I’ve grown up here. Having spent the majority of my life living in Boise, I’ve been witness to all the great things that have made Boise the standout city it is today.
A decade ago, Boise, Idaho could have been seen as small potatoes- yes, I know. Since then we’ve seen our area evolve into a place that’s not only livable but has become desirable and for good reason.
Time and time again, Boise tops numerous “Best of” lists. From one of the most livable cities, best places to move, and one of the best places to retire.
Boise is still so young and new—changing almost every day—and I don’t think it’s overstatement to suggest that our town represents everything that remains great about America: potential, youth, natural beauty, quality of life. ~ excerpt from an essay written by Anthony Doerr for the Smithsonian.
There are many different reasons why folks find themselves looking to call this place home. For some, moving to Boise, Idaho may involve a job opportunity, for others, it may be looking for a better quality of life. Maybe finding a place without all the hustle and headache you would see in some larger cities. Here is an idea of what it’s like living in Boise.
We Are Proud of Our Recent Accolades
There’s an inside joke around here that people who aren’t familiar with the area confuse “Idaho with Iowa” There was a time when you mentioned “Boise” and they might ask where that is.
Contrary to what many people think they know about our area, Boise isn’t just some small town surrounded by potato fields. Now don’t get me wrong, Idaho as a state still has a strong connection with its agricultural roots, but the Boise metropolitan area itself couldn’t be more different.
We Like Local Here. As a community, we are fortunate enough to be able to source many things locally. While you won’t see rolling farmland in town, elsewhere around the state, our agricultural roots show and the best part about it is we are proud of that. From produce to dairy, wines and beer- we make it here.
There are two farmers markets that are held in our downtown core throughout most of the year.
If you happen to make it over for a short stay, I would highly recommend checking it out. It’s a living testament to all the community taking part and supporting one another, showcasing a lot of what we offer and supporting the local economy.
Fostering Startups and Technology
Boise is home to some heavy hitters in the tech industry including, Hewlett-Packard, Bodybuilding.com, ClickBank, MarkMonitor and Microsoft. Take a closer look at the community, and you’ll find that Boise is also home to many aspiring entrepreneurs and tech startups. Boise, Idaho was featured as one of the top 10 cities for tech jobs.
Fun Fact- There have been more patents generated in the Boise Valley area than any other region nationwide.
Maybe it’s all the fresh air. We believe as a community when we invest in those who show promise with a great idea or business venture- good things happen. Local business equals local revenue, which in turn produces local jobs. It’s a great cycle.
Boise’s Healthy Economy
Overall affordability. When it comes to the cost of living, Boise is one of the most affordable places to live in the West.
With a cost of living at 94.7% compared to the rest of the nation. Boise real estate is also more affordable, at 86.5% of the nation’s average. It’s easy to see why people find that their dollar tends to stretch a little further here.
As of the third quarter of 2015, the unemployment rate in Boise was a mere 2.6%. Businesses both large and small choose to call Boise home, for many good reasons.
A healthy workforce combined with low energy costs (the 2nd lowest in the nation) makes Boise Small Business friendly and contribute to the recipe for a strong, and stable local economy.
Community and Culture
Community as a whole. While our population doesn’t amount in the millions- we are OK with that. It’s more of a laid-back lifestyle here and it shows in the demeanor of the people who live here.
Here, the community rallies in support of charity and donations when called upon. When it comes to volunteerism (which as a state, we ranked #1) people pitch in. All in an effort to make our town a little bit better.
With stronger communities comes a stronger cultural presence. Diversity is welcome here. To put it into perspective, within the Boise school district, over 90 different languages are spoken.
Boise is also home to the second largest Basque population in North America. Many of whom were early settlers here. If you’re looking for a cultural experience, the “Basque Block” is a downtown Boise treasure complete with dining options and a look back at some of the historical architectural detail of days past.
The arts and theater scene also holds a strong presence here. The Idaho Shakespeare Festival is a summertime staple. Held in a majestic outdoor amphitheater nestled alongside the Boise River, it makes for a stunning theatrical experience.
Opera Idaho, Boise Philharmonic, and Ballet Idaho also make the list. All of which offer, events and special productions throughout the year.
If concerts are more your thing, Boise bands are plentiful. Boise is home to the annual Treefort Music Fest, which is a 5-day festival hosting an extensive list of bands held every March and has quickly become a music destination in the Northwest.
Living in Boise
The stresses of big city living. Who wants to run the rat race, commuting for hours every week back and forth to work? Millions do it every day. We are spoiled here and honestly if it takes more than 30 minutes to get somewhere, it’s just too darn far.
