18 Pros and Cons of Living in Idaho

Updated On December 19, 2023

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.

Boise, Idaho
Boise, Idaho

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

Idaho potatoes.

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

Idaho is not California or New York, but Idaho really does not really want to be California or New York, either.

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.

Idaho Falls, Idaho
Idaho Falls, Idaho

Pros and Cons of Living in Idaho – Summary Table

Pros of Living in IdahoCons of Living in Idaho
1. Natural beauty1. Winter weather
2. Secluded living2. Growing quickly
3. Amazing agricultural opportunities3. 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 ownership6. Too much hunting and guns
7. Reasonable cost of living7. Conservative politics and outlooks
8. Strong job market and economy8. Shopping opportunities are slim
9. Strong middle class9. Less excitement

Idaho Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: Idaho Safety Review

Safety Index:

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.

29 Comments on 18 Pros and Cons of Living in Idaho

  1. r
    rc welker says:

    You are confused. # 2, 6 and 7 in the CON column should be moved to the PRO column.

    Replace those in the CON column with:
    Too close to California:
    Too many libs moving in :

    1. A
      Anonymous says:

      Excellent observations.

      Considering the state of most major cities I’d rather be in Idaho.

  2. S
    Shannon says:

    Agree with RC but also- #1 and #9, which are completely relative (coming from Alaska, ID winters are perfectly enjoyable and mild; and coming from rural Kansas without the same level of outdoor adventure, ID is a virtual adult playground) as well as very subjective (NYC is exciting to some but a pit of anxiety and frustration to others), are invalid.

    For many who love winter weather & activities and clear change of season, #1 is a PRO. For many who view all of the exciting outdoor opportunities and adventures awaiting in Idaho, #9 is a very clear PRO, in reverse: “More excitement”.

  3. J
    James Mark says:

    Why do you have conservative values as a con? Are you guys commies?

    1. S
      Shannon says:

      You clearly are showing the education system is lacking.

  4. Grew up in Boise. Idaho is a great place to live due to its “conservative outlook”. Low taxes, low crime rate, good jobs ect. However, too many people coming in that vote democrat as if it won’t ruin the state like the one they ran from. If you move to Idaho stick with what works and don’t ruin the state with “progressive” pipe dreams.

  5. R
    RICHARD G. says:

    I agree ! Liberals need not apply ! Conservatives from California are simply political refugees and only move to Idaho to live amongst people with the same core values. Liberals ruin everything they touch as evidence of the toilet that California has become.

    1. You got that right. We are conservatives born and raised in CA and both grew up in conservative families (in sparsely populated areas). CA is totally foreign to us now. We are a rare commodity and don’t feel welcome in our home state anymore. We are looking in the Idaho Falls area to retire in and want to buy something that isn’t new construction. We hope that Idahoans will be ok with us living there.

  6. H
    Hillbilliecj says:

    Too much hunting and guns.
    Limited infrastructure.

    Translation if you don’t care to do sh!t the old fashioned way like put meat on your dinner table and teach your kid how to do the same. Yes, a society that lives out of a grocery store could perish without some 1900s ideology.
    Also no city transit system to allow the drugs and homeless to take over your children’s streets they play on and you as a tax payer drive on.
    With all the mistakes of Oregon, California and Washington so close to remind us idahoans of why we live and believe the way we do, freedom of choice. Choose liberty or choose socially imposed values system, I will always choose liberty and freedom.

    1. Well said!!!!! I live in central Oregon & I am sick of the liberals always winning in elected positions!!!! With the crooked way elections are run now, I prefer
      the peace & quiet of the country. My husband & I live in the country, we raise cattle & a few pigs. I have my horses which are my passion. We have very good neighbors who are of like mind, but we all mind our own business but if someone needs help, we are right there!!! I know there are places in Idaho that don’t have the winters we have in central Oregon & that is our preference. We like being outside but the really cold & snow for several months are a bit hard on us. We are up in years but still very active, as cattle, horses etc keep us busy plus, we have over130 acres which we used to hay butto now we put the horses & cattle on from April to about Dec..

  7. R
    R.C. Stephens says:

    You have cons that are the reason I’m considering moving there. Conservative outlook works as Idaho is proving it. Great job!! May be seeing you soon.

  8. T
    Tony Stagner says:

    If you feel the cons are a problem, stay where you are. If you feel the listed cons are actually a pro, welcome.

