We're calling it. Idaho could be the next Colorado. Or Montana. Or Oregon. By that, we mean that Idaho is a state defined by its natural beauty. Home to the Rocky Mountains, it's full of mountains, canyons, rivers and forests. Sixty-two percent of Idaho's land is protected public land, meaning that it's open to the public for outdoor recreation and enjoyment. From hiking to fishing, locals here love spending time outdoors.
But being sandwiched between more “famous" outdoorsy states like Montana and Oregon, Idaho is usually overlooked as a great place to live. But not anymore. Idaho is quickly growing. From larger cities like Boise to idyllic mountain towns, here are the best places to live in Idaho in 2022. And we would be remiss to not at least mention that yes, there are great potatoes.
Even if you don't know much about Idaho, you've likely heard of Boise. Idaho's capital city is roughly half an hour east of the Oregon border. It's close to outdoor areas like the Boise National Forest, the hills and mountains of which provide a scenic backdrop to the city. Nearby ski hills like Brundage Mountain are all set for skiers come wintertime.
But nature can also be found in town. Makes sense, as Boise is also known as the City of Trees. In addition to parks like Ann Morrison Park, the 25-mile Boise River Greenbelt follows the river of the same name through town. This non-motorized path runs along the river, providing a tranquil place to walk or exercise, as well as connecting neighborhoods to downtown and the city center.
Despite its rugged surroundings, Boise is quite cosmopolitan. Its vibrant Downtown is home to theaters, museums, dining and local events, so there's plenty to do. The agriculture, science and tech industries support a diverse jobs market. The city is also home to campuses for the University of Idaho and Idaho State.
And you'll find living in Boise very affordable, too, with one-bedroom apartments averaging just over $1,500 a month. Whether you're part of a family unit or a single young professional, that's a price range that can work for everyone. Taken all together, it's easy to see why Boise is one of the best places to live in Idaho.
If you want to live close to a major city like Boise but prefer a small-town atmosphere, Caldwell sits just on the edge of the Boise metropolitan area. Apartments in Caldwell are even more affordable than in nearby Boise. Home prices are also lower.
Caldwell is notable for its historic neighborhoods and architecture. Located in the verdant Treasure Valley, which is home to multiple rivers, outdoor sports and recreation are huge here. Caldwell is especially well-known for its relaxing hot springs.
With low crime, good schools and a laidback quality of life, Caldwell is a great place to raise a family or retire. While the city's social scene is a bit slow, Boise is just 20 minutes away with nightlife, dining and entertainment.
Home to the famous Coeur d'Alene Resort, this mountain town in northwestern Idaho is predominantly known as a tourism destination to enjoy the region's lakes, forests and mountains. But take a chance on it and you'll find that Coeur d'Alene is not just a tourist town and is a lovely place to settle down.
Obviously, ample outdoor recreation is found here, from boating on Lake Coeur d'Alene to hiking at Tubbs Hill. With tourism, retail, education, recreation and healthcare dominating the local jobs market, there are tons of work opportunities, especially during the busy tourist season.
Coeur d'Alene boasts a highly-ranked school system and safe neighborhoods for families and young people alike. While the town has a close-knit community, it also enjoys the perks of being a tourism destination. This includes the type of high-quality, multicultural dining scene you'd usually find in larger cities. Apartments in Coeur d'Alene have reasonable rates despite the notoriously high prices of mountain towns.
Living in Eagle offers renters and homeowners alike a safe, suburban environment close to the bustle of Boise. With a high median household income and elevated housing prices, the area is definitely more on the affluent side. But for that, you get access to a top-ranked school district and all the comforts of suburban living. With Boise just half an hour away, it's also ideal for commuters.
Eagle knows how to keep its community engaged. Throughout the year, it offers events like the Eagle Saturday Market where you can enjoy music and purchase locally-made goods. Eagle Island State Park, golf courses and the nearby mountains and rivers also have plenty in the way of outdoor fun. The Boise River in particular offers great fishing.
Located in northern Idaho, the small town of Hayden is a suburb of Coeur d'Alene. Situated on the shores of Lake Hayden, spending time out on the lake or in the nearby mountains is just as popular here as it is in nearby Coeur. But a definite upside of living in Hayden is that you get all the outdoor access without the Coeur crowds.
With affordable rental and home prices, Hayden provides a comfortable base for retirees and families. Locals praise the friendly community and abundance of family-friendly activities like the Triple Play Family Fun Park. But, of course, outdoor fun is where it's at here, from manicured golfing at Avondale to swimming and sunning at Honeysuckle Beach.
