NFR Retirement on the horizon

Background: Now that I am within spitting distance (~2.5 yrs) of retirement my wife and I spend a good deal of time trying to figure out what we want to do in our retirement years and where we want to settle down. We are both from Western NY where we raise our family and lived until I retired early from Kodak in 2006 after 32 years. We moved to Florida where she started a small business and I also became self employed. By the end of 2008 the recession had done us in and we had to regroup, which we have in Richland, WA. So we are relative strangers out here but both our girls have moved here, so we will be staying in the region. I love the fishing opportunities out here and my wife has enjoyed our exploration of the region with our travel trailer.

We would like to be near a small metro area to have access to cultural activities, decent health care, and restaurants yet be a short drive to decent fishing and other outdoors activities. We will be spending the next couple of years exploring different locations based on these criteria.

So the first place we want to get to know is Spokane. We have spent a few weekends there and really enjoyed ourselves. I would appreciate input from WFF folks familiar with living in the area and how you like it - pros & cons. Recommendations of other locales will be greatly appreciated.


Active Member
I'm about 2-3 years from retirement myself. Been west along the gorge, to around the White Salmon area? There's the famous Klickitat River, and two mountains along with many streams rolling from them. Then There's Hood River for good shopping, and both sides of the river have good eating places. Hospital in Hood River under the Providence Health care system, and about an hour+ from the Portland/Vancouver area.


Not to be confused with Freestone
I would hardly say this is "NFR"... we all know very well what you will (or for damn sure should) be doing in retirement. I too am just a couple years from an early exit... 29 years of the aerospace business is enough. We don't plan to live in WA during retirement, but if I did, Asotin/Clarkston might get a look. Snake, Grand Ronde, Clearwater offering nearly year round steelhead action and reasonably short trips to get a fill of Montana's waters.

Old Man

Just an Old Man
When I retired in 1999, I tried living in Washington State. But the crime and the gangs and the cost of living drove me away, I forgot the traffic. I worked at Boeing for 38 plus years. So the traffic wasn't really that bad. I moved to Montana in 2006. No traffic, no gangs, cost of living isn't too bad.

I came back to the Everett area last July. I couldn't believe how bad the traffic was. Bumper to Bumper and this was on I 5. I never seen so many cars. I'm happy to say I really like Montana. Sure it's cold in the winter time. But it's cold in Washington also so that's OK. But we don't have the rain, just dry snow. It's pretty easy to drive in.


Active Member
Spokane's a good place for very affordable housing, pretty low traffic, and within easy driving distance of a fair number of rivers and streams. Some of the surrounding lakes are good fishing.

Clarkson-Asotin is nice...except the part about living in Clarkson-Asotin....hotter than hell in the summer, and not much else to do other than fish (or ride Rattlesnake Ridge or the Spiral HW on a motorcycle).

If you want culture, you're gonna hafta live with the hordes in the Seattle environs.

Rick Todd

Active Member
What don't you like about where you live now? Seems to offer what you are looking for. I sold my dental practice a year ago and now work one day a week for the new owner. I really like still working on a limited schedule, and it is easy to take time off for extended trips. I really like Bellingham and plan to stay here (and divide our time with our second home in Winthrop). (in October I did a week of pheasant hunting in Montana and a week swinging flies for steelhead on the Morice and Bulkley-not bad duty!) Settle in a place you like and take that travel trailer and enjoy all the rest of the country! Rick


Active Member
You would be hard put to find an area in Washington that is so close to good fishing and offers as excellent health care as Spokane. The cultural aspect may be a little elusive though. If you can find a place within an hour of Spokane you will have the health care issue licked and an hour in almost any direction will put you in some decent fishing. An airport is a plus as is a major freeway going right through the middle of town. Like most American mid sized cities there is an abundance of shopping and facilities with all the major big box stores and chains.

Skiing and hunting are both nearby, the Idaho cutthroat streams are nearby and only a couple more hours to Montana on good roads.

The downside is also the same as most cities, no need to elaborate on that. Spokane does get it's share of snow but after living in the doomsday gloom of the west side for 20 years I'll take the snow any day. Besides, you'll be retired and won't have to get up every morning to deal with rush hour traffic.

We have been retired for almost 14 years now and live about 90 miles north of Spokane. It's too far for casual trips but always takes under 2 hours on roads with little traffic so we go quite often. To put it in perspective I once spent 3 hours and twenty minutes getting from Everett to Olympia-a similar distance.



Topwater and tying.
Howdy from another ex-Kodaker (Field Engineer in Micrographics). Unfortunately I didn't get an early out option in the '94, 50,000 employee dump (You're fired for cause [insert one here] don't let the door hit you in the ass...).

Bend or Redmond Oregon might be something to look at. lots of breweries and activities plus a whole laundry list of rivers and lakes within 50 miles.
A lot of places are close to things we like. Probably none are close to an unlimited, lifetime supply. And what we like the best may be a mix of elements that we need to sort out.

I considered Ellensburg. It's the right size for me, is on the best trout river in WA (though the Yakima is second-rate by MT standards). Lots of convenient trout ponds, and elk and bighorn sheep within minutes. It's a college town, which provides an infusion of culture without an inflated population. Pocatello, ID has similar perks, and Yellowstone Park an hour away. (I've never even been there.) And on down the list.

p.s. I don't consider Spokane to be "light traffic."


Active Member
I retired from the Santa Barbara area two years ago. Spouse and I spent a few months exploring in the RV and landed in Polson Montana on Flathead Lake. Spouses brother lives there and we have visited on a few occasions in the past. Given the savings in cost of living, taxes, vehicle registrations, no gangs, little in the way of crime, not to mention the countless rivers that Montana has to offer, we have no regrets. Spring, Summer and early fall we stay in the house in Polson, late fall and winter we head back to Santa Barbara (kids and grandchildren still there) and snowbird in the motor home. Originally from Alaska so the winter weather is not a real concern for me but we have found that the town pretty much just shuts down in the winter months and it's the boredom that we escape by heading South. Going on our third year and were still loving it.

Vladimir Steblina

Retired fishing instead of working
We always kept track of nice towns to live since I worked for the Forest Service. I was always worried about being transferred to western Washington or Oregon.

We retired in Wenatchee. It meets your criteria. It also has high speed fiber. Its like having the world's libraries at your fingertips. I cannot imagine living with cable or dsl again. One downside is that it is too close to Seattle. We have always been oriented towards Spokane so all we get from Seattle is crowded outdoor conditions.

Spokane is a nice city. With excellent health care. The weather in winter is almost as bad as Seattle. Driving in Spokane during winter is an adventure. The temperature is always around 32 degrees so black ice and slippery roads occur all the time. I would get studs if I lived in the Spokane area again.

My favorite city is Walla Walla. If we had not had a exceptional house and cabin situation in Wenatchee I would have moved there.