Idaho is a northwestern U.S. state known for mountainous landscapes, and vast swaths of protected wilderness and outdoor recreation areas.
With the state capital, Boise set right in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, it is fair to say that Idaho is the adventure state. With almost unlimited outdoor activities to explore; fishing and rafting are ever popular pastimes of Idahoans. The city’s riverfront Julia Davis Park is a downtown green space containing a rose garden, museums and a zoo.
Not only this but with Yellowstone National Park, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, as well as Silverwood Theme Park on your doorstep, what’s not to like about Idaho.
In terms of a place to live, Idaho comes highly recommended by many. Far from the most affluent of US States, Idaho is home to 1.6 million people whose average income is $47,000; $5000 a year below the national average. Suffice to say that this is a state filled with humble, hard-working Americans and it seems the community spirit is prevalent wherever you decide to lay your hat.
When it comes to deciding where is the best place to live for you, there are a few factors that everyone should look at; cost of living, job opportunities, and median home value. For parents or wannabe parents, factors like accessibility to good public schools and crime rates are also of significance.
We have also listened to the views and opinions of local people in each area, because statistics don’t always give a fair representation of a neighbourhood, the people who live there do, however.
We have taken into consideration all these factors, and more, when devising this list of best places to live in Idaho.
With an outstanding overall A-rating, Boise is the best place to live Idaho for so many reasons. Irrefutably good schools and agreeable cost of living. This will surely be music to young family’s ears! With median home value bang on the national average and median rent $100 a month less than the national average, Boise is below average in all the right ways!
Where Boise is not below average is in its options for commuters and job opportunities. Being a city of 214,000 people, there are countless working opportunities in the area. We say inner city, Boise does feel more like a small town than a state capital city.
Local people describe Boise as a hidden gem, we’d be inclined to agree. Being located in the heart of Treasure Valley, you’re only ever 20-minutes from America’s great wilderness.
As a close but fair second best place to live in Idaho is the humble town of Moscow. Home to 24,000 people, this small town is cosy and becoming more and more popular with millennials. As with anywhere that millennials adopt as home, we can expect to see a little more development in Moscow in the next decade or so.
Although buying property in Moscow is more costly than Boise, it is the median rent that could explain the influx of millennials. With average monthly rent being $800, this is a greatly affordable area for young people starting out in their careers, working their way up the income ladder.
Being a college town, Moscow is a diverse and bustling place to live; lots of opportunities to socialise and take up new hobbies.
3. Sun Valley
Who’d have thought that such a small, rural village like Sun Valley would be ranked at the third best place to live in Idaho? Alas, it is! If small and rural aren’t adjectives that get you excited then let’s try quaint and cosy.
Sun Valley is home to a very close-knit community of just under 1,500 permanent residents. If they don’t know each other by name, they do by face!
As one of the more expensive areas to buy property, Sun Valley is the most dreamy location of our top three. Here’s the Idaho life plan; start out in Moscow, renting and saving for a house. Save enough and jump on the property ladder in Boise, a great place to raise a family. Once the children move out and your 9-5 working life is over, move out to Sun Valley and live happily ever after…easy as that!
4. Sugar City
Although home to fewer people than Sun Valley, Sugar City is a cool neighbourhood; home to 1,300 people. Sugar City is a great place to live and narrowly missed out on being ranked in the top three best places to live in Idaho.
Real estate here is not only great quality, great value for money and greatly affordable too. The median home value is $168,300 – below the national average.
With thanks to the almost non-existent crime rates and good choice of schools, Sugar City is a perfect place to raise a family. One downside to Sugar City, as noted by residents, is the small variety of restaurants. This, to be fair, should be expected of a neighbourhood with less than 1,500 residents.
Located an easy commute east of Boise, residents just love Meridian. In fact, we can quote them ‘’I honestly love everything about Meridian!’’. The only thing this resident could complain about was the harsh winters.
There are 47 schools within the Meridian community, almost all of which can boast above average exam results and a successful stream of alumni.
If raising a family within the city limits of Boise did not appeal then perhaps Meridian can provide you with the balance you’re seeking. With great schools for the youngsters and accessible commuter routes into Boise to assess countless job opportunities, Meridian is a bit of a winner.
Ketchum is the closest town to Sun Valley. If being in the luxurious Sun Valley felt a little far removed, try doubling the population and adding in a suburban, rather than rural, vibe.
Long-term residents describe Ketchum as a special place and never cease to tire of the range of outdoor activities there are high on their doorsteps.
House prices in Ketchum may still be a little higher than other areas in the northeast of the United States but think critically about value for money when studying real estate in the area. For example, $899,000 may initially seem like a steep investment but what you’re getting is a grand, spacious 4-bedroom, 4-bathroom family home that will grow with you and your brood.
Eagle in Idaho may be a bit of a tongue-twister if you say it over and over really fast (you’re trying it aren’t you?!), but this mid-sized town on Highway 44 is firmly deserving of its place within our top ten.
