Tips & Picks

Southern Oregon A Garden Playground for Retirement

This article about the southern part of Oregon is the second in a series of retirement regions (the 1st was on the "Low Country" of South Carolina). 

Oregon has grown rapidly in recent years, fueled in part by escapees from California looking to improve their lifestyle at a lower cost of living. We will concentrate on the southern tier around Medford, the coast, and near the California border in this installment because Oregon is such a big state.

View Larger Map
State Retirement Overview
Oregon's total population in 2008 was 3,790,060, an increase of 10.8% from 2000. A portion of that growth is coming from retirees entering the state. The median home value was $220,300 in mid 2009, a decline of 11.6% vs. 2008 (Zillow Home Value Index), but still considerably higher than the U.S. median value of $186,500.  Oregon has a relatively high income tax (maximum rate of 9%), but no sales tax. Social security, VA, and some military pensions are exempt from state income tax. Oregon's total tax burden is 26th highest of the 50 states (source: The Tax Foundation).

Southern Oregon
The first preconception you need to shake about Oregon is that it rains a lot. Yes, along the coastal areas that is true. But Oregon consists of several micro-climates;  areas east of the coastal mountains get a lot of rain in winter but are dry in the summer.

Several towns in the southern part of the state frequently make the various "best places to retire" lists. Part of the attraction is the area's proximity to the Cascade and the Siskyou Mountains, fertile soil, outstanding recreation, and a climate with mild version of the four seasons. Most of the towns discussed here are in or near the Rogue River Valley.  The Rogue Valley is considerably drier than the coastal area - it is also a bit cooler in winter and hotter in summer.  This review will also include some great retirement towns along Oregon's south coast and the eastern part of the state. Real estate prices and the cost of living in this part of the state are considerably less than in California, Portland, or Seattle.

Topretirements Best Places to Retire in Southern Oregon
Medford.  Harry and David, the famous fruit direct marketers, are based in Medford. The area is a vital agricultural region for fruit and wine.  Located between two sets of mountains in the Rogue Valley, the area has a unique climate. It also has very active downtown and 2 first class hospitals. At least one active adult community is in Medford.There is terrific golf in and around Medford with at least 3 top-notch courses.

    * Rogue Valley Manor. This Continuing Care Retirement Community provides the right kind of housing for every stage of living. It is one of the few CCRCs to include a golf course, the beautiful 9 hole Quail Point Golf Course.

Jacksonville, just west of Medford is Jacksonville, an historic and charming old gold mining town. U.S. Presidents have stayed at the Jacksonville Inn, a very upscale hotel and restaurant complex.

Ashland.  Located just 15 miles from the California border, Ashland is the cultural capital of the region. It is home to the very famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival as well as the University of Southern Oregon. Culture lovers flock here many times a year for events. As a result the local infrastructure of restaurants and shops is first-rate. Ashland also hosts at least one big active adult community.

    * Mountain Meadows. This is rarity in the 55+ market because Mountain Meadows also incorporates an assisted living component. Mountain Meadows is based on the Craftsman Movement.

Grants Pass. If Ashland is for culture and Medford for orchards and golf, Grants Pass is for outdoor recreation. Here in the Rogue Valley there is every kind of strenuous activity from running rivers, mountain biking, and hiking.

    * Horizon Village - a rental property with cottages for those 55+.

Klamath Falls.  Located to the east of Medford is another best place to retire, Klamath Falls.  Recreation is important to the lifestyle here too, due to Upper Klamath Lake, the largest lake in the Pacific Northwest.  A busy community college and the Oregon Institute of Technology add a different kind of zest to Klamath Falls.

    * The Running Y Ranch.  A resort and a community, the Ranch is set around an Arnold Palmer designed golf course.

Bandon. If you are a serious golfer you have probably marked off Bandon as a place that must be visited on your own personal golf trail. It is home to 4 of the finest golf courses in America (and some of the few true links courses outside the British Isles). But Bandon, even though a very small town, has a lot more. Great beaches, B & B's, and restaurants await you in this coastal community.

Brookings. Another coastal town, this one is in southernmost Oregon. Many Oregonians either have second homes in the area or plan on retiring here on the coast.

Other Towns in the region. Southern Oregon has many other great towns that should be explored. Many are located near the Rogue Valley and Bear Creek along I 5, while others are on the Pacific Coast. Eagle Point, Shady Cove, Coos Bay, Port Orchard, and Gold Beach are just a few of the southern Oregon towns worth checking out.

What People Like about southern Oregon
- Mild climate year round compared to many places
- Being near the coast, mountains, and rivers
- Lower cost life style and less crowding than California or cities of WA or OR
- Outstanding recreation such as golf, fly- fishing, hiking, biking
- Interesting towns with vital downtowns and plenty to do

What People don't like
- Development is increasing
- Occasional inversions with a cold fog that can last days (Rogue Valley)
- More expensive than national average
- Long drive to Portland or San Francisco
- Small towns

Our Recommendation
Southern Oregon is definitely one of the up and coming retirement regions in the U.S.  There are several "best retirement towns" and each is different with a different lifestyle. We recommend you come out for a leisurely trip of exploration. Spend a week or two driving around, then, if you like it, rent  a place for a month. Talk to residents and real estate agents and get an idea for yourself. Although there might be a cliche that southern Oregon is mostly for outdoorsy people, the lifestyle will appeal to many different kinds of people.

What Do You Think?
Join the discussion in the Topretirements Oregon Forum.


Copyright © 2006-2021 All Rights Reserved.