Why Bend Oregon?

I first moved to Bend, OR from New York City in 1994 when I was twenty-one. I came here to attend a program for kids who were struggling with becoming a functioning adult. New York City was too big, too fast, and everyone seemed to be in their own bubble, fixated only on getting from A to B. As many 21-year old’s, I was lost, and New York City was not a conducive environment for me to find myself. Moving to Bend was not a choice, rather an alternative to being kicked out of my house and cut out of my family’s life.



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It took me several months to adjust to Bend. The pace, the landscape, the people (who felt oddly friendly), and most of all, the lack of places to go and things to do. Everyone here felt so healthy and physically fit, obsessed with all the outdoor activities that Bend had to offer. Although I had spent time outdoors growing up, I would not consider myself to be an “outdoorsy” person. So, the idea of getting up early to get in some ski runs, a bike ride, or a hike before breakfast was not my jam. To this day, I am in awe of people who are passionate about outdoor recreation and though Bend continues to be a Mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, I never caught the bug. 

In 1994, there were roughly 40,000 residents, so compared to NYC, Bend felt like the middle of nowhere. My first few years in Bend were spent in and out of the program. I was dabbling in adulting, working odd jobs, and attempting to attend classes at COCC though never seeming to get to the finish line. It wasn’t until year three that something happened in my life that broke me, and every facet of my life fell apart. In hindsight it was my “rock bottom”. The moment that people talk about where you come to a fork in the road and are forced to make the decision to stay on the familiar path that is not working, or venture onto the new path that is foreign, scary, yet each step is an opportunity for change and growth. It’s what I consider to be the beginning of my “adult” life.

The next two years were spent completing the program, successfully attending classes, working at a local take-out restaurant downtown and learning how to take care of myself and my life. I had picked up the pieces and was working hard on becoming whole. This is when I first remember falling in love with Bend. A connection had been made. I was thankful for the sense of safety, the friendliness of the people, the close-knit community, and the simplicity that cradled my fall and supported my growth. To this day, when describing Bend to my clients, I still refer to it as a womb. 

I share my personal story because it’s why I decided to move back to Bend with my family ten years ago, it’s why people continue to gravitate to this city, and it’s how I answer the unending question “Why Bend, Oregon, and what is it like to live here?” There is a local saying that “people who visit Bend, never leave”, and there is so much truth to that. I often compare Bend to a modern version of a Norman Rockwell painting, or where the Cleaver family from Leave it to Beaver would live. (I know I am dating myself). People in Bend are outgoing, friendly, kind, patient, helpful, happy, and generous because they can be. There is a sense of contentment that is infectious because Bend prioritizes quality of life over everything else. 

All my clients move here because they yearn for a different life than the one they are currently living. The reasons may be different, but the constant is their desire to live in a place that feels like home. Bend is safe, nurturing, small yet progressive, aesthetically beautiful, and to me, the absolute representation of home. I have lived in seventeen different places in my life and by far, Bend is my favorite. People move here to grow, to heal, to slow down, to be more active, and reprioritize what’s important to them at this stage in their life. 

It’s been thirty years since I first stepped foot in Bend, and despite the physical growth of the city and the population, Bend still feels intimate and like home. It has been the womb where I raised my family, grew my business, and have made so many genuine friendships. From time to time I visit bigger cities to satisfy my craving for variety. Yet without fail, every time I return and step off the plane in Redmond, I take a deep breath, and am incredibly thankful to be home.

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