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Old 11-08-2016, 02:41 PM
Location: Southwest Washington State
21,843 posts, read 14,349,419 times
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I live in Vancouver,WA which is just across the Columbia from Portland. Vancouver is not trendy or cute. But you can live in some townie neighborhoods that allow you to walk to destinations. But the best for city life is Portland, OR. Housing is more expensive, but you can have that neighborhood feel there, at many price points.

Many people from CA have moved to Van and to Portland, and the profit from the sale of their homes have allowed them to find nice housing. These residents have pushed home values up in the last few years. But there are a lot of ex Californians here.

Both Van and Portland have access to a really nice medium sized airport. Health care in both places is quite good. Weather is more changeable than in Seattle. We do get a lot of rain.

An area in the northern part of WA also gets lots of retirees. I am speaking of Sequim, WA which gets an unusual amount of sunshine. It is not terribly close to SeaTac, unfortunately. But it is a pretty area with several lavender farms, and it is close to the Olympic National Park.
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Old 01-06-2017, 02:20 PM
Location: Near Portland, Oregon
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My husband and I currently live near Portland, OR, but are also looking for a different place to semi-retire to. We need to cut expenses so we can slow down! We're also not happy with what Portland has become in the last few years. Development is out of control, traffic is frightening at all times of the day (really don't want to negotiate it when I'm 80), doctors are overbooked and too busy to care, and the weather is far from ideal. Then there's the risk of the 8-9.0 Cascadia earthquake which is overdue. I know I'll get some flack for mentioning this but I've read about it extensively and the science is solid. My husband is a biomedical scientist. I asked him to read a book I bought on the subject. He, the brilliant analytical one, was also alarmed! I lived in the Bay Area during the Loma Prieta earthquake, very scary and that was nothing compared to what's headed for the PNW. So, we're looking to get over the Cascades at least. I know there are risks everywhere in life but you can reduce them......

We need to live in the western U.S. (any western state is an option as far east as Colorado) near a major airport for family reasons, and near a college for (part time) work and cultural opportunities. Very importantly, we're looking for a nice home <300K in a friendly community.

At this point, we're thinking Spokane Valley or Liberty Lake might be our best choice. We were surprised and delighted when we first visited the area. It's green, unexpected for eastern WA! There are rivers and lakes everywhere. Downtown Spokane was vibrant with people even on a weekend. It was clean and attractive, contrary to many posts we had read. Riverfront Park and Manito Park are both gorgeous. Driving and parking was easy, no real traffic. The Spokane Intl airport is convenient, there are many universities, good medical care, a decent art/cultural scene, a growing culinary scene, etc. We love the Centennial Trail along the river. People were very friendly. And housing is really reasonable!!! We're a little hesitant about the cold snowy winters but there are trade-offs anywhere so it might be worth it. We might be getting old(er) but we're not total wimps, yet anyway! (We like to hike and kayak.)

Other places we've checked out (before reading about the Cascadia risk):

Corvallis - loved the town but housing isn't very nice in our price range.
Port Townshend and the Olympic Peninsula - No decent colleges in the area and seemed pretty isolated.
Bellingham - didn't like it as much as we thought we would. People weren't friendly, downtown was deserted on the weekend, and the university is on a hill isolated from town. Housing is also rather expensive.
Walla Walla - also didn't like it as much as we thought we would. It has a very small cute downtown and that's about it. We couldn't even find a nice park, unless we missed something.... Housing do-able but not impressive in our price range. The college is nice though and there's clearly a great sense of community in town. No good size airport nearby.

If anyone has thoughts, please don't hold back! We haven't moved yet. I'd love to hear more thoughts on Spokane, Liberty Lake, or any other place you might suggest before we commit. Anyone over 60 and loving Spokane/Liberty Lake/CDA DESPITE the cold winters???
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Old 01-06-2017, 04:37 PM
6,223 posts, read 4,718,283 times
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Originally Posted by aro55 View Post
...... I'd love to hear more thoughts on Spokane, Liberty Lake, or any other place you might suggest before we commit. Anyone over 60 and loving Spokane/Liberty Lake/CDA DESPITE the cold winters???
Winter is barely beginning. The current temp in Spokane is 18 degree, going down to 7 degrees tonight. Enough said?
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Old 01-06-2017, 06:05 PM
Location: Idaho
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Many of the wishes, ideas, concerns, questions etc. in this thread regarding different Washington locations are EXACTLY OURS.

