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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Saturday, June 6, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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The Great Divide West Sider Finds A Home On 10 Acres North Of Spokane First Person: This Family Gave Up City Advantages When They Moved East But Gained In Quality Of Life

By Stace Norlen Special To Staff writer

One summer evening in 1990, while strolling by Lake Washington, my husband Terry asked: “What do you think of moving to Spokane?” My answer was short and sweet: “OK, let’s go!”

We had lived in Seattle for years, after growing up on the east side - of Lake Washington, that is. We had watched the traffic and the population increase over the years.

Along with those people came massive apartment complexes, housing developments, shopping malls, obtrusive office buildings and warehouses. It seemed like everyone wanted to move to Seattle. We started to notice a decline in our quality of life, with the increases in crime, traffic and other things. We wanted our child (and future children) to grow up in a quiet, more gentle surrounding, like we had growing up.

We started house-hunting in Spokane that Labor Day weekend. We looked in the Valley, Mead, Green Bluff and finally in the Deer Park/Riverside area. One trip up U.S. Highway 395 (behind a farm tractor going 25 mph) was enough to convince us to steer toward Riverside. It was great, and only 20 miles to Spokane.

We lived about the same distance from our jobs in downtown Seattle, but the commute in the Puget Sound area took at least two to three times as long.

We toured Spokane several times during the next nine months before buying our 10 wooded acres in the Riverside area. It was close to schools, gas, the grocery store and U.S. Highway 2. We met some neighbors and investigated our new surroundings.

We received a “warm” welcome a few months later, with Firestorm ‘91. We found out that no electricity means no power to the pump, which means no water and no flushing the toilet. We were glad to have a woodstove and plenty of candles and batteries. That knowledge came in handy during last year’s ice storm.

The weather here is a big plus. The summer brings so many sunny and blue sky days. It’s beautiful in the winter, with everything blanketed in three feet of white. And there’s the wildlife. We had never seen a stink bug or pine beetles before, or so many mosquitoes and yellow jackets.

There are things about Spokane that could use a change, such as a Nordstrom store in the north end. I also wish that a larger grocery store would locate in our neck of the woods.

It’d be nice if there were more things for the kids to do that weren’t all the way downtown. We miss being able to go see the Sonics, Seahawks and Mariners, but we are getting into the Spokane Chiefs.

We get back to Seattle several times a year to visit relatives and friends. Every time we go there, I can’t help but think that I’m glad we got out.

It would take an awful lot (like winning the Lottery) to convince us to move back. Although we gave up a lot when we moved here, the quality of life is more than enough compensation.

People here are down-to-earth and friendly. I think the locals are becoming the minority, with out-of-towners discovering how nice Spokane really is.

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