Located just a stone's throw from the border of Washington state, Lewiston is a small town in northern Idaho. As with many places in Idaho, access to the outdoors is one of the main draws of living in this charming, family-oriented town. But what the area lacks in mountains, it makes up for in grassy plains, meandering rivers and stunning canyons.
Sitting at the confluence of the mighty Snake and the Clearwater Rivers, Lewiston offers easy access to water sports and boating. But the area's biggest claim to fame is the nearby Hell's Canyon in the Seven Devils mountain range. At nearly 8,000 feet deep and cut through by the Snake River, it's the deepest river gorge in North America. With no road access, the best way to experience this marvel of nature is on a whitewater rafting expedition.
Apart from outdoor recreation, living in Lewiston offers a walkable downtown with dining and wine bars, historic museums and family-friendly neighborhoods. But one of the biggest upsides to living in Lewiston? Incredibly affordable rent and housing prices. A two-bedroom apartment for less than $700? Where do we sign?
Located just 15 minutes from central Boise, Meridian is Idaho's second-largest city. Not only is it one of the fastest-growing cities in the state, but it's also one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation.
Living in Meridian offers near-instant access to Boise's jobs market and cosmopolitan attractions. But Meridian itself is a compact, safe and family-friendly community. Families with kids especially enjoy the area due to the good school system and affordable housing options.
As a prosperous suburb, Meridian is slightly more expensive than Boise. But for families seeking a more suburban lifestyle, it's a worthwhile payoff. Wholesome family fun like water parks and a children's museum offers plenty to keep the kids entertained. And Meridian also has the same proximity to all the same outdoor activities that Boise does, from hiking to boating.
Right after Boise, Moscow is by far the best place to live in Idaho for young people. Why? It's the home of the University of Idaho. Moscow bustles with the kind of vibrant social scene you'll find in college towns. From theater to art to music to nightlife, it's a great place for young people. The abundance of arts and culture and annual festivals like the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival has earned Moscow the title of the Heart of the Arts. The town itself is also charming, with red brick buildings and a high walk score.
Another major plus of living in a college town is the affordability. Apartments in Moscow are available for total steals starting at just under $650. And it wouldn't be an Idaho city without great outdoor activities. Head out in the countryside along the 12-mile Latah Trail Bike Path to take in the scenery. But be aware. Moose are found in the area.
Situated west of Meridian, Nampa marks the farthest edges of Boise's metropolitan area. With low crime, good schools and safe neighborhoods, it's a popular place to live for families with young children. Commuters also enjoy living close to Boise, which is just a 20-minute drive away. As with other cities and suburbs around Boise, Nampa is ideal for nature lovers. The nearby Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including birds, deer, rabbits and more. Hiking, fishing, hunting and swimming are just some of the activities available within the refuge.
Apartments in Nampa have very reasonable rates. For less than $100 difference, you can upgrade from a one-bedroom apartment to a two-bedroom. Residents looking to buy a house will also be attracted by some of the lowest housing prices in the Boise metropolitan area.
If Coeur d'Alene is too pricey, its neighboring suburb of Post Falls offers affordable living close to the region's gorgeous mountains, lakes and forests. The average price difference between a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom apartment in Post Falls is just $5. This makes it easy to upgrade your living situation to a roomier apartment.
Similar to Coeur d'Alene, outdoor recreation is the name of the game here. From swimming at Q'emiln Park to fishing at Falls Park, living in Post Falls allows locals to take full advantage of the pristine nature surrounding them. Another major plus of living in Post Falls is its proximity to Spokane, WA. Spokane is just a 20-minute drive to the west, so you can easily live in Post Falls with its affordable cost of living but commute to Spokane for work.
Nestled along the Snake River in southern Idaho, Twin Falls' low housing costs and outdoor opportunities easily make it one of the best places to live in Idaho. You can find two-bedroom apartments in Twin Falls for under a thousand dollars. With a median household income just under the statewide average, locals here can expect to earn enough for a comfortable lifestyle. With a high employment rate, you can find work in the healthcare and manufacturing industries.
Spending less on housing allows locals to save money for fun outdoor sports and activities. The Snake River Canyon offers hiking and cycling trails, as well as boating and rafting. You can even go BASE jumping off Perrine Bridge or take in the multi-level waterfall views of Shoshone Falls.
Have we convinced you yet that Idaho is the next great outdoor state? Maybe you'll just have to find apartments for rent in Idaho and move there to find out for yourself.