Eugene/Springfield, OR
March 28, 2012 11:45 AM   Subscribe

Tell me everything there is to know about Eugene, OR and Springfield, OR. Specific questions inside.

1. What neighborhoods are walkable AND not full of drunken college kids?

2. What is the housing market and housing stock like?

3. How is the rental market for non-college-dorm-like apartments?

4. Cars: if we didn't have one, would we be able to deal?

5. Tell me everything you HATE about the city.

6. What's the deal with living in Springfield vs Eugene? Stereotypes, realities?

7. How are the schools?

8. What is it like to travel from there? Pain in the butt?
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Only thing I can help with is #8, maybe. It sits right on Interstate 5 which is the main corridor in the west. The airport sucks, and has very little flights, usually pretty expensive. You are better off driving 2 hours N to Portland for flights most of the time. Amtrak runs through there though.
posted by NotSoSimple at 12:05 PM on March 28, 2012

(All answers Eugene based unless noted)

1) Depends on what you mean by "walkable". If it's by campus, it's full of students (or soon to be with the rate the University is growing).
Jefferson Westside is pretty close to downtown/campus but far enough that the "worst" students don't make it out that far.
Most places not in the hills are reasonable close to a grocery store, etc.

2) A chunk of early century houses downtown/campus-side, mid-60s/70s in a ring around that, late 90s/00s in the far-western side and along the ridges.
The foreclosures seem to be decreasing, house prices have mostly recovered to about 6 or 7 years ago.
Lots of rentals.

3) Prices are a bit higher than most colleges towns, relatively speaking. Lots of converted houses/duplexes.
There aren't actually that many dorm-like apartments relative to the University's size, so there is a lot of competition. Still plenty of stock though.

4) Absolutely. The bus system is decent, and Eugene is very bike-friendly for the U.S.

5) Politics - There are a lot of aging hippies that like to gum up the works.
Downtown - It's blighted. Not Detroit blighted, but definitely not living up to its potential.
Panhandlers/Homeless - There are a lot of them, some can be aggressive, especially downtown.
Environment - For a city based in such a beautiful place, it's damn ugly.
Crime - Eugene PD is incredibly understaffed. Unless it's a crime in progress or violent, you're not going to see them. County Sheriff is looking at cutting down to part-time patrols (this for a county the size of Connecticut)
{Hate is a strong word for the above, but you asked}

6) Eugene - White, Progressive, white-collar. Springfield White (turning Latino), Conservative, blue-collar.
They're mostly true, but like anywhere, stereotypes don't tell the whole story.
Also, an Oregon conservative is not like a conservative most anywhere else.
Springfield is often portrayed as the "poor cousin" of Eugene.
They should really be the same city at this point.

7) In general, crap. And getting worse. We do have school choice which is nice if you can get in a good lottery.

8) EUG has a decent sized airport with a good selection of flights. Anywhere off the west coast, you are connecting. Not usually busy, ample parking, TSA is fairly relaxed. Flight are usually $50-$100 more than the comparable flight from PDX.
posted by madajb at 12:13 PM on March 28, 2012

Woohoo, someone's asking about my hometowns! :)

1. Regarding walkable, non-rowdy neighborhoods, really, pretty much anything in Eugene is OK except *immediately* (as in with 2 blocks) of the UO campus. That said, this may have changed in the 15 years I've been away, though I doubt it – the biggest "problem" areas have always been the frat houses. I lived one block away from frat row, and never really heard them, but definitely noticed their lawns decorated with beer bottles on days after. Also: stay away from the graveyard after dark. STAY. AWAY. It's well-known, and deservedly so, as a rapist hideout. Police stats support it.

2 & 3 I can't answer well since I've been away for so long. I can only speak in generalities: Eugene is cheaper than Portland, and Springfield is even cheaper than Eugene.

4. In Eugene yes, you could. It's a haven for cyclists, and there are great organic markets in the city. Lots of activities, neat little shops and such.

5. The graveyard. Autzen parking and traffic on game days. A lot of people complain about alternative lifestyles in Eugene, so if you don't know it already: it's even more alternative than San Francisco. I love that, though. Still miss it. Only in Eugene do you nominate a Slug Queen. madajb makes some good observations too.

6. Honestly, living in Springfield is pretty all right. I lived on the outskirts but many of my friends lived inside the city, and we had loads of fun playing street football, pickup baseball games and such. Parents grouped together to take turns keeping an eye on us, even if they were no relation to the kids playing around. I still have a lot of friends there, and it seems like that "family" side to it remains. However, I do have to say that most of those friends are conservative sorts; Springfield does have a more conservative, church-going side to it. THS and SHS were both strong high schools when I lived there, and still seem to be. (Notwithstanding the school shooting that happened 15 years ago at THS. I, erm, know the shooter personally – his mother was my French teacher, her daughter and I were in the same year and took classes together, I was often at their house – so I don't want to comment on that in public. Feel free to memail if that particular incident has you asking any questions about the school quality.)

