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Old 04-29-2014, 01:04 PM
 
Location: Bellingham, WA
1,374 posts, read 1,663,133 times
Reputation: 2668

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Hi everyone! For the second time in two years, skyrocketing housing costs in Colorado have caused our landlords to want to sell our unit or move back in, and we're ready explore new territory and find a new place to live- and one day buy a house. I'd love to hear your thoughts on moving to Spokane, given our situation and criteria.

We're in a tough situation- the landlord would prefer that we moved by October, and we have to go somewhere. There's nothing available in the place we live, and we talked in the past of moving to the NW. We talked about moving to Bend, but it has been discovered and is relatively expensive to those that aren't from California. Also, it's a bit small and one dimensional, though we loved the outdoor rec possibilities and culture.

Last year we got married at Washington Pass and honeymooned in the Methow Valley. We picked up members of the wedding party in Spokane. We were impressed with the reasonable fares out of a surprisingly nice airport. We spent a day running errands and checking out the town, and liked it quite a bit. Looking at the real estate prices, the number of extremely affordable, well-built housing, and amenities for a city Spokane's size, and proximity to awesome outdoor opportunities, is it a reasonable place for us to consider?

First, a little about us: We're an educated couple from Colorado. We lived in the middle of Cap Hill in Denver for years, spent every possible weekend exploring the natural beauty of the state and got tired of ridiculous traffic, bustle/sirens/shady assaults in our alley, so we moved to the western side of the state to be in the mountains. Spectacular scenery out here, but no social life and no way that we could afford to buy anything other than a 1 bdr or possibly 2 bdr condo. Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, there aren't many towns in this state that are of reasonable size that aren't on the Front Range or too desert-like.

Our work/life situation. I'm 38, my wife is 28. I have a master's in communications and I'm the web and social media manager for a nonprofit out of NYC. We can live anywhere, but it has to be reasonably affordable. My wife works part-time at a local college (as an administrative assistant), and would like to do the same type of work in a new town. Together our income is in the 70-80k range. We're not interested in having kids. She's artistic and crafty, would like to sell some of her jewelry as a part-time job/hobby. I'm in an emerging field, good job for now and would like to get more vested in a town, possibly start a business in the future or at least collaborate with some other people on projects jobs (many of which can be done by remote).

What we like to do: Explore new scenery, new parks, travel to music festivals, hike, camp, paddle, snowshoe, ski, etc. Around town we like to check out new restaurants, and our ideal nightlife would involve a night at a microbrew with some live music or relaxing around a fire pit in the backyard. We prefer to shop at organic groceries, farmer's markets. Politically, we're probably regarded as progressive, though it's all relative. SF, Seattle, and Portland proper are a little bit too liberal for us, we like CO's almost left-leaning libertarianism. We're a bit hippie, but professional, and prefer a live and let live mentality. We do NOT want to live in the land of southern conservatives, though.....

Weatherwise, we have no problem with cold/snow. In fact, we'd prefer it to rain. And we can handle more clouds than we experience here, but I lived part-time in W Washington (Kirkland) as a child and know that grey mist for much of the year on that side of the state would be too much. I can't imagine a climate more erratic than CO. And that's a not a bad thing. The point is that we know how to layer and are used to extremes. We like drier air but more greenery than we see in a lot of CO (we miss big trees).

We can't shake the idea that Spokane is a relative bargain. A ridiculous bargain. Rent is about 2/3 of other places that we're looking at, and buying is about 1/2 the cost. It's isolated, but not to the extent that we are now. And considering the growth in other cities east of the Cascades, and other cities to the east in ID and MT, it's amazing that a place with such a good location (afternoon drive to Rockies AND Cascades) is not on more radars!

So, we want to know more about the people. Apart from the scenery, it's the thing we truly love in CO. People are helpful tour guides, and it's not difficult to make friends at the local micro, or out on the trail, etc. Conversely, on our honeymoon last year (1.5 weeks in WA, 1.5 weeks in OR) we found western WA folks to be snobby, especially in the Seattle area (compared to Denver). But, it was a brief observation, and regardless it's time for us to move further north and west.

