Corvallis, Oregon, is the home of Oregon State University and the Oregon State Beavers. Just an hour and a half away from Portland, Oregon, and an hour’s drive from the beach, this college town has something to interest just about everyone. University students and their families flock here, and many of those families will enjoy it so much that they’ll wonder what it would be like to just move in and stay!
Unfortunately, real life can counteract a lot of charm. High prices, surprisingly high crime rates, and endless grey days are a deterrent for potential newcomers. Even Beaver Fever, the passion for the University’s mascot and sports teams, can’t overpower the downsides for everyone. Keep reading below to learn more about 17 reasons not to move to Corvallis, Oregon!
1. Housing Prices are Brutal
The rising cost of rent and housing is a hot new topic of conversation across the United States, but it’s been a concern for Oregon for many years. Housing in Corvallis is 63.6% more expensive than the United States average. The average rent for an apartment in Corvallis, Oregon, is $1,556 a month. Expensive right?!
If those prices made you cringe, back away now. Housing trends aren’t making the future look any brighter.
When so many Corvallis residents are college students, and the overall cost of living is also high, these kinds of housing costs are especially brutal. You’re paying a big-city rent without many of the advantages offered by an actual bigger city. The rent in Corvallis is just a little less than in Portland, Oregon.
2. You’ll Plan Your Life Around The College Schedule, Even if You’re not a Student
If you’ve ever lived in a college town, you’ll understand the struggle of the EggPocalypse. Grocery stores are wiped out at the beginning of every semester. You’ll practically have to fistfight a student for the last package of microwave burritos. If you don’t remember to buy milk a day or two before move-in, you’re not going to get milk for the next week unless you splurge at the expensive grocery store. Brace yourself.
At the other end of the semester, you’d better schedule your spring cleaning around when you’ll be able to buy totes and cleaning supplies because they will be gone. You’ll also need to watch out for restaurant or hotel reservations around Graduation Day.
Traffic happens not just at the end of the workday, but whenever classes are let out. 9:30, 11:00, 12:30, 1:45, and other random intervals will block off key crosswalks and roads. If you know this is an issue, you’ll find yourself stalling your lunch break so you can avoid the students playing chicken with your car.
Some of your favorite little restaurants and stores might close during the summer when students are gone and staffing isn’t available. If they don’t close, lines and wait times can be unexpectedly short or long. It’s a weird experience.
3. The University Takes Up Too Much Space
Oregon State University is a sprawling type of school. While this leads to interesting architecture and a less concentrated student body, it also means that you’re going to have to drive around a giant chunk of the city if you want to reach any other services. Students also occupy a lot of the available apartments, take up entry-level jobs, and generally fill much of the community space. You will be very aware you live in a college town.
4. College Students are Everywhere at all Times
If you’re not a fan of college students, or of young adults and older teens in general, you’re not going to love the environment in Corvallis. It is a college town, so it is full of college students.
This becomes a problem on holidays, weekends, school breaks, and mealtimes. If you want to go to a bar or make a quick stop at McDonald’s, the crowd can be overwhelming.
College students are also not known for making the best impulse decisions. If you’re driving by student housing or college buildings, keep an eye out for reckless students running into the road.
5. Air Conditioning is Surprisingly Rare
Oregon is historically cool, and even cold for much of the year, so air conditioning has not been a high priority until recent construction. Unfortunately, rising global temperatures mean many apartments and homes are becoming increasingly uncomfortable in the summer months. You may need to purchase an air conditioning unit to put in your window or move room-to-room if this is the case for the housing you’re considering.
6. The Homeless Population can be Overwhelming
Corvallis has a large homeless population that isn’t going anywhere soon. In spite of repeated attempts by the city and activist groups to help the people and communities involved, homeless camps and related crimes are getting bigger, not smaller. Clashes with city officials over periodic cleanups of the camps are frequent. Property crimes, drug crimes, and theft are all connected to this issue.
7. There’s Not Many Children
Of all the 20 largest cities in Oregon, Corvallis has the lowest percentage of children compared to the general population. Many of the city’s residents are young, child-free, or their children are already grown. While this might appeal to some people, especially those who fall into the above categories themselves, it can be rough for any families that do have children.
Playgroups, playdates, and public social opportunities are sparse for children. Parents might miss having other parents and families to chat with at the park. If you have children yourself, try making connections with online or school groups before you move to the city so you don’t feel quite so alone.
8. It Can Feel Snooty in Residential Areas
If you’re not used to paying more than $15 a meal, visiting food trucks, going to farmers’ markets, recycling everything, or talking to total strangers about crystals, you’re in for a shock when you come to Corvallis. Everything from grocery shopping to home buying can feel a little judgemental and expensive.