We have spent the last 2 years pondering those questions, researching and visiting almost all the locations mentioned in the thread.

We have made 3 trips to WA (one to Vancouver area, one to the Olympic Peninsula, and one back to O.P and across WA to the Tri Cities, Walla Walla, Spokane, CDA back to Wenatchee then north of Seattle). We were scheduled to revisit Spokane/CDA area in two weeks to check out winter living condition and some properties but now have to postpone the trip due my husband's back pain relapse.

Of course there is no perfect location, and one has to make a tradeoff or to find a location matching the closest to one's criteria.

Based on our experience, we think that it is critical to visit each potential area spending at least a week first then come back for a closer look and direct living experience in the WORST time of the year.

Here are some of our general impressions of some key areas

1. Vancouver and nearby areas (Salmon Creek, Ridgefield, Camas etc):

This location was our first choice because of milder winter weather, next to Portland, big airport, universities, cultural activities etc. We were also lured by opportunity for outdoor activities etc. What we found was that the city was two sprawling, congested and quite flat. One has to drive at least an hour to hilly, scenic area and at least 2 hours to the ocean. Further south locations like Camas are not as congested but quite windy, and house lots are quite small with many perching on hills. We could not find any property within the price range we set in 2014 (<350K) with a newer home and acreage at that time. My husband was also very concerned with the prolonged winter gray skies and too wet of a climate (moss/mold etc). Owning a second home in sunny place in the winter like S.R. is out of the question for us. Neither one of us want to be bothered with taking care of two homes and/or finding renters.

BTW, out of my curiosity, I checked properties availability and prices in the area every so often and found that housing cost keeps going up and up, 20-30% a year! One can get much nicer, newer home with acreage and view in other cities like the O.P and Spokane.

2. Olympic Peninsula (Sequim, Port Angeles, Port Townsend):

After our disappointing visit to Vancouver, we focused on Olympic rain shadow cities to find a 'sunnier, more scenic place with easy outdoor activities. The O.P. was exactly what we thought. However, we were disappointed with Sequim (too flat, bland, boring), found Port Angeles much more charming and livable than what we had read. We liked Port Townsend's atmosphere and fell in love with an unique Japanese style home on 16 acres just outside of town. We made a backup offer but the first offer went through.

The main drawback of the O.P. is its 'remoteness'. There is only one major road over a bridge to connect it to Tacoma/Seattle besides the ferry options. We had thought that we would be happy living there and find everything that we need either in the O.P or a 'short' trip to Seattle for cultural events or medical care. Our horrendous long return trips to SEATAC (both in the first and second trip) changed our mind about living there. The I-5 corridor just get more and more congested everyday, and there are no easy solutions to improve the situation. In addition, a post from a new resident of the O.P. about substandard medical care there, and the analysis that a somewhat isolated retirees 'paradise' is not likely to attract professionals of high caliber especially ones with children pretty much discouraged us from living in the O.P.

3. East of Cascade cities: Yakima, Richland, Kennewick, Pasco, Walla Walla and Wenatchee

These cities are simply too dry for us. We just could not fall in love with brown hills or flat green irrigated patches of farm land/orchards.

In addition, being a rower, I want to live in a place with a rowing club. There is none in those cities.

We checked out Wenatchee mainly because of the presence of a rowing club. The town is very scenic. The mountain view from our B&B is very nice If it wasn't for our desire to have homes with some acreage maybe we could live there. However, there are other drawbacks. First housing cost seems higher than other areas probably due to few buildable lots and proximity to Seattle area. The place also seems very crowded during holidays or weekends for the same reason. The town is also too small for cultural activities.

