Article Overview: List of the Pros & Cons of Living in Idaho
Thinking about moving to Idaho? You’re in the right place. My name is John and I’ve been calling the Gem State home for the better part of 10 years. I moved here from the Pacific Northwest and haven’t looked back.
Seems like Idaho is gaining a lot of traction with folks lately. Some of my own friends have reached out asking what they should know about moving to Idaho.
So, I thought it’d be helpful to draft up a quick list of the honest pros and cons of living in Idaho from a local’s perspective. I’m not one for small talk, so let’s dive right in!
Living in Idaho
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(Neutral) Things to Know About Living in Idaho
The Political Scene
Overall, Idaho is considered a very red state. The last democratic governor in the state was Cecil Andrus, who left office in 1995. You won’t find many Democratic politicians in office outside of Boise, and conservative state policies reflect that.
Worth mention: The political leanings of a city or state are neutral considerations and I won’t be labeling them as pros/cons. Rather, I’ll mention the stats for you to take into consideration before moving to Idaho.
Relaxed Gun Laws
Idaho is considered one of the most gun friendly states in the country. Laws allow residents to conceal and carry from the age of 18 and there are no requirements for universal background checks (also no assault weapon restrictions).
If you’re interested in learning more about the gun laws in Idaho, read this handy guide.
Boise Is One of the fastest Growing Cities in the USA
In 2018, Boise was ranked the fastest growing city in America. The city’s popularity only grew during the global pandemic when hordes of millennials (and families) ended up moving to Boise for the more relaxed COVID regulations.
In fact, a shocking 194% more people moved to Idaho during the pandemic, making it the state with the most growth during that time.
Curious about Boise? Read: 15 Honest Pros & Cons of Living in Boise
Pros of Moving to Idaho
1. The Affordable Cost of Living in Idaho
When compared to the national average, the cost of living in Idaho is (surprisingly) reasonable. Now, I completely understand that the cost of living has risen significantly over the past 5 years, but even still — folks are moving to Idaho to enjoy a more affordable way of life.
Median home prices in Idaho are on par with the national average (around $435,000), which, while increasing, still beats the soaring prices found in neighboring states.
Plus, essentials like groceries and healthcare often come in at lower prices too. In short, living in Idaho means you can enjoy a beautiful state without breaking the bank — a perk that can’t be overstated.
2. Relaxed & Friendly Locals
One of the biggest perks of living in Idaho is the relaxed vibe of the friendly locals. The state’s lower population density, with about 22 people per square mile, compared to the national average of around 93, plays a big part in fostering close-knit communities.
This slower pace of life often translates into people having more time for neighborly chats and community involvement. In towns across Idaho, it’s common to see a high level of civic engagement and local events that bring people together. So, if you’re looking for a place where the community spirit is strong and people tend to know and look out for each other, Idaho should be considered.
3. It’s Paradise for Nature Enthusiasts
Idaho is a treasure trove of natural beauty with a whopping 80% of land managed for public use. This means endless trails for hiking and biking and whatever form of outdoor recreation you prefer best. Plus, with more than 100,000 miles of rivers (more than any other state), you’re in for a treat if you love water sports like kayaking, rafting, or fishing.
Not to mention, Idaho’s home to 18 ski resorts, offering some of the best slopes for skiing and snowboarding. The state’s diverse landscape, from lush forests to rugged mountains, provides a playground for all sorts of outdoor activities year-round. All told, folks are moving to Idaho in hordes to take advantage of the great outdoors, and it’s hard to blame them.
4. Idaho is a Tax-Friendly State
Idaho has a progressive income tax system, with rates ranging from 1% to 6.5%, depending on your income bracket. Depending on where you’re moving from, you may find yourself with a lot more take home pay.
For example, if you’re moving to Idaho from the neighboring state of Oregon, your income tax will decrease by 3.5-9% (depending on income). However, if you’re moving to Idaho from Washington (which doesn’t impose a state income tax), you’ll find your take-home pay reducing by up to 6.5%.
Things to consider, for sure. Likewise, Idaho’s property taxes are also on the lower side, which is great news if you’re planning to buy a home.
5. The Craft Beer Scene is Top-Notch
With over 90 craft breweries dotted around the state, it’s a paradise for beer aficionados. Idaho ranks among the top states in the country for the number of breweries per capita, which means you’ll never go thirsty while living in Idaho.
The reason? Idaho is one of the largest producers of hops in the USA. This means local breweries have access to some of the freshest and finest ingredients right in their backyard. From hoppy IPAs to smooth stouts, the variety is impressive. And it’s not just about the beer; these breweries often serve as community hubs where locals gather, enjoy live music, and savor food truck delights. So, if you’re moving to Idaho, get ready to explore a vibrant and diverse craft beer scene filled to the brim with eager locals and visitors alike.
6. Low Crime Rates
Idaho’s got a reputation for being a pretty safe place, but don’t just take my word for it. The state consistently ranks as one of the safest in the country, with a crime rate that’s well below the national average. In fact, Idaho’s violent crime rate is about 207 incidents per 100,000 people, compared to the national average of around 379.
And when it comes to property crime, Idaho also scores low, with rates significantly lower than many other states. What does this mean for you? Well, moving to Idaho could bring some peace of mind, knowing you’re in a state where safety is a top priority. It’s one of those places where people still feel comfortable leaving their doors unlocked.
Cons of Living in Idaho
1. Idaho is Very White (Lack of Diversity)
Idaho is known for many great things, but when it comes to diversity, our state ranks as one of the worst. Relying on numbers alone, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 82% of Idaho’s population identifies as white, which is significantly higher than the national average. The state’s Hispanic and Latino population makes up about 13%, while other racial and ethnic groups represent a smaller percentage.
