Reading some of these replies, I wonder which Salem they live in, because we've been here for about six years and love it. There may be a meth problem, but tell me one city in the US that doesn't have one?
I'm looking out my window a dusting of snow which fell over the weekend. The four seasons each have their beauty which makes Salem so lovely - mild (but admittedly sometimes wet) winters, the bulbs and blossoms in spring, warm summers for swimming in the lakes and rivers, not to mention the gorgeous fall colors!
As for "nothing to do", we are always busy around here. It's about an hour to the coast for romping on the beach, or an hour up to the mountains for fishing (lots of fishing), skiing and snowboarding in the winter, motorcycling during the warmer times of the year. There are festivals at the parks, Soapbox derby, carosels, museums - the list goes on.
There are about four major areas - South Salem, West Salem, Keize and North East salem. Of the four, stay away from NE Salem. That's where most of the bad rap comes from. If someone says that Salem has a lot of gang activity or meth problems, then they usually live in the NE. Otherwise Keizer is great for raising kids, NW is nice but has only one main bridge which gets a bit congested during rush-hour, unless you want to go 20 miles to the north or 12 miles to the south to get accross the Willamette river.
We live in South Salem which is more "laid" backbut more expensive. We just got a Trader Joe's last year a couple of blocks from our house, and there are plenty of stores along Commercial street for shopping, gas or fast food.
Salem schools, actually most of Oregon schools, are very good. It depends which schools (elemetary, middle or high) you're asking about. Sumpter & Pringle always top out in reviews, Judson middle also good, with South Salem High or Sprague getting national awards yearly.
Higher education has Chemetka community college, Willamette University, Western Oregon University, not to mention the two other small ones - Oregon State and University of Oregon which you may have heard one before.
Bottom line - if you have a family, come to Salem. You won't regret it. We don't.
Just my humble opinion.Kenneth
| Santa Barbara, CA