4. Spokane/CDA area:

After driving for miles from Yakima to Walla Walla then Spokane, it was a relief to find green trees. We could get use to seeing evergreen instead of deciduous forest in the East. Views of mountains are also quite nice. There are two rowing clubs, one on Spokane river in Spokane and one on Fernan Lake in CDA. We stayed at a house on Hauser Lake. It was beautiful and peaceful.

Weather wise, Spokane is not as gray as Vancouver but not as sunny as Sequim. It is also much drier than Vancouver. Of course, it is colder and has more snow especially at higher elevation. From what I have read and seen, the valley area has much less snow than what is shown in the Spokane city weather statistic.

Having lived first in Michigan (including the U.P) then MA and NY, we think we can handle winter weather in Spokane much better than say someone from CA. Two years ago, I was quite tired of the snow after having to be solely responsible for snow removal (big, long driveway and the roof) because of my husband's back injury. It was a huge task to clean the driveway to go to work after a big snowstorm. Hiring someone to plow the driveway was not an easy option since non-contracted customers were at the bottom of the priority list.

I have been in retirement for a bit over a year. Not having to go to work makes a big difference in dealing with snow and ice. So we are kind of settled on relocating to Spokane with some lingering doubt about winter living. This is why we plan to go there in January to check out different locations (pretty hilly areas vs. flat valley), north vs. south etc.

My husband's recurrence back pain and sciatica is a reminder that we should be more practical in finding a home. It's nice to live in beautiful, scenic area with lots of acreage but one has to think of accessibility and ease of traveling. We hope to be able to go to Spokane in February to find the answers to some of our questions and maybe to find a suitable home.

Last edited by BellaDL; 01-06-2017 at 06:20 PM..
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Old 01-07-2017, 09:46 AM
Location: Idaho
4,621 posts, read 4,458,547 times
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Originally Posted by aro55 View Post
Anyone over 60 and loving Spokane/Liberty Lake/CDA DESPITE the cold winters???
Just a hair under two months before I retire, (yeah!). When the house sells, I'll be relocating to the CdA area. It has everything I could possibly want in a retirement home.

The winters are a concern, but after having visited the past three winters, (not this one), I found that the cold did not affect me in the least and driving on ice is something learned very quickly. (However, I do understand that previous to this winter, the past few winters have been historically mild; and that this current one has reverted to a more normal pattern. Still . . . there is cross-country skiing and fat bike riding.)

My brother left home, (SoCal), after high school and moved to the Portland area. After he married, he moved to Vancouver, (mostly for the schools, but also for the more 'reasonable' political climate). He has raised his kids there and seem to be very happy living in Vancouver. I do not know if he will remain there after he retires. He's still 7-10 years out.


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Old 01-07-2017, 12:09 PM
4,315 posts, read 2,517,376 times
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Originally Posted by StealthRabbit View Post
CoL can vary per taste,

My WA costs;
$100/ month food and entertainment
$70 / month full year-round electric (no gas in rural area, aux heat w/ our own wood) no AC required
$50/month home insurance
$30/ month car insurance
$18/ month landline / dialup.
$0 water and sewer (rural = septic and well so I keep $3000 in reserves for repair (haven't needed in 50 yr of wells and septic)
No cable / no dsl / no dishes / no cell towers / or antennae allowed.
$1200/ month property taxes (cuz I fought the assessor for 20 yrs). Up from $70/ month

$100/ month property tax on My Nearby rental home (30 second away, but in a different county) with same cost basis.

......$1200 / month property tax....... ?

a misprint , I imagine.
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Old 01-07-2017, 04:59 PM
Location: Near Portland, Oregon
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Very cool to hear BellaDL that Spokane has two rowing clubs. That's a sport I would love to get into!

Volosong, I'm also from the Antelope Valley originally and visit there often to see family. Very different from CDA.

