We had various reasons for moving to Oregon, a mix of family reasons and lifestyle. We thoroughly enjoy it here and are very glad we moved to the state. However there are certainly a few things that make the place a bit quirky.
Firstly, it is one of only two states (the other being New Jersey) that don’t allow you to pump your own gas. Instead, you have to pull up and wait for an attendant to pump for you. It does mean there is a bit of a wait, but unless the station is very busy it’s not usually a big deal. The main reason for this is to provide minimum wage jobs to people who may normally struggle to hold down a job. Often the attendants are people who have previously been homeless. It’s a little bit of an odd system, but it seems to work. However sometimes when we are over in Washington, we will stop for gas just for the thrill of filling up!
Oregon is also one of only two states along with Washington that does all it’s voting by mail. Colorado also does this but apparently you are allowed there to also vote in person at an early voting polling center. In Oregon you receive your ballot a couple of weeks before election day and have until election day to post it in or drop off in the many collection locations at places such as libraries and community centers. It seems to be a pretty good system, as long as you are registered you should have the ability to vote. It shouldn’t disenfranchise the elderly, infirm and very poor who may not have the ability to travel to a polling center. Even if they can’t travel to a library they can post from home.
Thirdly, and more shamefully despite it’s current reputation, Oregon and Portland have incredibly racist pasts. The black exclusion laws of 1844 specifically banned black settlers form moving to the territory. The laws were finally repealed as late as 1926. To this day Oregon has a statistically low level of African Americans, this means that despite Portland’s reputations for being very liberal and inclusive it is very difficult sometimes for Portlanders to recognize underlying racial issues.
As everyone knows Oregon is one of 9 states that have legalized medical marijuana. Since 2014 when it became the 3rd state to legalize, pot shops have exploded. You can’t move around Portland without finding dispensaries. Taxes for the last fiscal year in Oregon was over $80M which will go to schools as well as drug/alcoholism education and outreach. Obviously we can all have opinions over legalization but the fact is at least it is now controlled and the community is benefiting from the tax revenue.
Oregon is one of 5 states without a sales tax. This means that the price you see is the price you pay. Because of this it does mean that the state income tax is high at up to 9.9%, the second highest in the country. It therefore follows that Oregon is not a great state to live in for early retirees as investment dividends are taxed the same as income. Realistically this means that our state income tax bill will actually be higher than our federal one.
We do like it here a lot but there are certainly a few oddities that take some time to get used to.