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Exactly What You Need to Know About Relocating to Salem, Oregon

Salem, Oregon's third-largest city, is a treasure trove of historic buildings, fascinating museums, vast expanses of picturesque open space, and recreational parks. Salem offers a calm setting and a more laid-back vibe, whether in the city's central business district or the Willamette Valley countryside.

This agricultural city is an excellent spot to think about relocating to because of its relaxed way of life. Are you considering relocating to this beautiful city in the Pacific Northwest? Here is what you need to know about Salem, Oregon.

1. Prime location

Salem is one of the oldest settlements in Oregon, and its original name was Chemeketa, which comes from an Indigenous word meaning "meeting or resting place." In 2019, Salem was home to 174,365 people making it Oregon's third-most populous city behind Portland and Eugene.
Salem is located in the center of Oregon and serves as the state's capital. This city is found in the Willamette River valley in Oregon, one of the most fertile agricultural regions in the United States. The city is conveniently situated 64 miles north of Eugene and 47 miles south of Portland.
One may take in breathtaking views of the coastal range and the Cascades from many vantage points within the city. Salem, Oregon, might be a relatively small city, but despite its size, it has a rich history and stunning natural beauty.

2. Salem weather & climate

Salem is located in the Marine West Coast climatic zone. The region experiences temperate weather, with temperatures rarely falling below freezing or going above 90 degrees.

During winter, snowfall is unusual, and even when it happens, it typically does not last for more than a day or two. The daytime temperatures during the warm summer months in the Willamette Valley often range between the 70s and 80s. With a lot of sunshine, you can enjoy activities such as:

  • Kayaking on the Santiam River's North Fork
  • Visiting one of Salem's 48 parks
  • A tour down Willamette Valley Vineyards for a stunning vista and a bottle of Pinot Noir
Rainfall in Salem is typically higher than the national average, and the wet season is likely to occur during the winter months. On rainy days, you can explore the Gilbert House Children's Museum, visit the Willamette Heritage Center, rock climbing at Rock Boxx Climbing Gym, or enjoy a Sweet Treat at Willamette Valley Fruit Company.

3. Neighborhoods in Salem

When moving to a new city, finding a place to live can be one of the most challenging parts. Salem is divided into many distinct neighborhoods, each with something unique for its residents. Different types of communities appeal to different kinds of individuals, and the best neighborhood is one that makes you feel most at home. Here are some of the communities in Salem:

Central/North Salem

This part of the city has a lot of historic houses because it contains a section of the Historic District. There is an older neighborhood for every budget, from Grant and Highland in the north to Englewood in the east and Richmond in the south.

West Salem

West Salem, on the outskirts of wine country, is a diverse community of houses. There is an older section of West Salem, but most homes for sale in West Salem OR are either mid-century or brand new. There are several affluent communities in the western part of the city, including West Hills Estates, The Heights, and West Meadows Estates.


The northernmost neighbor of Salem features a wide range of Keizer homes for sale, from largely mid-century to modern construction, including golf course communities, lakefront mansions, spacious Clear Lake area houses, and more.

South Salem

Down south, homebuyers can find whatever type of houses for sale in Salem they desire, from gated communities to affluent neighborhoods to golf course communities with HOAs to condos and townhomes.

4. Registering your car in Salem

Your vehicle must be registered and titled within 30 days of moving into your new residence in Oregon. You'll be required to submit an application, take and pass an admissions/safety test, and show proof of your legal right to be here.
There are several steps involved in transferring your driver's license, including:
  • Submitting an application
  • Taking a photo of yourself
  • Paying the applicable fees
  • Bringing in the previous license
  • Providing your Social Security number
  • Presenting proof of birth and residence
  • Passing an eye exam
  • Taking a written exam
You don't need to book an appointment to visit the Oregon DMV. However, customers are advised to do whatever they can online or through the mail.

5. Salem's economy

Salem is home to various businesses and private companies thanks to its business-friendly tax and fee structures and established competitive advantages in several key export markets. The Mid-Willamette Valley is Oregon's most productive agricultural region due to its abundant natural resources.
With its convenient location along Interstate 5 between California and Washington, Salem is also a thriving industrial and distribution hub. There has been a consistent manufacturing expansion thanks to the high-tech sector's introduction to the local economy.
Salem is one of the few American cities to enjoy a location central to ideal natural conditions, abundant resources, and convenient commercial infrastructure.

