The lights of New York City may dazzle, but the comforts of home offer more warmth.
Three years ago, Eugene, Ore., residents Linda and Kevin Pirch moved to the East Coast when Kevin took a teaching job at Lehman College in the Bronx.
“We loved it back East,” says Linda. “But we were homesick for the Northwest.”
“New York City is exceedingly exciting, but it wasn’t who we are,” Kevin says. “We wanted to be closer to our family.”
A position in the political science department at Eastern Washington University caught Kevin’s attention, and he applied. He was offered the job in April, and the family moved to Spokane in August.
After weeks spent packing and preparing for the move, Linda says she felt a need to reconnect to her family. Instead of flying to Spokane, the Pirches chose to drive cross country with their two young children: Olivia , who is 5 and prefers to be called “Livvy,” and 2-year-old Sam. Dorothy the goldfish rode in a Kool-aid pitcher tucked between the two children on the backseat.
The trip took about a week, and the family stayed in hotels, stopped at children’s museums, and visited Notre Dame University and Mount Rushmore (or “Face Mountain” as Livvy calls it).
“What a great time to see America,” says Linda, laughing as she recalls how friends and family thought she was crazy to take a 3,000-mile journey with small kids. “It was the best trip ever in my life.”
Linda’s parents live in Seattle and have a second home in Kahler Glen, which is near Leavenworth. Her brother is a student at Western Washington University. Kevin’s parents are in Denver, and one of his closest friends teaches at Washington State University.
“It’s nice reconnecting with friends and family,” Linda says.
And then there’s the commute time. Back east, Kevin spent at least three hours round trip on the train, traveling from the family’s home in Norwalk, Conn., to the college in the Bronx. His bus ride to Cheney takes less than 40 minutes.
“It’s a much simpler, more humane way to live,” he says.
Finding a home
Linda and Kevin shopped for homes online before the move. Linda’s parents and Kevin’s colleagues checked out locations and possible houses, helping the Pirches narrow the search.
Kevin says he and Linda knew instantly when they found the right place. The 100-year-old South Hill home has four bedrooms, hardwood floors and an open floor plan.
“We didn’t have to do anything to it,” Linda says. “It’s just beautiful.”
Within a week of moving in, neighbors brought welcome baskets filled with muffins and invited them to a barbecue.
“It seems like as soon as all the kid’ toys got out of the boxes, it became home,” Kevin says. “It felt like we slid into the neighborhood naturally. We never felt like outsiders.”
Prior to the move, Linda researched preschools for Livvy and found one she liked on the North Side. While the 5-year-old with the New York accent misses her friends back east, she’s settling in. She’s playing soccer and learning to ski. She’s taking ballet lessons and later this year gets to perform in a recital at the Fox Theater. Last fall, she went to see the Spokane Children’s Theatre’s production of “High School Musical” – her “very favorite,” says her mom.
Kevin’s parents have visited twice since August, and Linda’s parents often come over for the weekend. Linda took a Christmas-card-making class, and she and Sam go on the occasional downtown shopping trip.
“Having a 2-year-old means everywhere I go I have a buddy,” she says.
Kevin, who has a doctorate in political science with an emphasis on media and politics, says his teaching keeps him busy – particularly during this historic presidential campaign year.
“The faculty has gone out of its way to make us feel welcome,” says Kevin of his colleagues at EWU. “My students are bright and inquisitive, and they want to be here.”
Linda says she feels incredibly fortunate to be in Spokane.
“It’s a wonderful community,” she says. “We feel really lucky to be here.”