Considering moving to the Richland / Kennewick / Pasco Washington area
June 26, 2006 3:18 PM   Subscribe

Considering moving to the Richland / Kennewick / Pasco Washington area from SoCal. Do you live there now, have you lived there before, do you have advice? I would like suggestions about how to learn about the area without actually driving up there, although we probably will drive there in the next few months.

I would like to live in a more rural / suburban area, but am worried about how many jobs are there. I am in management / admin assist and my husband is in IT. We have no kids but plan to start a family in the next 2 or 3 years. I have looked at real estate in the tricities and am excited by the options; we also like fixer uppers. I know jobs are hard to find anywhere, but I consider us to be employable people. Besides the money worries, I would love to hear from anyone who has anything to tell me about the area. Please don’t tell me not to move there because “its boring”; (in terms of rural, no nightclubs, no ‘culture’) I probably really enjoy what you consider boring. I am looking for simple things, a house, with a yard, a good grocery store, decent schools, quiet. We've 'picked up and moved' before. Why did I pick this area? I don’t know. Its stuck in my head. Now I have to convince my husband.
posted by saragoodman3 to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I lived there six months or so right out of high school, working construction on the Holiday Inn in Richland. It has grown quite a bit since then but when I drive through these days it feels the same: small, friendly, hard-working, outdoorsy.

I'm sure the traffice is worse but those things are relative.

There was quite a period of economic downturn when a lot of nuclear jobs went away but things seem to be turning around nicely. I have a cousin and aunt in Kennewick still and they would not tolerate a place that was bad for their kids/grandkids.

It sounds like you'd enjoy the area and if nightlife isn't your thing then I'm sure you'll find plenty things to enjoy.
posted by trinity8-director at 4:41 PM on June 26, 2006

I grew up in the Tri-Cities. My parents still live there, so I visit a few times a year.

My perception is that the job market there if you're a professional type is at least average compared to the rest of the country, and they probably have a pretty decent chance of a significant upswing in the future, based on the research facilities they have, and the significant possibility of a shift back toward nuclear power. Certainly, there's always a lot of new houses and stores being built every time I visit, so somebody must think they have a sustainable economy there.

The real estate market is very good for buyers, as my friend who lives there keeps reminding me. You can get quite a lot of house and property for very little money over there.

Of course, there's a reason for that: nobody wants to live there. It's dusty, remote, conservative, and full of old people. I don't know what you consider fun, but there is absolutely nothing to do there except go shopping. Consider this carefully -- you may think of yourself as not requiring much in the way of "culture" to get by, but it is a different thing to find yourself hundreds of miles awayfrom a decent theater, book store, university, restaurant, coffee shop, sports team, or club, and where there is no real sense of community, and most people pretty much just go to work and then drive home and watch TV. A lot of people have no problem with this, and that's fine! Just be sure you're one of them before you move.

But really, it's definitely the right place for the right kind of person, and there are certainly perfectly reasonable and intelligent people who wouldn't want to live anywhere else (my mom and dad, for instance), so I don't want to sound like I'm completely ragging on the place.

Please feel free to e-mail me if you have other questions, or need specific information that I didn't give here.
posted by Hildago at 5:32 PM on June 26, 2006

I 2nd Hildago. Not much to do in the TriCities. You have to remember that the only reason TC exists is because of the Hanford nuclear plant which made plutonium for one of the nukes dropped on Japan in WWII. The reason it was chosen as a place to make such an element? Remote. Dry. Middle of nowhere. I strongly suggest you make several trips before making such a 'permanent' move. Go to some of the hot spots and ask the locals 'what they do for fun'.

Of course you are 2 hours from Spokane- a little more of a city feel, and 4 hours or so from Seattle.

Some fine people live there, don't get me wrong- just not my thing. Flat. Treeless. Dry.
posted by bytemover at 6:05 PM on June 26, 2006

For what it is worth, A friend who grew up there, and still returns regularly to visit family calls it "The Dry Shitties."

