Spokane, Washington Cost of Living [2021 Update]
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Considering a move to Spokane and intrigued by our beautiful Spokane neighborhoods? If so, you may be wondering about Spokane’s cost of living.
When we first moved to Spokane from Phoenix, the cost of living in Spokane surprised us – but not like you may expect! We tried out some cost-of-living calculators, but some were very wrong! However, in general a cost-of-living calculator can be a helpful starting point.
Below, we’ll go over the cost of living in Spokane based on data on our own experiences. Make sure to share your thoughts over at our Facebook group, Getting to Know Spokane!
Is it Expensive to Live in Spokane?
One of the most frequently asked questions about living in Spokane – is it expensive? In general, the answer will be ‘no’ – but it also depends on where you’re coming from!
If you’re moving from an expensive metro area, like Seattle, you’ll find Spokane is overall cheaper. The biggest difference? Housing in Spokane is much cheaper than housing in Seattle!
However, if you’re moving from a smaller city or suburb, you may be in for some sticker shock. Long time Spokane residents are being priced out of the market, and inventory even in 2021 is still tight.
On the other hand, you may find it a lot cheaper to live in Spokane in terms of utilities, transportation, health care and food. It all really depends on where you’re coming from and what you like to do.
We’ll break down some of the biggest costs, using national averages and Washington state comparisons, for common expenses below.
Cost of Living in Spokane
Housing is one of the biggest expenses, and no more than 30% of your monthly gross income should be spent on housing expenses (as a general rule).
According to BestPlaces.net, Spokane is less expensive in terms of rent than the United States average. An average two bedroom in Spokane according to BestPlaces.net only costs around $900 vs. $1150 for the US average.
Finding affordable rental prices is more difficult in Spokane if you have pets. In our rental options in Spokane article, we noted that some apartment complexes here charge high, nonrefundable fees – usually per pet. We ended up paying close to $1300 a month for a two bedroom when we moved here, mainly because it was one of the very few places that allowed pets.
As far as housing costs, Spokane is still more affordable than Seattle. Spokane County’s median closing price in early 2021 was $315,000, as compared to $800,000 in Seattle. Housing affordability is becoming more of a challenge, but if you’re willing to put in some work on a renovation, you can still find some cheaper homes.
Washington falls in the middle when it comes to property taxes; it is ranked 29 according to WalletHub with an effective real estate tax rate of .98%, under the national average of 1.07%. Spokane County‘s effective tax rate is 1.15%, which is higher than Washington state’s average of .93%.
That said, the rental and housing market is at an all-time low right now, as of early 2021. Overall, housing inventory will increase over spring and summer but remain relatively low.
If you’re considering a move to Spokane, you’ll want to line up housing (even if you’re just renting or staying at a long term stay) before moving here.
Compared to the national average, utility prices in Spokane are 24% lower. This is something we have found to be true, and one of the best parts of moving here. Our utility costs have decreased in all aspects, including electricity, gas, water, and even internet.
The average energy bill in Spokane is $127 a month. That number will change depending on the size of your house, energy consumption, and even the time of year. You’re likely to use more electricity or gas in the winter, when it’s colder outside, than you will in the summer. However, we have found the cost of utilities at around $127 per month a fairly accurate number for us.
According to Numbeo, the average cost of internet in Spokane is $62 a month, but can vary from $45 to $80. We’ve found this to be accurate, although the quality of internet can vary widely depending on where in Spokane you live. The further from the city you go, the more difficult it is to get good internet service.
Unfortunately, as is common in many cities, your options for internet are limited. The biggest ones are Centurylink and Xfinity (Comcast), and they are universally derided for one reason or the other (contracts, costs, speed, reliability, etc.).
Living close to the center of Spokane, we’ve had few problems with our internet provider since living here. The monthly cost can change erratically and we’ve wasted many hours on the phone and in person dealing with ghost charges, but compared to what neighbors have said, we’re ‘lucky.’
There’s not a lot you can do about internet providers here with so few choices, so just pick one and hope it works out!
Food & Grocery
According to Payscale, the media cost of groceries and food costs is 3% lower in Spokane than the national average. Here are some common items and their costs:
Grocery costs can vary widely in Spokane, depending on where you shop and how. Spokane has many common, popular grocery stores, including Albertsons, Safeway, Fred Meyer, and Trader Joe’s, plus some more local markets like My Fresh Basket, Yoke’s and Rosauers. Spokane and Spokane Valley both offer Costco shopping (and fuel!) as well.
By using shopping at big box stores, visiting discount chains like Grocery Outlet and Winco, and using a personalized weekly meal plan service like The Dinner Daily, you can keep your grocery budget reasonable. It may take a little more driving, but in general we’ve found grocery costs about the same as when we lived in Phoenix.
In the summertime, you can also diversify your grocery list and potentially save on food prices by shopping at the farmers markets in Spokane. Some items may be more expensive, since they’re local and produced in smaller batches, but you can find some amazing produce options and more you won’t find at your local store.
