Salem, the capital of Oregon, is located in the Willamette Valley, right between Portland and Eugene.
It’s the largest small town in the Pacific Northwest and though many consider it a boring, slow, sleepy, and conservative city, it truly has its plus sides.
Salem is one hour from the beach, one hour from the mountains, one hour from Portland (so you can visit without having to drive the Portland rush hour every day), and one hour from Eugene.
It’s surrounded by wine country, has tons of trees and parks, great neighborhoods, and the downtown beer, wine, and restaurant scenes are getting dramatically better year over year.
There’s some good eating in downtown Salem besides your regular chain restaurants and fast-food places and the residents report that the food scene is getting increasingly better each year. It is also much less expensive, with a decent meal in an inexpensive restaurant costing only around 12$.
Salem has a Costco out by the freeway, and besides the normal Safeways, Roths, and Grocery Outlets, there’s a Natural Grocers and a Trader Joe’s. During the summer, a street is closed off twice a week in Downtown Salem for a Wednesday Farmer’s market and a Saturday street market where you can get fresh produce for less money than in most supermarkets.
The Cherriots bus system is operating through the city, taking you from the suburbs to downtown and into Keizer, Oregon. The fares are 2.50$ for a one-way ride, 3.25$ for a day pass and 45$ for 30-day pass. Though the residents claim that the transit system is also slowly improving, it is still pretty expensive for the service it offers.
Utilities are generally reasonable in Oregon and that applies to Salem, too. Of course, depending on the size of your apartment and the amount of electricity you spend, your bills could be higher or lower, but all in all – for an apartment of around 85m2, all basic utilities including electricity, gas, water, heating, cooling and garbage services, will cost you around 166$.
SPORTS & LEISURE
The parks system is beautiful in Salem. There are many parks, from neighborhood playgrounds to large parks such as Riverfront and Bush. The great thing is that all the major parks are connected by walkways throughout the city, so Salem is, in other words, perfect for outdoor exercising. A membership in a gym or a fitness club will cost you around 41$. Cinema tickets are much cheaper, however, costing only about 12$ each.
CLOTHING & SHOES
There’s a regular two-level mall in the center, surrounded by little shops and stores. Over on Lancaster, there’s a single level mall as well as lots of department stores. South on Commercial street headed out of downtown, there’s more shopping centers and stores where you can go shopping. Prices are reasonable with jeans costing around 40$ and sneakers a bit over 70$.
RENT PER MONTH
Rent prices are starting to go down slightly due to all the new apartments everywhere but, on average, they were reasonable even before that. If you want an apartment in the city center, you’ll spend around 800$ a month in rent for it while an apartment outside of the city center will be closer to 700$.
Cost of Living Averages Table for Salem, OR
|Average Restaurant Prices|
|Meal (Inexpensive Restaurant)||$12.00|
|Domestic Beer (0.5 Liter)||$5.00|
|Water (0.33 Liter)||$1.50||Average Market Prices|
|Milk (1 Liter)||$0.82|
|Loaf Bread (500g)||$2.39|
|Eggs (12)||$2.67||Average Transport Prices|
|One Way Ticket||$2.50|
|Gasoline||$1.55||Average Utilities Prices|
|Basic (Water, Electricity, Garbage, Heating, Cooling)||$146.67|
|1 min. of Prepaid Mobile Tariff Local||$0.10|
|Internet (Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)||$63.27||Average Leisure Prices|
|Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult||$41.12|
|Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour)||$6.67|
|Cinema, 1 Seat, International Release||$12.00||Average Clothing Prices|
|1 Pair of Jeans (Levis 501 Or Comparable)||$43.22|
|1 Summer Dress in a Chain Store (Zara, etc...)||$34.75|
|1 Pair of Adidas Walking Shoes (Mid-Range)||$71.88||Average Rent Prices|
|Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Center||$886.36|
|Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Center||$746.88|
|Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Center||$1512.50|
How Does the Average Person Spend Their Money in Salem, OR?
Food is definitely how the average person in Salem spends the biggest part of their salary, and this is usually the situation in most cities around the world.
An average person living in Salem and having to feed his/her family, spends the biggest amount of their money in supermarkets and grocery stores.
The next thing that draws the biggest bulk of money from the people of Salem is definitely rent and the fact that rent is behind food, usually, for an average American city, means that it’s reasonably priced.
Restaurants and transportation are also significant expenses for an average person living in Salem.
Salem, OR: Average Salary, Minimum Wage & Mortgages
The problem, when it comes to jobs in Salem, is that there are very few jobs available unless you want to work for the State.
Salem is a bureaucrat’s paradise and there’s a general lack of jobs in private sectors which means unemployment is common.
Minimum wage in Salem is around 2000$ which is definitely high enough to be able to cover all of your costs.
The average monthly net salary is around 2600$ which allows for residents of Salem to live without having to worry about their existence.
Cost of Living by City in United States
*Click the name of the city for more information.