Moving To Idaho? (The Truth About Living Here)

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Something that you may not know about Idaho is that Idaho was not originally called Idaho — in fact, Idaho didn’t even become its own state until about 1890! It was originally a territory of Colorado where it was simply referred to as “Colorado Territory.”

Fast forward to today and the 43rd state in the country, Idaho, has a lot to offer, including those potatoes that they are so commonly known for!

If you’re thinking about making the move to Idaho, this guide will cover everything you need to know, from the cost of living and the job market, to real estate prices, the best places to scout out an area to live in, interesting things to do and more.

Let’s dive in!

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Where Are The Best Places To Live In Idaho?

 

Idaho, also known as the Gem State, may not be the first place that pops into your head when deciding which state is best for you or your family. But we beg to differ! Idaho is indeed a “hidden gem” ripe with opportunities and can be a fantastic place to move to.

Idaho is a beautiful state composed of endless mountains, rivers, and giant green hillsides! If taking a step back from big city life to enjoy all that nature has to offer sounds appealing, then you should give the “Gem State” a shot.

That’s also not to say that Idaho isn’t without its “big city” amenities. There are a number of metropolitan areas that are suitable for those seeking a faster pace of life while still enjoying the majestic beauty of the state’s nature and landscape.

Below we’ll cover a number of the best places to live in Idaho. The decision as to which is best for YOU, is a choice you’ll have to make for yourself.

In no particular order…

Boise — For The Adventure Seekers

Boise is not only the capital of Idaho, but it is also known as the most adventurous place to live in ID! Boise is the largest city in the state, with a population of around 226,000 as of the last (2017 census), and is brimming with opportunities from housing to career paths.

Boise is an exciting city, full of activities, attractions and more. It’s the city in ID you go to if you never want to run out of things to do! The metropolitan area is packed with art and culture, from ballet performances to operas, symphony events, comedy clubs and more.

picture of Boise, Idaho, USA downtown cityscape at twilight.

It’s an area great for small businesses and startups, as well as being known for their A+ education system! If you love adventure, outdoor activities, animals, and local craft breweries, then there is no better place in Idaho than the amazing city of Boise!

Moscow — For Those Starting Or Raising A Family

Originally called Paradise City, Moscow was rated the best place in the country to raise a family two years in a row by “Livability”! From its affordability in housing and healthcare to its year-round family activities, Moscow really is a fantastic place to start and raise a family.

With the charm of a small town and the benefits of access to a multitude of amenities such as high-quality educational systems, cultural attractions, shopping, healthcare, and delectable cuisine, it’s no wonder that Moscow made our list.

Other notable attractions for families include the #1 candy store and #1 indoor playground in the United States! Plentiful family-friendly parks, libraries to learn in, and family fun sporting events that the whole gang can enjoy are just a few of the reasons why Moscow, ID is a great place for wholesome family living.

Meridian — Perfect Blend Of City And Suburban Living

Located in Ada County, Meridian boasts a population of around 99,000 and has been ranked among the fastest-growing cities both in ID and in the US. The city of Meridian blends city life with suburban community-oriented neighborhoods. The city has a highly ranked educational system and plentiful job opportunities.

Local attractions include: shopping at The Village at Meridian, Wahooz Family Fun Zone, Roaring Springs Waterpark, Meridian Speedway, Linder Farms and a number of parks and recreational opportunities.

Idaho Falls — For The Peaceful Thinkers Who Enjoy Nature

Hugging the Snake River and nestled by the Rocky Mountains, Idaho Falls is the 3rd largest metropolitan area in the state boasting a population of around 61,000 as of the last census (2017). Given its proximity to the majestic mountainside landscape, it is a premier destination for nature and adventure lovers alike. This city gives you the opportunity to slow things down a bit and connect with your spiritual side, taking time to enjoy being in the moment and appreciating Mother Nature in all her glory.

Idaho Falls is a friendly, affordable, and peaceful location to absorb the beauty and nature of Idaho — and you definitely won’t want to miss a sunrise or sunset on any day of the week!

picture of the idaho falls city sign

This municipality also happens to be a rapidly growing, with the motto being “as big as you want it to be”, meaning you can take advantage of “city-like” amenities and opportunities or enjoy the quaint small-town feel of the community.

