Cross country trepidation
January 28, 2012 3:07 PM   Subscribe

What should I know about Corvallis Oregon before accepting an offer to work there?

I'm interviewing next week with a lab at OSU. It's a great opportunity, but it's an open question whether I accept the offer, because the absolute lowest end of the stated range looks to be a step down from what I'm making now.

What I don't have yet is the threshold number where no turns to "yes." The interview and trip next week will help doublecheck some of the line items on the annual budgets I've constructed, but I'd like to hear from the locals what things someone from out of state might not consider.

So far I've figured out the Oregon income tax rate and the lack of sales tax. I figured out my car insurance would double, but I don't know how auto property tax is figured. My housing budget for a single apartment dwelling professional is estimated at 750, not clear if that's under or over the current market or if the flooding has damaged the rental market. And that there's a lot of mefites in town / state =)

So what apartments should I avoid / look at, how much should I really expect to spend, and what myths in my head should be dispelled about Oregon and Corvallis? What should I take a look at in town while I'm there next week?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You don't say where you live now, but if your car insurance would double, I suspect you are in a small town. Check the prices of basics, like bread, milk and gas. I leave it to the locals to make the case for or against Corvallis, as I haven't lived in Oregon since... mumble, mumble.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 3:12 PM on January 28, 2012

I spent a summer at OSU and I loved Corvallis. I'm from Dallas, so it's a bit different for me. I also really enjoyed my few days in Portland, but all my friends from Portland seem to pseudo-hate it there. I don't know. Might be a Portland thing.

Anyway, back on Corvallis: do it. And go get drunk and dance at the Peacock.
posted by apip at 3:15 PM on January 28, 2012

$750 seems low here in Eugene, 40 miles down the freeway. It is probably on the low end there, but a quick visit to Craigslist indicates that there may be viable possibilities. Albany is right next to Corvallis, but I would avoid it.

There always seems to be a lot of good music in Corvallis, or the acoustic variety. Also, good theater venues.

Good quality of life there, and lots of HP people around, also, as well as the campus.
posted by Danf at 3:17 PM on January 28, 2012

There's some useful information in this previous question.

Corvallis has a terrible housing shortage. 750 seems a bit low to me, but you might be able to find something if you start early. Padmpper is your friend! :) Avoid the "red door" apartments and Albany if you can.

I love the downtown area - make sure you do some wandering around down there while you're in the area. I worked downtown and was able to get all of my Christmas shopping done on foot during my lunch breaks. Pure magic to a girl from the sprawling midwest.

There are a decent amount of good restaurants and the farmer's market is spectacular. I highly recommend the Vietnamese Baguette shop on 3rd- so incredibly tasty! Eugene is large enough to get "big" shows - Wicked and Cirque dr Soleil came through last year and it's only 45 min away via I5.

Things I find annoying: Distance from the airport. Grass allergies.
Our winter rain isn't like Seattle's gray mist - it pours here. A good raincoat is a smart purchase. :)
posted by WowLookStars at 3:21 PM on January 28, 2012

I live in Corvallis and love it here. You have to be ready for small town life. That means fewer shopping options, fewer social options, fewer cultural options. That said, it's a quiet, safe city with lots of biking and hiking if you're into that. It's in a good location in the state—about an hour from the coast, two from Portland, and three from Bend.

The housing crunch is a recurring theme in the local paper, and the red door apartments that WowLookStars mentioned is constantly under fire. Luckily the latest flooding didn't do too much damage to property in Corvallis, so that's not what's causing problems right now.

When my wife and I first moved here we didn't know anyone and didn't work for OSU, HP, or the hospital. So it was tough to meet people. Once we had kids we were out in the community more and had an instant connection with people. It's a great place to raise kids with lots of activities, classes, and support.
posted by pb at 4:17 PM on January 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

but I don't know how auto property tax is figured.

Take the value of your vehicle, multiply by 0. There is no fee related to the value of your vehicle.

Expect to pay about $200 for title transfer, plates and tags. Pay another $70 for a license and test fee. Tags are good for 2 years, drivers license for 8. You shouldn't need to do a DEQ test if the vehicle is in Corvallis (not close enough to Portland).
posted by Mister Fabulous at 4:27 PM on January 28, 2012

I work in Corvallis-it's a great town. Nice downtown, some good restaurants, easy place to walk and bike to work.

IF you can find a place. OSU was suggesting in their website that incoming students consider living in South Salem-that's a good 40 minute drive away. There are parts of Albany that aren't bad-it has a cool historical district and is only 11 miles away.

Avoid Red Door houses, Rachel Ray, Corvalla, Lancaster Bridge, Oxford Circle apartments. Trust me.
posted by purenitrous at 4:41 PM on January 28, 2012

What climate are you from?
Late spring, summer, and autumn are glorious, but winter has constant rain and a low cloud ceiling. If you're used to snowier weather or someplace further south with lots of sunshine, the difference in natural light is dramatic and worth considering if you're prone to SAD.