We only had limited interaction with folks in Eastern WA, but they seemed friendlier, but it was noticeable to us that folks from Spokane seemed to have an ingrained sense of inferiority to Seattle. And on discussion boards, there seems like a lot of friendly folks but also lot of people that are very negative about the area. Friends of ours have told us that there are a lot of people in the area that just never left after high school or college- could that be the reason? If so, I understand- I was stuck in a small town in NC for a looooong time, and it was kind of a black hole. To the outsider, though, Spokane sure seems like a nice, affordable place, with all kinds of new restaurants, pubs, breweries, etc. popping up.

Any insight on the negativity? We are generally a very positive couple, at times very social. Will we have difficulties finding like-minded people? Is the city business-friendly to small startups? Is there a potential for growth/appreciation in the future? There aren't too many places that haven't been "discovered" to the tune of expensive prices, and with reasonable inventory, I can't imagine the city wouldn't see growth. But I certainly could be wrong.... Anyway, some of the negatives don't deter us (weather: Seattelites' remarkable disdain for snow, but acceptance of gloom and overall cold behavior to one another) and crime (to be somewhat expected in a city, especially in seedy neighborhoods).

Sorry to ramble, but we're really curious to hear others' reaction to our situation. We're planning on visiting in June. Which neighborhoods are we likely to find relative safety and proximity to restaurants, parks, etc. and at least some semblance of progressive young professionals? A nice, affordable home base to live and explore the greater region is really what we're looking for. Does that sound like Spokane?
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Old 04-29-2014, 01:29 PM
 
Location: Spokane, WA
1,990 posts, read 2,416,530 times
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To be honest I only skimmed your post I apologize. I think Spokane would be great for you. Your income should allow for you to live in any number of nice areas. I live up north in Indian Trail. It's more family oriented than you would probably like. The South Hill has some good progressive areas, more liberal minded folks I guess. My wife works in public relations for a large healthcare company. She knows just about every restaraunt in the area and we can give some good recommendations. There are actually lots of good ones and you don't really have to be "close" to them. The commute to anywhere is not that bad, better than what I experienced living in Baltimore/DC area that is for sure.

Southern Conservatives? No, I've lived in the South. Many people from the west coast of WA, i.e. Seattle imagine most of us over here as rednecks flying the rebel flag and lynching f'erner's on every street corner. I've worked with southerners, I've talked with southerners, I've lived among them, there are no southern conservatives here in Spokane. They'd like to be, but it is a different world. Most southerners think we're Canadian anyway

There are amazing outdoor recreation areas around here. If you ski we have some great resorts and local hills with a ton of charm. Nothing like Breckenridge or Telluride (Only two CO resorts I've been to) but still fun. We're close enough to Whistler/Blackcomb which is the largest ski resort in North America. That place is amazing. Tons of good camping here in WA over on the OR coast, Idaho, Glacier Park in Montana (puts Yellowstone to shame in my opinion). Lots of lakes, uncrowded lakes as well.

There are four 4 year universities here in Spokane (well one is in Cheney and another is in Pullman but they both have major operations in our university district) . Plus two comunity colleges that your wife should be able to find emploment in.

I just skipped around a bit you can ask more question as needed. The resident doomsayers will be here soon. They can provide a good counter point to my "homer-ism" of Spokane. Take both of what we say with a grain of salt, but do pay attention to how it's said (i.e I name specifics and tell about actual events while the others will utilize broad terms and not so specific instances).

I think you might really like it here.
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Old 04-29-2014, 02:58 PM
 
536 posts, read 1,612,226 times
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Welcome to the Spokane forums! I'll give a little run down on things.

Quote:
Explore new scenery, new parks, travel to music festivals, hike, camp, paddle, snowshoe, ski, etc. Around town we like to check out new restaurants, and our ideal nightlife would involve a night at a microbrew with some live music or relaxing around a fire pit in the backyard. We prefer to shop at organic groceries, farmer's markets. Politically, we're probably regarded as progressive, though it's all relative.
Spokane has several opportunities for all of that. Spokane's metro has a growing microbrew scene, you just have to find them. As for the outdoors, it's in every direction. Forested mountains to the north and east. Lots of rivers, lakes, and more. Spokane has a ski resort not too far from the city as well. Lots of small towns to explore nearby too. As well, if you head west you can be along the Columbia River, which is impressive, or the fishing lakes of Banks Lake. Lots to explore.

There are farmers markets around the city for sure. It might be harder to find organic shops, but they are around town. Most all local grocery stores have organic sections too. There is a Trader Joe's at the far south end of the city, and they have a wide assortment of goods.


