Have you ever thought about moving to Boise, Idaho? Does the idea of living in a city with mild weather, friendly people, low traffic, outdoor activities, and a growing food and wine scene sound appealing? How does living in the “City of Trees” sound? Yes, that’s Boise’s best-known nickname.
If living in the “City of Trees” sounds good, then you’re like the thousands of people moving to Boise every year. Between 2017 and 2018, Boise was the fastest growing city in the country. Over the last decade, Boise has seen a 20% increase in population. Just last year, in 2019, the Idaho capital city was ranked as the best place to live for millennials, as well as the best US city to buy a house.
In 2020, Boise, Idaho, has a population of 234,576 and is the 97th largest city in the United States.
If Boise has been on your radar for potential places to move, you’re in the right place. If you’re looking to move, but not sure which city is best - you’re in the right place.
In this guide, we’re going to look at everything that makes Boise so attractive to the people living and moving there. By the time your finish reading, you’ll have a much better idea of moving to Boise is the right choice for you.
Now it’s time to find out - why is everyone moving to Boise?
Boise, Idaho’s cost of living is 8% lower than the national average. The cost of living in any area is based on factors such as your career, salary, and the real estate market for the area.
In Boise, housing costs 12% less than the national average, and utility prices are 14% lower. The median home price is $390,000, and the median rent is $1,475 per month. The average energy bill comes in at $143.68.
Food and grocery expenses also factor in the cost of living for an area. Boise grocery prices are 10% lower than the national average. Expect to pay $3.00 for a loaf of bread and $1.62 for a carton of eggs.
This question is a bit tricky because we humans have an infinite amount of wants and desires. What is comfortable, one person may feel like torture for another person. But, we can get close to an estimate by looking at some numbers. The Median household income of a Boise resident is $49,209 a year, which is just about the same as the national average.
One calculation that is useful in determining how much you need to live comfortably in Boise is a living wage calculation. Using a living wage calculator will show the hourly rate calculation that an individual in a household must earn to support his or herself and their family. The built-in assumption is that the sole provider is working full-time (2080 hours per year.)
For example, two adults that are both working, with two children, will need a combined income of $67,266 (before taxes) to cover living expenses in Boise. Living expenses include food, child care, medical, housing, and transportation.
Now that you know how much you need to make to live comfortably in Boise, you probably want to know which jobs in Boise will allow you to make a good income. Here’s a list of some typical annual salaries you can expect after you move to Boise.
To this point, we’ve looked at some helpful numbers that you’ll need to keep in mind. We’ll now shift gears and look at other aspects of Boise. People moving from the San Franciso Bay area to Boise probably want to know about Boise’s ethnic diversity. Many Bay Area residents enjoy the diverse population of the Bay Area and wonder what Idaho is like.
You may be surprised to learn that Boise has a large ethnic Basque community of about 15,000 people, which is the largest in the United States. Boise is home to many religions and has a Hare Krishna Temple, an LDS Church temple, and a Jewish Ahavath Beth Israel Temple (the oldest continually used temple west of the Mississippi).
Politics can play a role to some degree in your decision to move to Boise. The latest data from June 2019, showed the state of Idaho has 856,511 registered voters. Republicans made up 50.8%, Democrats accounted for 12.7%, and nearly 37% were independent. If you’re tired of political division, living in a state with 37% independent voters might be attractive.
Although the state as a whole is primarily Republican, Boise and Ada County are the most politically moderate places in the state.
In its latest ranking of the best places to buy a house, Wallethub crowned Boise, as the champion. They compared 300 real-estate markets across the US on dozens of factors relating to economic health and overall attractiveness.
A 2018 Bloomberg Businessweek story showed that Californians account for 85 percent of the net domestic immigration to Idaho. The article reports that Californians are leaving because of record housing prices, volatile politics, high taxes, and the constant threat of natural disasters.
The median home price in California hit a high of over $611,000 in June 2019, more than twice the national median. With median home prices in Boise at almost half that, it’s no surprise that Californians that want to enjoy homeownership are moving to Boise.
