May 4, 2012

Perhaps Bend Is the Town for Us

We have been zigging and zagging our way through Oregon, from south to north along the Pacific Coast, then north to south through the Willamette Valley and Southern Oregon in the area sandwiched between the Coast and Cascade Ranges.  Yesterday we began our final northward push through Central Oregon, a high desert plateau on the dry side of the Cascade Range.  This area may have a reputation for sunny days, but it didn’t surprise me that I brought some rain with me.  It was also surprisingly chilly.

We drove through miles of national forests on our way to Bend.  I had visited Bend last summer and was very impressed with what the town has to offer.  Tim had wanted to see for himself what had attracted me to this town, so we made plans to spend a few days here.  As we’ve mentioned before, Tim and I are using this trip as an opportunity to explore potential towns where we might move once Tim retires.  Bend was on our list, although neither one of us knew too much about it.

Bend is located in the heart of Central Oregon and is known as a recreation mecca for both summer and winter sports.  Although that’s one draw, I especially liked Bend’s vibe, with its lively, historic downtown and its interesting, new Old Mill District.  Performing arts, galleries and other cultural offerings are important elements as well.  Tim and I made our first stop at the Old Mill District, an area once covered by timber mill operations.  Today, the district is a popular destination for shopping, dining and entertainment.  The Deschutes River runs through the district, and hiking and biking trails line the river.  The Old Mill District is a very walkable area, and interesting housing is part of the mix.

The Deschutes River Runs Through Bend
The Historic Powerhouse Is Now the REI Store
in the Old Mill District
The Historic Tower Theater Is Bend's Performing Arts Venue
Interesting Shops and Restaurants Draw People Downtown
Public Art Is Featured on Downtown Sidewalks
After a wonderful lunch, we walked along the river and talked about trying to identify neighborhoods with condos or townhouses that might appeal to us.  As we started to drive around, Tim spied a Coldwell Banker real estate office and suggested that we pop in for a little guidance.  Craig Long graciously spent quite some time with us and described to us the types of properties that might fit our criteria.  He pulled up a few listings and offered to take us to see them today.  We explained to him that we didn’t want to waste his time since we didn’t even know if Bend would be “the” city, but he didn’t seem to mind.

We met Craig this morning and visited six properties.  It was so much fun to look at houses and see what features I liked and what Tim liked.  Neither one of us had looked at real estate in quite some time, and it was interesting to see what’s on the market.  Despite the depressed housing market, I was surprised to find the units priced higher than I might have expected.  We looked at townhouses within walking distance of the Old Mill District and/or downtown, and liked some, and not others.

But one property stood out far and above the others.  It was the most urban and hip of all the townhouses we looked at and is a part of the Mill Quarter mixed-use development. Locals call the townhouse a brownstone, although it’s a brick (not sandstone) row house.  The unit for sale has somewhat of an industrial feel, and fronts directly on the sidewalk. What’s interesting is that the unit includes a retail space on the ground level that can be leased for an income source.  I really liked the exterior, but the interior was amazing, and I could have moved right in without changing a thing.  The kitchen and bathroom finishes were gorgeous, and the rooftop terrace was such a cool space to unwind, enjoy a glass of wine and take in the view of the surrounding mountains.  Tim agreed with me that this townhouse was the best of the bunch by far.

Mill Quarter Mixed-Use Development
This Is the Unit We Looked At
Three-Story Living Space Overlooks the Street
We Love the Kitchen
Even though we have no idea at this point what town we might move to (who knows, we might stay in Colorado), Bend has surely made it to our short list.  Looking at potential real estate was such a great exercise to help us focus on what type of property might work for both of us.  We had a great day and have lots to think about.


  1. I have friends who just retired to Powell Butte which is in the county next to this one and they love it there. I always enjoy looking at real estate too. Great way to spend the day. LV

    1. LV, What a small world. We drove through Powell Butte today. This is a pretty part of the country. Sarah

    2. Even more small, I forgot to tell you, they retired from the NPS! :-)

    3. LV, Now that really is a small world!! Sarah

  2. Looks like a very nice place, but I am site you would like San Diego too. If you come back you can visit some very nice areas here. We would love to have you closer to us. Just a thought. Love A

    1. A, We love San Diego and will definitely keep it in mind as we continue our search. It would be interesting to visit some of the neighborhoods. We also would enjoy being closer to you. Sarah

  3. Sarah - Carol White here - you know, the author of "Road Trip Dream" - I just found your website today on a Google search for people who had mentioned our book. We have a home in Bend and would be happy to correspond with you about how great Bend is, if it is still on your planning list. I've really enjoyed looking at your website and the places you have been - I think we would have enjoyed each other had we met on the road! carol@roadtripdream (dot) com.