Long before Money Magazine named Walla Walla in its 2006 "Best Places to Retire," our town has been a magnet for people wanting to reboot their lives.
"This southeastern Washington town has become a destination for wine connoisseurs, urban refugees and roving retirees, despite its out-of-the-way location. 19th century Italianate-style commercial buildings are being revamped to house art galleries, bookstores and restaurants. Three colleges are hubs of activity offering classical music, lectures or lifelong learning classes. Walla Walla home prices, are still affordable by big-city standards."
Money Magazine, 2006
Naturally, our Mediterranean climate (warm dry summers, cold rainy winters) with 300 days of sunshine is huge attraction for our wet coast fans. However, my short list of what makes a great place to live also includes these necessary elements:
1) College Town:
College towns have an unmistakable vibe and Walla Walla has a triple dose; Whitman College, a highly-acclaimed small private college, made 2014 Forbes "best" list, Walla Walla University, an Adventist school open to everyone and Walla Walla Community College has the nation's first two-year winemaking and viticulture program, an exciting culinary program as well as a multitude of other core and specialty courses, took home the prized Aspen Institute award in 2013.
2) Handy Airport:
Our small airport connects only with Seattle with two flights in and out a day. Yes, the early morning flight is an uncomfortable 6:05 am departure time, however, once at SEA you have a myriad of connecting flights. The even better news is that starting March 2016, there will be three flights in and out daily (except Tuesdays).
To have an airport at all servicing a county population of 60,000 people is becoming a rarity. Free parking is a bonus. If you need to fly south or east directly, PSC (Pasco) is 50 miles away and for a short hop to PDX, the nine-seater SeaPort Airlines out of Pendleton can be no-stress and quick jump to my favorite out-of-the-valley getaway for a few days of shopping and cutting-edge dining.
3) High-caliber Health Care:
With two hospitals (Providence St. Mary's and VA) and several clinics, Walla Walla has attracted quality physicians and specialists. In fact, the wine culture is a big part of the recruitment package. It seems that doctors not only like wine but also enjoy our local golf courses including the #2 Best Course You Can Play, Wine Valley Golf Course.
4) Level of Sophistication:
While Walla Walla was a rocking hub 150 years ago, modern WW belongs to the wine industry. It was all here, yet the explosion of the wine industry brought it all together; the rejuvenated downtown, independent speciality retailers, celebrity chefs, gourmet food, arts and events. From James Beard-recognized restaurants to soul-satisfying food trucks, residents bump shoulders with visitors at wine tasting events and restaurants. At times, this town can feel too small, but you get quickly get used to not having to fight traffic at the big box stores (big box stores = 0) and soon your UPS driver knows how quickly you want your Nordstrom shipment.
If these criteria are also important to you and you are looking for an exciting smaller town with a vibe, then Walla Walla could be the place to reboot your life. If I can assist in that change, please give me a call.