Tell Me About Oregon

Redthistle(8)September 1, 2012


I have never visited your forum before. I am hoping those of you who live or have lived in Oregon could tell me more about the state.

I've lived in Austin, Texas for the last 26 years and would like to move somewhere where the people are friendly, the gardening is good, and the taxes are the same or lower. I was not born in Texas, but we moved here from Colorado when my mother accepted a Texas teaching position.

Austin has gone through many changes since I came here and not necessarily for the better--although the people are still pretty friendly for the most part.

Thank you. Laura

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I can't compare the people or the taxes; in the Portland area, many acres are being purchased by government agencies in order to keep them undeveloped; the community garden program is long-standing and new gardens are being developed; farmer's markets and subscription farms are booming.

Home gardening is of course good. For vegetables, the current trend is to create raised beds with wood surrounds. Many of them are placed in front yards and even in parking strips.

Commercial plant growing for landscape and gardening is a significant part of the state's economy.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 12:08AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

The Coast Range buffers the impact of Pacific storms, but Zone 6 is still a maritime climate,with a long growing season (from 155 days at Cottage Grove to 280 days in Portland neighborhoods) and 40 to 55 inches of annual precipitation most places. The continental influence is felt two to four times each winter when chilly interior air flows west through the Columbia Gorge and produces wind and freezing rain clear to the Portland airport. In spite of this, Portland is among the mildest parts of Zone 6�"a great place to experiment with borderline plants like eucalyptus, acacias, and oleanders. Summer temperatures in Zone 6 average 10 to 15ðF (5 to 8ðC) higher than those along the coast, while winters are cold enough to trigger good fruit set. Ten-year extremes average 0 to 10ðF (�"18 to �"12ðC). Warm summers and chilly winters make the Willamette Valley one of the WestâÂÂs best-known growing areas for berries, hazelnuts, roses, flowering fruit trees, and broadleafed evergreens

Here is a link that might be useful: Sunset climate zones: Western Oregon -

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 4:45PM
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Thank you Larry gene & bboy. Obviously, I can go on-line and get a snapshot of what Oregon is like, but that's not nearly as good as learning from people who live or have lived there.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 6:13PM
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George Three LLC

ah taxes, they are probably going to be higher for you in oregon.

overall tax burden in oregon is about middle of the pack, in texas its on the lower end. however, individual situations change how much people contribute.

however, i would add that people have higher expectations in their governments here, and you get better bang for your buck.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 1:52AM
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georgeinbandonoregon(z9 OR)

well, IMHO think that as a gardener especially you will need to consider the climate/growing conditions in oregon and how they differ from your experiences both positively and negatively. western oregon has relatively mild but WET winters and mild and dry summers---especially compared to what you might be used to in texas. the rainy season lasts from roughly early november thru early may and while VERY rarely torrential down pours and deluges like folks in the south and east can contend with the sequence of showers and drizzle during that time can drive some folks (gardeners or otherwise) crazy. summers in comparison to most other parts of the country are pleasantly warm (rarely hot) with relatively low humidity and hardly any rain at all from around mid june thru mid to late sept the climate on the east side of the cascades is much drier thruout the year with colder winters and moderately warm to hot dry summers. the west side can be a paridise for growers of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, roses,and many other plants---reading thru any copy of the "sunset western garden book" or the recent book "gardening in the pacific northwest" will give you more details on both climates and plants. as for other aspects of oregon--politics, economics, etc. that is best left to other discussions on other forums. hope this helps.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 12:33AM
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To be more specific, for example, would you be interested in growing citrus here, something easily done in Texas.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 12:05AM
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georgeinbandonoregon(z9 OR)

well, texas is a big state and not all parts of that state are any easier than most of oregon for growing citrus outside and inground.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 1:29AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Austin has a heck of a lot more sunshine than Portland and a lot less rain. That would be one huge difference. Portland has weeks of cloudy skies and low volumn drizzle. Summer starts after the 4th of July and days over 80* are few.

You didn't specify where in Oregon you were interested in moving to. The climate is different in the most populous cities than much of the state. Portland, Salem and Eugene are all in the rain zone.

Though I am a native Oregonian, I moved back from Phoenix AZ and the transition from sunshine to clouds still bothers me annually even after twenty years.

I find it difficult to garden and/or ride my horse in rain and mud. The cold weather isn't much of a problem, it doesn't get very cold. Just wet.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 3:11PM
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The best way to get a feel for the types of plants you can grow in your Oregon garden is to visit public gardens and nurseries. I recommend visiting The Oregon Garden in Silverton, the Japanese and Rose Gardens (which, as I recall, are at or near the Portland Zoo), the Chinese Garden in downtown Portland, Iseli Nursery in Boring, Joy Creek Nursery in Scappoose, and Forest Farm Nursery in Williams.

