What's it like to live in Boise, ID?


Joe Jaszewski

Profile written by local expert:

Joe Jaszewski

Boise is a recreationalist's paradise. If you value the outdoors and time spent among rivers, mountains, canyons, deserts and lakes – and all the activities encapsulated therein – it's worth a serious look.

Downtown Boise is booming. New construction is all over the area. The Zions Bank building, completed in 2014, is the tallest building in the state and sits at its center. Locally sourced food and drink dominate the summer patio scene. Boise's residents may spend their days enjoying nature, but they fill their evenings dining on locally sourced cuisine, enjoying an opera performance and sipping delicious cocktails.

Idaho's capital sits squarely on the boundary of urban and rural, civilized and wild, refined and raw. Yes, there are wilder places. Yes, there are more urbane places. But Boise is a good place to live if you enjoy easy access to both.

Rankings

U.S. News analyzed 100 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Boise, Idaho is ranked:

#12 in Best Places to Live

#60 in Best Places to Retire

7.1

Overall

Scorecard

  • Desirability
    6.4
  • Value
    7.3
  • Job Market
    6.6
  • Quality of Life
    7.3
  • Net Migration
    7.9

Read how we rank places

Boise, ID Quick Stats

  • 651,402

    Metro Population

  • $42,180

    Average Annual Salary

  • 63.5° / 41.2°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 35.3

    Median Age

  • $232,400

    Median Home Price

  • 11.7 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 3.7%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $820

    AVG Monthly Rent

  • 21.5 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What's the cost of living in Boise, ID?

Boise's affordability is one of its most attractive qualities, particularly when it comes to housing costs. When you compare it to other metro areas in the Northwest, including Seattle and Portland, Oregon, Boise shines in terms of value for your housing dollar. Meanwhile, Idaho has traditionally prioritized low taxes, with a progressive income tax rate between 1.6 and 7.4 percent, and a sales tax of 6 percent. Plus, everything from the cost of car insurance to monthly energy bills is noticeably lower in Idaho than the rest of the country.

Value Index

Index Score: 7.3 /10

How we calculate this.


Boise offers a better value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs this Year


Boise
$232,400

USA
$211,704

Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or Selling a Home in Boise, ID

Finding the right real estate agent or realtor is key when it comes to buying or selling a home in Boise.

After the housing market hit a low point in 2008, Boise has watched the demand for – and the price of – homes skyrocket. However, some Boise, Idaho, real estate agents don't believe that the acceleration the market has experienced over the past few years is sustainable. That said, whether you're looking to buy or sell a home in the Boise, you'll want to make sure that the real estate agent with whom you're working has an in-depth knowledge of the neighborhood and plenty of experience buying or selling homes like yours.

If you're considering buying or selling a home, see our list of the top real estate agents in Boise.

What's the weather like in Boise, ID?

From a dry and sizzling hot summer, to a spectacularly colorful fall, to winter snow storms and a delightful spring thaw, you get to experience all four seasons in Boise. But it doesn't have some of the extremes of other metro areas. Boiseans enjoy more than 200 days of sunshine, but summer temperatures don't routinely top 110 like they do in the Southwest. And you won't find yourself enduring weeks of sub-zero temperatures in January like in the Great Lakes region.

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)

32.8°F


Winter

51.5°F


Spring

72.7°F


Summer

52.6°F


Fall

Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

1.6 in


Winter

1.4 in


Spring

0.7 in


Summer

1.4 in


Fall

Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

What's the best way to get around Boise, ID?

Most Boise residents rely on personal vehicles to get around. The ValleyRide bus service, the lone public transportation offering that services both Ada and Canyon counties, won't help you much if you want to get around on Sundays or at night. Meanwhile, Boise has a new bike-share program called Boise GreenBike, more bike lanes and local leaders who are hoping to prioritize public transportation.

To get out of town, residents fly out of the Boise Airport, which is just a 10-minute drive south of the city center. The airport is open 24/7 to serve passengers on major airlines (including Delta, United, Southwest and American Airlines) and charter services. Greyhound buses arrive and depart in downtown Boise.

Commuting in Boise, ID

Means of Transportation
Driving
88%
Above national average

Bicycling
1%
Equal to national average

Walking
2%
Equal to national average

Public Transit
0%
Below national average
Average Commute Time

21.5 minutes

4.4 minutes less than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Boise, ID?

Boise is frequently lauded as a good place to raise a family due to its low crime rate and abundance of outdoor activities. The metro area also attracts retirees who are looking for a place to stretch their retirement dollar without sacrificing easy access to good health care options.

Refugees from a variety of regions, particularly Africa and the Middle East, have relocated to Boise and have brought an explosion of shops, restaurants, arts and culture. Boise also fosters the largest Basque population in the United States. Downtown Boise's “Basque Block,” with its restaurants and museum, allows residents to experience the culture and cuisine of this group from the Pyrenees region of southern France and northern Spain.

Idaho is one of the reddest of red states. It hasn't gone for a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. However, Boise residents are split politically, with roughly half the population supporting the Democratic Party and the other half aligning with the Republicans. More than half of Boise residents do not identify with a particular religion, though Mormons account for 15 percent of the region's population.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown


Fewer single people in Boise than
national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

What is there to do in Boise, ID?

The Boise foothills lead to some of the wildest places in the lower 48 states. Those hills, which have enjoyed preservation from development thanks to a populace willing to tax themselves, are crisscrossed by more than 180 miles of public trails for Boiseans who enjoy hiking, mountain biking and trail running.

In the summer, Boiseans hit the trails after work when daylight can extend well past 9 p.m. In the winter, about 15 miles farther up into the hills, residents ski and snowboard at the Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area. In the summer, the Boise River, which runs through the region, hosts a multicolored ribbon of rafts, kayaks and inner tubes filled with residents finding respite from the high desert heat.

Those who live here also enjoy the numerous cultural attractions found within the region itself, including the Opera Idaho, Idaho Dance Theatre, The Boise Philharmonic, Boise Art Museum and Ballet Idaho.