6. Salem schools

The Salem-Keizer School District is responsible for the provision of public education within the city. The school district is the second largest in the state and is responsible for the operation of about 40,000 students.
There are various options available in the city if you would like to send your child to a private or parochial school. The private schools in Salem include Salem Academy Christian School, Livingstone Adventist Academy, Blanchet Catholic School, Abiqua Academy, and. Riviera Christian School.
Corban University, Chemeketa Community College, and Willamette University are your choices for higher education opportunities in this city.

7. Transportation in Salem

The major highways serving Salem include Oregon Route 221, Oregon Route 51, Oregon Route 213, Oregon Route 22, Interstate 5, and Oregon Route 99E. Route 22 connects West Salem to the other side of the Willamette River through Center Street and Marion Street bridges.
Amtrak offers train service from Salem to other West Coast metro regions. Amtrak's passenger rail service is available to the city via the Coast Starlight line, which originates at the Salem Station and provides daily service to both Los Angeles and Seattle.
Salem Municipal Airport is located at the crossroads of Interstate 5 and Highway 22, just a few miles from the heart of Salem. Currently, no commercial flights are operating from this airport, so Portland International Airport serves as the primary gateway for flights into and out of Salem.

8. Culture and the way of life in Salem city

Salem may have a small-town vibe, but it doesn't lack amenities. Salem's historic sites and museums include the Reed Opera House, the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, the Mission Hill Museum, and the Elsinore Theatre.
Salem residents can enjoy classic movies, live music, and plays at the historic Elsinore Theatre, which serves as the cultural epicenter of the city's reasonably active cultural scene. The Hallie Ford Museum of Art is located on the campus of Willamette University and is home to many works of art from all over the world.
The Oregon State Fair is held at the end of August each year and is considered the most well-attended yearly event in Salem. Other popular festivals in Salem include:
  • The Salem Art Fair and Festival — This is a three-day outdoor festival of the visual and performing arts. The event's primary focus is a juried display of excellent fine art and fine craft.

  • The Bite & Brew of Salem — This is a three-day festival that celebrates the summer season in the Pacific Northwest by providing attendees with a variety of beers, foods, and outdoor live performances

  • The World Beat Festival — This is a two-day event filled with music, dancing, ethnic dishes, and crafts from around the world. The festival takes place on the final weekend of June and is organized by the Salem Multicultural Institute, a nonprofit organization.
Like many other Pacific Northwest cities, Salem is a hotspot for outdoor activities. The city's park system is substantial, containing 46 parks and miles of trails for hiking, camping, bicycling, fishing, boating, and other outdoor sports. Salem's proximity to the Willamette Valley's numerous vineyards is another perk of living in this city.

9. Bars and eateries in Salem

Oregon's Mid-Willamette Valley has long been known for its vibrant restaurant and bar culture. There are a wide variety of unique restaurants, vineyards, and breweries in the neighborhood, as well as a diverse selection of food trucks and bakeries.

A few popular bars and restaurants to try in Salem include:

Salem, Oregon's food scene may not be as adventurous as Portland's, but it still has much to offer visitors and residents alike, with many restaurants using fresh ingredients wherever possible. This city has a wide variety of dining options, from fast food joints to restaurants serving the finest gourmet cuisine.

10. Recreational facilities

Like many other Pacific Northwest cities, Salem is a hotspot for outdoor activities. The city's park system is substantial, containing 90 parks and miles of trails for hiking, camping, bicycling, fishing, boating, and other outdoor sports.
Water sports, including waterskiing, kayaking, and canoeing, as well as fishing for trout and salmon, abound in the city, thanks to the Willamette River. If you're interested in birdwatching, you can find plenty of places to set up your binoculars and try to spot some rare species. Baskett Slough is a wildlife refuge area west of Salem, and it is a popular destination for birdwatchers.

Find your home in Salem, Oregon, through Rebecca Donaldson

One of Oregon's most successful real estate agents, Rebecca Donaldson, is passionate about finding her clients their dream homes. She is rated the Best Real Estate Broker in Willamette Valley for 2 years in a row. Throughout her career in Salem real estate and the Willamette Valley, Rebecca has prioritized building a solid network of contacts and resources. Are you looking for a home in Salem, Oregon? Contact Rebecca today to help you find the perfect property for you.

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With a focus on client service, Rebecca has prioritized the expansion of her network and resources throughout her career. You can have absolute confidence that all your real estate solutions are within reach when working with Rebecca Donaldson.

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