Matt Case - May 13th, 2024 - 3:49pm PDT 

    Spokane, Washington – A Haven for Retirees and Young Professionals

    Spokane, Washington, once dubbed the "Scam Capital of America" by Forbes in 2009 due to numerous fraudulent business ventures, is now experiencing a renaissance. The city, located in Eastern Washington, is becoming a hotspot for active retirees with a taste for gourmet coffee and young professionals who can work remotely. With a metro-area population of about 550,000, Spokane offers a blend of natural beauty, urban amenities, and a burgeoning economy that has earned it a spot on Forbes' list of "Best Places to Retire."

    The transformation of Spokane is remarkable. Known for its ample outdoor adventures, the city also boasts a food and coffee culture reminiscent of Seattle’s vibrant scene. The local economy is thriving, thanks in part to a top-tier medical center and a small but growing tech startup incubator.

    However, this newfound popularity has brought challenges. Even before the pandemic, Spokane was grappling with a housing shortage. By 2021, the residential rental vacancy rate had plummeted to just one percent, pricing many young residents out of the housing market. The median house price in Spokane is $394,000 – significantly lower than Seattle’s – but the limited number of desirable properties is causing concern.

    Several years ago, the city's former mayor declared a housing emergency, but progress has been slow. The newly elected mayor, economist Lisa Brown, is taking a more aggressive approach to address the issue. Brown, who has a PhD and was the first female chancellor of Washington State University in Spokane, aims to increase housing density by relaxing parking requirements, a move that may lead to more crowded neighborhoods but is seen as necessary to meet the growing demand.

    “Our goal is to dramatically ramp up our ability to build housing at all income levels. A lot of that will be dense urban housing, so that the quality of life can stay the same here,” Brown stated. She won the mayoral race last November by promising to tackle the housing crisis, as well as issues related to homelessness and rising fentanyl use.

    At 67, Brown believes in preserving Spokane’s quality of life despite the challenges posed by in-migration and rising housing costs. She emphasizes that Spokane’s appeal lies not only in its affordability but also in its excellent air quality, low risk of natural hazards, abundance of quality primary care doctors, and favorable tax policies.

    As Spokane continues to evolve, it remains a city that offers a wonderful way of life, attracting a diverse group of new residents who appreciate its unique blend of urban and natural attractions.