Looking for the best places to live in Idaho? This local has you covered, here’s a roundup of the best cities in Idaho. Enjoy!
Best Places to Live in Idaho
Table of Contents: Best Places to Live in Idaho
Table of Contents: Best Places to Live in Idaho
- Best Places to Live in Idaho
Best Large Cities in Idaho (Population 100k+)
- Population: 235,684
- Median home price: $477,792
- Average age: 37.5 years
The most populous city in Idaho, Boise is the state capital and scores high marks as one of the best places to live in Idaho. Contrary to popular belief, that’s not always the case with capital cities, which are often renowned for great employment opportunities but severely lacking when it comes to nightlife and activities.
Boise seems to balance business with pleasure in a seamless manner. Considered the cultural hub of Idaho, the city plays home to a vibrant downtown core full of dining, shopping and local shops.
In terms of staving off boredom, there’s a handful of sights to see. Such as touring the striking state capitol, relaxing in a grassy park, visiting the Egyptian Theatre, popping into a brewery, and getting lost in the Boise Art Museum.
Speaking of parks, Boise maintains 90 parks and over 200 miles of multi-use trails. Hard not to love that.
While Boise’s median home price of $477,792 makes it more affordable than some other cities in Idaho (looking at you, Coeur d’Alene) it’s higher than the national average. And on the flip side of the coin, Boise crime rates are below the national average.
Likewise, Boise is considered of the fastest-growing cities in the country, largely fueled by a strong job economy.
Science, technology, and healthcare are all major industries here providing consistent job opportunities, making Boise one of the best cities in Idaho for job seekers.
- Population: 117,635
- Median home price: $514,053
- Average age: 35.9 years
One of Boise’s rapidly-growing suburbs, Meridian is the state’s second most-populous city and one of the best cities to live in Idaho. It offers an urban-suburban feel with a mix of shopping, restaurants, and culture.
That growth does come at a cost — Meridian is one of the most expensive places to live in Idaho, with average home prices clocking in at $514,053. Fortunately, Meridian is fairly large and well-established, offering a vast variety of housing types for all budgets.
The city has 17 public parks that offer great outdoor recreational opportunities. From well-kept hiking trails, water sports and seasonal events like farmers markets and free concerts.
In terms of disadvantages, Meridian is relatively flat and landlocked in comparison to other Idaho cities mentioned on this list. So if you’re hoping to be near the mountains or a river, you’ll find yourself bracing for a drive.
- Population: 106,186
- Median home price: $395,222
- Average age: 33.3 years
Following in the footsteps of Boise and Meridian, Nampa is also one of the fastest growing cities in Idaho, but not without reason.
Despite officially surpassing 100,000 residents, Nampa still has a rural feel and is widely considered one of the best places to live in Idaho for adventure enthusiasts and nature nuts.
The city has nearly 30 parks and 14 miles of pedestrian walkways. Local hotspots like Lakeview Park and the Nampa Recreation Center, plus quick access to dozens of natural hot springs, make Nampa an outdoor paradise.
The $395,000 average home price sits below the state average, attracting young families and working professionals.
Although the downtown core provides a draw (with charming local shops and great restaurants), the city experiences many challenges that come with rapid growth.
Continuous construction, increased traffic, and limited public transportation options are some of the issues Nampa locals face.
Best Mid-Sized Cities in Idaho (Population 35K-100K)
- Population: 64,818
- Median home price: $367,295
- Average age: 33.4 years
Outside of the greater Boise area, Idaho Falls is the largest city in Idaho. Seen as the economic, cultural and healthcare hub for eastern Idaho (southern Montana and western Wyoming, too!).
Sitting at the confluence of several rivers, the city is also renowned for its abundant natural beauty.
The low cost of living, median home value of $367,295, and low 2.7% unemployment rate all make it one of the best places to live in Idaho.
Residents also love the low overall crime rate, abundance of parks, welcoming nature of the community, and the city’s namesake: the picturesque waterfalls in the heart of Idaho Falls.
- Population: 59,996
- Median home price: $378,028
- Average age: 29.5 years
Caldwell is part of the greater Boise area and has a history deeply rooted in agriculture and wine-growing. It’s also home to the College of Idaho, the state’s oldest private liberal arts college.
