If you’re considering a move to Boise, you’ve probably already seen articles hailing the City of Trees as a highly livable, low-cost area. Boise consistently receives accolades and mentions from publications like Forbes and Outside Magazine for its family-friendliness, outdoor appeal, and affordability. But what’s the true cost of owning a home in Boise?
Boise’s vibrant community and low cost of living make it an appealing prospect for many homebuyers. The cost of owning a home, however, isn’t only about a local area’s cost of living.
With homeownership, there are many types of expenses to take into account. Some of these costs vary wildly based on where you purchase your home—such as property taxes and homeowners association fees—while others are a factor of specific circumstances. In this post, we clear up the common questions we hear from potential homebuyers. Keep in mind the numbers in this article are estimates based on our knowledge as Boise locals and longtime realtors.
We’ve outlined the following common costs of owning a home in Boise:
- Property taxes
- Monthly utilities
- Repairs and maintenance costs
- Homeowners Association fees
- Homeowners insurance
One of the most common questions we hear is, “What can I expect to pay in property taxes?” There’s no simple, straightforward answer to this question, but there are plenty of ways to arrive at an estimate. Your property taxes in Ada County will vary based on your neighborhood and the appraised value of your home. You may also qualify for a homeowner’s exemption to reduce your property tax burden.
You should expect to pay approximately less than 1% of your home’s appraised value in property taxes. You can also visit the county assessor’s website to receive a detailed history of the taxes per year residents have paid on specific properties. To do this, navigate to the Ada County Assessor’s website and search for the property you’re interested in by address. You’ll be able to view recent year’s tax rates and all applicable tax districts for the property you’re considering.
Coming in at the second most frequently asked question is, “What will I pay for monthly utilities?” If you’re a first-time homebuyer and transitioning from renting, you can expect to see a jump in your monthly utility bills based on the larger square footage. These costs vary based on your home’s size, age, and efficiency. If you’re purchasing an older home, you may pay more for heating and cooling because of inefficient furnaces and older windows and insulation. Let’s look at each utility individually.
- Electricity: The good news is Idaho’s electricity costs rank near the bottom of the overall United States with an average monthly bill of around $88. The bad news is it can be difficult to predict this cost month-to-month: your lower cost months could be as inexpensive as $30 while your peak usage months could cost you about $200.
- Water: Your water bill will vary month-to-month as well, particularly if you strive for the greenest lawn on the block during the scorching hot summer months. It’s important to note that some homes in Boise use in-ground well systems, which will be cheaper month-to-month but require regular maintenance. A typical water bill in the winter (when you’re not watering a lawn or garden) will likely be as low as $30-$40 a month. In the summer, it could leap up to closer to $100.
- Internet and cable: Your monthly internet and cable bill will vary based on your chosen speed and type of service. Expect to pay between $20-$100 a month for combined services.
- Gas: Again, Idaho ranks near the low end in natural gas prices, making it affordable to heat your home comfortably during our cold months. Idaho’s natural gas rates are 31% lower than the national average. Expect to pay around $10 a month during the summer and between $50-$80 during the winter.
- Sewer: City sewer bills are calculated using a base rate plus usage or the number of occupants at a residence (per updated guidelines). An average monthly sewer bill may range from $25-$40.
- Trash: The City of Boise provides trash, recycling, and composting services to residents. A typical bill for regular use is around $20 per month.
Repairs and Maintenance Costs
Many first-time homebuyers forget about one of the most variable and unpredictable costs of owning a home: repairs and maintenance. No matter how new, well-built, or well-cared-for your home is, at some point, a pipe will leak, your furnace will need a tune-up, or your A/C will go out. A house requires regular maintenance and repairs to keep everything comfortable and running smoothly, and of course, there are the nights you’ve watched too much HGTV and start daydreaming about knocking out walls and adding open shelving.
When it’s time to repair, replace, maintain, or upgrade things in your home, your costs will be hard to predict. In general, you’ll likely find that your expenses will be higher than you expected and repairs may take longer than anticipated. There are a few ways to keep costs under control, however.
- Always work with trusted contractors. Get recommendations from your neighbors and friends, even asking area residents on Nextdoor before hiring a handyman or repair company.
- Get several bids before you choose a company or individual to work with. The bidding process can be lengthy and take some extra work on your part, but you’ll be able to assess the market value of your repair or upgrade before making a decision.
- Try to schedule jobs during the off-season. For instance, if you want to put in a patio, start making phone calls in January or February instead of April or May. Contracting and building costs are cyclical and generally at their peak during the spring, summer and early fall months.
- If you’re inclined, try to do some simple repairs and upgrades yourself. Don’t take on projects you aren’t confident you can handle and do your research beforehand. You can save quite a bit of month when you fix a clogged drain yourself—but you may end up paying much more if you have to hire someone to correct your mistakes.
Homeowners Association Fees
If you move into a neighborhood or subdivision with a homeowners association (HOA), you’ll be required to pay the related fees. These fees may be inexpensive in some communities and quite spendy in others. The good news is you’ll reap the benefits of whatever you pay for: in subdivisions with gorgeous pools and nice clubhouses, you’ll receive access to these and other amenities.
Some HOAs charge you a per month fee while others bill quarterly or annually, and there’s usually a setup fee when you move into a neighborhood. Expect to pay anywhere from $50 a month to $400 quarterly.
You can’t get around purchasing homeowners insurance when you buy your home, so it’s worthwhile to shop around and find the best rate. Homeowners insurance is also referred to as “hazard insurance” and protects against loss from fire or theft. Most homeowners insurance plans don’t include flood coverage—flood insurance is usually a separate coverage entirely and should be purchased for houses near bodies of water or in high-risk areas. You can often bundle your homeowners insurance with your vehicle coverage for a better rate.
Still not fuzzy on the total cost of homeownership in Boise? Have a burning question you need an answer to pronto? We’re happy to help; give us a call anytime.