This lack of diversity is more pronounced in some areas than others, and it’s something that’s reflected in the state’s cultural and social dynamics. While Idaho offers a great quality of life in many respects, it’s not welcoming to those that don’t fit the homogeneous white mold. Hell, Coeur D’Alene is practically the capital for the racist extremist.
2. The Job Market is Limited
I think Idaho is a great place to settle down and raise a family, but if you’re the ambitious sort, you may find yourself frustrated with lack of career growth. There’s a few key things to know about the job market in Idaho. As of October 2023, the state’s unemployment rate was sitting at a low 3.2%, which is a good sign for job seekers (in certain fields).
The state has a healthy mix of industries, including manufacturing, education, health services, and leisure & hospitality, all showing significant year-on-year growth. Education and health services, in particular, have seen a remarkable 7.4% increase in jobs over the past year.
But if you’re looking to grow a career outside of the hospitality and farming industries (such as tech), jobs won’t be easy to come by. Harder still is advancement and promotions. As such, I don’t recommend moving to Idaho unless you can work remotely or you have a nice job offer waiting for you when you arrive. In my opinion, Idaho can be tough for the ambitious sort.
3. Poor Public Schools
If you’re moving to Boise with a family in tow, you’ll need to strongly consider their schooling options. Idaho’s public school system is rated as one of the worst in the country. For starters, only 47% of 3-5 year olds are enrolled in school, which is the second-smallest share in the nation. For reference, the national average is 61% enrollment rate.
Idaho is one of 12 states that doesn’t offer state-funded Pre-K programs to children under 5 years old. Secondly, our high school graduation rate clocks in at 80%, which is well below the national average of 86%. Not to mention our abysmal graduation rate, which is consider the top 10 lowest across all US states.
All this to say, you’ll definitely want to factor in the expense for your child’s education when considering the cost of living in Boise. Otherwise you’ll be taking a risk in our under-performing public school system.
Retiring in Idaho FAQ
Is Idaho a good place to live?
Idaho is a gem of a place to live in, especially if you enjoy the tranquility of nature and have a strong sense of community. Known for its breathtaking landscapes, from majestic mountains to peaceful lakes, it’s a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.
The cost of living is generally affordable, and the state boasts a low crime rate, adding to the appeal. Plus, Idahoans are known for their friendly and welcoming nature.
So, if you’re dreaming of a life where natural beauty meets a warm community vibe, Idaho might just be the perfect spot for your next home adventure!
Is Idaho a good place to retire?
Yes, Idaho is known for its affordable living, lower than average crime rates, and a wealth of outdoor activities – perfect for those looking to stay active in the Golden Years.
Plus, the state’s low cost of living, including reasonable healthcare costs and a tax structure that’s pretty friendly to retirees, makes your retirement savings stretch further. So, if you love nature and a quieter, more laid-back lifestyle, Idaho should be strongly considered.
Is marijuana legal in Idaho?
No. Marijuana, both for recreational and medicinal use, is illegal in Idaho. Making Idaho one of the few states in the United States where marijuana in all its forms is still not legal.
Possession, cultivation, and sale of marijuana are subject to criminal penalties in Idaho
What are the best cities in Idaho?
Check out my comprehensive list on the 15 best places to live in Idaho.
What are people that live in Idaho called?
People who live in Idaho are called “Idahoans.”
What’s the cost of living in Idaho?
The cost of living in Idaho varies depending on the area, but generally, it’s known for being reasonably affordable, especially when compared to the national average.
It’s always a good idea to research specific cities or towns within Idaho for a more accurate picture of living costs, as there can be significant variations within the state.
Keep in mind that the cost of living is subject to change and can be influenced by economic factors and housing market trends.
Is Idaho a tax-friendly state?
Idaho actually comes across as pretty tax-friendly, especially when you look at the numbers. The state has an low income tax rate (5.8%), which is noticeably less than the national average, pegged around 10.9%.
So, if you’re crunching the numbers and comparing tax rates, Idaho stands out as a more affordable option in terms of state income tax. This lower tax rate is one of the perks that makes Idaho attractive, especially for folks who are mindful of their tax burdens.
However, it’s worth noting that Idaho does tax retirement income, unlike some other states.
List of the Pros & Cons of Moving to Idaho (Post Summary)
In sum, here’s the things you should know before moving to Idaho.
- The political scene
- Relaxed Gun Laws
- Boise is one of the fastest growing cities in the USA
- The Affordable Cost of Living in Idaho
- Relaxed & Friendly Locals
- It’s Paradise for Nature Enthusiasts
- Idaho is a Tax-Friendly State
- The Craft Beer Scene is Top-Notch
- Low Crime Rates
- Idaho is Very White (Lack of Diversity)
- The Job Market is Limited
- Poor Public Schools
Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions you might have! I’m (more than) happy to help!
Pin Living in Idaho
Helpful Related Links
Living in Boise: 15 Honest Pros & Cons of Living in Boise
Living in Washington State: 15 Honest Pros & Cons of Living in Washington State
Living in Oregon: 15 Honest Pros & Cons of Living in Oregon
Living in Montana: 15 Honest Pros & Cons of Living in Montana
Living in Wyoming: 15 Honest Pros & Cons of Living in Wyoming
Living in South Dakota: 15 Honest Pros & Cons of Living in South Dakota
Living in Nebraska: 15 Honest Pros & Cons of Living in Nebraska