These contrasting attributes certainly make Caldwell one of the liveliest places to live in Idaho!
Offering an inviting laid-back vibe, boasting all four distinct seasons, and the close proximity to Boise seem to draw locals in year after year. The vibrant downtown core and great cultural scene don’t hurt either.
Add in the lower-than-state-average median home price of $378,028, and it’s easy to see why it’s one of the best cities in Idaho.
If I’m being honest though – the older parts of the city are aging rather poorly. Likewise, it’s not uncommon for locals to drive to other parts of the state for outdoor recreation.
However, there are a handful of fun year-round events hosted in the tow. Like summer night rodeos and weekly farmers markets, which provide plenty of entertainment.
- Population: 57,947
- Median home price: $316,671
- Average age: 32.9 years
Nicknamed the “U.S. Smile Capital,” Pocatello is in far southeastern Idaho. It earned the nickname due to an ordinance passed in 1948 making it illegal not to smile, an effort to lift spirits after a particularly severe winter.
With the $317K median home price far lower than both the state and nationwide averages, living in Pocatello really is all smiles. Unsurprisingly, it’s frequently named a “best city” by Forbes, NerdWallet, and others.
Set high in the mountains at an elevation of almost 4,500 feet and surrounded by national forest, Pocatello is hailed as one of the best places to live in Idaho for nature and outdoor lovers.
Recreation abounds, from hiking and mountain biking to fishing and kayaking. There’s a distinct lack of public transportation, but fortunately, traffic is almost always very light.
- Population: 54,628
- Median home price: $568,000
- Average age: 37.3 years
Named for the indigenous people who once lived in the region and often called “CDA,” Coeur d’Alene is known as “Lake City,” due to the large lake around which it’s centered.
The largest city in northern Idaho, it’s the place to be for those who enjoy water sports such as parasailing, wakeboarding, jet skiing, paddleboarding, and fishing.
Coeur d’Alene has a relatively high cost of living. The $568,000 average home value is well above average, and the job market is also somewhat limited. Tourism is the driving force of the local economy, and many residents commute 45 minutes to Spokane, Washington, for work. However, if you have a solid job lined up, CDA is one of the best cities in Idaho.
In addition to being close to the state line and a mecca for watersports, Coeur d’Alene is also known for golf. Play the world-famous floating green on the 14th hole at Coeur d’Alene Golf & Spa Resort!
- Population: 51,807
- Median home price: $349,471
- Average age: 33.6 years
Considered the Gateway to the Snake River Canyon, Twin Falls is sought-after for its abundance of waterfalls, natural scenery, and outdoor recreation.
One of southern Idaho’s largest cities, Twin Falls also has the unique distinction of counting the unincorporated area of Jackpot, Nevada, in its metropolitan area.
Although the cost of living and $349,471 average home value in Twin Falls is low, job prospects are limited. Many residents work in agriculture and seasonal outdoor-related positions, so if you’re seeking more of a career, it may not be one of the best cities in Idaho.
On the positive side, Twin Falls scores extremely high marks for outdoor recreation, family-friendliness, and sense of community. Keep in mind, though, that winter is long and cold here, so you’ll need to take up winter sports to enjoy The Great Outdoors all year.
- Population: 39,409
- Median home price: $398,378
- Average age: 23.1 years
Rexburg is known for two things: being home to Brigham Young University’s Idaho campus, and being the gateway to spectacular Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.
Needless to say, Rexburg’s gorgeous mountain scenery alone makes it one of the best places to live in Idaho. The university is responsible for the low average age, as well as the $398,378 average home price — especially reasonable when you consider the geography.
Being a fairly small college town, job prospects are limited outside of the university and tourism. Something else unique is that traffic and scarcity of some supermarket goods rise and fall based on when school is in session.
- Population: 34,203
- Median home price: $364,653
- Average age: 39.8 years
If you love Old West vibes and rugged scenery, you might find Lewiston to be one of the best cities in Idaho. Sitting at the confluence of the Clearwater and Snake rivers, the city is known as the “Gateway to Hell’s Canyon,” a jaw-dropping 10-mile-wide canyon.
Lewiston’s low median home value of $364,653 is appealing, but the city is fairly isolated from other parts of the state. Of course, many people may consider that a positive thing. Residents do enjoy the small-town feel, but there truly isn’t much entertainment here, and winters are harsh.
