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Growing Spokane, Wash., sheds its sleepy city image

Ramsey and Amy Pruchnic lived in the Seattle area for five years before deciding they wanted to escape the Puget Sound rat race and move closer to family on the opposite side of the state.

Now they own their own businesses and live in a 1928 farmhouse on 10 rural acres they bought just south of Spokane, near the Idaho border, where they are raising three children and 18 chickens.

“The honeymoon phase of Seattle wore off,” said Amy Pruchnic, 31, who just opened a specialty doughnut shop in a hip development downtown. “Why not work in a town like Spokane?”

The Pruchnics are among a wave of new residents in Washington’s second-largest city, which is experiencing a growing population thanks to more jobs and an influx of people leaving larger West Coast cities.

They included young families like the Pruchnics – many in search of cheaper housing, easier commutes, good schools and a work-life balance – and retirees with disposable income.

“We are getting both ends of the spectrum,” said Todd Mielke, chief executive of Greater Spokane Incorporated, the region’s chamber of commerce. The trend is also visible in other midsize western cities like Boise, Idaho, as people flee soaring housing costs up and down the West Coast.

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