Moving to Salem, Oregon? Here’s What You Need to Know

Salem, Oregon

In times of uncertainty, one thing remains certain: Upper Left Coast = Best Coast (fight us, California). And nestled practically smack-dab in the middle is Salem, one of the Pacific Northwest’s greatest hidden treasures. If the great winds of 2020 have carried you to Oregon’s fair capital (not Portland; more on that below), you’re going to need to know a few things as you settle in.

What It’s Like Living in Salem, Oregon in 2021



If you live in Salem, you’ll be part of Marion county. Salem’s population is 163,654 (3,364 people per square mile) with a since 2010. People ages 25 to 34 make up 14.8 percent of the city, making it an ideal home for Millennials and new parents.

Weather and Climate

According to the annual BestPlaces Comfort Index, Salem scored a 7.4 out of 10 in terms of its year-round climate. On average, there are 164 sunny days and 45 inches of rain per year in Salem. The summer high is 82 degrees in August, whereas the winter low is 34 degrees in December. Although there were only three recorded days of snowfall in 2020, you can also expect around four inches of snow between December and February.


The average Salem home costs $282,600, which is 20 percent lower than the average home compared to the rest of Oregon. If you’re looking to rent instead, a two-bedroom will go for $1,070, which is about $100 cheaper than the national average.

Cost of Living

According to the BestPlaces Cost of Living Index, with the U.S. average being 100, Salem has a 101.8 overall cost of living score. Not bad considering that includes groceries, restaurants, entertainment, transportation, utilities, housing, and medical bills.

Job Market

The median household income is $46,273. Occupations in health, science, law enforcement, farming, fishing, and forestry yield higher salaries in Salem compared to the rest of the country. Despite the unemployment rate being 6.2 (the national average is 6.0), the projection for future job growth is 40.17 percent (the national average is 33.51 percent).

Schools and Universities

Salem has 59 public schools and 26 private schools for children K–12, with an average of 24 students per teacher. Willamette University has one of the best MBA programs in the state and ranks second for best colleges and universities in Oregon. If you’re pursuing a psychology degree or Christian-based education, check out Corban University. Neighboring higher ed options include Linfield University and Oregon State University.


Salemites mainly drive alone to work (73.7 percent) or by carpooling (13.2 percent). One-way commutes will take you 21.6 minutes on average, which is five minutes less than the national average. If taking the bus is more of your groove, you’ll be taking the Cherriots public transportation system. There are also several scenic paths, trails, and parks for bike riding.


5 Fun and Interesting Facts About Salem

Salem Capitol Building


Salem—Not Portland—is Oregon’s State Capital

While Portland is (arguably) the craft beer capital of the world, it isn’t the capital of Oregon. That honor resides in Salem. For all you Art Deco nerds, the Oregon State Capitol is one of the most spectacularly designed capitol buildings in the country. Who else has an 8.5-ton, 22-foot-tall, gilded statue of a pioneer watching over their town?

Salem Witches

It’s Not That Salem

Nope, no witch-burning going on here. So fair warning if you go looking for the “Hocus Pocus” house: You’re going to end up with more tricks than treats.

Silver Falls

Salemites Play Hard

Talk about prime real estate. You’ve got the Coast roughly 60 miles to the west, Portland 45 miles to the north, Eugene 65 miles to the south, and Silver Falls State Park 25 miles to the east.

Salem Is Natural Disaster Proof

Salem is ranked the seventh safest U.S. metro area at risk from a natural disaster. We’re talking earthquakes, twisters, hurricanes, floods, and droughts (though we still advise you to prepare an emergency zombie survival plan).

Napoleon Dynamite

Oh, and Napoleon Dynamite grew up in Salem

Well, Jon Heder who played Napoleon Dynamite did. In our book, that makes Salem the perfect place to practice your nunchuck skills … bowhunting skills … computer hacking skills …


Move Safely and Seamlessly With Northwest Self Storage

No matter where you land in Salem, chances are we’re right around the corner. While you figure out how to arrange your life and feng shui your new digs, store your belongings in one of our secure self-storage units. Heated storage, tenant insurance, and 24/7 access are also available.

Hurry now and get 50% off your first 3 months. Find a storage unit facility in Salem today.

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Salem, Oregon