My name is Tanner Allen and I have lived in Medford, Oregon since I was two years old. Though I am now 21 and am at college, I still consider Medford home and love the city. But as all cities do, there are certain things which can make it difficult to live there.
I have asked friends from my hometown over social media platforms to send me responses and to share my post with other locals to get a large response to this question. In addition, I have talked to a few individuals personally.
1) Rain Season
If you aren’t used to raining then something good to know is that Oregon is naturally wet. In southern Oregon, the rain is not as bad as up north but it can still be more than some are used to. It can go days or weeks sometimes without a let-up.
The highest concentration of rain in Medford is spring, from March to April, and autumn, from late September to early November. Of course, the rain occurs throughout the rest of the year as well, giving an average of eighteen and a half inches a year.
2) Gas Attendants
In many states, gas is a self-service. You pull up to the gas station and you simply get out of your car and fill up. But in Medford and Oregon in general this is not allowed, in fact, it is illegal except for specified criteria.
This can be bothersome to those moving from out of state, becoming irritating to have to wait for others to fill up their car, especially when they know how to work the gas pump.
Due to the increase of retired couples seeking a nice place to live and lack of home availability the town of Medford and feel crowding.
It isn’t growing fast enough for its own population growth, giving it a feel of a large city, but without the same possibilities.
4) Not Enough Shopping Opportunities
Medford is a great place to live, but it doesn’t have the greatest opportunities for some things, including shopping. Though Medford is expanding rather quickly it still has many high brand names that are not available.
This can be difficult for those who live in Medford, either requiring them to ship items from bigger companies, dealing with additional costs. Or they have to travel to have the opportunities that they want.
5) Expensive Housing
One of the first things that someone mentioned to me, which is difficult with living in Medford is the price of housing. It can be very expensive to live in Medford.
The average cost for a simple three-room two-bath apartment can range from $1000 a month to $2000 a month. This can be burdensome to new people coming to live in the area. If you are seeking to purchase a home, there won’t be many options that are below $250k.
Housing can be very expensive due to fact that many people from California move to the area.
Housing is cheaper than California, and those moving to Medford will pay cash for housing, seeing it as hardly an issue. This boosts the price of the housing substantially and makes it more difficult for those who live in the area.
6) Hard to Find Somewhere to Live
Even though housing is so expensive it can be difficult to find places to live in Medford. Many people move in and the housing market is very competitive.
It also doesn’t help that there was a recent fire that came through making this even more difficult as those who lost their homes due to the fire moved into the city of Medford.
This reduced the availability of housing to even less than it was.
7) Income Tax/State Taxes
Despite Oregon not have a sales tax, which is a huge plus, there are higher state taxes including income taxes. The sales tax is actually better for those who are out of state.
Many people from California will come to Medford for big purchases to avoid sales tax, which creates stress on the economy. To combat this, the taxes in other areas are increased quite a bit.
8) Fire Season
I think one of the greatest issues with living in Medford stems from a season that can be difficult to live with. For almost every summer that I can remember in the last 10 years, there has been a serious problem with smoke from wildfires.
Wildfires destroy an average of 650 thousand acres in southern Oregon per year. The fires produce a vast amount of toxic smoke that settles into valleys and can linger for months at a time. This is because of the lack of airflow coming into the valley itself.
I remember one summer we were told to stay indoors for weeks at a time, with claims of 15 minutes outside would equate to smoking a pack of cigarettes. Sports teams were prohibited from outdoor practices, summer activities were put on hold and even canceled and the smoke lasted for the first couple weeks of school.
But despite this bothersome natural occurrence the smoke always disappears and in some years is hardly a problem. I was home from school this last summer and there were no smoke problems all summer. That is until the fire destroyed the homes and belongings of those in surrounding areas.
9) Cannabis Farms
With the legalization of pot farms, the valley itself can come to smell during the growing season. Cannabis growing season ranges from May to August, and harvest is usually in September. During the summer the smell can be bothersome to some.
This was a response that I got from one of my friends from high school:
“Growing up in the rogue valley, there were beautiful orchards and vineyards anywhere you drove. Now, whenever I’m driving home, 75% of those have turned into weed/hemp farms. Summers used to be fun, but now it’s hard to spend time outside because of the harvest season. The smell is so bad from all the weed, it’s hard to be outside at all.”Anna Johnson
10) Schools are Too Crowded/Lack of Teachers
Due to the large area of Medford in ratio to the surrounding towns in southern Oregon. Plus the difficulty in finding housing and housing costs, schools often have too many students and not enough teachers.
