What's it like to live in Eugene, OR?


Profile written by local expert:

Matthew Denis

Euguene, Oregon, is situated between the ocean 60 miles to the west and the Cascade Mountains 100 miles to the east. The city offers the best of both worlds like very few places in the United States. Self-dubbed “A Great City for the Arts and Outdoors,” Eugene has a thriving local arts and culture scene in concert with sprawling recreational options. Ballet Fantastique, the Eugene Ballet, the Eugene Opera and the Eugene Symphony head up incredible performing arts options. Visual art spills out from coffee shops and galleries with murals and street art on municipal buildings, in parks and into neighborhoods.

Biking and hiking trails spread out from Skinner Butte and Alton Baker Park, split by the Willamette River on the north side of town to the wild woods and Ridgeline Trail leading up to Spencer Butte to the south and from Fern Ridge Reservoir west of town to the Mount Pisgah Arboretum to Eugene’s southeast.

Rankings

U.S. News analyzed 150 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Eugene, Oregon is ranked:

#76 in Best Places to Live

#73 in Best Places to Retire

#12 in Most Expensive Places to Live

#17 in Fastest-Growing Places

#19 in Safest Places to Live

6.5

Overall

Scorecard

Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
    7.7
  • Value
    4.7
  • Job Market
    6.2
  • Quality of Life
    6.9
  • Net Migration
    8.1

Read how we rank places

Eugene, OR Quick Stats

  • 368,882

    Metro Population

  • $47,320

    Average Annual Salary

  • N/A

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 39.4

    Median Age

  • $295,508

    Median Home Price

  • N/A

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 4.1%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $954

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 20.2 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What is there to do in Eugene, OR?

Outdoors is a way of life in Eugene, with the standard uniform being a pair of hiking pants and an all-weather jacket. Trails abound throughout town, beginning with the Ruth Bascom Riverbank Path System running from the northwest corner of town through Alton Baker Park’s sprawling greenery north of the University of Oregon and into Pre’s Trail, a 4.4-mile woodchip ode to one of the city’s most iconic former residents, long-distance runner Steve Prefontaine. Spreading out across the city’s South Hills is the 12-mile Ridgeline Trail System, which intersects with the path to the top of Spencer Butte, offering views of the entire valley and, on clear days, the Cascade Mountains to the east.

Although a small-town pace still abounds and nightlife can be sparse, diverse music venues and a thriving art scene provide events as sources of entertainment. 

A beating heart of Eugene’s scene is the Saturday Market, which runs from April through November. Local artisans, funky clothes, a communal culture and home-cooked meals accompany fresh produce from the fertile Willamette Valley. 

Museums generally surround or are managed by the University of Oregon. This includes the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, which, thanks to the “Masterworks on Loan” program, exhibits a number of quintessential artists including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Chuck Close and Pablo Picasso. This does not account for the Schnitzer’s rotating exhibits that bring Eugene citizens the opportunity to experience many of today’s most influential and impactful artists for an inexpensive entry fee.

What's the cost of living in Eugene, OR?

Unfortunately for homebuyers who are in the market for a $300,000 to $500,000 “starter home,” the Eugene housing market is tight. 

Eugene’s rent cost is around the national average, but an urban growth boundary paired with the city’s desirability can make it tough to secure a place to live.

While Lane County’s property tax rate may be comparable to the rest of the United States, high home prices mean comparably high property taxes.

Looking for financial advice? Find a local financial advisor in Eugene, Oregon.

Value Index

Index Score: 4.7 /10

How we calculate this.


Eugene offers a lower value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs 2019


Eugene
$295,508

USA
$232,933

Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Eugene, OR.

What's the weather like in Eugene, OR?

Situated between an ocean that smooths out drastic temperature fluctuations and a mountain range that encourages clouds to gather, Eugene is a mild, fertile zone. For eight plus months a year, there will be rain and there will be gray, but the outdoors will still be accessible. For about three months a year, there will be brilliant, warm sunshine reflecting on a bursting green sheath. 

It’s idyllic, if you can stand the rain.

What's the best way to get around Eugene, OR?

By bike, of course! Arriving by Bike, a local bicycle store, tallied Eugene’s vast bike network and found  “46 miles of shared-use paths, 187 miles of on-street bicycle lanes, 71 miles of signed bikeways, five bicycle-pedestrian bridges spanning the Willamette River and two bicycle/pedestrian bridges spanning major roads or highways.”

This two-wheeled accessibility maintains Eugene’s certified gold status from the League of American Bicyclists. The city maintains bike lanes, bike boulevards and an excellent off-street trail network to deliver riders where they need to go.

Motor vehicle drivers can almost always find parking at free, time-restricted and metered street parking spots and in one of two downtown parking garages. 

Bus riders can hop on one of a fleet of buses with 34 fixed routes in the Lane County Transit District throughout the Eugene-Springfield metro area and take advantage of rural service for outlying communities including McKenzie Bridge, Veneta and Junction City. All buses have bicycle racks and are wheelchair accessible. LTD estimates accommodating approximately 15,427 bicycles each month. 

LTD’s downtown bus station is just blocks away from the Amtrak station, housed in the rehabilitated 1908 Southern Pacific depot. Travelers to and from farther outposts can use the Eugene Airport, approximately seven miles west of the city. The airport maintains two runways and one terminal. Five airlines operate from the Eugene Airport and provide flights to primarily West Coast destinations, although the airport also has service to Chicago. Passengers traveling to other locations can either connect with flights in San Francisco, Portland and Seattle or make the drive or bus ride north to the Portland International Airport, about 100 miles away.

Commuting in Eugene, OR

Means of Transportation
Driving
81%
Below national average

Bicycling
3%
Above national average

Walking
5%
Above national average

Public Transit
3%
Equal to national average
Average Commute Time

20.2 minutes

6.4 minutes less than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Eugene, OR?

There’s an eclectic mix of quirky progressives and wanderers who define the culture mixed with a professional population, many of whom serve the 20,000 students who attend the University of Oregon

The funky foundation of this group included writer Ken Kesey, who abandoned his Merry Pranksters for a more tranquil, rural life in nearby Pleasant Hill. Kesey and the counterculture’s spirit, however, still beats in a civically active streak, often accompanied by an eccentric and tie-dyed fashion scene. 

Beyond students and academic professionals, a body of primarily college-educated citizens make up the suburban topography that stretches in about a five-mile diameter around the city. 

The area’s incredible scenery, mild weather and outdoor opportunities fuel continued growth of 1,000 people each year to Eugene’s more than 170,000 people, the second-largest metro population in the state.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown


More single people in Eugene than
national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.