When one mentions Idaho, many people think of potatoes and mountains.
In actuality, there are many colorful and unique aspects of Idaho that many may be unaware of.
Idaho can offer outdoor adventures, amazing vistas, and, in equal parts, beautiful and challenging weather.
Idaho can also have its share of difficulties and detractions.
Let’s explore some of the pros and cons of living in Idaho.
- Pros of Living in Idaho
- Cons of Living in Idaho
- Pros and Cons of Living in Idaho – Summary Table
- Idaho Safety Overview
- Frequently Asked Questions
Pros of Living in Idaho
1. Natural beauty
Known as the gem state, Idaho does have its fair share of precious gems and minerals in its mountains.
If you talk to many residents of Idaho, though, they will tell you the real gem is the land.
Everywhere you turn, there is a picturesque vista to gaze upon.
From mountains shrouded in clouds, to valleys rich with green pastures and abundant wildlife, Idaho has to be seen to be truly appreciated.
2. Secluded living
If your idea of perfection is a cabin in the woods, preferably out of sight from neighbors, Idaho may be your perfect fit.
With the entire population of the state at about 1.9 million, there is lots of space for people.
More specifically, there is lots of space in Idaho’s forests and rural areas to live.
If you are a bit more adventurous and imagine yourself a kind of pioneer, Idaho can offer some beautiful homesteading opportunities.
3. Amazing agricultural opportunities
The words even go together well.
Potatoes are just one of the agricultural crops which thrive in Idaho, though.
In addition, farmers in Idaho regularly cultivate plums, barley, onions, sugar beets, and mint.
Idaho is also the fastest state for growth in the dairy industry.
It now ranks 5th in the nation for dairy production.
Idaho is also the leading producer of trout in the nation.
Those looking for agricultural opportunities would be wise to check out Idaho.
4. Great climate and weather (most of the year)
Idaho is located in the Northwest region of the United States, so the weather can change significantly throughout the year.
Spring, summer, and early fall can offer visitors and residents some beautiful weather days.
Idaho also sees all four seasons of weather, so residents are able to experience sun and snow conditions.
Although winters can be tough, summers in Idaho average 75 degrees, with relatively low humidity.
5. Great for outdoor activities
With the chance for beautiful weather in the spring, summer, and early fall months, many residents and visitors take advantage of outdoor activity opportunities.
Fishing, hiking, camping, and mountain biking are all popular activities.
Hunting seasons are also big draws in Idaho.
Big game hunters love Idaho for its elk, deer, bear, sheep, and moose hunting.
Whatever your passion, if you like being outdoors, you will like living in Idaho.
6. High rates of home ownership
There is a high percentage of home ownership in Idaho.
Around 70% of Idaho residents own a home.
Compared to the national average of 65%, Idaho consistently performed better.
This is great news for home buyers and home sellers in Idaho.
Because of the state’s rural nature, it is more likely that residents will buy or build homes outside of towns and cities.
Compared to more urban states, in which rental rates tend to be higher, the demand in Idaho leans more towards land and home ownership.
7. Reasonable cost of living
For the most part, Idaho is not too expensive for its residents.
When measuring key components of the cost of living against the national averages, Idaho falls below the averages in almost all categories.
For example, costs for groceries, healthcare, transportation, and utilities all fall below the national average.
Housing costs are a bit higher, but this can be expected since Idaho has a higher rate of home ownership than most states.
8. Strong job market and economy
A great offset to the cost of living is a more robust job market.
Idaho’s current unemployment rates, future, recent, and long-term job growth rates all beat the national averages.
The future of job growth in Idaho may be one of the strongest economic indicators.
The 10-year projected job growth numbers for Boise are 22%.
The national average is 6.3%.
Quite a difference.
9. Strong middle class
With a good job market, high rates of homeownership, a reasonable cost of living index, and lots of space for families, Idaho offers excellent opportunities for middle-class growth.
Consider this; between 2015 and 2019, the average mean household income in Idaho rose from $48,000 to $61,000.
That is an increase of nearly 26%!
Of course, not everyone in Idaho is doing great, but the averages are much more promising here than in much of the rest of the country.
Cons of Living in Idaho
Of course, there are always some negatives to balance out the positives, no matter where you live.
For all of Idaho’s natural beauty and amazing resources, some may be looking for something less rural or cold.
1. Winter weather
Although there are beautiful parts of the year, weather-wise, Idaho borders Canada in the Northwest quadrant of the United States.
That means it gets cold.
Some have described winters in Idaho as bleak and brutal.
Others have moved altogether in response to the winters.
Either way, be prepared for snow and ice for at least three months.
2. Growing quickly
The popularity of Idaho is causing a bit of a population boom.