Hailey — For Small Town Vibes

In stark contrast to big city life, the town of Haley boats a small population hovering right around 8,000. Located in Blaine County, the town has a scattered suburban feel to it, with a strong educational system and a unique appreciation for the arts.

After experiencing the great dining and breweries, check out one of the many film festivals or rodeos that the town is known for! Aside from the intense artsy vibe, this particular town happens to be environmentally conscious and clean!

Other attractions include: the wood river riding trail, nature and parks, and the Blaine County Historical Museum.

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How Is The Job Market In Idaho?

 

Moving to a new state can be an exciting but also stressful endeavor. One major concern is whether or not you’ll be able to find gainful employment, make a career change, or have opportunities to move up the ladder.

To that end, you’ll be pleased to know that Idaho came in at #10 on Forbes list of “Best States For Business,” which is not a bad ranking considering the number of states there are in the country! Furthermore, Idaho happens to have the 6th best economy in the United States — this means that you can forget about any concerns you have when it comes to finding employment!

In fact, Idaho’s 2020 slogan happens to be “the time is now.” What does this mean? It means that if you happen to be thinking about launching a startup or even expanding your current business, when it comes to Idaho’s incredibly strong economy, the time is definitely now!

With its balanced state budgets, low taxes, and one of the highest projected rates of job growth, when it comes to work and employment, Idaho is the state to go — even if you don’t have a degree! So, let’s take a look at Idaho’s top industries and careers.

Top Industries In ID

  1. Science & Technology
  2. Agriculture & Engineering
  3. Production & Manufacturing
  4. Mining
  5. Services (ie: retail, restaurants, dealerships, food stores)
  6. Finance & Business
  7. Healthcare
  8. Education 

Top Careers By Income

  1. Anesthesiologists
  2. Physicians & Surgeons
  3. Family Practitioners
  4. Orthodontists
  5. General Internists
  6. Pediatricians
  7. Computer & Information Research
  8. Sales Engineers
  9. Pharmacists
  10. Architectural & Engineering Managers

picture of medical professional making a heart with hands

Fastest Growing Jobs

  1. Web Developer
  2. Stylist
  3. Home Health Aide
  4. Property Manager
  5. Software Developer
  6. Animal Care Technician
  7. Instructor
  8. Marketing Internship
  9. Drywall Sander
  10. Real Estate Agent

Infrastructure And Global Reach = Opportunities

When it comes to infrastructure, Idaho has taken on the realization that they need to focus on maintenance and repair efforts in order to keep up with the state’s rapid population growth. This focus on infrastructure directly translates to more jobs and opportunities in both the public and private sectors across a broad range of industries.

The state’s current plan is to invest heavily in maintaining the roadways and other elements of infrastructure to prevent them from degrading further and to extend their longevity. The state also plans to begin installing new water pipes to main roads that have been sloping a bit faster than originally anticipated, which is a valid issue to tackle as the concrete will begin to crack and crumble beneath moving cars.

Even though the cost to fix the infrastructure was higher than originally planned, the safety of Idaho’s travelers and the general public is extremely important to the state as a whole. So, despite the unexpected fees, you can be sure that Idaho will conquer this issue in a way that appeals to both the state and its residents.

For example, a “ton-mile” fee was presented as a way to gain funds to assure the safety of Idaho’s infrastructure. This tax system would essentially charge a fee that heavy trucks and large vehicles would have to pay as they cause the most wear and tear on the roads. More investments have been talked about when it comes to repairing old bridges and railways as well.

An Increase In Exports

When it comes to global reach, Idaho’s exports increased by over 4% worldwide in just one year. The state sells goods and services to 162 separate countries while still maintaining about 22,000 jobs in Idaho itself.

While the state is known as a whole for, yes, potatoes, its main exported products are computer memory chips, computer parts, and accessories, and is also a huge producer in agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare.

Minimum Wage

Currently, Idaho is one of 20 states that maintain the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hr, and this minimum wage has not changed in 10 years (yikes). However, a recent ballot initiative has been proposed to raise the state’s minimum wage to $8.75/hr in 2021 and continue to raise it a dollar per year for the next 4 years after that.

So while the minimum wage is currently at the lowest that the nation will allow, Idaho is taking it upon themselves to raise their hourly wage to $12/hr over the next few years. This will help to keep the economy balanced while tending to the financial needs of the residents.