Eugene is artsy, cultural, hippy, organic, Duck-supporting, engineer-geeky, outdoors-loving multitudes. More liberal than Springfield, but it too has its conservative sides, related to big businesses.

7. answered a bit already. Eugene does have great schools too. There are immersion language schools starting from kindergarten age and through to high school. But then there's me, grew up in the middle of nowhere, grad from THS and living in Nice speaking French every day, and I have friends with similar backgrounds doing great things, so, it all depends.

8. It's quite all right really. Airport, Amtrak, not as busy as PDX. And it's easier to get to Central Oregon (Bend and environs for skiing, for instance), and to less-crowded spots on the beach (Florence and its gorgeous sand dunes).
posted by fraula at 12:17 PM on March 28, 2012

8a) Eugene is right on I-5, which is a major corridor. The major downside being it is the _only_ major corridor with all that entails.
Amtrak has..4(?) trains daily, to/from Portland and then Seattle to LA.
posted by madajb at 12:20 PM on March 28, 2012

1. Every neighborhood other than West University, between campus and Willamette, is pretty much student-free. Walkable parts are pretty much any part of town close in. The further out you are, the less walkable. West Eugene, between downtown and Polk, is especially nice.

2. There is a large variety of housing available, and prices are generally falling. You can pretty much live anywhere you want, IMO.

3. There are some of those dorm-like apt. Springtree apts, on 13th and between Polk and Chambers, come to mind.

4. We have one car between us, but, yeah, you can bike for most of your transportation, and take a bus for shopping, depending on where you end up.

5. It is insular, and people who live here tend to have FAR too high an opinion of the place. I have lived here for 30 years and while it is home, I am not enamored. Politics are very polarized, but this place is small enough that it can get very personal. Very few people ride the bus that do not need to. It is sort of an "underclass" on the bus. Far more people drive than need to.

6. Springtucky is a stereotype. Springfield is generally more working class but there are some lovely sections there. D St. along the river is really nice.

7. Trying to hold their own. Funding in Oregon is abysmal, as in the rest of the country. Fewer and fewer options, but still pretty above the nationally sinking average. People are very passionate about schools here, and any time any money measure for schools comes up, Eugene passes it.

8. No public transit to the airport which sucks. Bus and train connections up the valley to Salem and Portland. The airport IS nice and pretty simple, and the price difference with PDX is coming down. I have found some flights actually cheaper than Portland.
posted by Danf at 12:20 PM on March 28, 2012

One more tidbit: Ninkasi is here in my hood. And not where YOU live. *smile*
posted by Danf at 12:23 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

In reverse order (and my husband was a grad student there, I was a "professional" - we didn't want to live in college-like craziness):

8 - not too bad. I flew in/out of Eugene's airport all the time but I'd also frequently just drive up to Portland. There is a train or a bus that you can take up that way too (though the fare difference for flying out of Eugene often seemed to be the same amount as the train or bus).

7 - Generally pretty good, especially in Eugene but budgets have tightened a lot and things can change easily. South Eugene HS is the "Big" school with lots of AP/IB classes, I have friends that moved their families to live in the Sheldon HS district (and I like lots of the families I've interacted with whose kids will go to Sheldon). Marist is private but I've heard nice thigns. I've worked with teachers at Thurston in Springfield and appreciate their dedication. As a former teacher, I really think so much of how good a school is varies from teacher to teacher and student to student.

6. Also known as "Springtucky". I didn't spend much time there and my friends in Springfield didn't want to spend much time there. More affordable. Has a bus route so even if you didn't have a car you'd be OK. Avoid living right by Gateway Mall.

5. Very liberal in town, extremely conservative (fundamentalist) out of town. Lots of homeless. Where i lived it wasn't super easy to get to the bike trails even though I really wanted to bike more. Oh, and you'll need a crap bike because it's the bike-theft capital of the USA, I believe.

4. Yes. Get a crap commuter bike, though. And plenty of rain gear for biking. And a bus pass.

3. I lived sort of near the mall - google map Pool St and Country Club Road. While there were students up there, they were generally older and def. more families. From there we could walk to the mall/movies or get on a bike path pretty easily. Rent was affordable and space OK. Most of my friends were couples who rented houses or decent apartments and no one was unhappy with their options. Well, except the couple in Springfield... Of my friends that bought, several bought near Cal Young MS (which feeds to Sheldon).

2. Didn't even look.

1. Look in the hills in South Eugene, avoid Whitaker and right around campus and there are some decent places near Autzen but they get pretty full of undergrads.
posted by adorap0621 at 12:45 PM on March 28, 2012

Downtown Springfield is less conservative than plenty of areas of Eugene - the stereotypes aren't necessarily wrong - they just don't follow the geographical town borders. I've lived there since 2005 (after being in eugene for 10+ years before that), and I think the only political signs I saw in my neighborhood in 2008 were Obama signs. We had a successful downtown farmers market, and now NEDCO has purchased an old church to do a year round market. There's a thai restaurant and a nice coffee shop.

