Spokane is the second-largest city in Washington, with over 220,000 people in the city and 450,000 in the metro area. Seattle is the most populated city in Washington, situated in the Pacific Northwest. Spokane, on the other hand, is in the Inland Northwest. This means it’s landlocked instead of on the coast.
Some benefits come from being a landlocked city, including stable weather, uninterrupted traffic, and a low cost of living. There are many pros and cons of living in Spokane, WA, which you’ll learn about here.
Pros of Living in Spokane, Washington
Let’s start on the right foot by discovering all of the good things Spokane, WA has to offer. As a new resident, you’ll feel welcomed by this big city with small-town vibes as soon as you arrive.
1. Beautiful Weather
Spokane gets an average of 174 days of sunshine every year. The sun doesn’t mean you’ll have to deal with hot summers—in fact, the average high temperature in July is just 83 degrees. The humidity is relatively low, too, so you won’t have to deal with swampy, wet heat.
The average temperature in winter is 35 degrees. The average rainfall for the city is 17 inches annually, with an additional 44 inches of snow. In addition to these summer and winter temps, you can rest assured that Spokane gets favorable weather for all four seasons.
Another benefit of Spokane’s location is that being landlocked has great weather benefits. The city doesn’t experience tornados or hurricanes. While the city might experience minor earthquakes and flash floods during a thunderstorm, you’re relatively safe when you settle in Spokane.
2. Active Downtown
It’s no surprise that the second-largest city in Washington will give you all of the benefits of big city life. Downtown used to be neglected, but after the River Park Square Mall was built, other businesses were attracted to the area.
Now there are plenty of retail shops, restaurants, and entertainment open downtown. There’s a mix of historical architecture and new buildings that make the area unique. Downtown Spokane is incredibly walkable, so you can park in one spot and explore the area on foot. Public transportation is also available.
3. Growing Job Market
The median age of Spokane residents is 36 years old, meaning most of the population is still working. The biggest industries in the area are healthcare, agriculture, mining, and public administration. The top employers include Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s Hospital and Spokane Public Schools.
The State of Washington is also a major employer, and the military is well-represented in Spokane. The 92nd Air Refueling Wing is home to the Air Mobility Command Eighteenth Air Force and employs about 3,000 people, both active-duty military and civilians.
In addition to these major industries, other prominent employers include:
- Kaiser Aluminum
- BlueStar Technologies
- Clearwater Paper
4. Decent Traffic Flow
The streets in Spokane are laid out in a grid design, which makes it easy to navigate and prevents traffic backup. The average commute in Spokane takes less than 20 minutes. That means you’ll have more time to spend having fun instead of being stuck in traffic.
If you don’t want to use a car in the city, you can depend on 43 bus routes that run 365 days of the year. Not only does using public transportation cut down on traffic, but you’ll also be reducing air pollution.
5. Affordable Home Ownership
About 55% of the population in Spokane owns a home. With rentals costing more than $1,200 a month, buying a house is a great choice if you’re ready to put down roots in this city. The average property price in Spokane is about $175,000, but the cost will vary according to the neighborhood.
If you want to buy a house in the previously-mentioned downtown area, you’d be able to find something for around $500,000, which is great for such a hot spot. Houses in other neighborhoods average about $300,000 for a fairly large, three-bedroom home.
6.Great Educational System
The city’s second-largest employer is Spokane Public Schools, employing over 4,000 people. These teachers and staff serve over 30,000 students. There are 36 elementary schools, six middle schools, and eight high schools.
Universities in the area include Spokane Falls Community College, Spokane Community College, and Gonzaga University.
7. Surrounded by Water
While it’s true that Spokane differs from Seattle because it’s not on the coast, that doesn’t mean you won’t have access to water in this city. There are plenty of lakes in the area surrounding Spokane, so you can swim, fish, and boat for fun.
If you don’t mind taking a little drive, you have access to 76 lakes in the surrounding areas. If you prefer to stay close to home, head downtown to view Spokane Falls, a gorgeous waterfall on the Spokane River.
