Last month, something made the decision to move back to Spokane rather than accept a job in San Francisco very simple: I wanted a desirable place to live. After looking in San Francisco, where I was living at the time, it was clear I would not be living in a majestic old downtown apartment, but in a junker shoebox of a dwelling in the East Bay area. To top it all off, the shoebox would cost me more than half of my $37,000 annual salary in rent alone.
The outlook was grim, and after just one weekend of searching in Spokane, the choice was clear: Spokane has a wealth of apartments available at very reasonable rents.
I found many old buildings in desirable neighborhoods where vintage fixtures are the norm, along with radiator heat and hardwood floors. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that apartment living in Spokane is top notch. So here’s a quick look at what I found in a variety of price ranges.
The sky is the limit
If price is not an issue for you, Spokane offers some incredible housing. Luxurious lofts rent right downtown, or you can rent a large house with a yard and swimming pool. If living away from the city is your style, look for houses on the Palouse Highway with a view – or perhaps in the Spokane Valley or farther out in the county. Some places are even set up for horses, and you may be able to strike a good deal with a landlord by offering some maintenance or home improvement work – if you are the handy kind.
Up to $800 a month
In this price range you’ll find an immense range of options. You can relatively easily find an apartment with two bedrooms, a dining room, hardwood floors and vintage fixtures close to downtown in this price range. Covered parking and laundry in the building are available with some units.
You can even rent a house, for instance in the South Perry neighborhood or close in North Side. There, rental houses can be found in this range with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large kitchen, dining room, washer and dryer hook-ups, garage and a yard. While it takes you farther away from the city center, the extra amenities are obvious.
Arika Whiteaker moved back to Spokane a year ago from Sedona, Ariz., and was delighted to find a two-bedroom house in a good neighborhood with a yard and hardwood floors.
“In Sedona, I was paying almost $800 a month for a junior one-bedroom,” she said, “Here in Spokane, I have a large two bedroom for $565!” In this price range, you can find just about whatever suits your taste.
Some lofts are also available right downtown in this price range – see last week’s edition of Home – and many more are becoming available soon.
This is also the price range in which you’ll find most brand new or newer apartments located in complexes a 5-10 minute drive from downtown.
Hilby Station off the Palouse Highway is one example.
“We have an exercise room, pool during the summer months and something that’s a little different is raised garden plots,” says resident Hilby manager Jim Gross. “There are 15 of them, given away on first come first served basis. No charge.”
For families with kids, big complexes often offer play areas and or tennis and basketball courts. Gross says Hilby offers easy access to Highway 195 and Moran Prairie school is nearby with a baseball diamond and big playground.
“On 57th there are lots of restaurants and shops, there are also a lot of nurseries for plants and gardening,” he says. Hilby Station is different for many other reasons he says:
“We have lots of country views and we’re just a little bit away from everyone else. It’s not uncommon to see ducks, pheasants, deer now and then, coyotes will come through at night. We hear owls at night and there are lots of frogs. Frogs love the pond in the front of the property.”
Less than $400
Most commonly, you’ll find cute studios and one-bedrooms in converted old houses boasting amenities like large porches and roomy closets, if you’re on a $400 budget. On the lower South Hill, Barbara Woodroofe Eddy is the owner and landlord of a positively exquisite story-book Victorian house that was converted into apartments in the 1950s.
“It was sort of falling apart when I bought it,” Eddy says, “I’ve really fixed it up over the years.” Eddy bought the house in 1953 from a fellow colleague at North Central High School because it was right next door to another house her family had owned since 1924. She has lived there since ‘53 as well.
Now, the house has five apartment units, two studios that rent at $195 a month, a one-bedroom for $375, a furnished one-bedroom for $395 and a two-bedroom for $550. Eddy says her tenants love the old house.
“It’s kind of flattering, really,” Eddy quips, “my tenants are all young, mostly students. They jolly up my life a lot.” When looking for a tenant, Eddy just posts a sign on the front gate. At 90, she has seen many tenants come and go.
“I’ve tackled quite a bit of property in my life” she says, “and I’m rather picky about the people I rent to.” She runs a character and credit check on all potential tenants through a private investigation company in Western Washington.
Between her two houses, Eddy has four large raised beds where she grows organic produce.
“That way my tenants can just go out there and get an onion if they need one,” she says happily.
“I like Spokane,” she says, “It’s been good to me, my goodness.”
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