Moving From California to Oregon: What I’ve learned

Once upon a time…..I was the “Not-From-Around-Here” Girl: flashy car, acrylic nails, Sun-In hair and 20 pairs of high heeled sandals.  I drove up here on a whim, fell in love with the coast, gave my notice at my job and started house hunting.  That was 15 years ago.  Since then I have learned a lot about becoming an Oregonian here are my top 5:  

#1 SLOW DOWN!  That was a hard one for me.  The coast has a different time frame than the rest of the world.  Things are more relaxed…which is great because you actually have time to meet people, remember their names and make lasting friendships and enjoy the view all at the same time. 

#2 Don’t expect all directions to include a street name.  This one floored me!  I needed to get from a friend’s house in Toledo to a friend’s house in Waldport.  It went as follows:

  • Turn left out of the drive way and drive until you reach that church with the red door, turn right (OK…what street is that? No Answer)
  • Take that street until you see the police station and turn right (Ummm..OK, but I’m scared now)
  • Follow the road until you see DQ (OK, seriously, what street am I on now? Still no answer),
  • Turn left on HWY 20 (YES! A STREET NAME)
  • When you hit Newport turn left at HWY 101 (We are on a roll, that’s two street names in a row!)
  • Take 101 to Waldport and turn left at the street after the one with the light (are you kidding me?) there is normally a nice old man named Earl on that corner (I kid you not, my friend not only said this, but Earl was actually there! I waved.) 
  • Follow that until you get to a polka dotted mail box, take that gravel road until you get to the white house and You Are There(This last part was said with a cheeky little grin that I know was meant to humble this California girl!  It worked.)

#3 If you think you know how to pronounce some of the landmarks, you probably don’t!  For example:

  • Yaquina (ya-KWIN-a)…not Yakeeena
  • Not to be confused with La Quinta (Keeen-ta)…..not La Qwinta
  • Siuslaw (Sigh-u-slaw) Not sue-we-slaw
  • Philomath (Fill-LO-muth) Not Filowmath
  • Yachats (YAW-hots) Not Yaa-chets
  • It’s Lincoln City, not Lincoln
  • Siletz (Si-LETS) Not SI-letzzzz

#4 If you show up with an “I’m a Food Snob” attitude, like I did, you will be put in your place…nicely.  We have the best food here!  From fabulous seafood with a view at Georgies to awesome locally made beer and Kobe burgers at Rogue.  We have something for everybody! 

#5 If someone asks you if you are a Ducks Fan or a Beavers Fan, answer quickly and decisively and stick with that decision, forever!  That, my friends, is how I became a Ducks Fan!!!

I am thankfully still learning, daily, about the Central Oregon Coast.  This is where I work, play and raise my family, and I love it here!!

Posted on February 18, 2010 at 10:08 pm
Office Manager | Category: Living on the Coast

17 responses to “Moving From California to Oregon: What I’ve learned”

  1. inna says:

    Thank you so much for such a good explanation of how to act in Oregon ,but we planning to see Oregon before we move and if you please give some more tips that will be great thanks a lot.

  2. Mia says:

    As a girl from So Cal who moved to Portland just over 3 years ago-

    Here are my tips:

    1) The “rain” is not horrible. It is over-hyped. In fact it can be a nice change.

    2 Oregon is COLD. Noone discusses the cold, because being strong, tough, non-whiner is highly valued here.

    3) Unexpected luxury: homes, apts, townhouses, condos all come with microwaves and washer/ dryers-standard. They may not work well, but they are included-everywhere.

    4) Expect to be “new” and untrusted for much longer than Cal. The divide between good people and criminals is mucky, here and to be happy, perky, sweet person is not necessarily recognized, as such. On the flip side- when Oregonians love you….. finally…. They LOVE YOU. 🙂

    5) Renters rights don’t exist. If RENTING you have no legal rights. Any illusion to the contrary is sadly disappointing. Cut losses and purchase. While yiu may never sell the property, it is the only way Being an A+ tenant has no value. The system is bent. Just take pictures, videos, read REVIEWS and believe them. expect unethical behavior when leaving rental property. Landlords missing the “walk thru” is ridiculously common and be prepared to prove exact condition via dated video and pictures, when leaving. To avoid unnecessary legal squabbles: mention these video and pictures, passive aggressively, as if part of casual conversation. Oregonians are not a complaining bunch. So if you find bad reviews- BELIEVE THEM!

