What's it like to live in Spokane, WA?


Lisa Tanner

Profile written by local expert:

Lisa Tanner

With a river running right through downtown and landscapes ranging from basalt columns to mountain lakes, Washington state's second largest city lives up to its motto: "Near Nature, Near Perfect." Spokane offers abundant green space and easy access to numerous lakes, ski resorts, mountains and bike paths.

It's not all about the wilderness though. A vibrant downtown encompasses a variety of restaurants and performance venues, and breweries and wineries turn local ingredients into flavorful drinks. However, while a few districts bustle with activity, much of Spokane is quiet, exuding a calm, relaxed atmosphere not often found in major metro areas. Residents appreciate the small-town atmosphere with the advantage of big-city amenities.

Individual neighborhoods foster a strong sense of community, and Spokane's government is dedicated to creating more neighborhood unity through community open house meetings. Each month, community assemblies gather throughout town to share ideas on how to make Spokane a better place to live.

Rankings

U.S. News analyzed 100 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Spokane, Washington is ranked:

#60 in Best Places to Live

#51 in Best Places to Retire

6.5

Overall

Scorecard

  • Desirability
    7.0
  • Value
    6.6
  • Job Market
    5.5
  • Quality of Life
    6.7
  • Net Migration
    6.3

Read how we rank places

Spokane, WA Quick Stats

  • 537,348

    Metro Population

  • $44,890

    Average Annual Salary

  • 57.6° / 38.6°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 38.1

    Median Age

  • $186,409

    Median Home Price

  • 16.6 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 6.5%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $776

    AVG Monthly Rent

  • 21.8 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What's the cost of living in Spokane, WA?

Affordable home prices and rents help keep the cost of living down in Spokane, and food, utilities and transportation costs are lower than the national average. Since Washington does not have a personal income tax, Spokane's tax burden is lower as well.

Value Index

Index Score: 6.6 /10

How we calculate this.


Spokane offers a comparable value to similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs this Year


Spokane
$186,409

USA
$211,704

Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or Selling a Home in Spokane, WA

Finding the right real estate agent or realtor is key when it comes to buying or selling a home in Spokane.

Washington state's second largest city has seen its housing market improve year over year, with home prices climbing and sales volume increasing, too. With this growth showing no signs of slowing, now's a good time to buy a house in Spokane. To ensure you'll make the most of your investment should you decide to sell in the future, be sure to work with an agent who is familiar with developments in your desired neighborhood.

If you're considering buying or selling a home, see our list of the top real estate agents in Spokane.

What's the weather like in Spokane, WA?

The four seasons bring diverse and sometimes extreme weather conditions. Winter means an average snowfall of nearly 50 inches, while in the summer, temperatures are generally moderate but occasionally reach triple digits.

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)

30.0°F


Winter

47.4°F


Spring

67.1°F


Summer

47.8°F


Fall

Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

2.3 in


Winter

1.6 in


Spring

1.3 in


Summer

2.3 in


Fall

Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

What's the best way to get around Spokane, WA?

The Spokane Transit Authority operates 38 bus routes servicing most of the metro area. Residents in outlying communities to the north, such as Chewelah, Colville and Kettle Falls, can rely on the Gold Line, an intercity bus program, to get to and from downtown Spokane.

Downtown, a system of skywalks connects many major buildings, keeping pedestrians warm and dry during rainy or snowy weather. Still, many residents choose to drive. Traffic in Spokane is rarely an issue, and the average commute is just over 20 minutes. A new north-south freeway is being built, and I-90 bisects Spokane, heading toward Seattle to the west and Idaho to the east.

For out-of-town traveling, an Amtrak train station and Greyhound bus station are located downtown. The Spokane International Airport – serviced by American Airlines, Delta, Alaska Airlines, United and Southwest – is just a 10-minute drive from downtown Spokane. 

Commuting in Spokane, WA

Means of Transportation
Driving
88%
Equal to national average

Bicycling
1%
Equal to national average

Walking
3%
Equal to national average

Public Transit
2%
Below national average
Average Commute Time

21.8 minutes

4.1 minutes less than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Spokane, WA?

Spokane is growing as couples discover the perks of raising a family. More than half of the population is married, and more than 20 percent of the population is under age 18. Additionally, many people are choosing to retire in Spokane because of its affordability; about 15 percent of the population is over 65 years old. And because Fairchild Air Force Base is located nearby, Spokane is home to nearly 50,000 veterans.

Though it's historically a conservative town, Spokane has become more liberal in recent years. Many elected officials are conservative, but roughly 45 percent of Spokane residents view themselves as liberal.

Spokane is not an affluent place. Nearly 60 percent of schoolchildren qualify for free or reduced school meals, and over 15 percent of the population is below the poverty line. The area's unemployment rate is above the national average, while the median salary is significantly lower than the state's. 

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown


About the same number of single people in Spokane as national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

What is there to do in Spokane, WA?

Spokane residents don't hesitate to take advantage of the area's natural attractions. With numerous lakes, the Spokane River and the nearby Columbia River, fishing, boating and water sports are popular ways to spend weekends. With help from volunteers, the Spokane Parks & Recreation department maintains many parks, riverbanks and trails around town.

Agriculture is alive and well in the outer parts of the metro area. Spokane County has around 2,500 farms producing an abundance of food, including apples, wheat and dairy products, which are sold at farmers markets and specialty shops in central Spokane.

Spokane has a thriving arts community. Street art can be found throughout the city proper, and the Smithsonian-affiliated Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture promotes the arts and history of the region, while the Spokane Symphony performs more than 60 times a year.