The differences and similarities between living in Eugene vs. Bend Oregon

Eugene and Bend are both unique towns that have a lot going for them. But though they often get compared, they each offer a very different lifestyle. So what do you need to know before moving? With all the information floating around the internet, consider this your one-stop-shop for all things Eugene vs. Bend. 

What we’ll cover in this blog post:

  • The dramatic weather difference. In a word: Eugene is wet and temperate, and Bend is a classic dry, high-desert climate. This is one of the biggest differences between Eugene and Bend. In this post, I’ll go through the major differences and what to expect in each place.

  • What are the cities really like? Living in a new city can seem overwhelming. Between finding new friends, a place to live, and fitting into the community, it’s safe to say there’s a lot going on. I get real and dive deep into the realities of living in both cities. The good and the bad.

  • The cost of living in each city. It can cost a lot of money when moving to a new city or state, but my job is to minimize your expenses and at the very minimum give you realistic expectations. Below I go through the full cost of living between Eugene and Bend. 
The Deschutes River in Bend

The biggest difference between Eugene and Bend.

A majority of the relocation clients I work with are searching for a lifestyle change, and they are escaping big cities looking for privacy, land, and a slower pace of living. Oregon had the 10th largest net migration in 2019-2020, with Eugene and Bend* consuming a large portion of that traffic.

*Bend is the second fastest growing mid-sized city in the US.

I’m going over a lot of information in this article, but if there was one point that I’d want you to take away, it would be the climate difference between Eugene and Bend.

What’s the weather like in Eugene?

A glimpse of lush Eugene living

If you’re thinking about moving to Eugene, prepare for a lot of rain and grey clouds. Eugene is set west of the Cascade mountain range, and has a temperate climate – much like you get in Portland. I’d expect 150 to 170 days a year that include some sort of precipitation.

Take it from me: It may seem dreadful, but the weather in Eugene can be enjoyable depending on what you spend your time doing. It’s surrounded by gorgeous rivers and forests, and if you prefer green landscapes with sprawling trees and moss-covered trails, Eugene will serve you well.

The Willamette River flows through town and is popular for kayaking and stand up paddle boarding. In the winter you can escape to the nearby hiking trails like the Ridgeline Trail Complex, and soak up the views.

Here’s a snapshot of the seasons in Eugene:

Summer: This is the best time of year in Eugene. The city lights up, everyone is outside and the sun is shining. Temperatures average 80°F, with a few days over 100°F. Locals head to the river and enjoy popular swimming holes.

Fall: With cascara and vine maple trees surrounding the city, fall is a beautiful sight in Eugene. The weather is a steady mix between rain and sunny days, but fall in Eugene is enjoyable.

Winter: If you like gloomy weather and copious amounts of rain, get those bags packed! Eugene averages 17 inches of rain a month November through March, so it can get tiring quick. On the positive side, the winters are much warmer than Bend and you’ll almost never experience snow.

Spring: This is a lively time in Eugene, and you can always feel the spirits of the locals rise as the grey clouds turn into blue skies. Outdoor activities start to pick up popularity in the spring.

Now, let’s take a look at the climate in Bend. 

What’s the weather like in Bend?

Views of the Cascades from Drake Park in Bend

When you move to Bend, expect four seasons of characteristically different weather.

Bend has all 4 seasons like Eugene, but it gets more sunny days per year. There is an ongoing argument on the number of sunny days Bend has, but I think a safe bet is around 170. Bend also has more sunshine but it’s colder almost year round. Let’s dive into each season in Bend to give you a better sense of what I’m talking about.

Local tip: Once the sun goes down, everyone puts on a light jacket – it’s an unspoken rule in Central Oregon. 😉

Summer: This is the highlight of the year in Bend. With temperatures averaging around 74°F, you can take advantage of all the outdoor activities. Locals head to the high mountain lakes and the Deschutes river to cool off, but the trails and other activities are also perfect during summer.

Fall: Moving from summer into fall, you can expect some cool air as well as much-needed rain to rejuvenate the trails and mountains. The fall foliage is beautiful in Bend and all of the outdoor activities are still wildly popular with locals.

Winter: As the snow starts to settle upon the city, people get excited to hit the mountains and enjoy a unique winter season. Bend winters are dry, cool and sunny. It snows more than it rains and you can expect some really, really cold mornings. 

Spring: This is a peak time for outdoor activities and the trails and rivers are in great condition. If you are thinking about visiting Bend, consider traveling during the late spring. Temperatures are great, crowds are still low, and there is plenty of sunshine for everyone.

City Lifestyles in Bend vs. Eugene

The Deschutes River just north of Riverbend Park in Bend

In many ways, lifestyles in Bend and Eugene are polar opposites. If you’re comparing the two cities, first think through what sort of life you want to be living. 

