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Cost of Living in Spokane, WA 2021

By: Emily Kho
July 26, 2021

Spokane has been nicknamed The Lilac City for its beautiful purple blooms throughout the region. These flowers are so prominent in the city that one particular variant, the Syringa vulgaris, has been named Spokane, after the town it most commonly inhabits. Spokane’s name originates from the Native Americans who first lived in the area and translates to “children of the sun” in Salishan.

Settlement in the area expanded in the early 1870s when the city became a hub for agriculture, timber, mining, transportation, and medical services. Today, Spokane is the largest city in Eastern Washington, with a population of over 217,000. It is the cultural and economic center of the Spokane metropolitan area, the Inland Northwest, and the Spokane-Coeur d’Alene area.

Those who choose to call Spokane home enjoy living in the gateway to the American West, with outdoor activities aplenty. If you find yourself interested in moving to Spokane, you’ll want to get a better idea of your potential costs. Let’s take a closer look at the cost of living in Spokane to understand better how much you’ll need to live there comfortably.

Spokane Housing Costs

Across the country, most cities experienced significant drops in rent prices during the peak of the pandemic. As things are beginning to reopen once again, we’re seeing rent prices return to normal trends. Unlike many other cities across the country, Spokane did not experience a significant drop-off in rent prices in the latter portion of 2020.

According to the latest Rent Report on Spokane, the median rent index is $965 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,326 for a two-bedroom. Although the city saw a minor decline in November of last year, rent prices have increased for the last seven consecutive months.

Overall, the city's year-over-year rent growth falls well above the national average of 8.4% and the state average of 4.6%. At 28.5%, it’s clear to see that Spokane has become an increasingly popular city to live in.

Throughout the rest of Washington, rent increases have been a regular occurrence. Other popular cities within the state like Tacoma have seen an 18% increase in rent prices year over year, much like Vancouver with 15.4%, and Federal Way with 10.9%. Despite the significant increase in Spokane year over year, the city’s rent prices are still more affordable than these other popular Washington cities.

The Spokane housing market is also seeing steady growth, with median home prices currently at $343,686, a 26.3% increase year over year. Again, despite the significant increase, these prices still fall below the other popular Washington cities like Tacoma, Vancouver, and Federal Way, with median home prices of $443,505, $442,588, and $511,980, respectively.

Spokane Transportation

Spokane’s public transportation, which has been run by Spokane Transit for over 40 years, is both extensive and advanced. This system serves Spokane, Fairchild Airforce Base, Liberty Lake, Spokane Valley, Cheney, Millwood, Airway Heights, and Medical Lake every day, including all holidays. The bus hours are 5:30 AM to 11:30 PM on weekdays and 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM on weekends, with some unique schedules on holidays.

A total of 43 bus routes connect Spokane Transit to neighboring areas. The advanced systems offer a wide variety of online technology to users, including Text Your Stop, a Real-Time Info Map, and Transit Apps.

Multiple fare options are available to riders, including a single-ride fare, two-hour pass, day pass, and fixed-route 31-day pass. Tickets can be purchased at Customer Service at the Plaza, select retail outlets, the STA Online Store, on the bus, or through pass-by-mail.

If you prefer to get around with your vehicle, you'll spend about $4,900 for transportation in Spokane over a year as a single adult without children. A family of four, including two working adults and two children, will pay $13,317 for transportation in one year. Thankfully, gasoline prices are around $2.78 per gallon, lower than the national average of $3.04.

Spokane Food Costs

For the foodies, you’ve come to the right place. Spokane has been named a top foodie destination with a diverse culinary scene. While living in the city, it’s worth checking out some favorite dishes Spokane is known for, like its pho, Thai food, and fried chicken.

Thankfully, you can check out some good eats relatively cheaply, with an average of $15.00 for a meal at an inexpensive restaurant. Something fancier, like a three-course dinner for two people at a mid-range restaurant, will cost you a bit more at $60.00 without alcohol or dessert.

In Spokane, single adults without children can expect to spend at least $3,792 on food per year. However, if you're a family of four with two working adults and two children, you can expect to pay $11,106 per year for food.

You can anticipate costs similar or slightly below the national average for food items purchased from the local My Fresh Basket, Main Market Co-op, or Rosauers Supermarkets. For example, one gallon of regular milk will run you $2.96 in the grocery store, with the national average being $3.58.

Spokane Healthcare Costs

Your health should always be a top priority regardless of where you may decide to call home. To make sure you stay healthy, proper healthcare is an additional cost worth noting when looking at the cost of living.

Whether you plan to visit your doctor minimally or have a medical condition requiring you to see them more regularly, having medical insurance in Spokane will help keep your costs more manageable. Also, should any unfortunate emergencies arise, health insurance can help ensure you can afford the care you need.