  9. Lol, please if the cons are a problem. Stay the hell away. Those “cons” are we loved and respected.

  10. I am from Oregon and I am increasingly finding Idaho to be a very attractive place to be.
    “Too much hunting and guns”? Sign me up!
    My state is becoming that liberal thumb sucking void between CA and WA.
    VERY envious of you Idaho!

    1. J
      John Kitzmiller says:

      I am 74 born and raised in Oregon, I have been telling myself for years ” why in the hell am I living hear”? I cannot stomach OR. any longer. Idaho has always interested me for the conservative values and the outdoor lifestyle, and Idaho’s outdoor beauty. With the hunting and guns I’d be right at home. Next year I am going to come, look for a new place to set my roots.
      Completely Discussed With This Little California and Washington CRIME RIDDLED WIERD LIBERAL OREGON !!!!!

      1. 63 years for me and can no longer stand this Oregon cesspool it has gotten so bad and not getting any better.

  11. I too think the cons are pros. We are thinking of moving from Minnesota to Idaho.

    1. I am leaving MN for the panhandle in a few weeks. Sick of the crime, the taxes, the politics, the “diversity”, everything. I was born and raised here but I am leaving it all behind for the Gem State. Hope to see you there, Deb!

  12. A
    AC-Idaho says:

    I love Idaho and everything about it! Don’t move here if you can’t respect our state and the Idahoan ways.

    1. R
      Ranger Dave says:

      A big amen to that and I don’t even live in Idaho. I live in Colorado which has suffered from exactly what you’re stating. The influx of lefties from CA, NY, IL, MA and the rest of the east coast dumps has turned CO from red to purple to now a solid blue state and on track to be the next California. We’re looking hard at a move to Idaho and promise we will respect Idahoan ways, but to be honest the influx of Californians is a major concern for us.

  13. A
    Anonymous says:

    happily moved from CA to No Idaho 30 yrs ago. Concerned now – because of the liberal changes quietly occurring in Boise area that began the downfall of the CA we loved.

  14. M
    Mary Bauer says:

    I am considering moving from Arizona. It is no longer the state it once was. It’s slowly being ruined by inflation , high taxes , crime , homelessness , and millions flooding our southern boarder ; where I live.
    It’s a sad commentary on the state of our country at large, when “Conservative politics and outlooks ” ,and ” Too much hunting and guns” are listed as a CON.
    My comment in response : a ” Strong middle class ” as a PRO , is due to “Conservative Politics.”

  15. J
    Jodiclareaa42@gmail.com says:

    Is there rampant racism?

    1. J
      Jennifer Holmes says:

      No. Over 40 years ago there was small group of white supremist that had a compound. But they were driven out. Unfortunately, the liberals want to keep that issue up front and use it to promote their politics of tolerance for everything from drag queens to porn in the libraries.

  16. S
    Shawn S says:

    As a Republican conservative I like what I hear about Idaho. I have been considering Idaho as a retirement state for a while now. The older I’m getting the less I like the hustle of city life. And I am an avid hunter and fisherman. You may see me soon as a new resident from Michigan that just wants the quiet solitude of country living and the old conservative values I grew up with.

  17. 🤣🤣🤣🤣…take it all with a grain of salt when you read about any state condensed to 1 article…ck it out yourself. WY & ID & WY. past 30 + yrs b4 Internet from So. Cal…..No place, no state is perfect & wherever you go you still unpack your “luggage” so visit 1st & do your own research …
    Happy Trail! ; )

  18. J
    Jennifer Holmes says:

    We are conservative, but many those that claim to be Republican are really Democrats with an “R” behind their name.

    Either they don’t know what the Republican platform is or they say they are Republicans but vote for Democratic policies. Beware of the RINOs.

  19. Every comment is about politics. I’ve been living on the east coast near Washington DC and I’m sick of filthy crowded cities that reek of piss and pollution and poverty and crime. I wants to be out in beautiful peaceful nature and have kind and thoughtful people as neighbors. I want to work on my own creative projects and branch out more in my life. I’m not a hard liner or a party man when it comes to politics. Common sense, Unity, sustainability, camaraderie, basic human decency, and a keen sense of self in relation to others based on our shared humanity. I like to cook, crack jokes, explore outdoors, play music, have intelligent conversations- and help others, but i mind my own business too.

Leave a Comment

Facebook Pinterest Comment Comment