KayCee Downey

A Home is a Journey, Not a Destination

KayCee Downey, AICP, Planner II, 509.625.6300


Wednesday, January 4, 2023 at 2:02 p.m.

A Home is a Journey, Not a Destination

Jorge grew up in a home in a subdivision on the outskirts of town.

While in college he moved into the dorms for a year before renting a duplex with roommates. It was his job to do the dishes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

After getting his degree and first full-time job, Jorge earned enough to move into a one-bedroom apartment with no roommates. This was his first time living truly “on his own.” There was an extra deposit for his cat.

Jorge eventually fell in love and got married. With their combined incomes, he and his partner decided to move into a townhome closer to both of their jobs. The yard was just big enough for BBQs with friends and a doggy sibling for their cat.

A few years later, Jorge and his spouse started their family. They were lucky and found a three-bedroom home in a neighborhood with a good school they could afford. The larger yard was perfect for their kids and dog, though it did require more yard maintenance. It wasn’t long before a second baby came along. As the kids grew, Jorge’s family eventually moved to a large home on the south hill.

As their kids got older and started moving out, Jorge and his spouse suddenly found themselves to be empty nesters. While they looked forward to grandchildren one day, their needs had changed. They didn’t want to maintain such a large home so found a condo in the heart of downtown, next to their favorite restaurants.

Eventually, Jorge and his spouse both retired and decided to downsize again. They wanted to travel, but also to be able to spend time with their grandchildren. They had some trouble finding the right place until one of their children built an accessory dwelling in her backyard. Jorge and his partner moved in, now eating their meals around the family table most nights and able to travel without worrying about their home.

Jorge’s housing journey, while somewhat idealized, illustrates how housing needs change throughout life for most people. Very few of us live in the same home we first lived in when we started out on our own. The 2021 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report illustrated this well when it asked respondents how long they expected to live in their new home. Only 44% expected to stay in their home for 16 or more years, that’s less than half the respondents. 14% expected to live in their home only 4 or 5 years. A further 5% anticipated living in their new homes for only 2-3 years. Why? Because our lives change. A home is not a destination for everyone – for most it’s a journey that winds its way through life. Needs change and so does our “ideal” home.

Providing housing choice is about giving people options for where they can live and in what type of structure. Building Opportunity for Housing is hoping to speak to residents at all stages of their lives to identify the barriers they face to living in their desired home. We would love to hear about your housing journey! Email us at developmentcode@spokanecity.org or visit the Building Opportunity for Housing webpage to see the latest information about this essential project.

We asked some city planners what types of housing they have lived in during their lives. Here’s what they said!

  • Amanda: My spouse is active-duty military, so we’ve lived in a lot of different types of homes and a lot of different residential settings. We’ve lived in a duplex, large apartment complex, townhouse and a detached single-family home. Our living situation has spanned a suburb, the edge of a mixed-use center, a walkable neighborhood with nearby amenities, the downtown of a large city, and now an isolated neighborhood that is car dependent.
  • Brandon: I started my housing journey by living in the dorms. In sophomore and junior year, I lived in a number of apartments of various sizes. After moving home briefly at the peak of the pandemic, I moved into a detached single-family home with four friends for our senior year. When moving to Spokane as a single young professional, I sought out an apartment close to a hub of local restaurants and near a transit line so I can easily get to work.
  • Tyler: Recently, my spouse and I purchased our first home in a neighborhood within walking distance of a transit stop and local shops so that I can take the bus to work. Prior to settling in this house, we rarely stayed in one location for more than a year, living in small (less than 700 square feet) apartments and studios, relying on family and friends as we moved/traveled. Through schooling and various work opportunities, I have lived in dormitories, mobile homes, and shared single-family homes.
  • KayCee: I lived in dorms and apartments, including a studio, during college. With and without roommates. My spouse and I have since lived in apartments, a townhouse and a triplex. Our favorite places to live always included close proximity to a bus line and were a short distance from the downtown core.

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