5 Pros & Cons of Living in Spokane
I’m going to cover 5 topics and the pros and the cons of each of those topics. I’m also going to give you a few of things at the end that are right in the middle and you can decide whether they’re a pro or a con for you.
Just by way of background on me, I am not a Spokane native - I’ve lived here for the past year so I have an outsiders perspective on what works in Spokane and what doesn’t work, I’ve also gotten to know the city in depth through my job and the people I’ve met along the way. So let’s get into it.
The first thing I love about Spokane is that there are endless year round activities to do. You can ski in the winter and mountain bike in the summer. There are lots of parks and green spaces around the city. There’s a ton of sports teams, basketball, football, ice hockey. There’s theaters, festivals and exhibitions happening all the time. There are amazing lakes nearby you can visit nearby like Priest Lake and Coeur d’Alene. Every neighborhood has it’s own feel so exploring the character of each neighborhood is a really cool thing to do. The Downtown area is thriving with tons of bars, restaurants and shopping. We’re also only a 4 hour drive from Seattle.
There’s so much to do in Spokane that you’ll never run out of things to keep you occupied, and that’s what I love about it but there is a downside and that can be getting to where you want to be when it’s busy.
Parking in downtown can be really tricky at times, it’s best to get to where you want to be early on so you can guarantee a parking spot.
The roads can also get busy here and are mostly one way in the downtown area meaning that you may end up missing your turn more than once unless you’re a really aggressive driver and can force your way over.
Also the city planners in Spokane seem to have gone out of their way to make no two intersections or junctions look or operate in the same way so driving here when it’s busy can be an experience. Just be patience, take your time, set off early and you’ll be fine.
If you’re going out somewhere remote you’ll have no problems. But if your weekend activity involves something in the city then get there early and you’ll also have no problems either.
2) Transport and commuting
With the I90 being the main arterial running through Spokane you can get to where you need to be extremely quickly. Most journeys for me, and this is coming from someone who travels all over the city showing properties regularly, take between 10-20 minutes.
There’s also a great public transport system in Spokane. So if you work at the Air Force base which is on the far West of the city you could theoretically commute on public transport from Liberty Lake which is right out East. I say theoretically just to prove a point. If you’re moving here to work at Fairchild please live closer to the base, especially if you’re going to be using public transport - that does not sound like a commute I’d want to do twice a day.
There is also an Amtrak line running through Spokane which can take you do Seattle, Portland and even Northern California for those that don’t like flying.
Although the roads will take you to where you want to be quickly the city does seem to be slow at fixing and maintaining road surfaces in some area. The city has recently launched an initiative to stop people using studded snow tires in winter to stop the roads wearing down as quickly but there’s only so much this will help.
Unless you live and work in Downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods you’ll probably be driving most places rather than walking. There are also relatively few cycle lanes in Spokane and the one way systems in a lot of areas can be pretty intimidating for cyclists if for example you needed to move across 4 lanes of 1 way traffic. I would love to see move cycle routes throughout Spokane and with such an active population i have no doubt this will happen eventually.
3) Natural beauty
Spokane is beautiful. Look at Spokane Falls right in the heart of downtown. Take a drive around Medical Lake. Climb Mt Spokane. In every direction Spokane is gorgeous. We have pine tree forests, huge wide open wheat fields with those little red barns and really impressive architecture in the city.
The style of homes available here is also really cool too. You’ll find an abundance on 100 year of craftsman style home, mid century ranch style homes, modern homes and everything in between.
While the weather here is on average a little warmer and a little drier than Seattle meaning you have to deal with less rains, this can have its draw backs.
For example, In order to maintain a nice yard you’ll need a good sprinkler system especially in the dry months like July.
That dryness can also cause forest fires which can effect the air quality at times so consider that if you have someone in your family who is sensitive to air quality changes.
It also snows a fair bit in winters but I must admit the city is really good at ploughing and salting the roads, especially the steep roads - look up “Freya snow pile up” on youtube and you’ll see why this is essential.
I’m from the UK so I’m used to a little bit more rain but having clear skies more often than not is nothing to complain about.
4) Food and drink
Spokane is a hipsters paradise, there are more breweries and brew pubs in Spokane than you could imagine. Each have their own unique venue and most put on events that you can sit and enjoy. It’s a great way to keep the family occupied or meet up with friends for trivia nights.
New restaurants are opening all the time and the standard of restaurant here is really high. My personal favorite is The South Hill Grill, go ahead and tell them I sent you maybe they give me a free french onion dip sandwich.
I plan on reviewing a ton of bars and restaurants on this channel so keep checking back for more content.
How can you have a downside to great food and drink?
Well the places with the best bars and restaurants tend to be the most expensive to live in. The area around Manito Park for example has a ton of great restaurants and cafes but also some of the highest home prices in Spokane. That being said when you compare those home prices to Seattle, Portland and especially the Bay Area it’s still very affordable.
Spokane is a big city with a small town vibe to it. That was the first impression I had of Spokane when I moved here.
When you dig a little deeper you’ll find that it’s not really a city at all it’s a bunch of small neighborhoods joined together, each with their own cultural, their own pace and even their own architecture. Take Browne’s Addition for example. This is a neighborhood full of grand old style mansions that have been turned into apartments. It’s got a high walkability score and tons of bars. A little ways away from that you have the Manito/Rockwood neighborhood full of craftsman style homes with neat landscaping, mature tree lined streets and beautiful parks.
There are some things wrong with Spokane though. Petty property crime is relatively high unfortunately. It would just take a quick google search to figure that out so I’d prefer you hear my take on it here.
I follow my neighborhood on the Ring app to see what’s happening in my area in terms of crime. From what I can work out a lot of these issues are crimes of opportunity and tend to take place at night. So if you keep your car locked with nothing on display and you keep your garage door shut you’ll reduce your chances of being a victim substantially.
This isn’t putting people off Spokane though. Spokane is becoming more and more popular for people seeking an active lifestyle and a lower cost of living while still wanting all the opportunities a big city has to offer.
There’s also people moving here from all over adding to the city in their own way. It’s not difficult to meet someone from a different state and someone from a different country in the same day. It’s really cool.
Other things to consider
To me weed doesn’t really register as something to be interested in but if you like smoking weed then it is legal here if you’re 21 and older so you can do it safely without a card.
For people moving from places where weed is illegal then driving past a dispensary and smelling weed might be a weird experience but it’s just something to keep in mind that might be a culture shock to you if you’ve never dealt with it before.
This is another one that could be a pro or a con depending on how you look at it. I used to live in Arizona where everything was spiky and wanted to hurt you. I owned a small dog when I lived there and was constantly worried whether he’d be attacked by a snake or a scorpion or carried away by a predatory bird or eaten by a mountain lion or a coyote.
Here in Spokane we have deer and wild Turkeys and that’s about it. Sure there are bears and bigger animals like elk that occasionally wonder into the city but from my experience for the most part they tend to stay outside the city and mind their own business.
No income tax:
There’s no income tax in the state of Washington. Factor that into an already low cost of living and this feels like a huge positive for Spokane.
However, this could can have it’s disadvantages when the county or city tries to raise revenue from elsewhere, property taxes are a little higher here than some other places but sit around the 1.2% mark. We also have sales tax are 8.9%
If you’re thinking of relocating here give me a call, send me a text, shoot me an email me and i’d be more than happy to work with you and answer any questions you may have.