People are recognizing the beautiful land and potential opportunities Idaho has to offer and are moving, accordingly.
There is still lots of space for people but, if you have been in Idaho for a while, you may be starting to see more people around the state than ever before.
Ultimately, more people moving in will take a toll on the housing and jobs markets, as well as natural resources.
3. Changing the housing market
As just mentioned, more people moving to Idaho are beginning to affect housing costs and availability, especially in the more metropolitan areas, such as Boise and Nampa.
It is a gradual increase, but there is no denying that there is a newly discovered interest in more open spaces, preferably away from cities.
It could be attributed to Covid and a desire to separate from crowds of people.
It may also be a desire to reconnect with nature.
It can also simply be economic factors, such as housing or job opportunities.
Whatever the reasons, Idaho now has company over.
4. Cultural outlets are lacking
If you are looking for more cultural diversity and expression, Idaho may leave you a little dry.
Much of the state votes alike, lives alike and looks alike.
Idaho is also isolated from other cultural bastions around the nation.
Although peaceful and picturesque, Idaho won’t be your first choice for expanding your cultural boundaries.
5. Limited infrastructure
Because of Idaho’s rural or agricultural nature, much of the state lacks the infrastructure you would expect in other more populated states.
This means you will not have as many options for public transportation.
Roadways can also become congested faster, as the road and highway systems were designed for a smaller population.
6. Too much hunting and guns
If you are squeamish about hunting and killing animals, you may want to avoid Idaho.
As is the case with many communities that live on and off the land, hunting and fishing are major aspects of life in Idaho.
To successfully hunt, you will need guns.
For some moving into Idaho from less rural areas, there can be a significant culture shock.
If you are familiar with outdoor activities which involve harvesting animals, Idaho can offer some great opportunities.
7. Conservative politics and outlooks
Idaho is decidedly conservative in its politics and its outlook on the world.
Many people have moved to or stayed in Idaho because of these defining principles.
Many Idaho natives love the isolation of their state and wish to keep things as they have been.
If you are from a blue state, you may not find the same levels of camaraderie in the local coffee shop.
Idahoans do not necessarily push non-locals out as much as they just do not embrace too much change.
8. Shopping opportunities are slim
Because of Idaho’s sparse population and lack of big cities, Idaho does not have nearly as many mega-stores or malls.
Shopping can be a challenge, especially depending on what you are looking for.
Running down to the corner store may be miles or hours away and the inventory can be limited.
Of course, there are more options for purchasing goods online, but shipping can take longer in remote areas.
You will want to consider your purchases carefully and make good lists before heading off to the market.
9. Less excitement
One of the more benign complaints about Idaho?
It is boring.
I mean, it depends on who you ask, of course, but Idaho is not the place to go for exciting nightlife or city hustle and bustle.
Idaho can best be described as a trip to the country for a city mouse.
Pros and Cons of Living in Idaho – Summary Table
|Pros of Living in Idaho
|Cons of Living in Idaho
|1. Natural beauty
|1. Winter weather
|2. Secluded living
|2. Growing quickly
|3. Amazing agricultural opportunities
|3. Changing housing market
|4. Great climate and weather (most of the year)
|4. Cultural outlets are lacking
|5. Great for outdoor activities
|5. Limited infrastructure
|6. High rates of home ownership
|6. Too much hunting and guns
|7. Reasonable cost of living
|7. Conservative politics and outlooks
|8. Strong job market and economy
|8. Shopping opportunities are slim
|9. Strong middle class
|9. Less excitement
Idaho Safety Overview
READ THE FULL REPORT: Idaho Safety ReviewSafety Index:
- OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
- TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
- PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
- NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW
- MUGGING RISK: LOW
- TERRORISM RISK: LOW
- SCAMS RISK: LOW
- WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Frequently Asked Questions
What do people in Idaho do for fun?
Camping and outdoor activities are state favorites.
Camping season in Idaho sees lots of visitors to the state and national parks, as well as camping requests with the Bureau of Land Management.
What colleges and universities are located in Idaho?
The University of Idaho, College of Idaho, Boise State University, Idaho State University, and the Brigham Young University of Idaho are some of the largest.
See a complete list here.
How many people live in Idaho?
According to the 2020 Census, 1,900,000 people live in the state.
Why is Idaho known for its potatoes?
Much of Idaho’s soil is comprised of rich, volcanic ash, which is ideal for growing potatoes.
Combined with a dry and cooler climate, potatoes flourish in the gem state.
Is there access to recreational water in Idaho?
Idaho has 3100 miles of rivers, which is more than any other state.
Idaho also has three large lakes; Lake Pend Oreille, Dworshak Reservoir, and Coeur d’Alene Lake.