What Is The Cost Of Living in Salem, OR? (Taxes, Housing, & More)

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall

Salem, the capital of Oregon, is home to 174,365 people and 38 neighborhoods. The city is in the center of the Willamette Valley alongside the Willamette River. Salem is excellent for those who prefer to live in a smaller city but with opportunities for friendships and activities.

On the overall cost of living index, Salem is 101.8, lower than the state average of 113.1. However, Salem is still higher than the US average of 100. The median home value in Salem, Oregon, is $53,619, lower than the US average of $63,179.

Get ready to look at the costs of taxes, utilities, groceries, and transportation. Use these factors to determine the financial impact of moving to Salem, Oregon, on your bank account.

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Housing Costs in Salem, Oregon

Compared to national costs, Salem real estate prices are well above the national average. The population of the city is 174,365, and the median home value is $308,935. The cost of living index of housing in Salem is 122.2, and Oregon’s is 148.9.

Salem has experienced some of the highest home appreciation rates in the country in the last 10 years. The real estate appreciated 65.33%, an average of 5.16%, annually. These numbers place Salem in the top 10% nationally for real estate appreciation.

Salem is one of the highest appreciating communities in the United States for the last quarter. Furthermore, Salem’s annual appreciation rate is higher than 80% of other cities and towns in Oregon. If you are a homebuyer or real estate investor, Salem is a good long term investment.

Median Home Prices in Salem, Oregon
Home PricePercentage of Homes
$1,029,001 – $1,372,0000.9%
$686,001 – $1,029,0002.4%
$549,001 – $686,0004.0%
$412,001 – $549,00012.6%
$275,001 – $412,00032.8%
$137,001 – $275,00035.3%
$69,001 – $137,0003.9%
$0 – $69,0007.7%

Salem’s most common housing type is single-family detached homes, accounting for 59.75% of the city’s housing. Other prevalent housing types are large apartment complexes or high rise apartments, 21.59% of the city’s housing. Duplexes and small apartment buildings account for 9.53%, and mobile homes account for 5.14%.

Rental Costs in Salem, Oregon

The rental market in Salem is almost half of the city’s population, 45%. Salem’s average apartment size is 889 square feet, and the average rent is $1,110 per month. However, apartment size and rent can vary depending on the unit type, amenities, and neighborhood.

Average Rental Cost by Bedroom Size in Salem, Oregon
Housing SizeSalemSalem MetroOregonUnited States

Rental prices are typically higher in more popular neighborhoods in Salem than in less common areas. West Salem, South Gateway, and Central Area are the most sought after rental locations.

The most affordable areas in Salem are South Salem, Highland, and Northgate. In South Salem, the average rent is $845 per month. Highland and Northgate are also affordable areas where the average rent is about $850 per month.

The most expensive neighborhoods in Salem are Faye Wright, South Gateway, and Sunnyslope. In Faye Wright, the average rent can go for $1,150 per month. South Gateway will typically run someone $1,135 per month, and Sunnyscope’s average rent is $1,125 per month.

Median Rental Prices in Salem, Oregon
Rental PricePercentage of Homes
$501 – $7001%
$701 – $1,00035%
$1,001 – $1,50058%
$1,501 – $2,0005%
> $2,0001%

Tax Rates in Salem, Oregon

There are five states in the nation that levies no sales or use tax, and Oregon is one. Though there is no state sales tax in Oregon, the state has the highest tax rates.

Personal income and corporate excise taxes support the state government, and property taxes support the local governments and schools. Oregon’s government receipts of personal income and corporate excise taxes contribute to the state’s General Fund Budget. Oregon state law controls this budget, and expenditures must balance with receipts.

The state can not operate in deficit or maintain a surplus. State law requires the return of unanticipated revenues to taxpayers. The State of Oregon does not impose motor vehicle excise taxes, business and occupation taxes, or levies on intangible property.

Salem, Oregon Income Taxes

Oregon’s tax brackets are regularly indexed for inflation and are updated yearly to reflect the cost of living changes. Oregon has four marginal tax brackets that range from 5% to 9.9%. Each marginal rate applies only to earnings within the marginal tax bracket.

In Oregon, different tax brackets apply to different filing types. If you file jointly as a married couple, there will be a wider tax bracket than someone filing individually.

Income Tax Brackets Filing Single
Tax BracketTax Rate
$0.00 +5%
$3,550.00 +7%
$8,900.00 +9%
Income Tax Brackets Married Filing Jointly
Tax BracketTax Rate
$0.00 +5%
$7,100.00 +7%
17,800.00 +9%
$250,000.00 +9.9%

Salem, Oregon Property Taxes

Oregon’s average property tax rates are 0.90%, less than the national average of 1.07%. There is no statewide property tax. Property taxes are managed and collected through individual counties and will vary drastically depending on where you live.

The property types taxed in Oregon are real estate property and personal property. Salem is in Marion County, so residents pay $19.53 per $1,000 of assessed property value. Property taxes depend on assessed values, and tax rates can fluctuate when bonds are passed or paid off.

Utility Costs in Salem, Oregon

Salem’s utility costs are 79.3 on the cost of living index, lower than the state average of 81. The city and state utility average on the cost of living index are both lower than the US average of 100.