9. Political Beliefs can be Extreme Opposites
In Corvallis and the surrounding towns, you’ll run into a lot of political extremes that do not like each other. A lot of people belong to the Green Party or other more libertarian views, some people are very liberal, and some people are extremely right-wing. Corvallis does tend to lean a little more towards Democratic votes, but there are plenty of disagreements.
Whatever your personal political beliefs are, you’re bound to find some vocal people to argue with.
10. Smoke From Other States can Drift to Corvallis
Wildfire season is particularly rough on the west coast, and Corvallis isn’t the exception. The wildfires in 2020 made Corvallis look orange all day long. If you have asthma, consider this fair warning.
11. There’s Little Relief for Seasonal Depression
Seasonal depression doesn’t hit everyone, but it can wreck you if it does. Long wet seasons, cloudy skies, and a grey tinge to the entire world start to mess with your head. There’s really no way to fully explain this phenomenon to someone who’s come from a sunny state until they’ve experienced it, and by that time they’re usually fully immersed.
Seasonal depression doesn’t fully let up until the sun is back. In Corvallis, the sun is noncommital. You’ll need to fight the gloomy days with houseplants, fresh flowers, Vitamin D supplements, daylight lamps, and possibly even prescription antidepressants. If you don’t, that seasonal mood change can turn into a year-round event.
12. Flooding is Always a Risk
Corvallis is vulnerable to flooding and has flooded in the past. Even a typical few days of rain leaves massive puddles and muddy spots in the street that make walking a challenge.
If you’re looking at moving to Corvallis, check out the local flood maps and historic flooding issues before you buy your home. Get an inspection to make sure no previous water damage has happened in the attic or crawl space of your potential new home. Even if you’re renting an apartment, you should check things out to make sure you’re not going to be on the line for water damage from windows, doors, or sewers.
If you’re from an area that doesn’t flood, check out the safety rules for areas that do flood. Don’t try to drive over a road with water on it, and don’t cause more problems for yourself because you didn’t know how water works.
13. There are Many, Many Rainy Days
It rains a lot in Corvallis. This might seem obvious since Corvallis is in the Pacific Northwest, but it needs to be emphasized for people who don’t understand the impact of that many rainy days.
The humidity is constant. If you have frizzy or curly hair, you’ll never get it straight again. Mildew can invade corners of your house that you didn’t know existed. Food will spoil outside of the fridge that wouldn’t even be a concern in dryer states. Everything will be slightly damp at all times if you don’t keep a close eye on it.
You can’t go lay on the grass and enjoy some sun. You can’t take full advantage of solar power. There are lots of challenges that come with living in a rainy area beyond seasonal depression, even if that’s one of the more serious concerns.
You can adjust eventually, but it helps if you’re prepared for what you’re getting into.
14. Your Degree Won’t be Special
Corvallis has a highly educated population. While this is good in many aspects, it means that your degree won’t stand out to potential employers. This can be frustrating to people coming from less-educated areas where they felt their effort meant more.
If you have a high-demand degree like social work, you’ll still be able to get a job easily. If you have a degree with more competition, you may have to settle for a job you dislike until a better opportunity opens up.
15. You Can’t Pump Your Own Gas
While this might seem like a pettier entry than other items on this list, it is a real annoyance for some people. Not being able to pump your own gas means that sometimes you’re waiting in long lines, waiting on an attendant, or you just might feel uncomfortable not doing something you’re used to doing.
16. You’re Just Barely too Far Away From Portland for an Easy Drive
Portland is a big city that was built to be a small city. It already can’t handle the traffic issues that pop up there. From Corvallis, the drive to bigger cities like Portland and Eugene is an hour and a half in perfect conditions, which you will rarely see, and significantly longer if you want to get in or out during high-traffic times of the day.
This limits your access to high-quality medical specialty care, stores you can only get in Portland, restaurants worth high prices, and affordable airfare. Yes, Corvallis has its own regional airline, but flights can be hundreds of dollars more than just flying to Portland and driving out to Corvallis.
You’re not far enough away from Portland for most people to feel comfortable staying the night. You’re just barely too far away for it to be convenient. As someone who’s made the drive, it’s just far enough away to be annoying.
17. Crime Ratings are Bad, Especially for Theft
Corvallis looks like a cute, safe, mild college town. In many ways, it is! The crime rate is not one of those ways.
CrimeGrade.org rates Corvallis with an “F” grade. It doesn’t take a professional to recognize that that is a failing grade in safety. While much of the crime is property crime, violent crimes are also a continuing problem that should be a concern for families looking to move here. Check out the location of your potential home on crime maps before committing to the purchase, and consider choosing something else if you find it’s in the red.
On the bright side, animal cruelty is low!