Quote:
SF, Seattle, and Portland proper are a little bit too liberal for us, we like CO's almost left-leaning libertarianism. We're a bit hippie, but professional, and prefer a live and let live mentality. We do NOT want to live in the land of southern conservatives, though.....
Well, Spokane is certainly more conservative. But there are certainly people living off the land, especially in more rural pockets around the city. It really shouldn't be an issue though.

Quote:
Weatherwise, we have no problem with cold/snow. In fact, we'd prefer it to rain. We like drier air but more greenery than we see in a lot of CO (we miss big trees).
Just expect hot to mild summers, lots of sun. In the winter expect cold temperatures, rain, and snow.

Spokane's in an odd spot. To the west is is scrubland and farmland, no trees. To the north and east, it's trees. Now the trees are big, but not the extent of lushness seen in Western Washington. Spokane is in a variance pocket of trees, but there is still more rocky terrain leading into the city coming from the west heading east. I still wouldn't consider Spokane SUPER lush, but it is pretty lush. It gets more lush as you head into the mountains.


Quote:
We can't shake the idea that Spokane is a relative bargain. And considering the growth in other cities east of the Cascades, and other cities to the east in ID and MT, it's amazing that a place with such a good location (afternoon drive to Rockies AND Cascades) is not on more radars!
It is a bargain. No getting around it. You just have to hope it suits what you like.

Population wise, Spokane isn't growing all that fast . . . at least not as fast as many would like. It is being passed by Boise for biggest population center in the Inland Northwest. Many would blame Spokane's stagnant economy and lack of innovation during the 70s and 80s. Even today, Spokane hasn't had any major innovations to draw people into their job market. But hopefully soon. Spokane Valley's incorporation was a nice boon to the metro though. It added 90,000 some people.


Quote:
To the outsider, though, Spokane sure seems like a nice, affordable place, with all kinds of new restaurants, pubs, breweries, etc. popping up.
People are people. Some are just negative. Now if you asked someone from Western Washington, they'd say they are friendlier people. Especially with like-minded political minds, they will find their own kind nicer then the other "radical hoodlums" of the other political affiliation. That is just how it is. More traditional values resonate in Eastern Washington, and I have found them from my personal experiences to be nicer, more homely, and very kind. Though Western Washington is very nice too, there are many snobs in Seattle.



OTHER

Spokane has world class medical facilities, great services, and good shopping from many different choices of malls, businesses, etc, around the metro. Be warned, Spokane has a slightly higher then average crime rate, and there are some areas that aren't the greatest. There are pockets of "hillbilly" mentality, but it isn't really that bad. Some people really like it, keeps the city diverse and balanced.

You can find homes with more acreage to the north and northeast, more cozy higher class homes to the south of downtown, and more affordable housing just north of downtown, or east in Spokane Valley. Also some very nice big homes in Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake.

Is there specific areas you are looking at or more info you want to know about?
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Old 04-29-2014, 07:42 PM
 
Location: WA
93 posts, read 318,421 times
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If you have a good income and a job, Spokane will suit you just fine.
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Old 04-30-2014, 01:05 AM
 
Location: Bellingham, WA
1,374 posts, read 1,663,133 times
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Thanks for your input, everyone! Sorry about my long post- I just wanted to provide a lot of detail- posters often seem to leave them off on relocation threads, so I wanted to be thorough. Aplcr0331, I love your advice on taking everything with a grain of salt-everyone has different reasons for liking what they like. And everyone is at a different stage in their lives. But nothing wrong with a little homerism. It's refreshing that some people like a place that much.

Regarding the level of conservatism- that's always a funny thing. I was used to nosy, bible-thumping folks in NC/SC. A lot of nice people, but very judgmental. And it's relative. Southern conservatives would probably view anywhere in the west as more progressive. We just didn't want being a member of a church as a prerequisite of social interaction.

It seems that Spokane is definitely more of a slightly blue collar town with an Intermountain West feel. So in some ways as a Coloradan, I can identify with that. All of our cars have cracks in the windshield and we are used to beautiful, but often wide-open and lonely spaces. The climate seems pleasant, and when we visited, the vegetation appears to be more lush than where we've lived in CO. In fact, I'd be really curious to know what other folks from CO think about the area.

