Best place to live on the West Coast with horses

Hello everyone, I’m looking for advice on where to move in the next year or two. I originally grew up near Medford Oregon and really liked the climate, but it was a little too small town and hillbilly for me. I’m currently living in Anchorage and I absolutely love the atmosphere here. The people are nice, the hiking and riding trails are incredible, and it’s a nice big city with a small town feel. Problem is, it’s almost impossible to have horses around here because it’s so expensive. One barn was offering full care board for $800 a month! That’s more than I pay for rent! My hope is to find a place on the west coast (my family is in Oregon) where I can find inexpensive pasture board, there are lots of trails for riding and hiking, and a large city is fairly close by. I’m a veterinary technician so I can work anywhere, but I would prefer somewhere that has an emergency clinic which is my specialty. Lastly, and probably the most difficult is to find somewhere that isn’t covered in mud most of the year. I was looking at Bend, but it gets even less rain than Anchorage which is pretty dry. I don’t want to spend my whole paycheck on irrigation. Is there something in between 10" in eastern Oregon and 40" in western Oregon? Thank you in advance!

Are you thinking of Pacific NW or California? Are you interested in being maybe one state east of the actual West Coast? (A friend recently moved to Idaho & loves it.)

I live in California, which is a pretty horsey state. The coastal area is very expensive, the central area is less expensive, but you can’t always see through the air. The farther south you go, the more difficult it is to find affordable boarding, or any decent boarding at all because land is so expensive.

You may want to see how you like northern California.

“One barn was offering full care board for $800 a month!That’s more than I pay for rent!”

No snark intended but if you want to live near any major city, popular horse area $600-800+++ is about the average board rate. California is a big state very diverse. From what I have read and people I have talked to and as Hermein said expect to pay at least that or there abouts. In any of the popular/desirable areas.

$800 for rent around here won’t get much. But everybody has a different idea of things and needs when it comes to boarding and housing.

800 a month is pretty average for most of the west coast. Almost anywhere in California is going to be that or more if you want a decent facility. Same with in the western washington area. Oregon can be cheaper but it is also usually not as great facilities. There are a few nice ones in the portland area but again going to be same price range. Sometimes you can find private facilities which are less money.

I keep my horse 20 mins from San Francisco and it’s $350/month for (large) pasture board with had 2x a day and it’s (usually) very dry and mud-less. However, living near SF on a vet tech salary will be a challenge - a room in a shared house can easily set you back $1500/month. A 1 bed apt or in law $1800-3500 depending on location.

Bend is great for horses but people housing is very tight. Not a lot of rentals available. I don’t really understand your "spending money on irrigation " comment.

There are some other PNWers who can chime in.

For Northern California, look outside of the Bay Area. We used to live in Nevada County and loved it. Lots of horsey people and trails and it is very pretty. Loomis Basin is a big clinic. You could look in the Loomis area and surrounds.

$800 would be super high for the Portland, OR area (unless you are in an A show barn). You could easily find a pretty nice barn for half that. Except…the Willamette Valley/I-5 corridor tends to be wet from October to April(June?) and that limits the “pasture board” situations for most boarding barns. You will have to dig for a commercial facility, close to trails, with turnout year round on pastures. That being said, anywhere from Eugene to Olympia might provide you with plenty of opportunities. Heading east of the Cascades, it is tough to find an English oriented barn in central WA, though Spokane has a few. You will find pasture situations but the care is different, too. Central OR, as Pocket Pony said, would suit you, but human habitation can be pricey and difficult to find.

I was thinking a coastal state but wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to moving further inland. Where in Idaho is your friend? I admit that I don’t know much about that area. Right now Northern California is definitely near the top of my list

I believe you that 600-800 is the norm for California, especially near big cities. However, I lived in Oregon and was paying 250 per month full board on a private facility with an indoor arena. I’m not looking for a fancy dressage or reining barn. I do mostly trail riding and would be interested in jumping lessons, but I like my horses to live out on pasture, not locked in a fancy stall. Just my preference. Several years ago I lived right outside of Salem and boarded two horses for 300 total. The barn was older but it was kept clean and the horses well cared for. I appreciate your comment but in my experience, 800 IS a lot for boarding a horse.

Prices go up. Only very rarely do they stay the same or go down. If you were to contact that old barn near Salem what do you think their prices would be? Or would they even exist any more? That’s what happens the most, they fall by the wayside or get subdivided. Which sucks.

My first re-riding trainer does summer camps only now as far as I know, it’s how she has semi-retired, and she is at Rogue River, not too wet or dry.

I know nothing about the costs, but I looked at a horse some years ago outside of Sacramento (Auburn). Beautiful country, may be more affordable than other parts of Ca.

i’m in oregon and i’d say $300 month might get you pasture board and/or self care board in places that are a reasonable (if you find a 30-45 min drive reasonable) distance from a major city (Portland, Eugene, Salem). if you want full care, arena, trails, etc. you’re going to pay more or you’re going to have to settle for not having some things, especially if you want to take lessons, etc. i ended up buying horse property to save $ on board. lol

Does your family still live near Medford?

I would give the Rogue Valley a second look. It’s grown and diversified quite a bit in recent years. Crime has also risen but I’m not aware of anywhere in Oregon where it hasn’t.

For what it’s worth, full care board at a commercial boarding facility with an indoor in the valley still runs $300-450 depending on how many amenities you want. You can find private barns for the $250-300 range. Pasture board (self care) is probably $150-250.

I have considered moving to Salem the last year and have scoped out barns. My best friend pays $300 for semi-self care at a barn with an indoor. She cleans once a day and they do everything else. Her last barn she was on pasture board for $285ish. Her horse didn’t do well being out 24/7 though.

These barns aren’t fancy but they have good care and a place to ride.

I live on the Northern California coast and the horse community here is lacking. It’s hard to get a vet, farrier, trainer, etc. Self-care board at the fairgrounds is $120 per month but you have to deal with the absolute yahoos there. I board my horse with a neighbor for $300 a month and they have a modest barn and a nice outdoor arena with good footing.

As someone who is looking for new opportunities and job growth, I’ve looked at a lot of places on the west coast and I would definitely encourage you to take a second look at Medford, or maybe the Redding/Red Bluff area.

I am de-railing this a little. Does your board in Anchorage include feed? What kind? Also, I’m wondering how much is a bale of hay and how much does it weigh? Is it Valley hay or is it imported?

This is a funny thread because I was kind of thinking about moving to Anchorage and wondering what the price of feed is. I figured the price of hay, even pellets, would be outrageous.

You are going to miss Anchorage.

For trail riding and pasture board there are many places in Northern California that could work. Redding/Red Bluff/Chico, Humboldt County, Mendocino County, other areas in the Central Valley all have potential depending on what you want in a city/town. Truth be told even the Bay Area proper has pockets of inexpensive horse boarding with trails but they tend to require waiting lists. On the other side, you might also find half leasing in a more urban space. Housing for you might be harder.

Humboldt can be a bit expensive and it is isolated to itself but it does have its own thing. Mendo is striking distance to SF or Santa Rosa but one goes less than you’d imagine. A university town might suit well and there are several.

Other cities you might consider are Boise or Salt Lake City.

Mud isn’t a direct function of annual rainfall; it’s going to depend on the land and soil types and all sorts of things. I deal with less mud here at 50" of typical rainfall than I did in Southern California with far less.

Go visit, see what works for you. Good luck.

OP–My friend lives in Twin Falls. According to her, housing is dirt cheap compared to central California, and the scenery is gorgeous.