    6) Give away all your designer, beaded, jeweled handbags and shoes. You won’t need them.

    7) Get a phototherapy light box to avoid seasonal depression so unecessary low points can be avoided.

    8) Beware of “nicest, perkiest, happy people” as they are likely trying to steal your copper pipes or something more sinister. Crime is rampant, here. (helps clarify point #5)

    9) Start a business if you can. Oregon is slow moving and what mighy be common in LA- is brand new here. Opportunity knocks! 🙂

    10) Be prepared to get sick ( flu/ unknown alkergies) for a while. The words “mold spores” are NOT UNUSUAL OR ALARMING, here. They are just part of the casual, expected conversation.

    11) Finding decent cleaning people is no small task. “work ethic” is practiced brutally at big tech companies but NOT common for house cleaning. If you find someone good, hold on to them!

    12) Last but not least- if possible- sublet or rent out your home before giving it up. The “transition” to “acclimate” is long and challenging.

  3. Steven says:

    To what part of Oregon did you move? We’re looking at a job in Salem and will be moving from Georgia.

  4. Jade says:

    Hi there,
    my mother is taking a job in Tigard, and I’ll most likely be moving to Oregon with her. We’re from California and I LOVE California. =) but a change is necessary, any things that will help me not be so homesick if that happens?

  5. Jennifer M. says:

    Lol. This is an interesting take on Oregon. Having lived here my whole life, I’d say some of this is mostly not true unless you live in an itty bitty town like you do. I’ve only ever met one person who gave directions like that and she was only trying to be funny.

    Also the unfriendliness factor also relates to the small town thing more than to Oregon as well. I’ve lived quite a few places here (from Portland to McMinnville to Lebanon and to many places in between) and friendliness seems more apparent in the larger towns/cities. For some reason small town people generally are more stuck in their ways and not open to including strangers (although I would venture to guess that’s true of any small town, not just in Oregon).

    It is possible to grow up here without a strong Beavers/Ducks preference, but you’re right that if someone asks, you better have an answer. Lol. Otherwise you get labeled a Platypus (I wish I was joking). I lived in Corvallis for awhile (home of the Beavers) and its practically a sin to wear green and gold (Duck colors), especially on a game day! Lol.

  6. Laurie says:

    In small towns, people have often been around for generations and you will be an outsider… and if you belong to a different church, race, color, sexual orientation… that might not change… though they will seem nice till you turn your back. The bigger cities have more “non-natives” from other states, especially university towns, and they are more likely to see you as one of them. Still.. if you won’t let go of your “California (etc) is better, you will always (and justifiably) be treated like you don’t belong. But the coast is different.. the salt air makes everything good…. As for the cold… west of the Cascades isn’t bad.. it just takes a couple years for your “blood” to thicken.. and for you to figure out about layering and all.

  7. linda says:

    Going to Oregon next week to look at property with home where is the lowest crime rate and best weather on the coastal area?

  8. James says:

    Thanks for this. The wife and I are planning on moving from So Cal to Oregon real soon as well!

  9. Anette says:

    Moving from California to Oregon all depends on where you’re moving from, your income level and why. I lived in an upscale CA beach community with great public schools but close to all the entertainment of a big city like LA and moved to Portland right on the Columbia River. I moved with the idea of also buying a townhouse in downtown San Diego in the future.

    First, the food in Portland is not that great. So far…I am still eating around and I’m not giving up just yet. I don;t know where all these food comments come from, and I always Yelp/Zagat before venturing out, but I feel even what is considered the best restaurants are lacking. I’m a foodie, I have lived in NYC, LA, London, Helsinki, Tokyo, Beijing and traveled to most major cities in the US…so I’m not just a common foodie. I love to find the best of everything. Note: I love Astoria and the FOOD there is pretty darn good so don’t overlook that wonderful town. In fact I heard the food along the Oregon coast is something to look into.

    This is also my personal opinion but being a Californian at heart (but hail from Honolulu) I think the people all over Oregon are lovely. I was told Oregonians hate outsiders…not true.