Although it’s a different type of entertainment, outdoorsy folks will be right at home in Lewiston. Hiking, fishing, camping, and river recreation abounds. Thanks to both rivers meeting in Lewiston, it’s also home to Idaho’s only seaport and the furthest inland port from the West Coast.
5 Best Small Cities in Idaho (Population less than 10K)
- Population: 8,689
- Median home price: $747,806
- Average age: 37.6 years
You may have never heard of Hailey, but you’re almost certainly familiar with Sun Valley, Idaho’s renowned ski region. Hailey is a small mountain town within the larger Sun Valley.
As such, it’s stunningly beautiful and one of the best places to live in Idaho for winter sports enthusiasts.
Despite being a small town, Hailey is also one of the best places to live for access to major cities. The Friedman Memorial Airport provides year-round direct flights to Seattle and Salt Lake City, as well as seasonal direct flights to Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
Hailey’s public schools are also among the highest rated in the state, making it a fantastic option for families.
- Population: 8,639
- Median home price: $546,569
- Average age: 43.2 years
You’d be hard-pressed to find places more naturally beautiful than Sandpoint…and in Idaho, that’s really saying something! The gem of a town sits on the shores of Idaho’s largest lake, Lake Pend Oreille, surrounded by the Selkirk Mountains.
That beauty comes at a price, indicated by the $546,569 median home value and relatively high cost of living. On the flip side, it’s actually one of the more affordable mountain towns in the state.
Sandpoint’s quaint downtown has various shops and restaurants, a nice contrast to the hiking, fishing, camping, and boating most locals enjoy.
Getting around the small town is a breeze, but winters are tough and the area is notoriously windy. If you can bear the cold and have a solid job lined up or work remotely, Sandpoint is one of the best cities in Idaho.
- Population: 3,555
- Median home price: $1,191,173
- Average age: 47.1 years
Just north of Hailey next to Sun Valley, Ketchum is one of the most coveted cities in Idaho. It’s also far and away one of the most expensive places to live in the state, proven by the median home value north of $1 million.
Skiing is king in Ketchum. It’s nestled at the base of the Sawtooth Mountains and adjacent to Bald Mountain, one of the area’s highest summits — and home to Sun Valley Ski Resort. Hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and rafting are other popular activities here.
If you can stomach the high cost of living, another thing to be aware of is that Ketchum is a true resort town. Everything is upscale and priced accordingly, and the town can become overrun with visitors during peak ski season. That season is also somewhat long, and it often snows six months out of the year.
- Population: 3,169
- Median home price: $329,001
- Average age: 43 years
As with many other Gem State cities, Salmon is a dream for outdoorsmen. It’s close to the Montana border and offers a sense of independence, ideal for those who love a more self-sufficient and secluded way of life.
The rather low $329K average home value allows people to pursue different outdoor hobbies and experiment with self-sufficiency. Salmon is also one of the best places to live in Idaho for retirees.
On the other hand, Salmon isn’t the best choice for many young professionals and families. While the town offers unique shopping and dining, farmers’ markets, and festivals, job and educational opportunities are limited here. The low cost of living does balance this out somewhat, and some residents find Salmon a fantastic alternative to Montana.
- Population: 2,687
- Median home price: $463,113
- Average age: 40.1 years
Coined Idaho’s “most friendly town,” Bonners Ferry is in extreme northern Idaho, providing easy access to Canada. Tucked in the Selkirk Mountains, every imaginable type of outdoor activity and scenic mountain views are part of daily life in Bonners Ferry.
The $463,113 median home price is slightly above the state average, but considerably more affordable than many other mountain towns statewide. Unfortunately, there aren’t many jobs beyond construction or education, and housing options are equally limited. If you have a solid job lined up, though, you may very well find Bonners Ferry one of the best places to live in Idaho.
The downtown scene offers boutique shopping, interesting eateries, and several community activities. Combined with the friendly neighborhood vibe, Bonners Ferry is appealing to many folks. Two other things to be aware of is that winter is frigid and LONG this far north, and internet speeds are notoriously slow.
Best Places to Live Idaho (Post Summary)
In sum, here’s a list of the best places to live in Idaho.
- Idaho Falls
- Coeur d’Alene
- Twin Falls
- Bonners Ferry