Home to 21,000 people, Eagle is a happy and community-oriented town, with a range of high performing schools, reasonable cost of living and easy commuter routes into Boise city.
The cost of living is a little dearer than neighbouring Meridian but home value would be agreeable to many working families. $274,000 for a 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom family home is a fair price to pay.
As with anywhere in Idaho, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors from a home base in Eagle.
Just outside the city of Idaho Falls lies the edge city of Ammon, home to 14,000 people. Property prices here are something of a steal and for those seeking a rental property, you’re in luck in Ammon; median monthly rent is $761.
Although on paper an edge city, Ammon has developed (and successfully retained) a homely, small-town feel. Local people mention that they are very happy living here and with larger cities like Idaho Falls accessible in under an hour, they get all of the shopping and entertainment facilities they could desire.
For parents looking for a place to live in Idaho, Ammon is worthy of your consideration. Although none of the 22 public schools are A-rated, they are consistently performing above the national average.
Hailey in Blaine County, Idaho, is just a stone’s throw away from Sawtooth National Forest. As a place to raise a family there is little to complain about in Hailey; good schools, low crime, and community atmosphere. In fact, Hailey can boast that it has the best range of public schools in all of Idaho.
Sawtooth National Forest provides children with access to the exciting and enchanting American wild. Not just children though, the hiking and camping available in the forest would offer any adult a chance to reconnect with nature and be totally free.
Median household income in Hailey is $61,000, so a little above the national average. This has created a happy and diverse community of permanent residents.
10. Garden City
Garden City, on the outskirts of Boise, is a commuter suburb of the Idaho state capital. With 11,300 people calling this neighbourhood home, there is a diverse and hard-working community of people here.
As ever, access to outdoor activities is easily achieved despite the suburban nature of Garden City.
Monthly rent in Garden City is idealistic, to say the least; for $775 a month, you have access to all the great facilities and amenities offered by Boise, including the job market, with an agreeable cost of living.
There is not only high performing schools in Garden City but a good range of choice for parents too; 35 public schools for approximately 2000 children who are growing up in this neighbourhood.
Property prices in the Pocatello area are some of the most affordable in all of Idaho. For $70,000 you can invest in a quaint 3-bedroom family home. We say invest, any property under $100,000 would be considered a ‘project’.
There are plenty of houses in Pocatello that are ready to walk into and decorate to your taste. With median home value at $133,000, be sure to search around for the best deal for you.
Crime levels in Pocatello are very low, well below the national average. Local people praise the area for its safety and security and claim that they are very happy living here. Describing Pocatello as ‘quiet, friendly and conservative’, there is little to find fault with this homely college town.
12. Idaho Falls
Residents rave about living in Idaho Falls, and understandably so. House prices are fair, and monthly rent low. The city has been created following the flow of the Snake River so fishing and outdoor pursuits are, as ever in Idaho, in no short supply.
Being a major city there is plenty going on in Idaho Falls to keep everyone entertained. The Museum of Idaho and the Idaho Falls Zoo for example as well as cinemas, restaurants, and 10-pin bowling all keep this community active and out of the house.
Idaho is a safe state to live in and Idaho Falls is no exception.
The small city of Rexburg is nestled away in Madison County. Hosting the campus of Brigham-Young University Idaho there is a fluctuating but content population of 26,000 people here.
This suburban area is as safe as any other city in Idaho and the local people are quick to note the family-friendly atmosphere about the place. Locals say that although Rexburg is a small town, there are lots of opportunities here, with plenty to do to keep you busy and entertained.
University students seldom want to relocate once their studies have ended, as such Rexburg is rapidly expanding. Suffice to say if you check back in a year or so this college city will have climbed up the ranks no doubt.
Hayden Lake is a big draw for many people who move to this neighbourhood. Boating and fishing, unsurprisingly are popular pastimes with the residents of Hayden.
Although on paper a suburban area, many of the houses on the market right now are tucked back from the main road, sheltered by evergreen trees and offering expansive garden areas too.
Property in Hayden is very affordable. An investment of $349,000 would land you a 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom home with double garage to match. If you’re looking for space over aesthetic, then a rustic 5-bedroom, 3-bathroom home would warrant a reasonable investment of $225,000.
15. St Anthony
Rounding up our list of 15 best places to live in Idaho is the humble town of St Anthony. Home to a friendly and welcoming group of 3,470 residents, there is little to complain about in this small town. Median home value is a very reasonable $106,000, and monthly rent lies on the $600 mark.
It is the lack of public schooling options that see St Anthony fall in line lower on the list. With only one school available at elementary, middle and high school level, parents have little choice. That said, these schools are performing to a high standard and students at said schools are happy and learning well.
Local people simply note that their only complaint is that the winters are hard, just as they are statewide. No real problems here in St Anthony, it seems.