Regarding lifestyle, I probably sounded more upscale than we really are. For example when grocery shopping, we like going to Whole Foods but do a lot of our shopping at King Soopers or Safeway. Lately we've been trying to eat better, so it's good to know that options like Huckleberry and Trader Joe's are available in Spokane. Other shopping options in the area, like REI and especially the Apple Store, are impressive retail offerings for a small to medium sized market, and indicate to us that there is at least some demand by similar consumers to us.....

Regarding where we are looking, we went to Flying Goat (loved it) and we see that homes in that area are very affordable. But we're probably most interested in South Hill or areas nearby. The South Perry area also looks interesting, like a little Tennyson Street or other Highland neighborhoods in Denver, if anyone on here is familiar. Also, we see that Emerson-Garfield has some inexpensive architectural beauties. We'd be curious about that area, as well.

Anyway, thanks for the feedback. I am curious- why did Spokane allow itself to be lapped by Boise? Did Spokane drop the ball on pursuing more forward thinking corporations? I mean, I would imagine that many people and companies (especially tech) would prefer WA to ID. Is Spokane receptive to new business? Again, it looks like it has good bones but a little bit of an inferiority complex.

I told my buddies in Seattle and in Bellingham about our musings and they both asked why we would be interested in doing such a thing. But both admitted that they'd never pulled off the interstate while driving through, so they had very little input other than outside perceptions. So we'll be excited to visit, because it really doesn't sound that bad to us. And not freaking out every month about an exorbitant rent or mortgage payment sounds pretty nice, plus puts money in the pocket to actually do things, like buy a kayak or purchase a lift ticket.
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Old 04-30-2014, 07:37 AM
 
Location: Spokane, WA
1,990 posts, read 2,416,530 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bartonizer View Post
Anyway, thanks for the feedback. I am curious- why did Spokane allow itself to be lapped by Boise? Did Spokane drop the ball on pursuing more forward thinking corporations? I mean, I would imagine that many people and companies (especially tech) would prefer WA to ID. Is Spokane receptive to new business? Again, it looks like it has good bones but a little bit of an inferiority complex.

I told my buddies in Seattle and in Bellingham about our musings and they both asked why we would be interested in doing such a thing. But both admitted that they'd never pulled off the interstate while driving through, so they had very little input other than outside perceptions. So we'll be excited to visit, because it really doesn't sound that bad to us. And not freaking out every month about an exorbitant rent or mortgage payment sounds pretty nice, plus puts money in the pocket to actually do things, like buy a kayak or purchase a lift ticket.
The Tech industry here in Spokane is horrible. Abolutely horrible. Most of the tech companies will be out near Liberty Lake but Spokane is certainly not a hotbed for new tech. I'm not sure we're that business friendly, we do OK. Compared to Seattle just about any city is lacking when it comes to Tech jobs but Spokane is behind even those too.

I love Spokane and love Seattle too. I'm a true Washingtonian as I enjoy the whole state. I have no inferiority complex about my city, I've chosen to live here over SoCal, Mississippi, Portland, and Baltimore. I could probably up my salary by 30% by moving to Seattle area, but I like where I am too much. As a matter of fact, I took a $25K/year reduction in salary moving from Baltimore back to Spokane. Again, YMMV.

Good luck with the impending move.
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Old 05-01-2014, 02:41 AM
 
Location: Bellingham, WA
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Thanks for the well-wishing, and thanks for the input on this thread. We're planning on a trip to the NW in June or July, and we're going to go into the whole thing open-minded. We've got a number of cities on the list that we're going to check out, as we have a lot of friends and family scattered throughout MT, OR, and WA. And we've found cheap flights to town- again, the relatively good-sized airport and reasonable fares is a big plus!

Re: the tech industry, that's a shame- even much smaller companies got on the train. Yes, Seattle's a tech hub, but a lot of smaller markets are becoming tech startup havens- Bozeman, Missoula, Bend, Corvallis, etc. -which makes Spokane's absence strange, at least to us. But, it's not too late. All it takes is a few companies making a move and things snowball. The location is nice, and real estate isn't getting cheaper in other places. Those are things that attract crowds, at least if the word gets out, like it did last year when it was featured in last year's "Best Cities" list by Outdoor Magazine.

