In this best of all possible worlds, Bend, Oregon, is certainly among the best of the best places to live on Earth. Great weather year around provides a wonderland of outdoor activities, and friendly people give this small city a safe hometown feel. There are many activities for tourists, many of whom love our city and say they want to move here. Also, the open political situation makes it possible for the voting public to make really stupid decisions and refuse to spend the money to fill our vast number of potholes in the streets. We will live through this okay because there are reserves, but it is a symbol of things being so good here we don’t have to do anything, even fill potholes.
The real problem is home rentals. Because our city is so desirable, there are large numbers of people moving in, and rental homes and apartments have vanished. Because of the potential for higher rents, the owners of rental properties are evicting current occupants, so they can upgrade the premises and charge much higher rents. Apparently all that is legal, but about eight of my friends have been or are being squeezed out of their living space—and there is no place for them to go, except away. One friend moved all the way to London, England, another to San Francisco. Many people in nearby Prineville are living in tents, at least for the summer, while building a massive Google server farm. Come winter and their housing needs will place even more stress on the current rental situation.
Five years ago, Bend was a relatively cheap place to live and to buy a house, but according to the Zillow.com housing site the price of homes has doubled, and so too the rentals. If you wholly own a house that’s great, especially if you want to sell it, but it is terrible for renters. People who were getting by just fine five years ago on their income are now being priced out. Also, there is a new University campus now under construction that will attract thousands of students next year, and where will they live? There are no dormitories being built at present. Fortunately for us, we were ahead of the boom and bought at a low price. Of course the prices of homes back in the Bay Area, where I came from, are much higher, so people who own property there can sell it, move to Bend, and have money left over. My personal opinion is that home prices will rise to match the Bay Area’s as people there retire and seek a quieter life, so even though prices are double what they were five years ago, now is still a good time to buy a home.
For the time being Bend is a wonderful place to own and a terrible place to rent.