We moved from Petaluma, California in June to Spokane, Washington. Considering our youngest, Asher, is a senior in high school this year, it was a big move and some might say weird timing.
But it was a long time coming. And mostly well thought out.
Like a lot of people of a *certain* age, Kimber and I have been fantasizing about what retirement could look like. We’ve been long-time subscribers of a magazine called International Living. It features article upon article of great places people retire to with all these promises of really cheap, yet idyllic lifestyles. We’ve always been up for the latest adventure. Local or abroad, all-inclusive resorts or backpack camping, we’ve had fun doing it all. We pictured ourselves finding a cute little house in a small village in Ireland where Kimber (at 6’4”) would probably have to duck to get through the door – but would happily spend his days challenging the locals to a bout of darts while I sat by a cozy fire reading a really large stack of books. Or moving to a Latin American city close to the equator where the temperature is a perfect 78* year round. Immersing ourselves in the language and culture, and making friends with locals. Or even small living in our condo within walking distance of “everything” in Seattle.
And that’s how we ended up in Spokane. Hahahaha.
Actually, whenever we talked about these great adventures, it was usually at least a couple of years away. And definitely (or at least realistically) after we were empty nesters.
Kimber spent over 10 years at a unique media technology company that was started by a group of irreverent, rag tag friends (a few of whom actually produced and performed in a traveling circus). If I could sum up the company in a yearbook category, they would’ve been “most likely to get drunk, set something on fire…and still succeed.” They did amazing and high profile work all over the world. And then, for some inexplicable reason, they decided they needed to grow up and sold the company to a huge entertainment company. The Corporation (big C) expected the culture to change from a fun-loving group of friends, to button-down corporate - overnight. It was painful to watch.
In early January, Kimber got word that his department was closing down. The upside? A severance package that effectively pushed up our “someday” to “how about now?”
However, our original plan didn’t exactly align with reality. We still had two cats, two dogs, and a teen. And our plan didn’t include keeping a house that was made for a family of six in an expensive part of the country. (Which meant cleaning out a large house that we raised four kids in over the course of 20 years).
So why Spokane? (most people ask incredulously). We had 6 “simple” criteria:
- Affordable. California is hella expensive, especially in the Bay Area, and while we loved living there, we were willing to give it up for the lure of retirement. Spokane definitely met that requirement. Houses here are a fraction of what they go for in the Bay Area.
- Blue. We didn’t want to live in a place that passes stupid bathroom bills or supports straight pride parades. Spokane isn’t the progressive bubble we’re used to, and is still trying to shake the effects of its proximity to the now defunct Aryan Nation headquarters, but we’ve found it to be a very welcoming and inclusive community.
- Outdoorsy. I’m a PNW girl through and through. I love snow-capped mountains, evergreen trees, and all the outdoorsy activities that go along with it. At one point in our discussions, Kimber said something like, “shouldn’t we be retiring somewhere warm?” But he was sold on the easy access to skiing, a multi-use trail that meanders alongside the river, which also runs through the gorgeous and invigorated downtown, warm summer nights, and the promise of extended trips during the more frigid months.
- Urban. We love being able to leave our car in the driveway and walk or ride our bikes for our wants and needs. We also love having hundreds of happy hour and brunch options to choose from, plenty of nightlife, music, and sporting events. Spokane invented Hoopfest and apparently Father’s Day.
- Natural Disaster Proof-ish. We wanted to “diversify” our real estate investments to have a property that won’t be reduced to rubble or taken out by a tsunami when the “big one” hits.
And our senior in high school? Asher’s on fire. She just got a student of the month award at her new school and applied for very early admission and has been accepted into Washington State University.