Living along the West Coast can be appealing, but living at the coast itself is pretty expensive unless you are willing to be flexible. Coos Bay, Oregon is the most affordable coastal community along the U.S. West Coast for those who want to live along the Pacific and have those beach views on a budget.
The city of Coos Bay scores in the top 10 in Movoto’s affordability rankings for Oregon, which examined factors such as housing, utilities, food and more. It ranks number seven for housing costs. According to SmartAsset, which analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data, Coos Bay is the most affordable of the U.S. Pacific coastal communities.
The median house price in Coos Bay is $164,100. The average number of rooms in local houses is 5.7, while average property taxes calculate to $1,709. The median annual housing cost is $8,988. The median family income in Coos Bay is just under $40,000 per year, and the annual unemployment rate is 6 percent, according to the Census Bureau.
Bremerton, Washington has the second-most affordable housing on the Pacific Coast according to the SmartAsset study, with a median house price of $178,300. The median house price in Port Angeles, Washington ranked third among the Pacific coastal cities with a median house cost of $189,800. However, annual housing costs came in slightly cheaper in Port Angeles at $10,044 while in Bremerton, annual housing costs average $11,196.
Coos Bay, with about 16,000 residents, is the largest community along the Oregon coast. Once called Marshfield, it has been a major commercial center along the southern Oregon coast since it was founded in 1853. Coos Bay was renamed in 1944 because of its prominent geographic feature. The name is derived from one of the area's Native American tribes.
In the 19th century, it was home to the shipbuilding, mining and lumber industries. As those industries faded the community declined, but urban renewal efforts have brought new life to the seaside community. The city is now a health care and cultural hub for the region.
Coos Bay is located along a bay that carves a small inlet into the Oregon coastline along the Pacific Ocean. Nearby is the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, which features fishing, clamming, wildlife, birding, seals, sea lions, whale watching, cycling and four-wheel dune rides. The Umpqua Dunes are Oregon’s largest, and it is closed to vehicles, making it popular with hikers.
Flatwater kayaking is popular in the area’s local estuaries. There are also golf courses that feature spectacular ocean views. State parks surrounding Coos Bay feature botanical gardens, views of the ocean, waterfalls, sandy beaches that allow swimming, boating and hiking trails. Each September, there is a running race in memory of native son Steve Prefontaine.
The Coos Art Museum and the reopened Egyptian Theatre are just some of the local attractions that offer cultural amenities. The Coos Historical and Maritime Museum New History Center tells the story of Oregon’s south coast. The Oregon Coast Historic Railway displays vintage railroad and logging equipment.
The Oregon Coast Music Festival, which began in Coos Bay in 1978, is the longest-running music festival along the Oregon coast. This festival features music ranging from classical to jazz, folk, pop and rock.
Food is the name of the game in Coos Bay. There are many food festivals celebrating crab, clams, seafood, blackberry, cranberry and local produce. There are more than a dozen local festivals from February through December and a wine walk the first Friday of each month. There is a seafood market at the Coos Bay City Docks where local fishermen sell their freshly caught seafood.
The area has a variety of restaurants featuring not only seafood but also Asian, Mexican, Italian and German food. There are pizza restaurants and a local brewery that offers food. Many eateries feature locally grown and raised food.
Karen Gardner is a former feature editor and writer and is now a freelance writer. She looks forward to doing her family's taxes each year, and likes to write about home finances and money subjects for the rest of us.