Some 30 years ago, Bob Serra, a newly minted reporter from Chicago, came to Florence, Oregon, looking for work. Small-town newspaper posts usually make short-lived stepping stones, but Bob landed a job and he's still here. Now editor of the Siuslaw News, he stayed for one simple reason: "You don't leave paradise."
At the mouth of the Siuslaw River on the central Oregon coast, Florence sits at the northern end of a 48-mile-long swath of sand dunes, most of which is within the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Heceta Head, also undeveloped, looms north of town. The river's green valley stretches east into the forested Coast Range foothills.
This setting is what residents love about their town. Sher Rosenberg, owner of Old Town Realty, discovered Florence on a property-seeking visit to inland Oregon with her mother. They decided to kill some time at the coast, and after spending the night, rose to "one of those jaw-dropping days," Sher says. Florence has been their home ever since.
The size of the town, where everyone knows everyone and personal involvement can really make a difference in the quality of life, is perfect for some. Sher says it's all about the fit: "Do you want to hike [every day] and still find new places? Do you want to garden? Do you want to walk on the beach?" In Florence, she says, you can have it all.
For more info, visit florenceoregon.net.
(published May 2007)