Living and Working in Salem, OR

Salem, Oregon, USA SkylineSalem, Oregon, is the state’s capital, located in the heart of the Willamette Valley, just an hour’s drive south of Portland. Often referred to as the “Cherry City” due to its abundant cherry blossoms and thriving agricultural industry, Salem offers a unique combination of historical significance and modern appeal.

City Overview

Salem serves as the county seat of Marion County. As of the 2022 U.S. census estimates, Salem had a population of approximately 175,000 residents. Its location along the Willamette River and proximity to the Cascade Range make it an ideal destination for those who appreciate a mix of urban amenities and access to outdoor adventures.

Salem enjoys a temperate climate, with mild, wet winters and warm, dry summers. The city experiences all four seasons, offering various outdoor activities yearly. From hiking in nearby state parks to exploring the local wine country, Salem has something for everyone seeking an active lifestyle.

If you’re considering moving to Salem, you can find detailed information on the City of Salem’s official website, Travel Salem, and the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce.

Salem’s Job Market and Economy

Salem’s economy is diverse, focusing on government, agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare. As the capital of Oregon, the city is home to numerous state government agencies, making it a hub for public sector employment. Salem’s agricultural sector also benefits from the fertile Willamette Valley, which produces cherries, hops, and wine grapes.

The region’s major employers include the State of Oregon, Salem Health, Salem-Keizer School District, and Marion County. Salem also offers opportunities for those in the manufacturing, healthcare, and education sectors.

For job seekers, Salem is home to several higher education institutions, including Willamette University, a private liberal arts college known for its academic excellence and scenic campus; Corban University, a private Christian university offering a range of undergraduate and graduate programs; and Chemeketa Community College, which provides a variety of degree and certificate programs, as well as workforce development initiatives.

Resources such as the Oregon Employment Department and WorkSource Oregon are available to help you explore job opportunities in Salem and its surrounding areas. These organizations offer job listings, career support, and workforce development programs to assist your job search.

There are many paths to help you reach the career that is right for you in Oregon. Among the Oregon Employment Department’s useful tools to assist with this is a guide outlining a variety of ways to gain education, training, skills, knowledge, and abilities on the pathway to a meaningful career. The guide is particularly helpful to students and recent graduates, but contains useful information for any job seeker. To view the Oregon Employment Department webpage, please click here. To view the Oregon Careers Magazine guide, click here.

Lifestyle and Culture

Salem offers a lifestyle and culture characterized by a strong sense of community, a commitment to preserving the environment, and a thriving arts and cultural scene. While State Capitol of Oregon, Salemthe cost of living in Salem has been rising, it remains more affordable than many larger West Coast cities. In 2022, the median household income in Salem was $67,540, and the poverty rate stood at approximately 14.6%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The city’s dynamic housing market has various urban and suburban living options. According to Redfin, the average sale price in late 2023 was $425,000 and $259 per square foot. Salem boasts beautiful parks, local wineries, and a burgeoning food scene focusing on farm-to-table dining. The vibrant downtown area features theaters, museums, and art galleries, while the scenic Willamette River offers opportunities for outdoor activities such as kayaking and paddleboarding.

If you’re a culture enthusiast, the Elsinore Theatre, Hallie Ford Museum of Art, and Salem Art Association offer diverse artistic experiences. Salem’s Riverfront Park and Minto-Brown Island Park are great places to explore nature within the city.

Need to Know When Moving to Salem

If you’re considering a move to Salem, here are some essential resources to help you get started:

Utilities: Salem is served by various utility providers. Contact the following for essential services:

Transportation: Salem offers a public transportation system, Cherriots, focused on bus service. The city also promotes cycling with bike lanes and designated routes.

Government: Stay informed about city services, permits, and local regulations through the official website of the City of Salem.

Job fairs, job seeker events, and resources in Salem:

Events calendars that offer a variety of options for the whole family:

Salem blends a rich history with a commitment to sustainability and community. Whether you’re drawn to the scenic landscapes or cultural offerings, Salem provides a welcoming environment to call home.

Salem Networking Opportunities

Whether you’re a seasoned professional or new to the Salem area, networking offers invaluable opportunities to enrich your career and connect with fellow professionals. Here is a roundup of opportunities.

  • Salem Area Chamber of Commerce: This organization hosts networking events, mixers, and business expos where professionals can connect and build relationships.
  • ProSalem: Provides the forum and structure for a diversified group of experienced business people to enhance their marketing efforts. Check out their calendar of guest speakers and events. 
  • Mid-Valley Business Network: A group of local business professionals in the Salem, Oregon area with the goal of helping each other succeed.
  • Salem Capitol Connections: Provides Oregon entrepreneurs with opportunities to connect with public and private entities that lead to sustainable business relationships and opportunities.
  • Salem SHRM: An affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management, Salem SHRM provides opportunities for personal and professional development, networking, and information regarding local, state, and national legislation focused on human resources management issues. The group meets monthly and hosts events. Click here to view the calendar.
  • The Latino Business Alliance The Latino Business Alliance’s mission is to empower small businesses in financial growth while promoting engagement and visibility within the larger American economy. By building trust in both the Latino Business and Non-Latino community, we are able to bring together like-minded people with a common vision of a better Willamette Valley for all. 
  • The Technology Association of Oregon is a recognized leader in promoting and supporting the tech industry in Oregon. TAO supports entrepreneurs, creates connections within the tech community, and promotes the sharing of knowledge and expertise. There are several ways to get involved, from becoming a member to attending some of their many great events
  • Oregon Entrepreneurs Network connects entrepreneurs to a large network of peers and mentors, funding opportunities, and trainings. They host more than 100 events each year, which are open to both members and non-members. Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur launching your first startup, OEN provides the tools you need to grow your business.
  • Launch Mid-Valley is a regional collaborative unearthing resources to help launch start-ups and support growth businesses. Check out their upcoming events

Resources for Mental Health and Homelessness in Salem

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