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Bend is an artsy resort community in the high Oregon desert just east of the Cascade Range and the Mount Bachelor ski area. To Oregon, it is what Aspen is to Colorado or Truckee/Lake Tahoe is to California: with a fairly upscale clientele, several nearby resort communities, and an attractive small downtown. Quite obviously Bend has been discovered for its recreation opportunities, climate and small town atmosphere, and has grown rapidly as a retreat for retirees, young people, and self-employed or small business workers with only occasional need for a bigger city. This rapid growth aggravates the downsides of increasing living and housing costs and has brought some areas of unattractive sprawl.
The private industry base is fairly small and jobs outside of the public sector or tourist industry are hard to find; that said, overall job growth projections are strong. The 160-mile drive to Portland is difficult, particularly in winter. But for now, Bend remains a highly desirable and relatively affordable address by West Coast standards.
Bend is in a very attractive setting located at the western edge of the high plateau area that comprises much of central Oregon. The Cascade Range lies just west. Bend sits at the transition between coniferous forest and a high sagebrush desert, with several broad creek valleys moving west from the town into the mountains. The climate is semi-arid with an abundance of sunshine and a wide range between daytime and nighttime temperatures. Moisture approaching from the west, mainly in winter is blocked by mountains but some gets through creating variable but generally pleasant winter weather. Cold, dry snaps may arrive from the inland north. Summer thundershowers and occasional winter rain and snows provide most of the moisture. Snow cover is generally light but much heavier to the west in the mountains.
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