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Salem, OR and the general south of Portland area

werehippywerehippy Registered User regular
edited May 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
Just wanted to see if anyone knew anything about this general area. I'm currently working as a traveling consultant and I just got an offer from a place in Salem OR (quite close to Williamette University for reference). It's a fantastic job but given the fact it's on the west coast, I'm currently living on the east coast, and the closest airport is in north Portland I can't really manage the travelling consultant schedule of fly in Sunday night/Monday and fly out Thursday, so I'd have to basically move there for the next year plus.

How is the town in general? What's the mix of people like, the crime rate, and the general living situation and so on? How is the public transportation, and is it easy to get back and forth between Portland and Salem using it?

Portland or Seattle have been high on the list of cities I'd like to spend some time in and that I have considered living in permanently, and this seems like the kind of location that I would in theory love (nice somewhat quieter place within easy access of the ocean and a "cool" metropolitan area) but this is happening quickly enough that I don't have time to do my homework as closely as I'd like before I need to make a decision.

Any and all help and insight would be immensely appreciated.

werehippy on


  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Salem isn't so bad, but it might be more of a small town than you want. I actually thought it was very reminiscent of the suburban townships of the upper east coast, although I didn't spend enough time in them to really know.

    The commute to Portland isn't the end of the world; I know some folks that commute to portland from salem 2-3 days a week. It's an hour or so each way depending on traffic, which is more than I would want to drive, but if you're only doing it once or twice a week for flights it might not be so bad. Amtrak is a decent option also.

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
    do you lack faith, brother?
    or do you believe?
  • Bionic MonkeyBionic Monkey Registered User, ClubPA
    edited May 2010
    If you'd be commuting between Portland and Salem frequently, it might be worth halving the distance, and living somewhere like Tualatin, which is frankly a nicer town than Salem anyway. Salem itself is okay, if kind of grimy unless you're in one of the richer neighborhoods.

    Bionic Monkey on
  • matthias00matthias00 Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I go to school in Salem, and it's not a bad place to live per se, but I mostly stay on campus, and if I weren't going to school there I wouldn't want to live there. Keep in mind that I am used to living in a town even smaller than Salem, so to me it isn't a tiny lil place but actually bigger than I'm used to.

    In terms of people, well, it's the first place I saw a group of juggalos. Also the homeless population is a little rambunctious, they like to talk to random people more than I'm used to. It's not as noticeable as it is in Portland, but I did notice it. One possible explanation for this is that a lot of people around here say a wing of the Oregon State Mental Hospital was closed down a little while ago and all the patients were released, most of them quickly becoming homeless in Salem. Looking at the wiki for the mental hospital, though, I see nothing about that, so it's likely just an urban myth...

    I've lived there for 2 years and I've never had anything happen to me crime-wise. When my brother lived here, he had an old car that got broken into, and one of my friends had her bike stolen, but I'd say that's more campus-y crime stuff than salem-y crime stuff. I've walked around downtown alone at night several times, though, and I wasn't really scared or anything.

    Public transportation works. We've used it a few times to get around to places, and for the most part the buses are on time and all that. One of my friends used it almost daily to get to her work and she never had any trouble with it. In terms of getting to Portland, there's stuff like trains to take you there and they work well. Only thing with trains is that, while the Salem amtrak station is almost literally on campus and thus in a pretty okay place, I'm pretty sure I was almost mugged in the area around the Portland one, so yeah, you might want to have some sort of transportation ready for you there.

    Basically, if the job is rockin, I'd definitely go for it, but maybe look around in the surrounding area and think about commuting. Salem isn't a bad town by my standards, but you'll find more to do in Portland, and the drive isn't too bad. Other than that, I don't know too much about the surrounding towns, so you'd have to ask someone else about them.

    matthias00 on
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