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Medford is historically an agricultural and timber processing center known for fruit growing (particularly its pears). More recently it has evolved as a cultural and residential crossroads between California and the Pacific Northwest. The city itself is fairly nondescript but has undergone some renewal and has a full complement of shopping and retail establishments popular with locals and Californians passing through to avoid sales tax. The timber industry is active but in long-term decline. Skiing, watersports, mountain biking, rafting, and hiking opportunities are abundant in the nearby mountains and Rogue River Valley. Ashland, 10 miles south, is a cute college town and arts community anchored by Southern Oregon State University and a renowned annual Shakespeare festival.
Ashland is particularly popular as a destination for California migrants, which has had the predictable effect on home prices, which are far higher than most of Oregon. That effect has also come to Medford and surrounding small towns but not to the same degree. High paying jobs remain scarce, and a number of migrants are retirees or self employed individuals capable of working remotely. The entire area is growing rapidly as more seek its attractive climate and surroundings and proximity to California features south and Pacific Northwest features north. It’s worth watching the long term effects of migration on costs, sprawl and air quality, but for now, the area offers an attractive mix.
The Medford area is located in a mountain valley formed by the Rogue River and one of its tributaries. The valley is mainly farmland with tree-covered foothills and mountains. Ashland is located along the ascent toward Siskiyou Summit to the south. The climate is moderate with marked seasonal characteristics. Late fall, winter, and early spring are damp, cloudy, and cool under a marine influence. The rest of the year is sunny, warm, and dry. Summer high temperatures are around 90 degrees with low humidity and nights cooled by mountain air. There are occasional hot spells with dry heat in the 100’s. The Siskiyou and Coast Range rain shadows result in relatively light annual and mostly winter rainfall. Heavy winter snowfall in the surrounding mountains provides excellent skiing, but there is little snowfall in the valley. The valley tends to fill with fog.
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