Though I'm a bit concerned about the cold/snowy winters in Spokane/Liberty Lake/CDA area, here are my thoughts on handling it:

Sitting here (in a semi rural area just outside Portland, OR) it's cold and snowy with ice pellets coming this evening. It doesn't bother me - as long as I can stay home. Yesterday was 16 degrees much of the day. I didn't even realize it until I saw the temp on my computer! I was happy as a clam indoors. Whether it's gray, rainy and 35 degrees, or snowy and 10 degrees, I'm not going to be outside gardening so does it really matter? This is the season furnaces were invented for. At least the Spokane area gets some sun in the winter. Actually, if you compare the weather in Spokane to Bend, it's not that different and Bend is always touted as a great place to retire. Spokane has even more sunny days on average. Bend may get less snow but they still get a fair amount and it's still cold all winter. (I personally don't see what Bend has to offer other than the beautiful surrounding countryside. It's expensive, has no major college, the nearest airport in Redmond doesn't have many direct flights, the town isn't appealing, it's dry desert, and the growing season is about 2 months!)

I've been a market gardener for 24 years, following a passion and growing a business providing high end restaurants with specialty produce (mostly salad greens). I'm outside all the time spring through fall whether it's 105 degrees or so cold I have to pack my gloves and boots with those hand warmer packets. I look forward to winter every year. A rest! Time to do indoor things! I'm never bored. I like to read, watch films, do computer work, cook, visit and call friends, watch the birds at the feeders, edit and organize photos, work in my art studio.... I always feel winter is too short. Besides, it's a natural time to hibernate!

Given a choice between unbearably hot summers and very cold winters, I would take the cold winters. I cannot stand air conditioned life. I grew up in the Antelope Valley in So. California. I left as soon as I could to escape that life - with the excuse of college!

My only concern about the snow/ice/cold in the Spokane area is getting around, and how we might feel about it all in 20 years when we're even older. (Maybe at that time we’ll move into a condo or something….) But as Bella said, not having to go to work every day would make a huge difference. I also feel staying close to services would help, and not buying a house up on a hill. My husband hopes to teach part time in his retirement so I looked into bus service. There's an express bus from Liberty Lake to downtown Spokane every day, 30 minutes. Other city buses (not express) serve the entire valley. The university district is very close to downtown Spokane so I think it would be perfectly do-able even if he didn't want to drive. Anyway, he used to ride his bike to work in deep snow when he lived in Syracuse NY, before I knew him! Besides buses, there are cabs, Uber, Lyft and medical transport services if you really need to get somewhere and don't want to drive. Spokane has all the services one would hope for in a city it seems. You can't say that about every place.

I've talked to several people who live in Spokane. A realtor who has lived there her entire life only has a front wheel drive car and has never had a problem. She has to drive a lot for her job and loves to ski so she’s constantly going up to ski areas in the winter. She said if you buy a house on a school bus route, the city has to keep it plowed. Good tip! Another man who lives in Liberty Lake told me the same thing. He moved to Liberty Lake from Arizona 20 years ago, was nervous about driving but said he hasn’t had any problems, with only a front wheel drive car. A friend who lives in the South Perry district said an all wheel drive Subaru helps her a lot. That's what we would plan on.

Another thought about winters anywhere in the PNW, it really helps to have a home with lots of windows. I used to get depressed in gray sky Portland but once we bought a house with lots of windows, I was fine.

Anyway, if we could find a place to move to that was always 70 degrees, had affordable housing, a major college, a major airport, good medical care, beautiful natural areas, green trees, water, and friendly people, we would go. Spokane seems to have all that, minus the mild winters.

I'm still researching but not coming up with any other possibilities in western states that appeal to us. If I find something, I’ll post it but I think we're headed for Liberty Lake or nearby...... We'll make another trip soon.

BTW, everyone traveling or moving to Spokane/Liberty Lake/CDA, we found a wonderful brunch restaurant right on the water in CDA the last time we visited. It has an odd name: Le Peep. We sat out on their beautiful deck, had the best Idaho trout and eggs, then walked our dog along the waterfront boardwalk in front. We'd like to spend every Sunday morning right there! Maybe those of us who make the move can meet up some day......
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