Scott and I were lucky enough to move to Central Oregon in 2009 after getting married here in 1991, and then having vacationed in the area for many years and enjoying a second home in Sunriver. Sometimes while I’m driving around, I still feel like I’m on vacation, which is a good thing. The glow that attracted us to Central Oregon still permeates through our daily lives and that same sentiment can be shared by many of the transplants to the area. Scott compares living in Central Oregon to the feeling of being an ex-pat — no one is a stranger and the sense of community is strong throughout the region.
After you’ve decided on moving to Central Oregon, be it with your family, retirement or a solo adventure to pursue the great outdoors, you may wonder how to blend in with and become a local. Many people call Central Oregon home and even though the area has grown to include many transplants, it’s easy to come a local in welcoming Central Oregon.
Becoming A Local
You’ve move into your new home, bought a kayak rack for your car and invested in a puffy jacket — all surefire ways to becoming a Central Oregon local. Now, it’s time to integrate with the locals and become one yourself. Where to start? Read like the locals do — local newspapers The Source Weekly and the Bend Bulletin are great resources for transplants to Central Oregon. Read about local politics, community gatherings, festivals, concerts and events that will help you integrate into the local scene. In fact, The Source Weekly publishes a locals issue once a year that can be your go-to guide for moving to Central Oregon. This year’s issue even included a fun “Local’s Bingo” card.
Tune in to local radio stations and listen like a Bendite. 92.9 FM plays alternative rock, 101.7 plays adult contemporary jams and you’ll also discover an array of country music stations. KPOV is the local, non-profit radio station, connecting the community.
Making Friends and Building Your Network
For many people, one of the hardships of moving to a new city comes in making new friends and building a network. In Bend, there are many different ways to connect with new people and build your network — be it social or professional.
Meetups — Many transplants and locals looking for new friends and people will similar interests turn to Meetup.com to engage with others seeking similar relationships and activities within the community. Are you a woman seeking other women to mountain bike with? There’s a Meetup for that. Looking to connect with others in the LGBTQ community? There’s a Meetup for that. Retiring and wanting to make friends to spend your time with? Check out the Bend Newly Retired Women Meetup.
Professional Organizations — Others want to build their professional network in Bend and joining local networking groups aids the process. Try attending the Beers and Business Cards events, which take place at local businesses throughout the region. You’ll also find a chapter of the Young Professionals Network in Bend, which brings together professionals under 40 for networking and social events. The Bend Chamber of Commerce also hosts regular mixers and functions for professionals throughout the region.
Wherever you choose to spend your free time, however, you choose to do so, you’ll find friendly faces around every corner. Striking up a conversation with fellow skiers in the lodge at Mt. Bachelor can lead to lifelong friendships and beers at Brother Jon’s Public House may help you find your next romantic partner.
Dining and Craft Beverage Culture
Trying to blend in and become a local? When it comes to dining and craft beverage culture, you’ll find becoming a local to be both tasty and refreshing.
On the South end of town, locals love dining on fresh, organic meals prepared at Wild Oregon Foods. They also have a delicious cocktail menu and put on special events like their amazing Mother’s Day Brunch. La Rosa serves incredible Mexican food in two locations in Bend, the southernmost location located in the Brookswood Meadow Plaza. Here, you’ll also find C.E. Lovejoy’s Market, a locally owned grocery store with a great beer selection and locally sourced goods.
On the popular westside of Bend, dining and drinking hit their stride. From pub food to creative wraps, you’ll find something delicious to appease your palate. Try Brother Jon’s Public House or 10 Barrel Brewing’s flagship brewpub on Galveston Ave. The Victorian Cafe serves one of the best brunch menus in Central Oregon and you can get tasty BBQ down the street at Baldy’s BBQ. Over on Newport Avenue, try world fusion at Spork, grab a locally roasted latte from Backporch Coffee Roasters and shop at one of Central Oregon’s favorite locally owned grocery stores — Newport Ave. Market.
Downtown you can find the Deschutes Brewery Public House as well as Bend Brewing Company when it comes to craft beverages. Love Thai food? Wild Rose serves incredible Northern Thai cuisine and Toomies specializes in the Pad Thai you’re used to. Bos Taurus and The Blacksmith satisfy your desire for high-end steak dinners, while Lone Pine Coffee Roasters and Crow’s Feet Commons will meet your needs for caffeine. More of a dive bar fan? Head over to the M&J Tavern, a Bend staple for more than 70 years. Downtown also hosts a variety of festivals and events, including the popular First Friday Art Walk.
As Bend continues to grow, more and more options become available for dining, drinking and culture. Bend’s Northside has become home to a variety of breweries and restaurants. Just north of Downtown you’ll find the newly opened Boneyard Brewing Pub. Off of Empire Ave., try the pizza and hot sandwiches from The Backyard and the newest 10 Barrel Brewing Pub. The Cascade Village Shopping Center brings you delicious Mexican food at El Rancho Grande and sushi from Shinsei.
The booming east side of Bend includes Worthy Brewing, which has their own Hopseveratory (yes, a brewery with a telescope and observatory). Close to St. Charles Hospital on the eastside you can dine at local favorites including Jackson’s Corner and the newly opened food cart lot On Tap. Looking to buy fresh produce? Head to Whole Foods on the eastside as well as the weekly Bend Farmer’s Market (open May through October).
Now that you know where to dine like a local, get out there and start trying some Bend staples — the Buffalo Mac from Brother Jon’s Public House, an Ocean Roll from Sparrow Bakery, one of the many tasty and award-winning brews from local breweries.
Outdoors and Recreation
The best way to become a local comes from getting out and exploring. Sure, you can ride your mountain bike at Phil’s Trail and ski and snowboard at Mt. Bachelor, but there’s more to Bend than these local hot spots. Cascade Lakes Highway includes a large number of lakes and trails to explore. For those seeking less adrenaline and more casual recreation — walk the Deschutes River Trail from the Old Mill District or enjoy a lite evening hike up Pilot Butte. Hop on your paddleboard and enjoy taking in the sights and sounds of Central Oregon on one of the area lakes or in the middle of town as you paddle up the Deschutes River.
Moving to Central Oregon
In order to become a local, you first have to put a plan into action for moving to Central Oregon. Scott and I can assist you in finding the perfect home base for all of your Central Oregon adventures. Whether you prefer living on the south end of town in the River Rim neighborhood or you want to be in the heart of activity on the west side, we can help you find the ideal home for your lifestyle. Once you’re here, we have no doubt you’ll have no problems blending in and becoming a Bend local with ease.