Low cost of living, great schools, and affordable house prices make cities like Boise, Payette, and Moscow some of the best places to live in
As one of the states with the lowest crime rates, some of the most diverse economic opportunities, and a plethora of top-tier schools, Idaho is a great, if often overlooked, place to live. Natural beauty and a lower than the national average cost of living are huge perks—but choosing where to live amongst the Gem State’s 201 incorporated municipalities can be a challenge.
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What makes a good place to live?
Attempting to pick a place to live can be difficult, especially when there are so many factors to consider—whether it's property tax rates, grocery and gas prices, local climate, or education opportunities—a lot goes into making a home livable.
- Cost of living
- Median home price
- Median household income
- Crime rates
- Quality of schools
- FEMA risk index ratings
- Average commute times
Using these, we’ve narrowed down the best places to live in Idaho and separated them into three categories: the best places for families, the most affordable places, and the best places to purchase a home and settle down.
The best places for families to live in Idaho
When deciding on a place for you and your family to live, important factors to consider are community life, education, and the local crime rate. When putting those variables at the forefront, two cities make the cut: Boise and Moscow.
Location: Ada County, Idaho
Median household income: $49,209
Median home price: $496,900
If we’re being honest,
Boiseis one of the best places to live in Idaho across all categories. With an agreeable cost of living and several great schools, this capital city is an excellent place for young families to settle down.
Prospective homeowners can expect median home prices to fall right around the national average, and renters will be happy to learn that rent is approximately $100less than the national average! Even better than that is the multitude of job opportunities in Boise, spanning many industries and professions.
But if that’s not enough to sell you on the city, how about the fact that property crime rates are steadily declining and the rate of violent crime has stayed low for several years, making Boise an incredibly safe city?
Location: Latah County, Idaho
Median household income: $41,896
Median home price: $229,900
Though you may only be familiar with its Russian counterpart, the town of
Moscowis one of Idaho’s hidden gems in terms of family-friendly places to live.
Moreover, Moscow is considered one of the safer places to live in Idaho and regularly ranks amongst the top 25 safest cities—and with a multitude of environmental groups, churches, and close proximity to the U of I, your children are sure to grow up surrounded by community and culture.
The most affordable places to live in Idaho
For many, the cost of living is one of the most important factors in determining where to live. Idaho’s overall cost of living is slightly lower than the national average, but certain areas in the state can be more expensive—especially those with low crime rates and quality schools.
For your convenience, we’ve figured the following three towns to be among Idaho’s most affordable places to live, based on two primary factors: the overall cost of living and average commute times.
Location: Cassia and Minidoka Counties, Idaho
Median household income: $48,265
Median home price: $128,100
Boasting a cost of living rating of only 95.3,
Burleyis a relatively cheap place to live, and residents can expect to find many agreeable and affordable housing opportunities.
If you’re not looking to buy a house just yet, Burley is also an affordable place to rent. As of April 2022, the monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment averages out to about $660, or roughly $200 less than the state average.
And if you’re worried about commute times eating away at your budget, don’t fret: a study conducted in 2019 found that most Burley residents had an average commute time of fewer than 13 minutes.
Location: Payette County, Idaho
Median household income: $47,272
Median home price: $134,300
With the cost of living coming at 81.9,
Payetteis far below the Idaho state average of 97.7 and the U.S. national average of 100. Prospective residents can expect low selling prices for homes and low monthly rents averaging around $800 for a two-bedroom rental property.
However, Payette does have a crime rate higher than 88% of all Idahoan towns and cities, meaning it isn’t the safest place to live, but living and working in Payette won’t break the bank. As of 2019, the average commute time was under 20 minutes.
Location: Jerome County, Idaho
Median household income: $47,389
Median home price: $146,800
Known primarily for its dairy farming,
Jeromeis a city dominated by agriculture—but regardless of whether you work in the industry, you’ll enjoy a fairly low cost of living at 86.3 with many affordable housing options.
Though you may grow tired of Jerome’s endless rolling pastures, driving by them won’t take up too much of your day—as of 2020, the average commute time was just over 18 minutes one way. Just keep an eye on your valuables or have a good insurance policy, as Jerome has a crime rate higher than 89% of the state.
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Best places to buy a house in Idaho
Now, if you’re planning on putting down roots for the long term, you’ll need to consider both the climate and local housing market of your future city. To help, we’ve examined their FEMA Risk Index and housing market summaries.
Location: Bonneville County, Idaho
Median household income: $64,792
Median home price: $158,800
With median home prices far lower than the state average, Lincoln is one of the best places in Idaho to buy a house—and as of March 2022, the town has entered into a buyer’s market, meaning you’ll have plenty of options.
Moreover, the FEMA risk index rating for Lincoln and Bonneville County is fairly low—only 9.0—when compared to the national average of 10.6, but it is higher than the Idaho state average of 8.2. Even still, Lincoln homeowners can expect fewer weather-related repair costs and won’t need to worry about overly-inflated insurance premiums.
Location: Bingham County, Idaho
Median household income: $56,324
Median home price: $157,000
With fairly low home prices and a low cost of living, Moreland is an attractive place for prospective homebuyers. It is a perfect place to consider starting a family with its pleasant suburban-rural mix and above-average schools.
Despite having a higher FEMA risk index rating—11.53—than both the state and national average, the types of weather hazards Moreland frequently experiences won’t seriously damage property. While the area does receive the occasional tornado, it’s mainly cold snaps and droughts you’ll have to worry about.
How to find affordable home and auto insurance in Idaho
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