The average utility bill in Salem is about $213 per month for a 915 square foot apartment. This includes electricity, heating, water, and garbage. Internet costs are an additional expense at about $67 per month. If you are utility-conscious, you can save money by purchasing or renting a small condo or an energy-efficient home.

Food Costs in Salem, Oregon

Salem’s food costs are more expensive than the national average, but not by much. Food costs in Salem are 100.3 on the cost of living index, Oregon is 100.4, and the US is 100.

In general, your food budget should be about 11% of your annual income, 6% for groceries, and 5% for dining out. Salem’s median income is $53,619, so your food budget should be no more than $5,900 per year.

In the table below, you can compare grocery costs in Salem, Oregon to the national average.

Comparison of Grocery Costs in Salem to National Average
ItemSalem, OregonNational AverageDifference
Ground Beef$4.89$3.9025.4% increase
Fried Chicken$1.69$1.4021.1% increase
Milk$1.93$1.961.6% decrease
Potatoes$2.01$3.1836.9% decrease
Pizza$13.09$10.3925.9% increase
Beer$10.79$9.2316.9% increase

Transportation Costs in Salem, Oregon

Transportation costs in Salem are less expensive than the state and national averages. However, the state transportation cost average of Oregon is more costly than the national average. On the cost of living index, Salem is 96.1, Oregon is 107.1, and the US is 100.1.

Salem has several public transportation options such as public busses and the Amtrak train, but most residents prefer to drive. The HUT Shuttle also transports people between Salem and the Portland International Airport, as there’s no major airport in Salem. However, in downtown Salem, it’s easy to travel by foot or bike, if you prefer.

Rideshares like Lyft and Uber are always available as well as Willamette Valley Yellow Cab. There are even bike-sharing apps such as Zagster.

Public Transportation Costs in Salem

The public bus system in Oregon is Cherriots and provides local and regional routes. Cherriots Local provides service throughout the Salem-Keizer area. The busses use clean diesel and natural compressed gas to provide a clean ride for passengers and the environment.

If you live in Marion or Polk County, the regional bus runs Monday through Saturday and has express routes. Route 45 can provide service to cities with Oregon such as Dallas, Monmouth, and Independence. Cherriots Local and Cherriots Regional have partners that will provide service to Grand Ronde, Lincoln City, and Canby.

There are full fare, youth fare, and reduced fare options for bus riders. Full fare is for those aged 19 to 59, and youth fare is for those aged 6 to 18. Reduced fare is for those aged 60 and older, people with disabilities, or Medicare cardholders.

Cherriots Local Fare Costs
Ride TypeFull FareReduced FareYouth Fare
Day Pass$3.25$1.50$1.00
30-Day Pass$45.00$22.50$10.00
Annual Pass$540.00$270.00$120.00
Cherriots Regional Fare Costs
Ride TypeFull FareReduced FareYouth Fare
Day Pass$4.50$3.00$2.00
Month Pass$60.00$30.00$20.00
Universal Month Pass$85.00$45.50$42.50

Driving Costs in Salem

Owning a vehicle in Salem, Oregon, can be expensive. The average gas prices are $3.32 per gallon, significantly higher than the national average of $2.90 per gallon. However, the commute time is relatively short throughout the city.

The average yearly car insurance in Salem is $1,550 per year, more than the state and national averages. The statewide average in Oregon is $1,463 per month, and the national average is $1,548 per month. Of course, rates always depend on age, driving history, and other indicators.

Teenage drivers in Salem have the most expensive insurance rates, but rates go down at the age of 20. Drivers in their fifties and sixties have the most affordable rates, paying on average $1,383 to $1,417 per year.

Car Insurance Rates by Age in Salem, Oregon
AgeAverage Annual Rate

Insurance rates can also vary based on marital status and gender. If you are married in Salem, you can sometimes pay about $82 less than single drivers for car insurance. Rates for those who are widowed are also less expensive than those who are single.

Gender also affects auto insurance rates as female drivers pay on average $87 more per year than male drivers.

Car Insurance Rates by Marital Status and Gender in Salem, Oregon
Marital StatusAverage Annual Rate

Related Questions

Is Salem, Oregon, safe?

Salem has a 41 per 1000 crime rate, making it one of America’s highest crime rates. The chance of becoming a victim of a property crime is 1 in 27; 1 in 251 for violent crime. More than 92% of communities in Oregon have a lower crime rate than in Salem. If you compare Salem to communities of similar populations, the crime rate is higher than the national average.

What is the weather like in Salem, Oregon?

In Salem, the summers are warm and dry, but it’s cold, wet, and mostly cloudy in the winter. Throughout the year, you can expect the temperature to vary from 35 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. You will rarely experience temperatures lower than 25 degrees Fahrenheit or higher than 96 degrees Fahrenheit.According to most, the best time of the year to visit Salem is early July to late August. This is an excellent time to experience warm-weather activities and take advantage of what the city has to offer.

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Summing it Up

As with anywhere, it’s up to you to make Salem as expensive or inexpensive as you like. Living in less popular neighborhoods can relieve some stress from your wallet. Utility costs are also much lower than in other areas in the United States.

Moving to Salem, Oregon, is a decision that is well worth it in location and quality of life.

Stacy Randall
Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

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