17 Reasons Not to Move to Spokane, Washington (Voted by the locals!)

spokane downtown clock tower in park at sunset

Spokane is a city surrounded by beautiful nature, with access to plenty of places for winter and summer sports and exploring. However, like with every place, there are some disadvantages to moving there.

17. The Weather

Spokane is a place where all the extremes of weather meet together. The summers are extremely hot and dry, and the winters are freezing and snowy. While this comes with the advantage of making snow sports accessible all through the winter, it also comes with the disadvantage of living with the snow.

Meanwhile, people who dislike hot summers will struggle during the city’s burning summer months. Fall and spring are nice enough in the area, but it’s up to personal taste to determine whether they are worth the rest of the year.

16. Wildfires

Eastern Washington is frequently the victim of enormous wildfires. Every year, a significant area of the region is affected by blazes that hit forests and personal properties alike, and hot dry Spokane is no exception to this. While the city itself is unlikely to burn down any time soon, the outskirts where many homes are may be hit, as could any of the smaller towns in the Spokane area.

Because of this, fire preparedness is a must if you’re living anywhere near Spokane. This includes having an emergency bag with everything you need in case you need to flee your home at a moment’s notice and having a fire insurance plan that covers your most valuable possessions.

This may seem like a lot, but in places where large-scale fires can wreak havoc on whole communities, it’s simply the best practice when it comes to safety.

15. Air Quality

Spokane, like Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, is situated in a bit of a valley. This means that rather than escaping to be dissipated into the environment, all of the awful pollutants created by human society in the area get trapped by the valley walls and make the air gross to breathe.

During the pandemic, a decrease in travel and industry caused the air quality it improve significantly, but these changes are unlikely to be permanent, and anyone choosing to move to Spokane should probably take the problems of bad air into account.

This comes with a number of serious problems for people living in the city. For one thing, people with asthma will find Spokane to be incredibly difficult to live in. However, even people without pre-existing respiratory conditions will find their risk of heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer increased. People who worry about their health may want to choose a city wth better air quality.

14. Flights

While the Spokane airport is an international airport, direct flights from there are incredibly rare. Most people flying to the Northwest fly straight to SeaTac, which means that people trying to fly from Spokane end up needing to take whatever circuitous route they can find to get where they need to go.

For a lot of people, this might not be a problem, but if you need to fly frequently for your work it may be a lot harder to do so from Spokane than it would be from a larger city. The layovers do tend to add hours onto flights that would only take an afternoon if they were done all at once, which tends to add up to a highly unpleasant travel experience.

This is exasperated by other transportation problems.

13. Freeway Access

The US 395 North Spokane Corridor Highway has been in the planning phase since 1946, and recently its northern part was finally opened to the public. However, the actual highway isn’t likely to be finished until 2029, meaning that by the time there is actually a freeway to bypass the busiest part of the city it will have been in the works for eighty-three years.

While the rest of US 395 is functional and the I-90 also runs through town, getting to them can be a struggle with the limited options for freeway access, and will likely stay that way for the next six-seven years at least.

12. Lack Of Cultural Activities

Spokane is certainly on the larger side for Eastern Washington, but it is still only two hundred thousand people strong. With so few people, its lack of things like history museums, theaters, and sports teams is unsurprising.

However, there is more to the story of Spokane culture than just that. The city is home to multiple universities including Gonzaga university, which has a great basketball team. It also has an opera house, a children’s museum, and a singular art museum. These are all a lot of fun to visit, but the fact that beyond this there isn’t actually much to do does make what is there stand out.

11. Lack Of Diversity

Spokane is a city with relatively low diversity, especially compared to Western Washington. With an 85% white population, the city can feel like one big lump of boring white people. This extends to the city’s restaurant scene, which includes almost no authentic offerings from outside of the normal American fare.

This can make Spokane feel a little stifling. If you’re looking for a place with a great selection of cuisine to choose from or for a place where you can easily get a taste of home, Spokane may not be able to provide that.

10. No Shopping

Just one more way in which Spokane is boring! The city lacks shopping malls entirely, which can make having a day out where you do something other than visit the park incredibly difficult. It can also make finding certain objects much more difficult since there aren’t as many niche stores that are made possible by the shopping mall environment.

For some people, this may seem like it isn’t a big deal. However, it really does make it harder to find something to go and do inside the city. With few museums, nowhere to shop, nothing to watch, and boring food, it’s easy to wonder what there could possibly be to do in this town!