One of our favorite ways to enjoy local produce and not break the bank? Produce delivery from Full Circle! It’s customizable and we can pick the size that works best for us, eliminating food waste.
Spokane’s sales tax rate as of 2021 is 8.9%, which is a combination of Washington’s sales tax rate of 6.5% and Spokane’s sales tax rate of 2.4%.
One big change we’ve noticed? Restaurant costs in Spokane! They’re high – compared to Arizona. This is partially due to the average salary for restaurant workers in Washington state – it’s $5 higher than those of workers in Arizona. However, depending on the city or state you are coming from, you may find restaurant prices right in line with what you’d expect.
According to Numbeo, here are some typical prices you can expect to pay at restaurants:
- Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – $15
- Meal for a mid-range restaurant – $67
- Meal at McDonalds or equivalent – $8
According to Payscale, transportation expenses like fuel costs and bus fares are 12% higher than the national average. Depending on what kind of bus pass you’re looking for, a day pass with Spokane Transit is $4 and a 7 day pass is $17.
Gas prices in Spokane are, on average, around $2.80 per gallon, according to KREM. According to AAA, that is spot on the national average. Depending on how much gas is selling for in your city, you may find gas more expensive – or about the same!
Although Spokane is much less spread out than Phoenix, AZ, we found the costs for Uber and Lyft rides to be about the same – even if the drive is shorter in terms of miles. That’s largely because of time!
Depending on where you live in Spokane, your opportunities to use the highway are few and far between. In these cases, you’ll use surface streets, which come with their own traffic lights, pedestrian crossing, etc. While a location in town might only be 10 miles away, it could take you 15-20 minutes to get there depending on red lights.
Compared to the national average, health care in Spokane is 14% higher. We have not really experienced the higher prices of health care, but we have chosen to use Direct Primary Care in Spokane instead of traditional doctors sourced through insurance companies.
Direct Primary Care is not insurance, but it does offer doctor visits, access to tests, medications, and more. You pay out of pocket monthly with access to your Direct Primary Care provider, but in our experience, it’s very affordable. Frankly, the access to doctors is unparalleled and well worth the cost.
Payscale shows that the average cost of a doctor visit in Spokane is $125, but this can certainly vary depending on your insurance coverage, copays, type of doctor, etc.
According to Payscale, the average cost for an optometrist in Spokane is $117 per visit. I personally use Costco’s optometrist’s department, and eye exams are right around that cost – about $100, depending on the type of exam you are getting.
I also shop using ContactsDirect.com to get my contacts quickly, as sometimes the line at any of the Spokane/Spokane Valley Costco’s can be long and daunting!
The average dentist visit cost is $100, but it can also vary depending on your insurance coverage or what you need done. According to Delta Dental, in Spokane a standard exam for an established patient costs anywhere from $222-333 (in network) to $280-450 (out of network).
As you can see, it’s hard to compare cost of living in Spokane when it comes to health insurance costs! Health insurance costs can vary so wildly depending on how old you are, what you’re looking for or need, the type of insurance you have (or don’t have) and much more.
According to a report by KXLY, Spokane County parents pay $1500 per month for one preschooler and one infant. The state average is $1700. For one child, Numbeo says Spokane parents can expect to pay anywhere from $400 to $1200 monthly.
A recent discussion on Reddit showed the variety of childcare costs around the city, with the average around $1200 a month per child (costs decrease the older the child is):
As with health care, elder care in Spokane can vary widely depending on what you need, your insurance coverage, and more.
According to Caring.com, the average cost of assisted living in Spokane is $3,700 per month, higher than the national median of $3,500. Caring cites Spokane Valley as being cheaper than Spokane, with the average cost of assisted living in the Valley at $2,500 a month.
With all of these costs associated with living in Spokane, you might be wondering: what do people typically earn here? What is Spokane’s median income?
For Spokane County employee salaries, the average salary in 2019 was $63,000. This is 3.2% higher than the national average for government employees, and 6.5% higher than other counties. In Spokane County, Fairchild Air Force Base is the largest employer.
According to ZipRecruiter, “the majority of salaries within the Average jobs category currently range between $47,013 (25th percentile) to $70,282 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $85,478 annually in Spokane.”
Looking for a job in Spokane? We recommend checking out sites like FlexJobs to find remote, flexible and work from home jobs. Need help with your resume? Use a site like JobScan, which helps scan your resume and get it past resume robots.
Regardless of what your occupation is, it’s worth it to note that Washington state has no personal or corporate income tax.
The main industries in Spokane include:
- Energy and clean technology
You can read all about Spokane’s main industries here.
According to the Economic Security Department of Washington, the outlook is positive for transportation, advanced manufacturing, finance and insurance, information technology (IT) and agriculture jobs. If you’re in one of these industries, Spokane will be a great place to live!