Let’s take a look at Boise and Los Angeles to demonstrate the cost differences when it comes to everyday living.
What the big questions people have when considering a move is “how is the weather?” The weather includes everything from annual temperature averages and moisture accumulation to severe storms.
When people think of tornadoes, they usually think of Oklahoma and Kansas - no Idaho. Although Boise does get tornadoes, they are rarely strong and almost never cause damage. Tornado strength is ranked on a scale from 0 to 5, with 5 being the strongest. Idaho tornadoes are usually 0 or 1 on the scale. In 2019, Idaho had a whopping three tornadoes touch ground. Texas, on the other hand, had 153.
Similar to tornadoes, Boise does get earthquakes but they are also rarely strong and damage is very rare. Many Californians leaving the state look forward to living in an area where they don’t need to worry about the constant threat of earthquakes, fires, and flooding.
Idaho, although relatively natural disaster free does experience droughts and wildfires. Each year Idaho experiences an average of 330 fires that burn about 270,000 acres of public and private lands. Although it sounds like a lot, and it is on average compared to many other states, California had over 27,000 wildfires in the first six months of 2020 and 1.7 million acres were burned.
You’ll be pleased to know that the capital city of Boise isn’t the snowmageddon some people think it is. Some parts of Idaho do indeed get a lot of snowfall, but Boise isn’t one of them. One of the great things about living in Boise is that the four distinct seasons are pretty even in length. While people back East can find themselves digging cars out of snowbanks on Monday, and slathering on sunscreen the next day, Boise enjoys a mild and warm spring that transitions smoothly into Summer.
On average, the Treasure Valley gets about 220 sunny days per year. It has very low humidity and gets 12 inches of annual rainfall/snowfall. Most of the water comes from mountain run-offs, so no need to worry about low amounts of precipitation.
Boise winters are fairly mild and dry. While the foothills and mountains get a good amount of snowfall, it rarely covers Boise for more than a few days at a time.
Spring in Boise starts around mid-March. It’s not uncommon to see temperatures reaching the 80s for a few days as early as April.
The summers in Boise can get hot. It’s not uncommon to see temps hit triple digits. When this happens locals head for the mountains to cool off. Summer nights are cool and clear and perfect for relaxing outdoors near a firepit. One cool thing about Boise summers is that it stays light out until around 10:00 p.m., so your days feel a lot longer.
The crisp days and cool nights start in mid to late September in Boise. The first hard frost usually doesn’t hit until mid-November. If you like Fall leaves, you’ll like Boise. Enormous old elms and oaks line the streets downtown and make for beautiful Fall strolls.
Compared to other communities across the nation with similar population size, Boise has a crime rate that is noticeably lower than average. For comparably sized cities all across America, Boise is actually safer than most.
Your chances of becoming a victim of violent crime in Idaho are 1 in 440, and in Boise, it’s 1 in 360. If you’re moving from San Fransico to Boise, you’d be moving to a much safer city statistically speaking. San Francisco has one of the highest crime rates in America. The chances of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime in San Fransico is 1 in 16.
So far, we’ve looked at some important data that will better inform you about the economics of moving to Boise. Now you have a feel for what it will cost, the demographics, and the weather. But you might be wondering what the vibe is like? What are Boise people like?
Boiseans are outdoor lovers. Some people move to Boise just to enjoy access to the beautiful surroundings. Aside from loving outdoors, people in Boise are genuinely friendly. It sounds cliche but it’s true. Of course, you can find a grumpy anti-social Boisean if you look hard enough, but generally, people in Boise are warm and friendly - even to newcomers from California.
Craft beer is kind in Boise. Just try the self-guided Boise Ale Trail through Boise’s 15 craft breweries if you think it’s not true. Don’t forget the annual Brew Olympics, which brings together ten local breweries during American Craft Beer Week.
