Day 1: Oregon Scouting Visit Field Notes

Skinner Butte Overlook

Today marked Day 1 of my scouting visit of Eugene, Oregon and I’m spilling the beans all about it right here! Eugene ranked at the top of my short list of cities to move to retire because my online research showed that it has many of the desirable qualities we’re looking for in our new home.

However, it’s not enough for a place to look good in the abstract. You can’t walk around and get a feel for a place and the people who live there from reading about it or watching a video or “virtually” exploring it. It’s essential to experience a place with all your senses, to immerse yourself. You also need to have a scouting visit plan, so that you’re sure to do your due diligence.

And while scouting visits have a serious purpose – to evaluate whether a place is truly compatible with you and the lifestyle you want – that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun at the same time. In fact, it’s much better if you incorporate as much fun into the mix as possible!

I spent Day 1 of my scouting visit driving around Eugene to get the lay of the land. Here’s where I went and what I discovered:

Rose Garden - Your Place Finder

Owen Rose Garden

This free park next to the Willamette River has walking paths that wind around rows of gorgeous multi-colored rose bushes. It was so peaceful to wander around the park and sit on one of the many benches to enjoy the flowers and watch people. (It’s also where I filmed the first of what will be daily Facebook Lives of my scouting visit.) True to form, it rained a little but then the sun appeared and it was a beautiful day.

Neighborhood Driving Tour

I wanted to first get a feel for the different neighborhoods around Eugene, so I spent a good part of the day driving around downtown, Whiteacre, West Eugene, Bethel, Amazon, Friendly, South Hills, Fox Hills, Fairmont, Southeast Eugene, the University area, and even into the neighboring city of Springfield. Eugene is very easy to get around and does not have much traffic at all. I was also pleasantly surprised by how chill and easygoing Eugene drivers are. Iowa drivers tend to be in a huge hurry for some mysterious reason, tailgating and honking if you don’t go the second the light turns green. I didn’t experience any of that driving around Eugene.

Friendly Market - Your Place Finder

Friendly Market

Eugene has several large grocery store chains, including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Natural Grocers, and Safeway, as well as several independent grocery stores. Usually, the big grocery chains rule the roost, so it’s refreshing that this city is able to support such a wide variety of grocery stores. I checked out one of those neighborhood grocery stores, Friendly Market, and was completely charmed! They had an impressive (and affordable) wine selection, a deli that served breakfast and lunch, and an outdoor patio with people and dogs lounging around.

Skinner Butte View 2 - Your Place Finder

Skinner Butte Park

This hilltop park offers a birds-eye view of Eugene. The winding road up the hill was on the narrow side, but it was totally worth it. Eugene does not have much of a skyline. There are no tall buildings, so the city kind of spreads out before you. But it’s very picturesque. The city sits in a beautiful valley with hills on all sides and lots of tall, stately trees.

Willamette Road

Willamette Road is one of the main north/south thoroughfares, so I followed it all the way out of town. I was surprised by how quickly the city ended. All of a sudden, I was cruising down a tree-lined road where I saw a giant buck. Even better, it was alive! Most of the deer in Iowa are not.

Hendricks ParkHendricks Park - Your Place Finder

Eugene has many stunning parks and, with 200-year-old fir trees, abundant walking trails and a rhododendron garden, Hendricks Park is one of them. Eugene has so many trees (although nowhere near as many as there used to be) you can actually smell them! In Iowa, you run the risk of getting a nose full of pig shit if you breathe in too deeply. But when you breathe deeply in Eugene it smells like…Christmas!

Day #2 Field Notes Up Next!

I’m super stoked to share my discoveries with you on Day 2 of my scouting visit of Eugene here!

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About the Author

I founded Your Place Finder in 2017 to help retirees and almost retirees like you anticipate and overcome the pitfalls and challenges – and reap the rich rewards – of finding the perfect location to move for retirement.


  1. Candace Berlin on Sep 20, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    I lived in a small town in Oregon when I was a teenager in the 70’s. I graduated from high school in Albany and then my family moved to Florida. It is so beautiful in Oregon but I did not care for the rainy weather so that is why I never moved back. Now the heat is unbearable in Florida so I am looking for a new place to move to!
    My sister is still in Oregon and lives in Corvallis.

    • Margaret Vandergriff on Sep 21, 2019 at 12:38 am

      Hi Candace! Thanks so much for sharing your story. You’re right, it’s so beautiful in Oregon and it also rains a LOT! I also understand wanting to escape the heat in Florida. After living with hot, humid summers for the past 25+ years, I’m ready to get away from it too! Please let me know if I can help you with your moving search in any way. That’s what I’m here for!

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