#8 Tekoa, Washington

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Metro Spokane Places to Live

2020 population: 820
Drive time to downtown Coeur d’Alene: 45 minutes
Drive time to downtown Spokane: 55 minutes

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

Downtown Tekoa, Washington
Downtown Tekoa, Washington.

Tekoa Community Description

Whoa! All you US-Census definition hall monitors, calm down. I know Tekoa is in Whitman County and not technically in the Spokane-Cd’A metro. The average reader of this website is not a US-Census wonk as far as definitions go. So, zip it. Tekoa is in the Spokane metro because I say it’s in the Spokane metro.

Tekoa qualifies for this list for several reasons – reasons the US-Census fails to consider, as follows:

1) It’s a dope town, with a healthy town center, an active civic life, and great neighborhoods (point #1 has four parts)

2) It’s one of the few non-Colfax, farm town, market centers on the Palouse

3) Tekoa is a moon that orbits around two planets – Spokane and Pullman. One an urban market center, the other a significant college town, and both are about an equidistant drive from Tekoa. Thus, whether one is a professor at Washington State University, Pullman, or one is a professor at Washington State University, Spokane, one can reside in Tekoa and suffer the same commute (and the same institutional bureaucracy).

Tekoa is, indeed, a perfect bedroom community for metro Spokane and Pullman, which is why it’s ranked so high on this list and also why it gets to break the rules and be on this list whatsoever. As far as the farm towns go of southern Spokane County and the northern Palouse, Tekoa takes the lentil.

Downtown Tekoa is about four linear blocks of classic, historic main street, and most the businesses along it remain open, including a theatre, a couple of restaurants, a bar, and several mom and pop shops. The homes in the neighborhoods that surround main street are historic and large. The farm town high school is in Tekoa, the farm town elementary school is in Tekoa. Indeed, Tekoa is the market center for miles around – the largest of the farm town market centers in the northern Palouse.

Finally, there’s a reason why Tekoa is one of the few cities on this list with an Overall Character rating of five out of five stars — Tekoa has a healthy town center, is a 100% walkable community, and nearly every structure in town has historic value. Check all the boxes. Tekoa’s built environment is a model for small towns everywhere.

If there is one place where Tekoa could improve, it would be adding to its streetscape dynamic. Plant trees. Paint the intersections. Consider curb bump-outs. Install benches, trash cans, and ornamental street lights. I’m a big fan of dangling Christmas tree lights crisscrossing main street and hung from buildings (urban planners don’t have a technical name for hanging Christmas tree lights yet). None of these things are free, but they are simple and affordable improvements that immediately add character and value.

With or without streetscaping, if your preference is charming bedroom communities away from the big city, then your preference is Tekoa, Washington.

A sidewalk through a neighborhood in Tekoa, Washington.
A sidewalk scene from a neighborhood in Tekoa. Perfect.
Main Street in Tekoa, Washington.
Tekoa’s main street transitions into a a residential neighborhood. Also note the investment Tekoa is making in local infrastructure improvements, as seen on the far left of this image.
Overall Character: ★★★★★. Why? Check out how the sidewalks transition from zeroed out setbacks in the commercial area to detached in the residential area. That’s one reason why.
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