What You Should Know Before Moving to Oregon

29 December 2015 by

There are many reasons to move to a new state, such as a job or marriage offer, but sometimes those are just not good enough reasons. I mean, if you’re going to uproot your entire life and give up that fab beachfront property in Southern California or artist’s loft in SoHo, New York, then the benefits had better be worth it. With no sales tax, legalized Mary Jane, and public nudity, I think Oregon will prove to have everything you’re looking for in a new state.

So here’s what you should know before moving to Oregon:

No Sales Tax

Many people are aware that Oregon is one of only five US states that don’t impose a sales tax (in addition to Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Alaska), which means that you’ll have that mind-boggling experience of paying exactly what the price tag says.

But before you throw everything you own into your vintage VW Bug and head on over to the Pacific Northwest, you should also know that this state has one of the highest income taxes in the country. Check this out—top 10 highest income tax states:

  • California 13.3%
  • Hawaii 11.0%
  • Oregon 9.9%
  • Minnesota 9.85%
  • Iowa 8.98%

Kind of High Cost of Living

Overall, the cost of living in Oregon is 11.6% higher than the country’s average. What that means is that things like groceries, utilities, restaurants, and entertainment are roughly the same price as other states. When it comes to housing, transportation, and healthcare, however, this is where you’ll pay dearly. Not to mention that Portland is one of the more expensive American cities. To put that into perspective, a $120,000 salary in Portland is the equivalent of $156,085 in Los Angeles, a $120,000 salary in Portland is the equivalent of $147,303 in Seattle, and a $120,000 salary in Albany, NY is the equivalent of $147,738 in Portland.

Pumping Your Own Gas Is Illegal

Apparently the state government here doesn’t trust its residents to pump their own gas without blowing themselves up. For some reason, Oregon is one of just two states in which it’s against the law because of the “dangers” that come with dispensing fuel, and yet we don’t hear of people blowing up service stations all across the nation on a regular basis. This law was passed in 1951 and you can be fined $500 if you break it.

It Rains A Lot

This is, after all, the Pacific Northwest we’re talking about. People ooh and ahh over the lush greenery up here, but there’s a price to be paid for it, and it’s called rain. Generally, the western half of Oregon is “moist and mild,” though it gets drier the further east you go (into the high deserts). In lieu of snow, they get rain. In lieu of sun, they get rain. And, like most PNW natives, they don’t bother carrying an umbrella, so you’ll stand out as a newbie if you do.


The dunes on the Oregon coast are so spectacular that they inspired Frank Herbert to write his sci-fi novel Dune back in 1965. True story. Millions of years worth of rain and wind created these beautiful ridges of sand, some of which reach heights up to 500 feet and make it hard not to want to dune-buggy across them.

Legalized Marijuana

Though plenty of other states have legalized medical marijuana, Oregon is one of four in which it is legal for recreational use, too. Adults are allowed to have up to one ounce of Acapulco gold in public and eight ounces in their private homes. Keep in mind that just because a state has legalized it, doesn’t mean that it is legal federally. So while you can go to a clinic and fill your prescription for a little Christmas Bud, the Feds could still bust you.

Eugene, the Music Scene

For a city with a population of just 160,552, Eugene is in the spotlight when it comes to music. Rolling Stone listed this college town as one of “America’s Top 10 College Music Scenes that Rock” and there are several venues to hear A-level bands, such as WOW Hall and McDonald Theatre.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival occurs annually in Ashland, a city with a mere population of 20,713. Apparently every last resident lends a hand, as they produce eleven plays on three stages every year—and they’ve put on all 37 of the Bard’s works over a span of 29,200 performances!

Portland Has Powell’s Books and Public Nudity

As if legal weed, classic thespianism, and criminalized gas pumping wasn’t enough, Portland boasts legalized public nudity—as long as you are protesting something. It’s against the law to expose your family jewels in public, but a 1985 Oregon Court of Appeals ruling that says nudity laws don’t apply in cases of protest. Does protesting the wearing of clothes count?

In addition to public nudity, and completely unrelated, I might add, Portland is also home to another fantastic experience: Powell’s City of Books. They claim to be the world’s biggest new and used bookstore, covering 68,000 square feet (1.6 acres) and housing over 4 million books. And if you care, CNN rates it one of “the world’s coolest bookstores” which puts it in good company next to Paris’ Shakespeare and Company, London’s Foyles, and New York’s Strand.


No, the state isn’t boring—the city is. The city of Boring, that is. With a population of just 12,851, the most exciting thing this town has got going for it is the pairing up with a sister city: Dull, Scotland. 2013 was the first year these two cities officially kicked off their new state holiday “Boring & Dull Day” in hopes of drawing more attention to both towns.