I agree with boywithacoin. I work at Salem Hospital and am very impressed with it as an organization. It’s a lot better run and safer than places I was a student in Portland. A lot of the nurses I work with did student rotations or worked in the Eugene and Springfield hospitals and prefer Salem. Some even commute from most of the way down there because they like working at Salem Hospital (I commute from Portland for similar reasons). And the hospital has lots of perks because they have to retain staff who don’t want to live in Salem. Great night shift differentials, lots of day shift positions available, LEAN, Magnet, etc.
That said, Salem is not where I would want to live. It’s the state capital and has the big prison. Lots of crime and homelessness (though better in those senses than Portland). Not a ton of “culture.” But decent cost of living and a more rural ethos, more conservative than most cities in Oregon. Not a *bad* place to live, and a 45 minute drive to Portland if you want concerts, sports games, etc.
Eugene is a college town, known for a liberal feel, hippy vibe, lots of culture, lots to do. Farther from Portland, more expensive than Salem but not insane. And again, I haven’t heard the hospitals there are horrible (nor have I personally worked in them), Salem is just exceptionally good.
I don’t think you’d go wrong either way.