Despite Idaho’s low state minimum wage, keep in mind that the economy is booming, the wage will be increasing, and the state is ready for business startups and extremely welcoming to entrepreneurs and business growth!

Unemployment Rate

Idaho’s unemployment rate currently sits at 2.9% — this is much lower than the national average of 3.7% and, don’t forget, Idaho’s economy and workforce is one of the fastest-growing in the country! It is predicted that by 2021, this rate will increase to about 3.5%. But, keep in mind that this increase is merely due to the rapid increase of Idaho’s population as a whole, and as such is expected to even itself out shortly after.

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How Much Does It Cost To Live In Idaho?

 

If you look at the chart below, you’ll notice that the only category above the national average cost of living is housing. Don’t let that fool you though; there are a number of areas that are on the more expensive side, so you may need to look around to find the right fit. That said, the majority of the state is extremely affordable as well as safe!

But, let’s look at the general cost of living compared to the country as a whole…

The Cost Of Living In Id Compared To The National Average

*The National Average is at 100

Overall — 97.7

Groceries — 94.4

Health — 95.1

Housing — 114

Utilities — 89.3

Transportation — 81.6

Misc — 95.3

picture of Family with shopping cart in supermarket store

As you can see above, the total cost of living as compared to the national average comes in well below what you would expect to pay elsewhere, making this state an incredibly affordable place to live. And in case you’re bad at math or running short on time, the total cost savings as compared to the national average comes in at a whopping 31% in savings!

State Taxes

There is a 6% sales tax in the state of Idaho. Income taxes in the state utilize a 7-bracket tax system ranging from between 1.12% on the low end, all the way up to 6.92% on the high end of the bracket. This system is based on the flat amount of earned income up the highest tax bracket.

The Idaho state tax brackets are as follows:

$0-$1540 — 1.12% tax

$1541-$3080 — 3.12% tax

$3081-$4621 — 3.62% tax

$4622-$6161 — 4.62% tax

$6162-$7702 — 5.62% tax

$7703-$11,553 — 6.62% tax

$1154 and up — 7.92% tax

*based off of a single payers income

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How Is The Idaho Real Estate Market?

 

Idaho’s real estate market is currently known as a “seller’s market” with demand for housing high as the influx of newcomers to the state has been on a steady incline. The average home value, according to Zillow, has gone up about 17% within this last year, and they predict that it will increase again by about 9.8%.

picture of a Mountain House in Idaho

Much like Idaho’s rapid population increase, the real estate market is expected to continuously grow in correlation to its increased population. This is good news for those that act quickly, solidifying real estate gains while the going is good. However, it also means that you may face increased competition for homes. We suggest partnering with a good real estate agent who can help you navigate the local market and find unique opportunities that fit your needs.

Idaho Statewide Averages

  • Median Home Value — $288,029
  • Median Listing Price — $334,115
  • Median List Price Per Sq Ft — $173/sq ft
  • Average Rent Cost — $1400/mo
  • Average Days On Market — 61 Days
  • AirBnB Occupancy Rate — 52%

Idaho Real Estate Bests

  • Best Time To Buy — December/January – during these months you will experience less competition an lower prices, making the wintery months a time for bargains.
  • Best Time To Sell — May/June/July – and alternatively the worst time to buy if you’re looking for a deal. Housing prices generally start to increase in late spring, peaking in mid-summer. Expect to pay higher prices and have a smaller selection from existing inventory during these months
  • Best Time To List — April
  • Best Places To Invest – looking to get a good return on your investment? Although the housing market in ID is on the upswing overall, the following are areas with substantial promise:
    • Boise
    • Twin Falls
    • Eagle
    • Idaho Falls
  • Best Markets for Business
    • Boise
    • Idaho Falls
    • Moscow
    • Coeur d’Alene

And, just in case you’re interested, the most affordable place to rent a home is in Idaho Falls, ID. Because this city made the list of real estate bests twice, we figured that you may want to know that it also amongst the most affordable location for anybody looking to rent!

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Is Idaho A Good Place To Retire?

 

We previously talked a lot about Idaho’s strong economy and the ease of finding employment. But what if you’re retired or on your way to retirement life? Is Idaho as friendly to retirees as it is to the working class? You will be happy to know that it is!

picture of adventurous Idaho retirees hiking

Idaho is known for its beautiful landscapes, mountains, and rivers, and is extremely welcoming to those who want to spend their life in a constant state of relaxation!

