I've never been to Spokane, and, I must admit, I'm bit conflicted with all of the differing opinions I have read. I grew up in Rockford, IL - a city of almost 200K that is consistently rated one of the worst places in the country to live, by any poll (education, economy, crime, etc). I grew up with harsh winters, months of snow, ice and bitter cold, so winter doesn't scare me. I do believe, after doing some research, that Spokane winters are actually milder than those in the Midwest, anyways.
Spokane seems to have affordable housing. Many people have said that Spokane doesn't really have a ghetto, but certainly there are probably nicer areas. My children are grown - it is just me and my cat - so I will not be buying anything fancy or too costly. I want an older home (pre 1930's), and Spokane seems to have these in abundance. I love outdoor activities: hiking, biking, fishing, canoeing, etc., and Spokane seems to be a great place to do this too. I am a nurse by profession, so finding a job should be possible.
My questions are these? Does Spokane have a lot of natural beauty? Are there lots of hiking/cycling paths in and around Spokane? What is a good, older neighborhood to live in? Does Spokane have a decent downtown (charm, restaurants, live music, etc)? How are the property taxes? How are the people (very general question, I know, but are they nice?)?
A lot of people have said some very bad things about Spokane. And, frankly, a lot of people have said some very good things. But I am getting older. I don't need excitement, but I do long for natural beauty and (maybe) a sense of community. Any and all opinions are appreciated.