I'm just sayin'
posted by Good Brain at 6:16 PM on June 26, 2006

Words to the mothers of the last few posters concerning the TriCities. These are not the jewels in Washington's crown. Unless you're some kind of manic strip mall enthusiast, the area has little to offer anyone.

But if you're considering Central Washington, then you must consider the Most Beautiful Place on Earth, or as the locals call it, the Lake Chelan Valley.

If easy access to an urban area is important to you, then the Valley is not the place to settle down. The closest minor city is an hour's drive away. And since the Valley is at just about the center of the state, Spokane and Seattle are both three hours away. But if what you're after is a quiet, simple place to raise kids, a place like Lake Chelan is just the thing.

The small, semi-isolated area makes for a strong community. Pollution is minimal, as is crime. The weather is mild, though the winters might be burlier than what you've experienced in California.

Property prices are a bit higher, but come mid-June, when the Lake's warm enough to swim in, you'll know why you spent the extra money. And if that doesn't convince you, the wait until a clear night and marvel at a sky not robbed of stars by light pollution.

I could fill this page up with praise for the Valley. I've lived in plenty of towns since leaving, but I haven't loved one of them like I loved Lake Chelan. I couldn't be more grateful to my parents for raising my brothers and I there. I urge you to look into this truly wonderous land before going into escrow to live next to a doggone atom smasher in the scablands.
posted by EatTheWeak at 7:46 PM on June 26, 2006

I 3rd Hildago. I also grew up in the Tri-Cities. And, though I enjoy many small towns and small cities I would never consider living in the Tri-Cities again. There really just isn't anything there. Nothing particularly beautiful, interesting nor enticing in any way.
On reflection though it wasn't such a bad place to grow up. Safe, good schools, snakes and crawdads to poke with sticks. I think these things would be less fun as an adult.
posted by fieldtrip at 12:01 AM on June 27, 2006

If you like the outdoors, the Tri-Cities has a lot to offer. All manner of watersports on the Columbia, Yakima and Snake, hiking, horse riding, hunting, fishing, cycling. If you want somewhere with generally good schools and a very safe, domestic lifestyle for raising a family, you could do a lot worse. The crime rate is low. Although prices are rising, quality housing and land remain phenomenal bargains compared to bigger places and it remains somewhat of a buyers market.

Beauty is subjective. Some like the semi-desert environment and wide-open landscape. The Cascades and the Columbia Gorge are a couple of hours away. Portland is about 3-3.5 hours away, Seattle maybe slightly more, especially in winter. The climate is cold in winter, very hot in summer and very low precipitation year-round. Air-conditioning is not a luxury. Commutes are generally short and traffic mainly light, especially compared to Seattle, Portland or Spokane. Public transport (busses) aren't as frequent as some might like, but are reliable. Resignation to car-dependency and road-trips is inevitable.

If you're looking for cultural activities centered around galleries, museums, theatre, independent cinema, music venues and suchlike, stay away. Forget nightlife. Washington State University has a Tri-Cities campus with an excellent reputation in environmental sciences, engineering and computer science, but isn't a place to study art or the humanities.

I'd advise against moving to the Tri-Cities without a job offer. Employment security for professionals is variable. The larger companies serving the Hanford site have experienced significant layoffs in the last couple of years. Hanford related employers continue to drive the local economy. More positively, the area is beginning to evolve as an incubator for smaller tech companies attracted to a locally highly educated workforce in scientific and engineering fields and the economic prospects in the longer term are optimistic. Local government and some employers appear keen to diversify the economy in order to become less dependent upon activity directly related to Hanford. Much of the research performed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory nowadays isn't directly related to the Hanford nuclear program.

In short, a great place for early-rising scientists and engineers who like the outdoors and want safe domesticity for a family, a bad choice for artistic night-owls who want a varied social scene and cultural diversity - or at least don't want to drive three hours regularly to get it.
posted by normy at 1:29 AM on June 27, 2006

« Older Ingredientfilter   |   Shut out again. Why? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.