Otherwise, the quality of life is fantastic.
posted by VelveteenBabbitt at 4:49 PM on January 28, 2012

The climate is great, it rains a lot in the winter, but it is still pretty warm and you can do stuff if you are wearing good rain gear. I live in the Eugene/Springfield metro area and housing is pricey in Corvallis but you have lots of commuting options that are easy drives. Philomath, Alsea, Albany, Brownsville (farther away but a great little town if that is what you want), Even Junction City or Harrisburg or Monmouth. Traffic isn't bad at all. Due to various zoning and land use laws Oregon seems to have less retail and commercial space than most of the rest of the western US. Most people are fairly friendly and the politics are actually decently civil. It is possible to believe racism no longer exists here (other class divides are all too obvious though). There are lots and lots of really poor little towns where time kinda stopped when the federal lands stopped timber cutting (which caused other enviromental problems but that is a different conversation). Which touches on the really contentious divide here-outrageous enviromentalists versus right wing 'cut it all' types that tend to oppose anything that is really reasonable and could wrong long term. As a stay at home or out in the woods type the Willamette valley is awesome. You can go to the beach or the mountains in the same day, once you are out of the main metro areas there really aren't too many people and lots and lots of public lands (and even more timber lands that are quasi accessible). Housing is reasonable but not dirt cheap, laws are decent but not onerous, income taxes are high but not bad when you consider no sales tax and pretty reasonable property taxes. Anyway, I moved here from living in the southwest and really, really like it. It is nice to not feel guilty about wasting water washing your car or taking a long shower.
posted by bartonlong at 5:26 PM on January 28, 2012

Apologies to all these people who seem to love Corvallis, but I just have a totally different opinion of the place. I know MeFi loves it, but seriously I don't at ALL and I've been spending time in Corvallis my entire life. Based on your car insurance doubling, it does seem like you'd be moving from somewhere small, so my advice may be way off. I am speaking as a city-dweller.

First, I want to emphasize how far away from really, anything, Corvallis is. It's really isolated. Yeah, there's Portland. Let's be real, 90 min is not close. You're not going up there every weekend unless you really have a reason to. Also, many people in the area are total hicks. As an illustrative anecdote, I was driving my mother's new Audi sedan with WA plates in Corvallis last year, and the guy at the gas station gave me the cold shoulder for at least 10 minutes. Refused to come fill up the tank. Whether it was the WA plates or the fact it was an expensive car, who knows, but that's the sort of person you will find all over OR. (Also, you can't pump your own gas in OR.) Other things include the fact that the issues people discuss are, politely, provincial. It is also really VERY rainy during the winter, and I am speaking as someone who grew up in the PNW. You need not just a rain jacket, but rain PANTS. Corvallis is where I had the worst Chinese food of my life. I could go on. Frankly, Corvallis is one of the most depressing places I have ever spent a significant amount of time.

Perhaps I just haven't seen the best of it. But my overriding opinion of Corvallis is that it's an incredibly boring place to live, rains constantly and is basically a place to either go to college or to retire. Sure there's a university, but dude, you're in rural Oregon, Meth is more culturally relevant than a BA. If the pay doesn't seem up to par and you like where you're at, I wouldn't do it.

Again, I really apologize for sounding like an entitled jerk, but I feel it's important to share a different opinion of a place that I have quite a bit of experience with.
posted by annie o at 11:00 PM on January 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also I should note that all the other commentators so far are actually totally accurate in their descriptions as far as I'm aware. I just happen to find that the negatives outweigh the positives.
posted by annie o at 11:02 PM on January 28, 2012

Alrighty, well I accepted an offer and put in notice today, so I can lift the veil of anonymity and reveal that this was my question. Interview went well though I didn't get to see much of the views since we mainly traveled in the dark. 4 days in a row of sunshine and warm weather. Unfortunately I was exhausted and slept a lot that weekend, but we did catch a blues concert in Eugene.

Financially, after touring some apartment complexes I decided to bump up the apartment estimate a notch and the final offer leaves plenty of room for that.

computech_apolloniajames: "You don't say where you live now, but if your car insurance would double, I suspect you are in a small town."

Currently living in Manhattan KS. Which is about the same size as Corvallis, maybe a bit bigger. They're both university towns though I gather Corvallis is a bit more liberal. And maybe it was just the unusual weather, but cyclists everywhere.

annie o: "First, I want to emphasize how far away from really, anything, Corvallis is. It's really isolated. Yeah, there's Portland."

First off, thanks for the contrarian view. It's the sort of thing I'm really looking for. The odd quirks like "You can't pump your own gas!" which I totally forgot about, and some actual negatives. Yea, the drive from Portland airport was an unpleasant addition to the long flights. At least it's 30 minutes closer to Portland than MHK is to Kansas City.
posted by pwnguin at 7:17 PM on February 17, 2012

Congrats on the new job, and welcome to the area!
posted by WowLookStars at 9:18 PM on February 19, 2012

Oh, I should also thank everyone for their help, since I can't go 'bout marking best answers . Now on to the real fun scheduling the migration.
posted by pwnguin at 7:23 AM on February 20, 2012

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