I lived in Jefferson-Westside before - the walkability is better, in that there is more to walk to, but my experience was that the crime was worse, and of course the houses are (were?) significantly more expensive.

The ride-ability of Downtown Springfield is good, because we have that nice West D connector to the bike path system, and within the downtown the roads are wide and have fairly low traffic density.

There's also great public transit that can take you to campus & downtown eugene on a bus with mostly dedicated lanes that runs every 15(?) minutes.

To get a sense of what riding a bike around the greater Eugene area is like, there is no better source than our local bike blogger, eugenebicyclist.
posted by kevin is... at 1:54 PM on March 28, 2012

I live (and work) in Springfield and choose that deliberately over Eugene. Mrs Bartonlong is PhD candidate at the U of O. Housing is affordable by the traditional measure of the median price is just under 3 times the median salary. You can get livable cheap apartments for between 5 and 600 hundred for a two bedroom. For this you will get a smallish apartment with shared parking, maybe a laundry room, on a bus route and no other amenities. The market goes up from there. The best thing to happen to public transit here is a rollout of a bus rapid transit (BRT) system. It makes commuting to the U of O from downtown Springfield really, really easy and just a little slower than driving. Parking at the U of O or downtown Eugene is tough so we just ride the bus. The BRT added another line from downtown Springfield to the Springfield Mall and the new Hospital. If you live within walking distance of either line you can get everywhere you need to go on it (except maybe work) within 20 minutes. Since this has rolled out I see a LOT of professionals and such riding it since it is so much more convenient. Check out the Lane Transit District website for where the routes are laid out.

To talk about Springfield Vs Eugene. The towns are pretty much intertwined and not a lot of differences for the average resident. How the towns approach the role of government is very different.

The police force here is understaffed all over. This is a legacy of frozen property taxes and no state sales tax. However Springfield passed a bond measure that allowed us to build a jail and staff our courts adequately. This means criminals actually do time here, unlike the rest of the county and as such we have less property and petty crime. Stuff like vehicle break ins and graffiti have gone way down here since the jail opened. It still happens but not regularly. Violent crime in general is pretty rare and almost always criminal on criminal. Eugene PD seems kinda heavy handed and trigger happy, but this is a result of dealing with the aggressive homeless problem in downtown Eugene. It is bad enough that it keeps people out of downtown Eugene.

Like every town Springfield has good and bad neighborhoods. We also have a lot of county islands that stubbornly refuse to annex despite better services (taxes are almost the same due to measure 5-Google that one) because of weird, old people who believe the city wants to run their lives. In general the annexed urban areas here are pretty liberal and the county islands are pretty conservative (as in the current political ideologies-it is our version of segregation and government finances show it). We also have a very strong Urban Growth Boundary here (once again Google) that really shapes development-not much sprawl around here, at least compared to Arizona (where I moved from).

The housing stock varies- a lot. I live in the historic district and have a 100 year old house in pretty good shape, so do my neighbors. There are lots of older homes in bad shape though and the biggest stock is from the 1960s to the 1980's. A lot of the affordable homes are in pretty good shape but have not been updated at all. Like harvest gold and avocado color palettes kinda outdated. But fixing that stuff is pretty easy really.

The thing I HATE about the cities (and state government) is the progressive-politically correct is the only possible way attitude from the aging hippies and hipsters. It actively gets in the way of solving problems. In general if the development/solution/whatever doesn't hit all the modern progressive utopia ideals it gets held up forever in the courts. Eugene is especially bad about this and maybe worse than Portland. People will oppose things like a new bus line that might improve things for a lot of people because it doesn't improve things for everyone, especially the 'underprivileged'-of which the definition changes to suit the liberal/progressive need to oppose whatever solution is offered. This is why the Hospital is in Springfield now and not Eugene. The flip-side of this is the old timers still around that oppose anything that is new, although I think that this is true all over the US as the baby boomers age and the country is turning into something they don't recognize (we had some tea party rallies here and the occupy group turned into a homeless camp with beatings (to death) and really ripped up a very nice local park).

The airport here is awesome. You can show up for a flight about 30 minutes before departure, get parked and make your flight. The flights might be more expensive than Portland but by the time you pay for gas and parking you are ahead by flying from here. The other people are right on about the road network from here-we are the central hub for the state.

My nephew gets along without a car. He would get along better if he didn't insist on looking like a hipster and wore actual rain gear when cycling. In general the climate is almost always above freezing, but wet for about 8 months a year from Halloween too memorial day-so be prepared for no car and the climate. Lots and Lots of people get along without a car here quite well.
posted by bartonlong at 4:21 PM on March 28, 2012

We love the area at the south nd of river road. Easy bike path access, ten minutes in bike to downtown or the mall, 20 to the university. Great walking and biking town. Reasonable housing costs, we like flying out of the airport here when it's reasonably priced. Amtrak and I5 make getting out of town simple, plus you have the whole perk of an hour to the ocean one way and mountains the other.
posted by purenitrous at 9:11 PM on March 29, 2012

« Older microwaved   |   Artsy people: what would you tell your 17-year-old... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.