9. Substances

Spokane is full of marijuana dispensaries and beer breweries. In a city where there’s literally nothing else to do, it’s unsurprising that people like to spend their time getting drunk or high. People who enjoy this kind of environment will find Spokane a great place to live, especially if they also enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking or fishing.

However, people who are looking to avoid alcohol or the smell of pot may find Spokane to be a difficult place to live because of their ubiquity.

The presence of substances does, however, extend to illicit substances. It is fairly expected for places like Spokane with few other options for distraction to have high rates of substance abuse, but that still doesn’t erase the fact that the city is perceived by people in the area as being a place where this is particularly problematic.

8. Crime Rate

People complain a lot about the crime rate in Seattle despite the fact that it has been declining for years. This is not the case in Spokane, which has been one of the most dangerous cities in the country for decades.

When talking about crime rates, it’s important to remember that the numbers are always minuscule and that the real trouble with crime comes from a compounding risk over the course of many years. That being said, about one in 171 people in Spokane end up the victim of a violent crime each year.

Most of these people will be the victims of non-sexual assault or robbery. There are certainly worse crimes to be the victim of, but it still sucks to be attacked outside a bar.

Meanwhile, the rate of property crime victims is one in twenty, down significantly from a pre-pandemic one in sixteen. The most common of these crimes are theft, with about three thefts occurring for every hundred residents. This is almost triple the national average.

This rate has decreased since the beginning of the pandemic, but will probably increase to pre-pandemic numbers over time.

7. No Rent Control

If the crime rate wasn’t bad enough, landlords are allowed to steal from people legally by increasing their rent unreasonably. Even landlords within the Spokane area agree that there are a lot of scumbag landlords in the city, which sucks for anyone who will need to rent a home. The lack of rent control laws exasperates this problem significantly.

Fortunately, this is something that might change in the future, as the city council has looked at rent control in the past and may do so again in the event that demand for it continues.

6. Taxes

While Washington State lacks income tax entirely, it does have high property and sales taxes. Spokane in particular is infamous for having the highest sales tax in the country, north of eight percent. People who are currently working will still probably save more money than they lose in sales tax, but retirees may find this to be too much.

5. Jobs

Spokane is not a very big city, and the big tech jobs that are popping up in a lot of other mid-sized towns across the country just aren’t appearing the same way there. This means that people who don’t already have a job lined up in Spokane will likely struggle to find one.

With the rise of remote jobs, this may not apply as much depending on the field of work. Many people will still be able to find work that they can do online, which may make up for the lack of in-person jobs. However, this doesn’t change the fact that it is much harder to find a job in Spokane than it is to find one in, say, Tacoma.

4. Old Buildings

On to lighter subjects! Downtown Spokane has a strong old-timey aesthetic. The buildings haven’t really been updated in a long time, which makes for a very particular feel. Even though Spokane is solidly a city, it can sometimes feel like it’s just a really big small town.

For many people, this is a draw. Big cities can feel pretty constricting with so many people around. However, for others, the lack of modern architecture can be a little disappointing. For people used to denser cities, this can be a serious downside.

3. Busy University District

With fifteen thousand students in a normal year, the district around Spokane’s several universities can be incredibly busy all week long. Going anywhere near there any time during the week it can be impossible to find parking anywhere. Especially during the weekend, the district turns into a party town as college students do the thing that they’re known for doing.

Most people can probably just avoid the university district, but for people who plan on teaching or who may end up going to school there, spending time in the area may be inevitable.

2. Hoopfest

Bridges over the Spokane River and buildings at sunset, in Spokane, Washington.

Aside from the University District, there is only one place and time when Spokane is a busy place to be, and that is Hoopfest. Hoopfest is the world’s biggest 3v3 basketball festival, and going anywhere near downtown during the week of will lead to some sort of involvement, willing or not.

For basketball fans, this can be a dream come true. With courts set up literally everywhere, the ball really can be life for anyone who truly desires it for one glorious week. Even for people who are indifferent to basketball, it can be a lot of fun to visit.

However, people who don’t like basketball and don’t want to have to spend time around it will have to make a conscious effort to avoid it for one week out of the year. Like any festival, this can be highly inconvenient.

1. People Keep Complaining About It

The official pastime of people who live in Spokane is complaining about Spokane. It’s so easy to find videos and articles about how awful Spokane is to live in. Entire forums exist that are just a series of mild disses on this particular city. The reality is that Spokane is fine, but a boring place to live. People who love exploring nature, winter sports, and spending time alone, will love this city.

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