Updated: Jul 19
So you’re thinking about moving to the Inland North West and you’re considering Spokane and Coeur d’Alene - Both are truly beautiful places to live but which one is right for you?
Separated by only 35 miles these two cities have A LOT in common.
There are, however, a few key differences you need to be aware of when it comes to Spokane vs Coeur d'Alene.
Let's discuss those key differences and take a look at:
If you're interested in the differences in the Real Estate Market, check out this post!
Let’s get into it.
THE WAY OF LIFE
Spokane is bigger and busier than CDA with a lot more going on. The downtown scene has a ton of things to do and you’re spoiled for choice in terms of bars, restaurants, and shopping. Spokane also offers an active lifestyle with access to nature in every direction as well as a vibrant urban environment too.
CDA is definitely a slower-paced, country-living kind of place so if that’s the kind of lifestyle you wish to pursue then CDA might be perfect for you.
The lake dominates the city and promotes an active, outdoorsy way of life - you’ll always find people hiking Tubbs Hill, sailing on the lake, or cycling around - so if you want a lakeside lifestyle on or near a world-class lake then CDA is for you.
The tourist industry also plays a large role in CDA and you can see this with the huge resorts along the waterfront.
The way I hear a lot of people contrast the two is that Spokane is a big city with a lot going on - business, jobs, and a busy Downtown scene - whereas CDA is more a place for leisure, recreation, and natural beauty.
Spokane has a wide range of activities and is the place to go for concerts, shows, shopping, sporting events, and the Downtown scene. If there’s a big concert or event you’ll be going to the Spokane Arena, Northern Quest Casino, the Spokane Convention Center, or other venues in Spokane. Equally, if you want to do some shopping then you’ll likely be heading there too.
So if you value having these things on your doorstep then Spokane is probably going to be the place for you. There are also a ton of outdoor activities available such as hiking, skiing, mountain biking, river activities as well as lake activities.
Coeur d'Alene is a great place to go for recreational activities. If you want to spend the day on the lake or you want to go hunting or fishing then Coeur d'Alene and the surrounding area has you covered.
The lake there is impossibly pretty and simply can’t be beaten.
When comparing Spokane and Coeur d'Alene in terms of city amenities, one of the biggest factors here is that Spokane hosts the regional Airport.
So you will need to travel to Spokane from Coeur d'Alene if you want to fly anywhere. Granted it’s not a huge distance but it is undeniably easier to live in Spokane if you fly a lot.
Next are the hospitals - the medical sector in Spokane is huge with a ton of hospitals, a VA hospital, and 2+ medical schools. People commute into Spokane regularly for health care reasons and Coeur d'Alene really just doesn’t compare on this front.
In terms of new construction Spokane is a growing city with new homes being built all the time and most importantly there’s space to do it so if you’re looking for a home ready to build or land to do it yourself then you can find it around Spokane. Coeur d'Alene is surrounded by mountains and the lake so there isn’t really much space for Coeur d'Alene to grow unless you head out of the city and move towards Rathdrum and Post Falls (which is rapidly being developed).
Spokane also has a pretty extensive public transport system with buses crisscrossing the city.
Coeur d’Alene has a limited public transport system. However, Coeur d'Alene does have much more free parking options than Spokane does - if you’ve watched any of my videos you’ll know that parking in Spokane can be tricky at the best of times.
In terms of natural beauty, it’s difficult to draw a distinction here; both places are extremely fortunate to have such amazing natural beauty. The biggest factor in Coeur d'Alene's favor is of course that big beautiful lake that draws visitors from wide and far.
Let's look at some hard facts.
Spokane and Coeur d'Alene are only 35 miles away but are obviously in different states so you are going to find two different tax rates. Now I’m not a tax expert so don’t take any of this as advice and do your own research. Remember too that these rates may change over time.
These tax rates are readily available on tax-rates.org.
WA has no income tax whereas Idaho does.
Now if you’re moving from a high-income tax state like California or New York you’re going to love either state. But if you’re looking at retiring on a fixed income then maybe 0% income tax in Spokane might be enough to sway you.
Sales tax is 8.9% in WA whereas it’s only 6% in ID. However, groceries are exempt in WA whereas they aren’t in Idaho. WA has a weird 20.5% liquor tax whereas ID doesn’t, it’s taxed at the normal 6%.
In terms of property taxes you're going to find Spokane’s property taxes are on average 1% with some variation whereas in Idaho the average is 0.6%. tax-rates.org
Lastly, if you run a business then the corporate income tax rate in Idaho is 7.6% and 0% in WA.
COST OF LIVING
I got these figures from bestplaces.net and the median home prices are way out of date so try to take these figures as showing the relative position of Spokane vs Coeur d'Alene and not as being an exact science.
The baseline with these figures is 100 which represents the US as a whole. - overall we can see that it costs 15% more to live in Coeur d'Alene than in Spokane and that Coeur d'Alene is slightly above the national average whereas Spokane is slightly below.
Housing - Median home prices are 400K (as of April 2023) in Spokane and around 525k (as of April 2023) in Coeur d'Alene - a $100K+ difference.
Food - no real difference
Utilities - no real difference
Healthcare - is significantly cheaper in Spokane and that’s probably because the medical industry in Spokane is so large with more competition. So if you’re self-employed or your employer doesn’t offer you health care then you may be better off in Spokane when it comes to paying for your own healthcare.
Transportation - this includes gas prices, insurance, maintenance, and public transport prices - 12% more in Spokane.
Spokane and Coeur d'Alene are part of the same social-ecosystem and are continuing to grow together. People travel between the two every day and both are great places to live.
If you live in one you’re almost guaranteed to spend time in the other.
Feel free to reach out with questions or if you'd like to start your search for the perfect home in the inland northwest, regardless if you choose Spokane or North Idaho.
If you'd like to learn more about Spokane vs Coeur dAlene real estate markets, check out this blog!