Living in Oregon: there is no sales tax, but there is state income tax. You aren't allowed to pump your own gas, except on Native American Reservations (and possibly Federal Installations). There is a very good public transportation system, including a light rail system in the Metro area of Portland, and surrounding communities. I was camping once in a National Forest and was surprised to see a public transit sytem bus dropping off a camper on the highway - complete with backpack and sleeping bag. Almost the entire middle part of Oregon is National Forest land, and camping, hiking and fishing is a huge industry and pasttime in Oregon. If you have a chance, you should visit Crater Lake - and remember when coming down-grade, to select a lower gear instead of riding your brakes. My husband ignored that advice, and when we stopped at an overlook, the front right brake was smoking!

My Aunt lived in Lake Oswego, a suburb of Portland (but don't tell an Oswegan that!). She was very active in the Senior programs in her community. They always had trips to the Theater, Casinos, Gardens, etc. She had meals at the Senior Center almost daily, and particpated in a lot of social programs at the Senior Center. I don't know if the Senior Programs are as robust state-wide as they were in Lake Oswego, but I have no reason to doubt it.

I live in Washington, but if I had to move anywhere else in the world, I would choose Oregon.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 5:09PM
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georgeinbandonoregon(z9 OR)

the nurseries mentioned above are very good examples of more "traditional" styles of plants and gardening in oregon and the PNW. forestfarm has a huge selection of plants from all over the world including some very cool rarities. greer gardens (rhododendrons and companion plants) and gossler farms (magnolias) both in the eugene /springfield area and both with websites are a couple more worth looking at----though oregon is chock full of wonderful nurseries!!! if interested in the "growing on the edge" possibilities of gardening in western oregon then checking out cistus nursery at sauvie island just west of portland (or their website)will be interesting and instructive.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 8:51PM
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Wow, you are all wonderful. Thank you so much!

I've lived in Austin for 26 years. My husband got a great job here, but Austin/Texas was never my first *choice* for a place to live. Anyway, he passed away 6 years ago and my 30 y/o daughter suggested that she and I and my 3 y/o grand-daughter move to Oregon. I am willing to do that, but I want to check it all out before making a decision.

In Austin, we have exceptionally hot temperatures (over 100 degrees) for about +/-4 months out of the year. Today it was 102. Tomorrow will be a 102 again. I would say that with the exception of one year (2007), we've had drought conditions for the last 7 years. From the start of May until now, I have watered my plants by hand for 1 & a 1/2 hours almost every day. Austin has stringent water restrictions. We literally had thousands of trees die in our state last year from the drought.

Water, electricity & property taxes are all going up here. While Austin is a cutting-edge kind of place, I'm more of a laid-back individual. Plus, traffic has gotten pretty bad with the hordes of people who are moving here. It sometimes takes 30 minutes to drive 4.5 miles to work.

I want to live where it's green, not brown, and where gardening isn't such a struggle.

Property taxes on a 1,000 sq ft unfancy circa 1966 house on a small lot (no shed/no garage) run $3,500. Property taxes on a 3,000 sq ft circa 1902 house without a garage, in an average middle to lower-middle class neighborhood on a large lot are $5,500/yr (a homestead exemption caps the cost). Gas is $3.63/gallon on average right now. Apples cost about $2.47/lb.

My preference is to move to a small to medium-sized town, not a city.

Thanks again! :-)

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 11:30PM
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Finding employment in Oregon can be tough. There are small-to-medium size towns near cities where most of the jobs are. The largest cities are in the greener parts of the state.

Your property taxes do sound high. Oregon gas is often among the most priciest in the nation. Our apples will be cheaper, and cherries are a bargain.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 12:18AM
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georgeinbandonoregon(z9 OR)

well, you will probably not be happy with gas prices in oregon or the entire west coast---generally 40-50 cents more per gallon at this point. apples can vary from about 1.39 to 2.00/lb depending on store and variety. you need to know that the economy is still probably not as good as texas and jobs are still very hard to get unless you have special skills and experience (especially in small to medium sized towns) so no matter how pretty and how cool and green we may be compared to your current location economic realiites may be worse than our wet winters if you make the move. oregon (and the pacific northwest in general) is a pretty place with tremendous gardening opportunities but the gardening conditions is indeed only a part of a larger package of more prosaic concerns for jobs, housing, schools, taxes, etc. that you will probably have to research carefully before you can make the transition safely and successfully. good luck and hope everything works out for the best.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 12:33AM
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George Three LLC

if you browse zillow/redfin you can see how much property taxes are for properties. due to measure 47 constraints they are a bit funky in portland. a $500k property might pay less than $1000 a year, or pay $6500 or more.

but again, you shouldn't be upset at how much money goes out without paying attention to what you get back in return.

as for your specific concerns with gardening, there is a dry season here. expect to water lightly in june. then heavily in july/august. then depending on the year september might be pretty dry too.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 1:50AM
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Today was day 50 consecutive without rain, certainly a top-ten drought for Portland. The record is 71 days. Most years don't reach 30 days.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 11:51PM
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Again, thank you. If I were to move to Oregon, I would retire so the job situation is not a problem for me, but it might be for my daughter.

I am one of those people who actually do their homework before making a decision, especially one this big. My next step would be to make a visit.

