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Back from Bend... Again...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

We are now back from what was, thankfully, our last exploratory trip to Oregon, having signed a one-year lease for the place you see below atop Awbrey Butte in Bend. The next time we go north, it will be with a moving truck and no return trip will be in the schedule. IMAGE Since last summer, we must have made about ten trips to Ashland, Medford, Eugene, Salem, Florence, and Grants Pass before finally making the last three journeys to Bend, the most recent one resulting in making a one-year commitment.

We're going to go for a year and see how it works out - the fact that it's been snowing there all week would be cause for concern for some, but we like the snow. Whether or not we like the snow enough for it to be coming down this late in the year every year remains to be seen.

As always, it was quite an adventure and, talking to the locals, you sometimes get a real sense of dread, especially when the conversation turns to real estate. Cessna just announced that they were closing a factory in Bend, a decision that is expected to result in the loss of another 109 jobs, all of which, presumably, paid more than that of ski lift operators or golf course marshalls.

On the radio this morning, they said the unemployment rate had risen to 17 percent in the county but, as we entered northern California, another radio station cited a 19 percent unemployment rate in two of the counties we passed through on the way home.

The employment picture looks pretty bleak whereever you go on the West Coast - increasingly you hear things like "two counties in California, two counties in Michigan, and one county in Oregon headed the nation's unemployment..."

It's kind of sad because most people really don't know what hit them - they just look around and see home prices dropping like a rock, jobless rates soaring, and the apparent end to what was thought to be an enduring, spendthrift way of life.

When we had some time to kill, we stopped into a couple of private golf courses in the area and inquired about membership, just to get an idea about what they were charging these days if we happened to be so inclined.

The number of folks cutting back on discretionary expenses has, generally speaking, put a pretty big crimp in running a private golf club these days. Declines of between 20 and 50 percent seem to be commonplace - home prices, golf club membership, and any other thing that people think twice about spending money on, or so it seems.

It will be an interesting next year - we move a month from tomorrow.

Please understand that, due to family matters and our upcoming move, things haven't exactly been "normal" around here lately and that condition is not likely to change soon.

Hopefully, by the middle of June or so, we'll have settled into our new home and things will be back to normal again - whatever that is...


Anonymous said...

Bend a few years back was named one of the best outdoor places to live according to Outside Magazine(or one of those magazines).

Tim said...

It's been a popular place for quite a while now - some would say too popular around the middle of the decade.

Anonymous said...

Awbrey Butte is very nice - do you have a view of the Cascades?

I've been looking out our sunny windows and laughing at the weather forecasts that have been calling for snow, right up until yesterday when it did snow. Ooops. Maybe they were right.

The big problem with Bend's unemployment rate is that the economy was geared towards tourists, building houses for part-time residents/tourists and selling expensive dinners, outdoor equipment, furniture, art and knick knacks to part-time residents/tourists.

If you take away the part-time residents, the building and the selling, there isn't much left, really - at least not to support the number of people who live there and want jobs.

But it IS a beautiful place, and I don't think that the perky view the realtor's association takes is entirely divorced from reality. Just, kinda, mostly divorced from reality right now.

Like you, we aren't dependent on the local economy for jobs (at least I HOPE we're not) but it's hard to live in an area with high employment and the corresponding misery that goes with it.

~Mrs. Marku

Tim said...

We'll be facing the city. Yeah, the unemployment rate is high, but the entire West Coast is in double digits now.

Anonymous said...


Just curious, how big is this house and what range are they seling for?

Tim said...

It's a little over 2,000 square feet but it's hard to say what it would sell for since, basically, nothing over $450,000 is selling at all.

I was told that just about every $450,000+ sale you see on Zillow over the last six months is a house going back to the bank - apparently this gets reported as a sale at the assessors office (for the amount of the outstanding loan, I think) though I don't know how the transaction is accounted for in the home price statistics.

Anonymous said...

Movin just in time for the Cessna plant to close and toss more high wage earners into the Bend unemployment scene. Remember, I am the guy who said look at Hood River. At least you leased, so there is still time to move again!

Tim said...

We'll have a look at Hood River and other areas over the next year. Right now, we're kind of worn out from all the driving back and forth and are just happy to have found a place.

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