    Homes are MUCH better priced in Oregon than California hands down. However, the services and goods are the same or higher in OR than in CA. If you think you will get away with Oregon’s NO sales tax…you will pay for it in other ways. There are charges for trash pick up and other misc services in OR and your property tax will be as high as Los Angeles. Example our tax bill for our 1.5 mil town home (2200 sq ft) in a SoCal beach community was just a little higher than our 3750 sq foot home we paid 460k for in Portland. Yikes! I was very surprised.

    As a parent I looked for a community in SoCal that took education seriously. You can expect excellent schools if you live in an upscale area, otherwise beware! This diligence paid off tenfold. The CA schools my boys went too (now in college) were amazing.
    I have not heard the schools in Oregon to be very good in fact I’ve heard just the opposite. I am sure like CA that may apply to certain areas. Again, do your research and visit schools.

    If you are a younger person just starting out and already have a job/career secured BEFORE moving to Oregon I am sure you will be happy. If not, please visit, spend time in Oregon before making that leap. My son actually was offered a job in CA to work as an engineer in OR, he wasn’t even looking…so there ARE jobs.

    There are so many Oregon and Washington plates in the Los Angeles community I work in and so many friends moving from one state to another. The entire West coast (including NV, AZ, CO, UT ) is starting to feel like a huge blended country.

  10. Barry says:

    Living in Los Angeles for 20 years LA stands for Land of A-holes. Oregon sounds great to me.

  11. Pamela says:


    Touché! My experience transitioning from LA to Portland was exactly the same. And I get it, now. But I was so confused along the the way.

    Yeah! This made my day! 🙂

  12. J D says:

    I have a different take on Oregon. We were raised in Oregon. in the 70’s we moved to California, but we returned to Oregon every summer. In 2004, we moved back to Oregon. It had changed so much we could not get used to it. California Drug dealers and users have taken over most small towns. I live in the country in a farming community. This year, a family from Sacramento bought the farm next to us. They grow Marijuana for a living. The smell is horrible and their radios are on 24/7. Many Oregonians are experiencing the same issues. I know of several families who are looking for another State to move to and many were raised here. We are moving to Idaho as soon as our farm sales. My other neighbor is moving to Montana. Thanks California. You brought with you, your drugs, tailgating attitudes and your politicians changed our laws to match California. This is no longer home to us.

    • Ashley says:

      Man i am so sorry to hear that 🙁 Those are pretty much the reasons why i want to leave SO Cal and head up to Oregon… I want to go there for something different than Cali. Not to brig it with me. I hope that everything will work out for you and your family!

      • Bernadette Durfey says:

        Ashley, we have a lot of people that fall in love with this area from So Cal. I think the best way to describe this area is like Big Sur with lower home prices (and a little more rain, lol)

  13. Jesse says:

    I am from California and wanting to move to any place in Oregon. I am originally from Florida and miss the country and trees. Los Angeles is just too expensive and too crowded. It would be nice to move to some place that is not California. I dislike anything in California and can’t wait to land a job there so I can escape. The last thing Oregon folk have to worry about from me is hear how great California is. This place sucks!

  14. Dan says:

    Here’s a differently painted picture… If you ‘have to’ move, then you adapt, just as you have when living in other places. However, if your choosing to relocate because you want something different, then you need to leave the baggage, expectations, comparisons and everything else behind. You pack the minimums and a toothbrush and leave all the attachments behind. And that’s were you’ll begin to appreciate what’s in front of you, as that should be the direction your facing. A perfect place is where you make it, or as they say, home is where you hang your hat.

    You have all the opportunities/desires up here, and more. And yes, if your sit down and count the dollars in hand, it is less expensive. But even if you don’t agree, its the surroundings and the people that make all the difference. It really boils down to your outlook on life.

    Oregon is Absolute Nature. Living in the middle of the state, you can access an abundance of various lifestyles from old time, to more up/trendy. You don’t have to travel hours to get surrounded by tree’s, there at your backdoor. Long winding roads that lead to small towns, hiking trails, rivers, beautiful mountains, real winters… Farm Life, Ranch Life.
    Its all back to basics, more important, its just easy on the eye’s, and easy on the soul.

    Life is what you make it. And in Oregon, it can be downright simple and easy.

    • Bernadette Durfey says:

      Dan, Thats a fantastic perspective. I always say, I’ve loved everywhere I’ve lived. The backdrop may have changed but at the end of the day its all about what we make of it. Thanks for you comments!

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