Southern Oregon is known for its world-class wines, whitewater rapids, and gorgeous sweeping views. Friendly communities make this an ideal region for setting down some roots and building a new custom home. Whether you want to be in bustling Medford or a smaller town with more land, the southern part of the state has much to offer both young families and people looking for the perfect place to retire. Most of the area has a rural feel, and even the larger cities have a small-town spirit with tight-knit communities and plenty of local character.
Size: 5,134 square miles
Major cities: Roseburg, Sutherlin, Winston, Reedsport
Median property value: $170,000
In the northernmost part of Southern Oregon, Douglas County extends from the Pacific coast to the Cascades and borders Josephine, Jackson, and Klamath Counties on the south. Unlike the area to the north surrounding Eugene, the county is known for being politically conservative. About a quarter of the workforce is employed in the forestry industry, which is not surprising considering that the county has about 1.8 million acres of commercial forest land. Sheep ranching and agriculture are also important to the local economy in Douglas County.
The county is home to the entire Umpqua River watershed, which provides for scenic drives, water sports, and fertile farmland throughout the area. The Umpqua Valley boasts some of the world’s best fishing, making it a popular area for fishermen and campers. Expansive vineyards also draw people to the area to enjoy both the wineries and the sweeping vistas.
There are four distinct seasons, but snowfall and freezing temperatures in winter are rare. Many retirees live in Douglas County because of the mild weather and the ability to be outdoors for much of the year. Outdoor enthusiasts are also drawn to the area for its boating, fishing, cycling, and hiking opportunities.
Roseburg, the largest city in the county, is where you can find all the major retail establishments, two hospitals, and all types of professional services. The nearest commercial airports are within two hours of the city, so professionals who travel frequently might consider locations closer to Eugene or Medford if proximity to an airport is important. Young families might also want to consider Roseburg because it has the best schools in the county.
Size: 1,642 square miles
Major cities: Grants Pass, Cave Junction
Median property value: $225,100
South of Douglas County and at the western edge of the Southern Oregon region sits Josephine County. Much like its neighboring counties, the region is known for year-round great weather, making it attractive to active families and retirees. With three major rivers (the Rogue, Applegate, and Illinois), the county has much to offer people who enjoy boating, rafting, fishing, hiking, and scenic drives. Those who prefer to spend their time away from the elements can explore the area’s wineries, breweries, and restaurants.
Take the time to visit Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve to tour the marble cave and hike the surrounding trails. This unique national treasure has both historical and geological significance and helps support the local tourism industry. Grants Pass, the largest city in the county, is rich in culture with art galleries, a variety of dining experiences, and shopping in the historic downtown district. As home to the first Dutch Bros. Coffee location, Grants Pass is guaranteed to offer you a good cup of joe. First Friday Art Nights, which highlight the work of local artists and artisans, help keep culture at the forefront year-round.
Many retirees live in the area, perhaps because the cost of living is relatively high and not as accessible to younger families. In the rural areas, agriculture and forestry support the economy, while in the larger towns many people are employed in the service industry. Available housing is limited, so this is a good area to consider new construction if you are not able to find a home that matches your needs from the options on the market. If you enjoy the rural Oregon vibe, look for land in Josephine County to build your dream home.
Size: 2,802 square miles
Major cities: Medford, Ashland, Central Point, Eagle Point, Talent
Median property value: $224,500
Jackson County is located to the east of Josephine County, right in the heart of Southern Oregon. With the region’s largest city, Medford, this area has the most to offer in terms of culture, nightlife, and different types of neighborhoods. Medford also has an airport, making it convenient for business travelers in the area. The public school systems in both Medford and Ashland are above average, drawing young families who want quality education and small-town values in a rural setting.
In Ashland, you’ll find Southern Oregon University, along with all the restaurants, coffee shops, and bookstores that support it. This town skews a bit more liberal than the other areas in Southern Oregon. Not surprisingly, the local economy is supported by educational jobs in the Ashland area, but elsewhere in Jackson County, jobs are available in healthcare, manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism. Like other areas in Southern Oregon and the Willamette Valley, this region is also known for its orchards and vineyards. The famed fruit basket purveyor Harry & David is located in Medford.
People who enjoy exercising outdoors will appreciate the Bear Creek Greenway, which runs for 21 miles between Ashland and Central Point. It’s an attraction for cyclists, skaters, and distance runners. There are four distinct seasons in the county with moderate temperatures year-round and less rainfall than other parts of the state. Those who enjoy the arts will have easy access to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland from February through October. This isn’t the only festival for which the region is known. Nearby, historic Jacksonville is home to the Britt Music & Arts Festival, an annual music festival that has been bringing well-known performers to Southern Oregon since 1963.
Size: 6,136 square miles
Major cities: Klamath Falls, Merrill, Malin
Median property value: $148,100
The easternmost region of Southern Oregon is Klamath County, the fourth-largest county in the state. With only 11 people per square mile, the region is not densely populated and has a rural feel. The largest city in the county is Klamath Falls, with about 21,000 people. The city is home to the Oregon Institute of Technology, Sky Lakes Medical Center, and Columbia Forest Products, among other manufacturers. The high desert climate provides mild temperatures all year long and 300 days of sunshine.
Although the economy was historically supported by the lumber and agriculture industries, it has now shifted primarily to healthcare, education, and manufacturing. The county is also home to Jeld-Wen windows and doors, a manufacturer that Adair Homes is proud to call a partner. Klamath County is a popular area to retire for people from both Oregon and California. Because of this, the area has been experiencing growth in the construction industry, making it an excellent time to build a new custom home in Southern Oregon.
Nature lovers flock to the county for its world-class trout fishing, bird-watching, other outdoor activities, and natural hot springs, which provide heat and energy to local communities. Crater Lake National Park is an attraction not to be missed, especially in the warmer months when there is less snow and the access roads are sure to be open. Popular outdoor activities include snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the snowy months, and cycling, hiking, and running in the warmer months. Ambitious athletes can set their sights on the high-altitude Crater Lake Marathon, which follows the rim of the crater. There are also shorter races and walking routes, but no matter which option you choose, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views.
Schedule an appointment at the Adair Homes Southern Oregon branch in Medford to learn more about how you can build a new custom home and get immediate equity with our unique process. If you’re not in the local area, give us a call at 541-879-0610 to speak with a Home Ownership Counselor today. If you’re just starting to think about building a new home, keep an eye on our events page to get notified about open houses and seminars with financial experts who will help explain the construction loans and team members available to answer all of your questions.