My initial reaction to moving to Seattle from Spokane was one of relief. After living through the worst winter storm in recent memory, I was glad to get out of the snow, ice and cold. Although I’ve spent many years in the bitter cold of Colorado, somehow this last winter made me more uncomfortable.
Since leaving Colorado, I spent a few years in California before moving to Spokane in the fall of 1996. I think this de-acclimated me, and I expected the Northwest to be more mild.
Despite the frigid winter, I was very surprised with Spokane. The great tree-lined neighborhoods on the South Hill, the river, the wonderful buildings and art work from revitalization efforts in downtown made it very pleasant. The skyways made it interesting to walk through the shops in the middle of winter. And the people of Spokane were always extremely nice. It’s refreshing to have people say “Hi!” to you as you walk down the street.
The region as a whole was also very inviting. I love the outdoors, and was delighted being close to hills and lakes. Having been transferred to Bellevue after only six months in Spokane makes me slightly resentful that I wasn’t able to spend more of the warm months canoeing or kayaking on the lakes, or camping in the hills in Idaho.
In Seattle, it’s wonderful to live so close to the Cascades, the Olympics and the Sound. While I miss the lakes of Idaho, I don’t think kayaking on Lake Coeur d’Alene compares to exploring the San Juan Islands.
On the other hand, Seattle has been a real dichotomy. It’s great to be able to spend a weekend in the San Juans, but you really get snapped back to reality when you hit a one-hour traffic jam driving back on I-5 at 10:30 on Sunday night.
Finding a place to live is probably my biggest dilemma. In Spokane, I could easily pick a nice house in a good neighborhood with a reasonable commute - that I could afford. Not so here.
And with all the hiring for airline manufacturing and computer companies, the home prices are going up as fast as the new houses themselves. So you face the option of living in an area like Olympia and having a horrendous drive, or settling for less. I enjoy the variety of activities offered by the urban scene. The endless variety of restaurants, jazz clubs and sports events is a real delight.
Spokane, on the other hand, left the outlook for the singles scene a little dry. Choosing between “Pig Out In The Park” or playing blackjack at the smoke-filled Mars bar makes one want to stay home and watch a video. But then walk into a local video store and the first thing you see is a display of “The Best Wild Boar Hunts in the Great Northwest” and other films catering to the hunter/gather types.
At work, I largely deal with local agencies reviewing development proposals. While agencies in Eastern Washington may not always be as sophisticated, it is more pleasant to deal with their straight-forward approach to difficult issues. A jurisdiction like King County is the best example of public dis-service that I’ve seen in a long time.
Overall, I’m very happy living in the Seattle area. Now if they could only come up with a way of moving Spokane about two hours closer….
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