So, where are the top places to retire? Check out a few of our favorites below…

Sandpoint

Perhaps the #1 location in Idaho, Sandpoint is the place where retirees from all over the country gravitate to! It has great medical centers and access to high-quality healthcare, so no need to worry about having easy access to care and treatment options from some of the nation’s finest.

It is also home to one of the largest retirement communities in the state, having a number of accommodating activities, attractions and features making retired life in Sandpoint never a boring one.

It’s easy to meet new lifelong friends while taking a boat trip along one of Idaho’s many rivers, or checking out the slopes on your winter ski trip! From farmers’ markets to historical museums, Sandpoint is the perfect retirement location for any type of retiree!

Hayden

The point of retirement is to kick back and relax. After all, you’ve put in the time, sweat (and possibly even tears) to have earned this time in your life. Well, there’s arguably no better place to do that than along the beautiful, quiet rivers of Hayden.

Whether you’re perfecting your golf game on one of the many golf courses or fishing along the lakes of Hayden, retiring in this quaint town will certainly not be a disappointment! It also home to the one and only Honeysuckle Beach where adventure awaits with sports, shopping, boutiques, pubs, and tons of other amenities that everybody can enjoy!

Twin Falls

If you like nature and the outdoor fresh air, then you’ll love to spend your retirement days in the city of Twin Falls! Not only does it have a massive amount of activities to try, but it is also known for its many amazing waterfalls that you just have to see for yourself! Especially if water happens to be your favorite element, then Twin Falls will not let you down!

picture of Shoshone Falls on snake river, in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Blackfoot

Everybody loves potatoes, and if you’re thinking about moving to Idaho, then the assumption is that you do, too! So, why not retire in the one and only “potato capital of the world!” Home of the Idaho Potato Museum, you will be shocked how many fine-dining dishes you can try that feature, that’s right, potatoes! Blackfoot is also located along the Snake River which is famous for those days of nostalgia and peace!

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What Are The People And Culture Like In Idaho?

 

The state of Idaho is one that is nature and environmentally friendly, with many of its residents having a deep appreciation for the outdoors and all of the sights and activities made available due to its unique position among mountains, rivers, and forestry.

The culture is also one that has adopted the arts. From operas and ballets to beer fests and sheep festivals, Idaho has newly discovered their appreciation for the art community.

As their population grows, so does the diversity that resides in Idaho. What was once dominated by the Mormon community is now a vast melting pot of culture and diverse backgrounds. Idaho has a strong Hispanic and Latino background as well as a Native American and German heritage.

There is no end to Idaho’s beauty when it comes to its scenic nature vibe and view, and the people who live there are proud of just that! Those who are native to Idaho are generally welcoming people consisting of many communities made up of close-knit, family-friendly towns. As long as you love your neighbor, you will fit right into their Idaho family!

picture of Elderly Father and mature son are saluting with the beer in front of the grill in their house backyard on a beautiful day.

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Some Of The Coolest Things To Do In Idaho

 

We haven’t really said much about Idaho’s classic potatoes…trust us, the potato farms ARE there, but there’s a whole lot more to explore in this state than checking out its spuds.

Below we’ve listed just a handful of the most unique and cool things to do or see in the state…

Idaho Potato Museum — Blackfoot, Idaho

Naturally, there is a museum of potatoes. But this museum takes you back to the original history of Idaho’s classic potatoes featuring its famous giant potato sculpture as well as the world’s largest potato chip!

Custer Ghost TownStanley, Idaho

Have you ever wondered what life was like back in the 19th century? Take a walk through a real-life version of a boring textbook, and see it for yourself! We promise, it’s anything but boring! It’s called a ghost town for a reason!

Dog Bark Park InnCottonwood, Idaho

Check out this sculpture of the world’s largest beagle! His name is Sweet Willy and he is 30 feet tall! It’s not just a sculpture, though. It’s actually a bed and breakfast complete with artsy wooden carvings and dog photos galore! And, yes. Dogs are welcome. They even have a dog park!

Yellowstone’s Stone Of DeathIsland Park, Idaho

Have you ever wanted to get away with murder? Well, technically you can in this loophole of a destination! This location is literally a no man’s land area where it’s lack of legislation, according to the 6th amendment, makes it technically legal to get away with murder or crime! We don’t suggest that you actually do that, though. Seriously, don’t.