In addition to a vibrant craft beer scene, Boise is gradually becoming a culinary hotspot. In 2017 Vogue published an article about Boise that said, ‘You’ll find all of the essentials of a great food city: third-wave coffee roasters, gourmet donut shops, craft cocktail bars, food trucks, tasting-menu restaurants, and spots dedicated to perfecting a single dish.”
Boise is a magnet for music, entertainment, dining, nightlife, art, and culture. Over the past five years, Boise has hosted the Eagles, Styx, Wiz Khalifa, Carrie Underwood, Imagine Dragons, Ariana Grande, and music tours like X-fest and the Mountain Home Country Music Festival. Don’t forget the Treefort Music Fest - an epic five-day, indie-rock festival that takes over various venues in downtown Boise.
Art can be from the streets to the galleries in Boise. Local artists have created some amazing murals in downtown. If you’re more into gallery art, check out the Boise Art Museum or the latest installment at MING Studios.
Boise is no stranger to stage theater. See the latest and greatest in playwriting and stagecraft at the Boise Contemporary Theater, Alley Repertory Theater, and a number of community theater productions.
Boise is known for outdoor activities. You have multiple outdoor activity options to enjoy within city limits, plus the entire state of Idaho.
Since 1987, cyclists from all over have flocked to Boise to participate in the Twilight Criterium race. No bike? Not into races? No problem. You can rent bikes by the hour at any of the local bike hubs, and take a ride on the greenbelt or around the city. Just download the Boise Green Bike Project app to pick up and drop off your bike.
Boise has over 100 public parks and recreation areas. Yes, 100. Just check out the city of Boise’s Parks page and see the entire lineup. Each park is featured on the website with its own page. Click on the park and learn about the hours of operation, location, parking, park history, and the park’s features and amenities.
If you enjoy hiking, running, biking, or horseback riding, the enormous Ridge to Rivers Trail System runs from one end of the city to the other, and outlying areas. There is something for everyone on this 190 mile stretch of Boise Foothill trails.
Boise and the surrounding areas are home to some top-quality natural hot springs, and fall is the perfect time to visit them. You can choose from natural hot springs that you can hike into like Skinnydipper Hot Springs, or if you’re looking to get pampered, try out the Springs.
On super hot days, Boiseans can enjoy Roaring Springs water park, the nation’s 8th best ranked water park. It features over 10 water slides, an endless river, and a wave pool. Next door is the Wahooz Family Fun Zone, where families can enjoy laser tag, go-karts, batting cages, mini-golf, and more.
To this point, you might be thinking Boise sounds like some kind of paradise. It’s certainly a great place, but it’s not going to be a perfect fit for everyone. Yes, there are some potential downsides to living in Boise, Idaho.
At this point, you should have enough or a lot more information to help you make that decision for yourself and your family. Boise is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States and has a lot to offer from an economic and lifestyle standpoint.
If you’re ready to watch College Football games on a blue field with some of the best fans in the nation, then you might like Boise. If having access to amazing outdoor activities and over 100 city parks sounds good, then you might like Boise. The city of Boise, Idaho, has something for everyone, and the future looks bright for continued growth in the Treasure Valley.
If you are in fact moving to Boise, your financial picture will change.
The individual puzzle pieces that make up your financial picture will change, including: income, living expenses, fund spending, savings, taxes, and more. Making a physical transition to a new state always comes with a financial transition as well.
How will your new financial picture impact your standard of living, and how will you manage it to ensure you’re staying on track to meet your long-term financial goals?
Do you want to:
Every lifestyle change you make in a particular area will impact your financial future. It will affect your retirement window, post retirement standard of living, and more.
It’s a big challenge calculating all of the different variables that go into your short term and long-term financial picture and making sure you stay on track to have a secure and enjoyable financial future.
If you’re in the moving process, thinking about moving, or have just moved, Open Advisors, a Boise financial advisor, can help you make the needed adjustments that will allow you to enjoy your lifestyle changes and stay on track to meet your long-term financial goals.
You don’t need to settle for less. Maximize your enjoyment from your new life and get the peace of mind that comes with knowing your long-term financial outlook is on track and secure.