Teachers make on average 55 thousand a year which can be difficult for teachers to want to teach in Medford. With many children being born to current residents who won’t move, the schools become crowded very quickly.
This can prove difficult for children to have personalized experiences with their teachers. But the city is making progress in providing new methods to combat this, creating a third middle school that moves 6th graders into middle school.
11) Isolated Sports Teams
Because of the size of the students, school sports teams are often much bigger than the surrounding towns. This often results in the bigger high schools, namely North and South Medford to play much smaller teams, and in consequence not as good.
This also leads to those teams having to travel long distances to play better teams. Many teams aren’t willing to come to Medford, so Medford will go to them, sometimes traveling all the way to Portland for sporting events.
12) Isolated Town
As was just mentioned, Medford is isolated a little, standing as an in-between town, not quite fitting into the area in which it sits, but not a major town, such as Portland.
Medford has many opportunities in many areas but lacks that which large cities provide. Much of the town has a small-town feel, having a sense of community, but loses out on much because it is isolated from its surrounding areas.
Medford Oregon sits nearly dead center on Interstate 5. I-5 is the highway that runs from the Mexico California border all the way to Canada. This interstate brings a lot of traffic through many cities and is the major path when heading north or south in California, Oregon, and Washington.
Medford then automatically becomes a place for others to stop, which can be good, but due to some attractions and towns, there can often be overcrowding during some times of the year.
For one, about half an hour south of Medford there is a town called Ashland which despite its rustic looks and eccentric residents, becomes a spot of high tourism through much of the year. This is due to the Shakespeare Festival which is put on each year.
The Shakespeare Festival is eight and a half months of plays put on and is world-renowned. The festival brings hundreds if not thousands of people to the city of Ashland, and correspondingly to Medford as it is the largest town within any reasonable distance.
Another town just outside of Medford is the historic town of Jacksonville Oregon. Sitting at just under 3000 in population it is known for its role in the gold rush and holds to its own festivals which can double its population at times.
These towns and the events that they put on bring many tourists to the town of Medford and can be bothersome for those who live there, throwing off traffic, daily schedule, and even work hours.
So people come from all around and it’s not just because we have the only Costco within a hundred-mile radius.
But Costco can be found in many places, something that is unique to Medford which also increases tourism is Harry and David. This company known for its quality goods produced by local orchards and farms provides a unique heritage to the city of Medford.
14) Job Opportunities
Medford sits in a limbo state of not quite being a big city but dealing with the population of one. This means that many people, who need jobs cannot find one. It creates a problem with employment opportunities.
Also, there aren’t any major or big corporations that help stabilize the job economy in Medford.
This creates even less opportunity for those moving in to find solid careers. But a good way to make it in Medford is to create a business. Medford does a great job at supporting local small businesses.
15) Problems with Drugs
Due to the lack of jobs, and the legalization, and now decriminalization of most drugs, the drug cartel has increased a lot. It has been a problem in the past but has increased by a substantial amount.
This problem is hard to suppress and can be difficult to handle. But the mindest in Medford starts young because of its evident presence. My brother shared this with me:
“I can think of at least 10 kids my age that decided that drinking/smoking was the way to make it in life. They had no dream to fulfill. Not future. Not because they were unintelligent. But, they had no self-care nor self-love and both were demonstrated by how they treated others poorly. I cannot speak for all of Medford but this was my experience throughout high school. Great kids chose the path of failure before they even had a chance.”Andrew Allen
Due to the early influence of drugs and criminal actions, gangs are a strong influence in certain areas of the city of Medford. In fact, one of the middle schools, McLoughlin middle school, is surrounded by neighborhoods that can be thriving in gangs.
But many gang members actually are pretty mild in most areas of the city and don’t have much influence.
This is due to the small size of the town, not creating enough diversity to have gangs be a huge problem in a lot of the town.
Due to the problem with unemployment, drugs, and gangs, there is a large problem with homelessness. They find many places to be, and despite the programs provided by the city they aren’t getting better.
Due to the highway access, the leniency in drug and criminal punishments, and untamed lands can provide excellent areas for these people without homes.Robert Lindbloom
Medford is a fabulous place to live, with great community members and amazing opportunities. I was talking to one of my life mentors who has lived in Medford for thirty plus years about this article and he said this to me:
“I don’t like hearing those things! My son is coming back to join my practice this summer and I’m hoping my other son will join us in another year. I don’t like hearing reasons not to live here.”Peter Grant
My response to him was that it was actually really hard to write this post because I love Medford so much. It really is a great place to live. It has great things to learn and fun opportunities. But of course, there are things which aren’t so good about it.
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