Salem is a small city located in the heart of Oregon. It’s rich with history and culture, but it also has all the modern amenities you’d expect from a big city. At the same time, it’s got great orchards, vineyards, and farms in rural areas. This makes Salem an excellent place to live if you want to experience the best of both worlds.

An Overview of Salem, Oregon

Salem, the state capital and the county seat of Marion County, straddles two counties: Polk County and Marion County. As a result, there are different property tax rates, school districts, and event schedules. 

Salem’s history dates back to the mid-1800s. In 1846, The Oregon Trail ended in Salem as opposed to where Portland is today. It didn’t take long for Salem to grow from a few hundred settlers to being the capital of Oregon from 1851 – 1855 before being moved north to Corvallis and back again in 1859.

Portland was named the state’s official city after that point, but Salem still remains a vital part of Oregon. Most notable is its status as a college town because of Willamette University and Chemeketa Community College.

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Salem also has a terrific downtown area with lots of local shops and restaurants. While it certainly isn’t as big as Portland, it offers enough unique places like these to give you a pleasant experience.

Salem has plenty of events every year that people enjoy attending. One of the most interesting ones is the Oregon State Fair which takes place around mid-August at its fairgrounds.

While in Salem, enjoy the Oregon Gardens, Riverfront Park events, attend festivals or convention center events, get tickets for the multiple theaters, and enjoy a variety of food options from casual coffee shops and cafes to chain restaurants, upscale restaurants, and fine dining.

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Education in Salem

There are multiple school districts providing public school education for students living in Salem, Oregon, and those are the Salem-Keizer School District and the Marion County School District. 

The private school options include Salem Academy Christian, Williamette Academy, and Blanchet Catholic School, among others.

Higher education is close to home in Salem, Oregon. Willamette University is one of the oldest universities in the west and was established in 1842. The school’s campus includes a historic downtown Salem main campus, a modern urban research facility, and an outdoor classroom in the forest.

Chemeketa Community College provides different programs to students through its four campuses throughout Marion County. This school has been delivering affordable education since the 1800s.

The Climate

Salem is fortunate to have a beautiful Mediterranean climate. This means it has warm, dry summers and cool but mild winters with lots of rain in the fall. There are also many sunny days throughout the year. 

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The average high temperature in July is 82 degrees, ideal for enjoying all of Salem’s outdoor activities. In the winter, the area receives about four inches of snow and 45 inches of rain. Collectively there are 152 days per year with measurable precipitation. Winter temperatures stay a touch above freezing with an average low of 35 degrees.

Public Transportation in Salem, Oregon

Salem, Oregon, has wonderful options for public transportation. The local facility is the Cherriots Transit which includes buses and trolleys that can operate throughout different parts of town or to Portland if you want an alternative commute option. 

TriMet provides regional transit options in both rural areas as well as the Portland metropolitan area. Other transportation services are also starting to appear, including Uber for carpooling, Zipcar for car renting, Car2Go for car rentals – all of which are intended to help people share rides and save on gas costs at the same time.

The nearest international airport is in Portland, Oregon, which is about an hour’s drive away.

Living in Salem, Oregon

If you’re living in the part of Salem that’s in Marion County, there’s a population of 347,818, among whom the median household income is estimated at $64,306, compared to the State median household income of $67,058. Median home values in this area are estimated at $288,700, compared to the Oregon median home value of $354,600. 

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The Polk County area is much smaller, with a population of 86,085. The median annual household income in this region is $72,914, with median home values of $332,200.


Salem is a beautiful city with plenty of things to do and see. The population is diverse, and there’s a lot to do, learn, and enjoy. Transportation options are plentiful, and the climate is ideal for outdoor activities. The public education system includes both public and private schools, while higher education opportunities include universities and colleges offering programs in health care, business, technology, design, fine arts, and more.

For more information about living in Salem, Oregon, contact your Salem real estate agent today.

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