Lionhead Natural Water SlidesCoolin, Idaho

This is perhaps one of the coolest destinations in Idaho — naturally formed rock water slides that are hidden in a forest! A perfectly secluded, nature made water slide ride down the slippery mountain rocks and, yes, it’s completely safe!

picture of Lionhead Natural Water Slides

Center Of The Universe ManholeWallace, Idaho

This is a manhole that is said to be the center of the universe! In a town with less than 800 people living there, there is a sewer-like display that is claimed to be the degree of the universe after the governor had declared, “prove that it’s not.” And that is precisely why this manhole is determined as the center of the universe.

Museum Of CleanPocatello, Idaho

There are a lot of unusual places that are found in Idaho, and the Museum of Clean just happens to fall into that category. Why not check out a museum that is dedicated to the art and history of staying clean!

Big Idaho Potato HotelBoise, Idaho

Idaho wouldn’t be Idaho without a potato hotel! Just in case you have never experienced what a potato may feel like, start by sleeping in a giant potato! This quaint little potato hotel is exactly the experience you need when you’re in the state of Idaho! And yes, everything in the Big Potato Hotel is, in fact, a potato.

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The Pros And Cons Of Living In Idaho

 

Now that you know everything there is to know about moving to Idaho and can confirm that Idaho is way more than just a land of endless potatoes, let’s go over the basic pros and cons of living there.

Pros

  • The economy is extremely thriving and happens to be #1 in the country!
  • Low unemployment rates and a diverse economy make finding a job easy
  • Idaho as a whole has an extremely low crime rate!
  • The unique artsy culture will never cease to amaze you!
  • Only in Idaho will you get the chance to sleep in a potato!
  • The state values cleanliness as well as a sustainable, healthy environment!
  • Some of the friendliest people live in Idaho; you will never feel left out as they adopt you as one of their own!
  • There are endless opportunities for every outdoor activity that you can think of!
  • Idaho experiences all 4 seasons, which isn’t particularly common anymore!

Cons

  • The winters can be exceedingly cold, so bundle up
  • The infrastructure needs some work (although this is creating even more jobs)
  • Idaho heavily values the 2nd amendment — which isn’t so much a con as it is a piece of information, just in case you’re not a fan of guns
  • Idaho is not a materialistic state — so if luxury shopping is a necessity, then Idaho isn’t for you
  • Public transportation is not easily accessible
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Idaho Fun Facts & Strange Laws

 

And finally, let’s take a look at some fun facts and weird laws that Idaho is known for!

Fun Facts

  • Idaho is the home to over 70 rare gems such as jasper, opal, jade, topaz, zircon, and many more!
  • Idaho is known for its “Idaho fry sauce” that is a mayonnaise-based sauce that is used for frying fish — apparently, it is out of this world!
  • Idaho is known for Huckleberries and you can find them everywhere!
  • It is also known for caviar
  • The name “Idaho” means “the land of many waters”
  • The state capital is the only capital that uses renewable energy to stay warm!
  • Idaho is known for having the biggest straw maze in the world!
  • It also has the longest boardwalk in the world!

Weird Laws

  • It is illegal to go fishing while you are riding on the back of a camel — so be sure that you’re on your local giraffe instead
  • Wait, it is illegal to do that on a giraffe too — guess you’ll have to settle for a peacock
  • It is against the law to buy onions after dark without a permit — nobody knows why, so just accept it
  • You need special permission from the sheriff to sell a chicken if the sun is down — you know, just in case it accidentally happens to be a rooster
  • You are forbidden to go hunting if you are in a helicopter — just a friendly reminder to all of the aspiring snipers
  • Selling an Idaho Deluxe potato with any blemishes on it can get you up to 6 months in jail — they take their potatoes very seriously
  • Cannibalism is illegal — praise the lord
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Ready To Make The Move To Idaho?

Now that you know everything you need to know about Idaho, including their extremely awkward laws, what do you think? Will Idaho be your next home?

One thing is certain, it is a state that is drawing in many newcomers due to its affordable cost of living, diverse employment opportunities, a thriving economy, environment and more.

 

Further Reading: Looking For More Moving To Idaho Resources? Check These Articles Out!

 

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