Both cities certainly have their pros and cons. Here are the big differences:

Eugene is a traditional city and feels like the quintessential small town. You have the suburbs, and a small downtown area with restaurants and boutique stores. Bend is a tourism-based town with a lot of clever city planning and fun amenities you won’t find anywhere else. 

It’s hard to put it into words on paper, but Bend has a unique spunk that doesn’t compare to almost anywhere in the United States. Eugene, however, has a traditional small-town feel. Neither one is right or wrong – it all depends on your priorities.

Now, let’s break down the specifics of city life in Bend and Eugene.

City life in Eugene

There’s a lot more than meets the eye in Eugene. You have a charming downtown area, and an awesome college minutes away. The community is family friendly and popular with people of all ages. I know a few families that have raised their children in Eugene and have nothing but good to say.

Job opportunities are relatively easy to find in most industries, and with the Portland metro close there are plenty of options. Tech, healthcare, and construction are a few of the industries that are consistently employing in the area.

The University of Oregon brings a lot of fun into the city and you can take advantage of all the events. Hayward Field is located on campus and is home to one of the premiere track programs in the country, hence the nickname “TrackTown USA.”

Located just a few hours from Portland, you can make day trips to the big city and enjoy the fun things to do and eat the famous grub that Portland is known for.

City life in Bend

Consistently voted as one of the best places in the country to live, Bend is an outdoor lover’s dream. I could make an endless list of things to do within an hour of town – it’s a bit ridiculous. Coupled with the outdoor opportunities, there are over 35 individual breweries and a handful of world class wine bars that will help you relax after a long day out and about.

In the summer there are always fun events and festivals going on and you can also find some solid live music, so make sure to bring the family along! 

Here is a sampling events this summer 2021:

June 10-12thBend Summer Festival

May-August on every Saturday – Northwest Crossing Farmers Market

July 4th – Bend Old Fashioned 4th of July Festival

July 23rd-25Balloons over Bend Festival

Other than those fun activities in and around Bend, it’s also one of the safest cities in Oregon and is fantastic for families. Both the east and west sides have advantages for kids, and the schools are all great in the area.

Job opportunities in Bend are available but there are less options than you’ll find in Eugene. Healthcare careers through St.Charles and the other providers are popular, and a few tech companies are coming into the market pretty strongly. Reach out if you have any questions about employers!

Cost of Living in Eugene vs. Bend

Downtown Eugene seen from above.

Understanding the cost of living in a new city has never been more important. Between property prices, taxes, groceries, utilities and everything else, stuff adds up quickly.

Over the last 20 years Eugene has been more affordable than Bend in almost every way but as of recently, the median home cost and other expenses have caught up to Bend. Instead of me rambling on, let’s just look at the numbers.

The data below is pulled from Best Places and the multiple listing service for both areas.

Median Home Prices in 2021

2020 was a whirlwind of a year and caused a lot of shake within the housing market in Oregon. Sellers held onto inventory and as a result, demand rose and with the low interest rates a rush of buyers stepped up the plate. 

Heading into summer 2021, Eugene is closing the housing price gap, and as a result, these two cities have become pretty comparable. Median home prices in both markets:

  • Bend Oregon – $502,000
  • Eugene Oregon – $495,000

With a median home price difference of under $10,000, there has been a big shift in people looking to move to both cities. And as a life-long Oregonian, seeing the rapid growth in price is pretty astonishing, but we all saw it coming at some point.

If you’re wanting to know what you can afford, feel free to reach out and we can set up a zoom call between you, myself, and my preferred lender Addison Nett. Reach out to me directly at 541-371-5777 and I can help answer any questions you may have. Looking forward to it!

Other Important Costs to Consider

Buying a home is one thing, but what does everything else cost? The chart below is the cost of living based on the US average of 100. An amount below 100 is cheaper than the US average. Any amount above 100 is higher than the US average. Let’s take a look at how Bend and Eugene compare:

As you can see from the chart, pricing is similar in every category. Neither city is absurdly more expensive than the other and it definitely surprises some. Without looking at the research, most people assume Bends cost of living is higher, but it’s closer than you’d expect which makes deciding that much harder.

Final Thoughts

Moving to Eugene or Bend is an awesome opportunity. Both cities have their own pros and cons, and I’d expect to see continued growth year after year.

If you’re trying to decide between the two, I’d really consider the lifestyle and weather differences. There are so many variables that affect where you may want to live but I truthfully believe you can’t go wrong in either city.

Ideally this article answered most of your top of mind questions, but if there is anything else you are wondering about, don’t hesitate to give me a shout. Call, text or email me. I’m always around!

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