Just heard this morning on the radio that the City of Austin will raise property taxes by $260./month this year, and they have increased every year since 2005. Water and electricity will go up next month. Recycling and garbage will go up too. Next year, the school district wants to raise its rates. I just can't keep up and I try to be as frugal as possible. Thank you all so much again.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 10:46PM
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As a lifelong Oregonian, I am culturally required to tell you to come visit again and again, but for heaven's sake don't move here to live. ;-)

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 11:47AM
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I was born and raised in Portland then in my early 30s moved to Fairbanks Alaska and lived there for 21 years. I'm back in Oregon at last and will always love it. I now live in Salem and like the slower pace. It is a great place to garden and only a 1 hour drive to the coast. I really don't mind the rain (better than snow) because it makes everything green and the air smell fresh. The summers are amazing - not too many mosquitoes like Alaska.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 2:22AM
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[Edit function is not working properly]

This post was edited by OregonGrape on Tue, Feb 19, 13 at 23:10

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 11:07PM
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I've lived in both Texas and Oregon (College Station and Eugene, respectively), so I have a little bit of perspective here. Cost of living in Oregon is definitely higher. (Unless you live in a small, economically-distressed rural town, which is not recommended.) Even with the high Austin property taxes that you cite, real estate prices are higher here in the metro areas and state income tax is high. (If you're receiving a pension, it will be taxed here.) And the job market here ranges from not-so-great to bad. If your daughter is looking for work, the north end of the I-5 corridor, between Portland and Salem, is probably your best bet. And even then, it's not easy.

I don't mean to badmouth Oregon because I enjoy living here and it's a fantastic in numerous ways (if you and your spouse both have good jobs). But if I was looking at relocating to the Pacific NW from a financial perspective, Washington is probably a better bet. No state income tax and the Seattle area is better for employment. There's also the option of living in Vancouver, WA, across the river from Portland and avoiding Oregon income tax.

This post was edited by OregonGrape on Tue, Feb 19, 13 at 23:14

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 11:08PM
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This is kind of hard to do. It greatly depends on where in Oregon you are. Oregon has so many different climates it's insane. There are beaches, mountains, valleys, deserts, forests, and everything in between. Not to mention the tiny banana belts. I live in Molalla which is a town twenty minutes from every other city (Woodburn, Canby, Salem, Colton etc.) and during the winter everyone else gets snow and we get little to none. Climate-wise I personally wouldn't live anywhere else, besides countries like Scotland, which has a climate very similar to Oregon. When it comes to the people I'd say for the most part everyone is extremely friendly. There are definitely a bunch of hippy people but I love being environmentally conscious so I love that most others here keep all of the nature that Oregon is known for relatively clean. And as for me, I like living in my "small, economically-distressed rural town." Sure, in Oregon the cost of living is higher, but there are definitely ways around spending a bunch of money, especially with the abundance of farmer's markets and small town prices. That's another reason I love living in a small town, the store and shop owners actually work in their stores and are so friendly they'll dish out discounts just because they want to. I think that's one of the main reasons I love living here. The people really are, for the most part, very cool and kind. Also if you have land, like a lot of Oregonians, you won't have to pay for water or garbage since you'll have a well and can burn and compost. Of course, being a native, I have to tell you that you have to be extremely careful about what you burn and when and so on and so forth, but it's worth mentioning. And since you're on a gardening website I'm assuming you might be planning on growing some of your own food and herbs, and that will cut down greatly on cost. Also, Costco and Walmart are musts. It may not be fashionable to shop at bargain stores, but it sure saves you a lot of money!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 5:27PM
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My SIL recently moved to the Jacksonville area and she loves it. They have 4 seasons but they are all pretty mild, and she really likes the people and the atmosphere.

If you move to western Oregon, get ready to feel cold and damp most of the time! You are liable to be bundled up and standing in the rain on the 4th of July :-)

Have you checked out the forums on You may find more of what you are looking for there, in terms of non-gardening related info.

Are you interested in Washington at all? The people in Kitsap County are friendly! But the area's not very "upscale" ha ha... It all depends on what you are looking for.

One difference you may like up in this corner of the world is we don't have killer bees, chiggers, fire ants or much of anything poisonous or dangerous like you'll be used to in TX, nor are you likely to see any cockroaches up here unless someone has brought them up with them. Being wet a whole lot of the time is our downside. And slugs. The slugs are so big you feel like you have to greet them as you pass. Gardening is great though, plants grow great here. Getting enough sun can be an issue for some.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 1:15PM
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In my experience it rarely ever rains on the fourth of july, actually from the middle of june to the first couple weeks into october is really very dry. Of course, it's still Oregon, so there are bound to be some July's where it rains, but I'm normally camping over the fourth because it's a family member's birthday and we don't get rained on.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 3:52PM
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George Three LLC

Everyone's tax situation will vary, but in general taxes are lower in Oregon than Washington. Both of which are relatively low compared to other parts of the country, Washington taxes their residents slightly less than average. There are only a handful of states with lower taxes than Oregon. People in Oregon pay lower taxes than Texas for example.

Also, if you don't mind HOT summers, SW interior Oregon is a really great climate (Rouge Valley, Applegate Valley, Umpqua etc). Very short winters. Good luck finding a job though...

Here is a link that might be useful: Taxes by State

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 6:52PM
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