Great to know that you like the whole state! I love hearing when people stay in an area when they know they could make more in other places. There are a lot of people in CO that feel that way, though the reality of having to afford somewhere to live is affecting many. In CO, it's mostly either Front Range or mountain towns that no one can afford to buy properties or homes and have literally zero in the way of inventory. We actually love where we live, but it feels like an extended vacation- it's remote and there's no possible way to buy something that we would want to own. So, we'll get to enjoy another summer here, but the reconnaissance mission to find a place in the NW is moving forward!
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Old 05-01-2014, 05:13 PM
 
Location: Arvada, CO
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OP, I say give it a shot. I live in Colorado now, and my experiences from my time in Spokane are chronicled throughout the forum.

My only reservation about what I've read here, is that you are seeing Spokane for its potential, not for what it is. There are reasons for the negativity about it, with differing levels of justification for it. It's not a resort town like Bend or Boulder, it's not a hub of all things like Seattle or Denver, it's not even as vibrant as Colorado Springs or Eugene.

It is a rust belt city that got transplanted into the middle of nowhere. I love it to death, but basically what you have is a Colorado Springs sized city with the economic stagnation of Pueblo, with beauty that exceeds Evergreen.

Spokane's people are great, just don't expect the same level of the kind of enthusiasm/go-getterness you find in better known/less of a bargain cities.
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Old 05-04-2014, 01:24 PM
 
Location: Bellingham, WA
1,374 posts, read 1,663,133 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Aguilar View Post
OP, I say give it a shot. I live in Colorado now, and my experiences from my time in Spokane are chronicled throughout the forum.

My only reservation about what I've read here, is that you are seeing Spokane for its potential, not for what it is. There are reasons for the negativity about it, with differing levels of justification for it. It's not a resort town like Bend or Boulder, it's not a hub of all things like Seattle or Denver, it's not even as vibrant as Colorado Springs or Eugene.

It is a rust belt city that got transplanted into the middle of nowhere. I love it to death, but basically what you have is a Colorado Springs sized city with the economic stagnation of Pueblo, with beauty that exceeds Evergreen.

Spokane's people are great, just don't expect the same level of the kind of enthusiasm/go-getterness you find in better known/less of a bargain cities.
Thanks for the perspective, David. We probably are looking at things through rose-colored glasses. I think part of it has to do how expensive CO has become to live in- for renting and buying. A relatively undiscovered place in the NW with decent amenities and low real estates sounds refreshing. But you're right, I'm seeing potential. I've lived in cities with potential, and I know that it can be frustrating when advancements don't happen too rapidly. Also, there are certainly intangibles that make a place a good fit. The CO comparisons are also helpful- and it's really the attitude or vibe that is hard to figure out about parts of the NW- Washington to be specific. We love the positivity that we encounter in Colorado, and will definitely factor in attitude in our decision. We've always said that we couldn't handle cloudy, rainy places- but with all kinds of things to do, new things to see, and friendly people around we could probably make it work. As a result, we've also got Bend, Eugene, Corvallis, Portland, and Bellingham on our list to explore.
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Old 05-05-2014, 09:53 PM
 
Location: Arvada, CO
13,783 posts, read 28,145,455 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bartonizer View Post
Thanks for the perspective, David. We probably are looking at things through rose-colored glasses. I think part of it has to do how expensive CO has become to live in- for renting and buying. A relatively undiscovered place in the NW with decent amenities and low real estates sounds refreshing. But you're right, I'm seeing potential. I've lived in cities with potential, and I know that it can be frustrating when advancements don't happen too rapidly. Also, there are certainly intangibles that make a place a good fit. The CO comparisons are also helpful- and it's really the attitude or vibe that is hard to figure out about parts of the NW- Washington to be specific. We love the positivity that we encounter in Colorado, and will definitely factor in attitude in our decision. We've always said that we couldn't handle cloudy, rainy places- but with all kinds of things to do, new things to see, and friendly people around we could probably make it work. As a result, we've also got Bend, Eugene, Corvallis, Portland, and Bellingham on our list to explore.
I just bought here in CO, so I know what you are saying. I sure wish I was prepared to do so back c. 2009, as I would have saved a ton of money!

Spokane is undiscovered, and for the duration of my lifetime, I hope it stays that way.

Just note, Spokane isn't a cloudy/rainy place, it has 4 seasons, and is nothing like the I-5 corridor weather-wise (neither is Bend for that matter). All are great places, the NW is an easy place to fall in love with.

Good luck!
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