You will want to account for proper medical care when planning your budget in Spokane, as healthcare should always be considered an essential cost. A single adult without children will pay around $2,206 for medical care over the year. Two working adults with two children will pay $6,520.

Spokane Utilities

The climate in Spokane varies throughout the year. The summers are short, dry, and warm, while the winters are mostly cloudy and very cold. The coldest month in Spokane is in December, with an average overnight low of 21.6°. The hottest month of summer is early August, where the average daytime high is typically 88°.

While summers aren’t’ too bad, the winters are cold, with nights often below freezing. To ensure you stay comfortable, you'll need to account for higher utilities. Spokane’s basic utilities include electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage, running $113.91 for a 915-sq. ft. apartment. Adding on the Internet with 60 Mbps or more with unlimited data, cable/ADSL will cost you an extra $59.90 for a total of $173.81 each month.

As you can imagine, these costs can add up quickly over time. It’s a good idea to understand better how much utilities will cost in an apartment before making your move. This information will help you to budget accordingly for this commonly overlooked expense.

Spokane Fitness and Entertainment

The city of Spokane has fitness and entertainment opportunities for everyone, especially those who like to be outdoors. However, considering that winters can be pretty cold, you will likely need to join a local gym for workouts. You’ll want to consider club membership costs at Spokane Fitness Center, Snap Fitness, or others in the area. Thankfully, these costs are relatively low, with a fitness club membership fee for one adult costing $33.93 monthly.

If you’re looking for some entertainment, you can purchase a seat at the local cinema for $12.50 without snacks or drinks. Otherwise, you can spend time browsing the downtown area, which has many restaurants and shops or check out a live performance by the Spokane Symphony orchestra.

Spokane also has tons of other, more affordable entertainment options. You can visit museums, including some of the most popular, like the Campbell House, the Mobius Discovery Center, and the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture. The city also has several parks to enjoy for those who prefer to stay outdoors, including Cannon Hill Park, Manito Park, and Riverfront Park.

Other Expenses to Consider in Spokane

Washington has become such a popular state for people to move to because it does not have personal income tax. To make up for this, though, Washington has some of the nation’s highest sales taxes. Washington currently has a 6.50% sales tax, and Spokane County adds another 2.50% on top of that, making Spokane’s sales tax rate 9.00%.

Make sure to pay attention to additional costs that can add up if you are going to move out of state. Some of these extra expenses might include cross-country movers, storage, hotels, and transportation. Big moves like this may also require even more fees, such as apartment application fees, security deposits, pet deposits, and other add-ons. It’s essential to be aware of these costs so you can adjust your budget accordingly.

Furnishing your new apartment is yet another overlooked expense to consider. Learn tips on how to decorate your apartment on a budget to help keep you in line and stop you from spending too much too quickly.

If you know what type of lifestyle you plan to lead in Spokane, you can begin figuring out your recommended salary. The living wage in Spokane is $12.69 per hour, which is the basic wage required to pay for essentials such as housing, food, and necessities. Remember that the living wage is based on life led pretty frugally and does not account for any extra costs like entertainment or dining out.

You can also look at the average salary index in Spokane, which is $61,000 per year, roughly $18.24 per hour. The living wage, average salary, and recommended salary are three very different figures, though. The 30% rule for rent can be a helpful tool to determine what your recommended salary should be in Spokane.

According to the 30% rule, you should not be spending more than one-third, or 30%, of your gross income on rent to live comfortably. For example, if your rent is close to the median for a one-bedroom apartment in Spokane and costs $965, your monthly wages should be at least $2,895 per month or $34,740 annually.

While this salary might sound reasonable, much like the living wage, it is recommended for _only _a very basic lifestyle. If you anticipate having additional costs for entertainment, you’ll need to pursue a higher salary, a less expensive apartment, or both.

Thankfully, the typical annual salaries for common professions in Spokane are highly competitive. The three highest typical annual salaries belong to Management, Healthcare Practitioners and Technical, and Architecture and Engineering, respectively.

Job Market in Spokane

Spokane has a less healthy job market compared to similar-sized metro areas. Although the city once lived primarily off of its natural resources, with mining and agriculture being the most significant industries, things are much different today. The city’s largest employers include the University of Washington School of Medicine and the Fairchild Air Force Base.

The unemployment rate in Spokane is 8.8%, 0.7% above the current national average. Not surprisingly, this rate took a significant hit as a direct result of the pandemic. Thankfully, Spokane sees a steady recovery as businesses become open once again.

Final Thoughts

Spokane might be the place for you if you’re looking to move to a vibrant city with countless outdoor activities. Register with Apartment List today and start checking out the hundreds of available apartments to rent in Spokane!

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Emily is a professionally trained SEO writer who covers a wide range of topics but specializes in business and hospitality content. With over a decade of professional writing experience in the hospitality industry, Emily comes from a strong background in the field backed with a BS from the world-renowned William F. Read More
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