Oregon may be synonymous with wet winters, tall trees, and covered wagons, but lately the state has taken on another meaning. For many, Oregon is now synonymous with home. In fact, more Americans are now calling Oregon home than ever before. In 2014, Oregon was the most moved-to U.S. state, according to the annual National Movers Study conducted by United Van Lines. Inbound residents made up 66 percent of moves to and from the state (a 5 percent increase from 2013, in which Oregon also held the top spot).
So, what makes Oregon so great? “She flies with her own wings.” And, though the state’s draw may be difficult to quantify, that’s exactly what we’ve done.
Here are 5 measurable reasons why more Americans are making Oregon their home:
5) Good Value; Low Cost
On America’s sought-after west coast, Oregon frequently provides some of the best housing deals, according to Zillow research. Oregon also has the lowest median home value, the lowest percent change year over year, and the lowest median monthly rent on the West Coast at $1,195.
Oregon may have the lowest values on the West Coast, but in the western region, it’s going strong. The state has the 4th highest home value and 4th best market health among western states, with a Zillow rating of 7.1 out of 10. Residents of California and Washington look to Oregon for lower costs of living, whereas residents of the surrounding western states consider the Beaver State a place to build financially.
4) Safe from the Storm
Oregon has a very low prevalence of widespread natural disasters. In fact, since 1953, the state has only experienced 29 major FEMA disaster declarations, ranking it 14th safest among U.S. states. In addition, the state only had 2 emergency declarations in that same time period, the third fewest. While Oregon does risk wildfires, all other major natural disaster threats (including floods, hurricanes, blizzards, and earthquakes) are relatively low in the state, making it one of the safest states year round.
3) Positive Job Growth
Job growth may also be a serious draw for the thousands of Americans moving to Oregon each year. The state has one of the fastest-growing state job markets in the country. It experienced the 4th largest change in state employment last year, with 2.98 percent growth.
The forces behind Oregon’s rapid job growth are various. Residents could be drawn by such high powered companies as Nike, FLIR systems, Columbia Sportswear, Mentor Graphics, TriQuint Semidconductor, and Harry and David. Oregon also is the home of Silicon Forest, a technology and startup center in the Portland area. Traditionally a hardware region, Silicon Forest is home to many major companies such as Tektronix, Intel, Planar, Pixelworks, and Epson, along with smaller startups.
In addition to the Silicon Forest, the Portland area houses other successful businesses responsible for Oregon’s healthy job market. The city is the 29th most populous city in the U.S., but it ranks 5th in employment growth in 2014-behind only Houston, San Jose, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Seattle—much bigger and more expensive cities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Other places in Oregon that share in Portland’s success include the state’s five other large MSA’s. The best places for job growth in Oregon are:
1. Portland: +3.2 percent employment
2. Bend: +2.4 percent employment
3. Salem: +1.5 percent employment
4. Corvallis: tied with Eugene: +1 percent employment
5. Medford: 0.3 percent employment
2) Green and Protected
Oregon is ranked third overall for greenest U.S. state by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Oregon has a strong government presence in preserving the environment; the state is ranked 3rd in the nation for state government conservation. Oregon also ranks 3rd in energy efficient buildings, utilities, and transportation.
In addition to general conservation efforts, Oregonians conserve their green spaces. Park Score rated Portland’s parks 3rd out of 60 top U.S. cities with a score of 72.5. That’s better than Boston, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Denver, Seattle, and Chicago, among others. Oregon boasts 6 national parks and 1,971 National Register of Historic Places Listings, according to the National Park Service.
1) Healthy lifestyle
Oregon is ranked 12th in the nation by the America’s Health Rankings 2014 annual report. The state also ranked best on the West Coast and 4th in the western U.S. Oregon’s residents are some of the most active in the United States, making it the 2nd most active state in the nation after Colorado. Only 16.6 percent of Oregon’s adult population is inactive.
Oregonians also care for their own. The state was ranked 4th in the U.S. in low prevalence of preventable hospitalizations and 8th overall in air pollution (best on the West Coast). Smoking was down 12 percent this year, from 19.7 percent in 2013 to 17.3 percent of adults in 2014.
Of course, there are always intangible benefits to every place as well. Oregon’s personality is unique on the West Coast. The state has the most breweries per capita, with 6.3 per 100,000 adults according to the Brewers Association. If alcohol isn’t your vice, you can take solace in the November 4th 2014 vote that legalized possession of marijuana. The state also has no sales tax, and all of its beaches are public access. There’s no doubt: this no-hustle, high-tech, safe, healthy, green state is the one to beat in 2015.
Katherine Wood is Talent Tribune’s Managing Editor, where she writes and edits content for Talent Tribune and its sister sites. Katherine wrote an undergraduate thesis at Davidson College on the works of Shakespeare and attempts to bring the same romance to all things human resources. (Trust us; it’s harder than it looks). When she’s not writing “people management poetry,” she’s dreaming about luxury travel, reading a good book, or watching Monty Python for the 13th time.