WHY RETIRE TO BEND?

Many people who visit Central Oregon will be considering retiring here and specifically to Bend, so I have compiled this summary to give you some insight into why I think this is a good decision and what to expect. The outline of why retiring to Bend is a good idea looks like this: weather/climate, recreation/activities, medical facilities, perfect size town, price of housing, cost of living, and ease of access.

Each of these deserves further elaboration.

Climate

Bend is in what is called “the high desert.”  It is at an altitude of 3,628 feet.  Bend is on the east side of the Cascade mountain range and the Cascades shadow much of precipitation. Consequently, rainfall is generally about 12 inches, vastly different from Portland and the Willamette Valley.  Bend enjoys an average of 300 days of sunshine per year and many people move here from Portland and Seattle just for the sun.

Bend enjoys a predominately dry climate of the high desert. Sunny days, low humidity and cool nights provide the most common weather patterns. The average annual precipitation in Bend is about 12 inches.  Summer in Bend is fabulous, with warm days in the high 70s and 80s and cooler nights. Bend has distinct seasons and the change of seasons is very apparent. The winters are cold but not severe. Days in the 40s often and nights in the 20s and 30s are common in winter. Bend does get an accumulation of snow, it usually melts away in a few days. The snow is a welcomed event at the holidays and in the Cascades for winter recreation. The town of Redmond is at a lower elevation and Sunriver and La Pine are higher.

Recreation

One of the main reasons to retire to Bend is the fabulous recreation opportunities. The Cascade Mountains provide abundant outdoor recreation opportunities to the west, and the desert to the east has additional prospects. Within 40 minutes of Bend lies the Cascade Lakes Recreation area along the Cascade Lakes scenic highway. This is a series of gorgeous clear mountain lakes of various sizes that provide boating, kayaking, fishing, and hiking and even some overnight accommodations. There are also some large lakes to the north of Bend, past Redmond, that offer water skiing and house boats. Running from Wickiup Reservoir, the Deschutes River runs through town and north to the Columbia River. Floating the Deschutes through town on tubes, paddle boards, and kayaks in the summer is a favorite pastime. There are also several other rivers within a half hour and all are loaded with fish.  Anyone can catch fish but the area is a revered fly fishing location and guided trips are available. Bend is a huge mountain biking area with mapped trails all out to the west.  To the east are vast off road vehicle areas with mapped and groomed trails.

No mention of Bend recreation is complete without mention of the Mt. Bachelor ski area, 25 minutes from town. This is one of the premier ski resorts of the west and a favorite vacation destination in itself. Both downhill and cross country skiing are available, plus snowmobiling on trails and forest service roads through the Cascades.

If you golf, Central Oregon has 30 courses to play and even PGA tournaments are played at Crosswater, a course just south of Sunriver.

Activities

Bend hosts four seasonal festivals where downtown main streets are given over to artists and food pavilions, with bands playing outdoors and indoors. There is an August hot rod show in Drake Park downtown that draws around 500 rods, customs, and muscle cars. There are catered food events with ticketed admission, a wine festival, music in the park on Thursdays thru the summer, a summer concert series at our outdoor amphitheater with big name entertainers, an outdoor concert series at a local athletic club, and Art Walk on the first Friday of every month, where most all the businesses downtown stay open late to host artists and musicians. Other events are Balloons over Bend, the charity duck race in Drake Park, Octoberfest, and Fourth of July Celebrations.

Bend has become quite cosmopolitan in the last decade with sophisticated restaurants, great entertainment and there is always some activity that beckons.

Medical Facilities

Of concern to all of us as we age is quality accessible health care. Bend has St. Charles hospital with renowned surgeons and facilities. It boasts an orthopedic center, a cancer center, and a heart center. It has airlift capability and is one of the largest employers in the county. There is also Bend Memorial clinic that is another top notch facility. There are eye, heart, brain, and orthopedic surgeons of the highest quality living here.  And the hospital is easily accessible and of course accepts Medicare patients. There are seven CT scanners in town and most clinic offices and dental offices have the latest x ray to computer filmless systems. It’s all very new and high tech here in little Bend.

Size

Bend is neither too big nor too small. There is very little traffic and you can get from one end of town to the other in 10 minutes. With 83,000 population it is still large enough to have all the name brand stores you are familiar with and even most major car dealerships. Macy’s, Home Depot, Lowes, Trader Joes, REI, Kohls, TJ Max, Walmart, Fred Meyer, Anthony’s, Red Robin, and Sonic restaurants, even Victoria’s Secret, Eddie Bauer, Safeway, Whole Foods  and several Starbucks are here.  If you have come from a major metropolitan area you will probably never go back once you acclimate to the ease of this size our town.

Cost of living

Oregon has no state sales tax. That is itself a reason to move. There are no smog certificate requirements for vehicles. Housing is a fraction of California Bay Area costs. Visitors to the area are constantly astounded by how much home money buys here. Beautiful Northwest and contemporary custom 3000 to 4000 square foot homes are available with views, close proximity, great features, and property for well less than one million. Nice, livable homes can be purchased from $250,000 to $400,000, depending on size and area. The average price of a home in June 2014 was $329,000 but prices are rising. Gated golf course communities have custom homes around manicured fairways with CC&R rules to prevent degradation of the communities. You can find anything you want in houses here, from simple to lavish, and all are extraordinary values. Retirees will find many single level or 2 story homes with master bedrooms on the main level to choose from. Gasoline is mid-priced, less than California, but more than southern states.

Access

There is a regional airport in Redmond that is referred to as Bend/Redmond Airport (RDM). This is about 15 minutes from downtown Bend. Direct flights are available to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and Salt Lake City. Hawaii is 7 hours away with one stop in three different cities. Bend is 2 ½ hours from Portland by car and 8 hours from San Francisco. A community college and a branch of Oregon State University are in Bend to access continuing education classes.

Business and leisure time opportunities

Many people bring a wealth of experience from a lengthy career with them to Bend. There are opportunities to consult, teach and create start up businesses here. Real Estate investment is common. There are several organizations that welcome volunteers like CASA, Bethlehem Inn, St Charles hospital, and the Bend Film Festival. Bend has a thriving art community with about a dozen galleries and juried shows. There are numerous fitness clubs in town and sporting events like our Pole, Pedal, Paddle race in spring. Micro breweries are popular here with new ones springing up all the time.

Few hazards

Bend has a very low crime rate, no earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, or tornados. We do get an occasional lightning caused forest fires in the mountains that can cause hazy summer days. The Cascade Range is volcanic but mountains around Bend are dormant. Our water is abundant and the quality is spectacular, with a huge underground aquifer fed by mountain snow melt. Air quality is clear with no smog. The roads can get icy in winter so all wheel drive cars with winter or all-season tires are recommended. All things considered, Bend may be the best place to retire in the United States and is always one of the top recommended locations by retirement magazines. It has also been picked by one of the financial magazines as the city slated to have the most appreciation in the U.S. by 2016.

I hope this article will help you to decide to move to Bend and to call me with any questions you may have to assist you with a smooth transition from your current lifestyle to a relaxing, comfortable way of life.  I look forward to hearing from you.

JOE KENDALL

541 948 0732

Jkk@bendbroadband.com

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