#6 Cheney, Washington

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Metro Spokane Places to Live

2020 population: 12,977
Drive time to downtown Coeur d’Alene: 55 minutes
Drive time to downtown Spokane: 25 minutes

Overall Character: ★★★★★
Urban: ★★★★☆
Suburban: ★☆☆☆☆
Walkability: ★★★★☆
Market Activity: ★★★★☆
Farm Town: ★★★☆☆
Timber Town: ☆☆☆☆☆
Lake / River Town: ☆☆☆☆☆

Downtown Cheney is stupendous.

Cheney Community Description

It’s a shame Eastern Washington University in Cheney is a directional school because snobs like me tend to lift our pinkies at such things. Nevertheless, directional school or not, Cheney’s quality of life is every bit on par with classic, larger college towns, simply at a smaller scale.

There’s enough open space between urban Spokane and Cheney to establish a degree of autonomy for Cheney. Despite its somewhat isolated feeling, Cheney is only about 25 minutes from downtown Spokane. Thus, Cheney gets to enjoy the identity benefits of being its own thing and the functional benefits of being within easy striking distance of downtown Spokane.

Downtown Cheney is everything one expects from a college town’s downtown – historic, pubs and coffee shops abound, and there’s plenty of character and school pride.

The town/gown relationship appears healthy, as well. Eastern Washington University’s campus integrates well into Cheney’s urban fabric. Eastern is, indeed, the center of Cheney far more than downtown is. The neighborhoods around campus are historic and lush. As expected, most of the older homes have been chopped-up into rentals for students. There’s also a handful of frats and sororities scaled to the size of Cheney.

In the end, Cheney maintains a significant sense of place from an urban design perspective. Indeed, Cheney is its own thing. In the coming years, however, it will be interesting to see how the growth of metro Spokane impacts Cheney, which it most certainly will one way or another. More important, it will be interesting to see how Cheney manages and responds to growth pressures attempting to suburbanize the gap between Cheney and Spokane. There are quite a few cities within Spokane’s metro that face the same challenge – how do you maintain a sense of place as urban Spokane/Cd’A continues its relentless march of new subdivisions and strip malls that creep over the metro.

Cheney leadership might consider strategically annexing willing property owners on all roads that lead to Spokane. At least then, as the market transitions all those farm fields and timber lands into strip malls and subdivisions, you’ll have a say in how that happens. The alternative is Spokane County leadership decides your urban fate.

The neighborhoods adjacent to Eastern Washington University are historic and lush.
If you like college town living, there’s one 25 minutes from downtown Spokane.
In addition to being a college town, Cheney is also an active rail town and serves as a farming hub on the West Plains.
A typical neighborhood scene in Cheney.
Cheney’s downtown is big enough to party in.
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