8. Hiking Trails
All of the outdoor fun isn’t limited to water—Spokane also has amazing hiking trails. You can pick an easy path for a casual stroll, or plan a full day’s adventure in the nearby mountains. Some of the areas you won’t want to miss include:
- Dishman Hills Natural Area
- Palisades Park
- Mount Spokane State Park
- Riverside State Park
- Antoine Peak Conservation Area
Since Spokane gets a fair amount of snow each winter, you’ll be able to take advantage of winter recreational activities. Skiing is popular since there are five major ski resorts within a two-hour drive.
The closest is Mount Spokane, but there’s also Schweitzer Mountain, Silver Mountain, Lookout Pass, and 49 Degrees North Mountain. You can stay at these resorts, but since they’re so close, you can come back to your Spokane home after a day on the slopes.
10. Good Location for Travel
Spokane is on the Washington border, so you can cross into Idaho in half an hour. With just two hours in the car, you can drive farther east to Montana. Drive three hours north and you’ll find yourself in British Columbia. You can get to Seattle in about five hours, and down to Portland, Oregon in six.
If you’re not looking to take a road trip, you can travel from Spokane International Airport. The airport features seven airlines for passengers and two cargo airlines. Since the city is growing both in population and tourism, they plan to expand the airport in the coming years.
11. Interesting Museums
For rainy days or times when you just don’t want to be outside, Spokane has a lot of indoor entertainment, culture, and history for you to enjoy. The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture features amazing permanent and traveling art exhibits.
The Jundt Art Museum is located on the Gonzaga campus. In addition to its permanent collection and special exhibits, they also have the Print Study Room, which is a research facility for art history.
If history is your thing, the Spokane Valley Museum has exhibits and an archive of over 150 years of Spokane’s past. You can also visit Honor Point Military and Aerospace Museum to learn about the role Spokane played in flight and the military. This museum is located on Felts Field, and exhibits change constantly so you’ll always learn something new.
12. Low Cost of Living
Spokane’s cost of living is only 4% less than the United States average, but it is 17% lower than the rest of Washington state. Groceries, utilities, and general merchandise cost about the same as across the country, but the housing prices are much lower.
The average income in Spokane, WA is $47,000, which has increased in the last few years. It’s lower than the United States average of $53,000, but with the lower cost of living, you can easily afford to live here.
It’s hard to find anything bad about a city with such a great reputation, but you deserve to know everything about your potential new hometown. There’s not much bad to say about Spokane, so check out these cons and see if the good things outshine the bad.
13. Highest Sales Tax in the Nation
Spokane has a sales tax rate of 8.9%, one of the highest rates in the nation. Washington’s state has some great places to retire;sales tax is 6.5%, and the city adds 2.4% on top of that. The national average is about 7%, so while Spokane’s taxes aren’t astronomical, they’re most likely higher than what you’re used to.
There’s no personal income tax in Washington, so you’ll get a break from that taxation. You’ll have to file federal taxes every year, but nothing state-specific. This can help balance the sales tax rate. Along with the lower cost of living, you might find that the 8.9% sales tax balances out over time.
14. High Crime Rate
The crime rates in Spokane are 165% higher than the average American city. Violent crime is twice as likely to happen in Spokane compared to the rest of Washington. Your chance of being a victim of a violent crime is one in 146.
Your chance of being a victim of property crime, such as burglary or car theft, is one in 17 in Spokane. Elsewhere in Washington, your likelihood decreases to one in 37. These crime rates don’t mean you’ll be a victim; you can live in a safe neighborhood and always be aware of your surroundings.
Spokane has a mass transportation system that includes buses provided by the Spokane Transit Authority. The city also offers long-distance mass transit in the form of Greyhound and Amtrak stations. However, Spokane ranks as one of the worst cities for air pollution.
This ranking is mostly due to wildfire smoke that releases small particles into the air. Citizens who inhale this air might experience health problems. Spokane is aware of the problem and monitors the air quality daily so residents can be informed about the air around them.
There are many things to love about Spokane, but you should consider the cons on this list as well. Spokane is a landlocked city that doesn’t experience many natural disasters, so you don’t have to worry about those emergencies when you settle here.
Surrounding the bustling city center are suburbs and farms, so there’s something for everyone in Spokane, WA. Young professionals can live and work downtown and enjoy all that area has to offer. Families can settle in the surrounding neighborhoods and benefit from the school districts.
If you want to live in the Northwest without all of the rain and dreariness of Seattle, Spokane is the perfect city for you. Is there anything we missed about Spokane? Let us know in the comments!