Living in Oregon vs. California: What’s Best for You?

Many Californians are moving to Oregon. Why? We might be a little biased, but Oregon is a great place to live. Completely underrated, it’s home to some of the West Coast’s most amazing hidden treasures. 

Below, we’ll break down the pros and cons of living in both states, so you can decide which is the best place for you and your family to call “home.”

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Living in Oregon vs. California: Differences & Similarities

We’ll preface by saying that Oregon and California are both beautiful states. Neither of them is a “right” or “wrong” place to live — they’re just different, and they’ll offer different ways of living for you and your family. 

Here are some of the main differences — and even some similarities — between the two states. 

Cost of Living

Historically, Oregon has been a more affordable place to live than California. This can vary depending on what region of each state you’re looking at, but the general consensus is that you’ll most often find a higher cost of living in California. Here are a few reasons why.


Gas is usually cheaper in Oregon than it is in California. As the entire country experienced skyrocketing gas prices in the last year, California was one of the states with the highest, averaging around $6-6.50 per gallon. Oregon hit $5.50 per gallon at its highest point. Both states’ gas prices have since dropped significantly, but Oregon’s average is still lower. 

There are also studies that estimate Oregon’s gas tax ($0.38) being about 29% less than California’s

Additionally, California is one of the states with the longest commute times — due to heavy traffic, high-mileage routes, or both. Residents in states with the longest commute times are estimated to have lost over 100 hours per year due to long commutes. 

Sales Tax

Oregon doesn’t have a state-mandated sales tax. While a few towns and cities have implemented their own tax on particular items (e.g. 5% tax on prepared food in Ashland), they’re few and far between. California, on the other hand, has a 7.25% sales tax on all purchases. In some counties, it’s even higher than that. 

Oregonians do still pay income tax at the end of the year, but it’s a bit less than what Californians pay. When comparing top rates, Oregon’s is around 9.9% and California’s is around 13.3%.

Additional Cost of Living Estimates

When comparing other cost of living estimates between Oregon and California, Oregon is almost always lower. Here’s a chart that compares cost of living estimates for various categories in Medford, Oregon, and San Jose, California. You’ll notice that costs are significantly lower in Medford for things like food and groceries, home prices, and utilities. 


Oregon has a moderate, yet diverse climate. Living here, you’ll experience the beauty of four seasons. High summer temperatures stay within or below the 80s, and winters rarely drop below the 30s with zero wind chill. 

When most people think of Oregon’s climate, they think of Portland clouds and rain. However, if you travel to our neck of the woods in Southern Oregon, you’ll find it’s not nearly as cloudy and rainy as our northern neighbors experience.

California is an incredibly long state. For that reason, it varies a bit in climate. Northern California can be moderate and comfortable, similar to Southern Oregon, while Southern California can be unbearably warm for some. 

climateNatural Features

Oregon and California both have a great variety of beautiful landscapes: mountains, forests, rivers, coastlines, etc. The difference between the states possibly lies more in the amount of distance you’ll have to travel to see them all. 

Since California is such a large state, you may have to drive for hours or fly to see what you’d like. Oregon’s a bit smaller, so you can experience many different natural wonders in just one day. 

Activities & Recreation

Again, both states have a ton of wonderful outdoor activities and recreational splendors. Most people know that about California, but don’t realize it about Oregon. 

With four seasons, Oregon offers year-round activities, including winter sports like skiing and snowboarding that you may not be able to enjoy as much in California. These activities are much more accessible, less crowded, and more affordable in Oregon. Big California mountains can cost up to $200 for a daily ski/snowboard pass. 

Population Density

Oregon has a few major cities, but you’ll also find more rural, open space and small, close-knit towns like Jacksonville. With that, you can enjoy a simpler, more relaxed pace of life while still being near modern amenities like shopping centers, recreation, medical centers, and more.

California is home to a staggering amount of people — one of the country’s highest populations. Many of these people live in some of the most densely populated cities like Los Angeles, San Jose, and San Diego.

Thinking of Moving to Oregon? The Vineyards at Stage Pass Await You.

Living in California and interested in relocating? Hoping to make a cross-country move to the West Coast? Either way, Oregon is an amazing place to make your next home. 

By choosing Southern Oregon’s top master-planned community at The Vineyards at Stage Pass, you’ll be able to find beauty in each and every day. Contact our team to learn more about starting a life here or to schedule a private tour.