a sunny area. A friend that I grew up with recently moved back to the area (to Eugene since they found housing costs to be lower) and loves it. Another friend who I went to school with at Berkeley now lives in Corvallis (with kids) and really likes it. I'm willing to chat if you like. susan

Bay Area friends of ours moved to Corvallis 9 years ago. They have now added two little kids to their family and consider Corvallis home. We love to visit them there. It's a beautiful college town. Hewlett Packard and OSU bring diversity to the area. There are plenty of things to do, especially if you're physically active. My friends are happy to talk with you. Feel free to email me and I'll put you in touch. latortuga