Ask a local and they’ll tell you the traffic, especially in town, is terrible. The reality is our traffic is little more than a drop in the bucket compared to our larger surrounding cities. The average commute time in the Boise area is right around 18 minutes.
The crime rate in the Boise area is well below the national average. A Business Insider article from 2013 ranked Boise as the 7th safest city in the nation.
Boise is home to three professional sports teams. The Boise Hawks (Class A minor league baseball), the Idaho Steelheads (minor league hockey), and the Idaho Stampede (NBA Development League). Although we don’t have a pro football team, we love our Boise State University Broncos.
Boise is considered what we like to call high desert. The good part is we do enjoy traditional, four-season weather. Our sunny days well outnumber the wet ones which make for a lot of time for outdoor activities. (Boise averages 220 days of sunshine, low humidity and just 12.1 inches of precipitation)
Yes, it gets hot here in the summer. It’s not uncommon for us to hit well above the 100’s in July and August. While there are days you may be able to literally fry an egg on the sidewalk, the good news is its “dry heat.” So while you may be sweating bullets, at least you don’t feel like you live in the Amazon.
Our winters are relatively mild and, while we do get some snow here in the valley, it usually doesn’t stick around long. It does accumulate in the mountains which is great if you’re into snow sports.
In many places, winter can be a real drag. Here people embrace it. The Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area is located just 16 miles from downtown Boise.
Not only will you see some impressive views of the city on your way up, it’s also a beautiful destination on its own. Whether you’re an avid skier, snowboarder, all out beginner or prefer to go the easy route and go snow tubing, there is something for everyone. You can do all these things and still make it back home in time for dinner.
Quality of Life
“Boise is a delightful blend of traditional and non-traditional sights and attractions.” One of our most popular recreation offerings is the Boise River Greenbelt. To put it simply, our greenbelt is a 25-mile path extending throughout the heart of the City and is used for recreation, walking and biking.
This tree-lined pathway flows throughout town alongside the Boise River. This Boise staple carries through most of Boise’s major parks and offers an abundance of wildlife as well as an alternative transportation route for commuters.
From around Memorial Day to Labor Day, you will find many people with their tubes floating the Boise River. A favorite family summertime activity. Rafters begin at Barber Park and float 6.5 miles or approximately 2 hours downriver to Julia Davis Park.
Recently, we added a little something for those that want to surf, but with no ocean nearby, Whitewater Park. Perfect for shredding some waves or just brushing up on your kayaking skills. The Boise Foothills are one of the things that make living in Boise fantastic. Let me tell you- they make for an impressive backdrop for hikes or biking.
During the warmer months, you can take your boat out to Lucky Peak State Park. Popular for boating and water skiing, this local gem is only 10 minutes from Boise.
For all the anglers out there, the Boise River is known to be home to some great fly fishing. Fishing is allowed along the Boise River. Idaho Department of Fish and Game regularly stock the river and local ponds with Rainbow trout, Bull trout and Steelhead for anglers throughout the year.
Living in Boise the Pros and Cons
The reality is no town is 100% perfect. Many of the things listed above are great reasons to consider calling this place home but what about the cons?
- The dreaded Boise Inversion- happens every winter. We live in a valley surrounded by both the Boise Mountains as well as the Owyhee Mountains. During the cold season, it’s not uncommon for the air to get trapped in the valley resulting in unfavorable air conditions and no sight of the sun for days.
- The culinary experience may be lacking, although it has come a long way in the last few years. We have some fabulous restaurants here that are local, innovative and delicious. The problem is- compared to larger cities, there may not be as many as you are used to seeing. We cherish the ones we do have and hope to see more variety hit in the future.
- Distance from larger cities. While you have a good selection of destination cities like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Salt Lake, living in Boise, Idaho can make travel time by vehicle is lengthy.
- The Boise Airport. We have a small airport here, which means fewer choices for flights resulting in potentially higher costs to get where you need to go. It seems like we are adding some options here and there, but we have a way to go.
- The lack of Public Transportation options. Unlike most major cities, the local transportation agency (Valley Regional Transit) does not have a built-in funding source. They are reliant on “voluntary contributions from local governments.” Lately, there as been a push to increase public transportation options, but we have some catching up to do.
We’d like to think that the positives definitely outweigh the negatives when it comes to calling this place home. As a whole, we are ambitious in continuing our trend of making Boise one of the most livable cities in the country. For someone who has lived here for nearly two decades and has seen all the positive things happen- it’s exciting to see what’s still left to come. Without a doubt, it’s a good time to be a Boisean.
Lisa is a Realtor in Boise, Idaho and a lifelong Boise enthusiast who’s lived in the area nearly two decades. Considering a move to the Boise area? Let Lisa know the details of your move and she’ll do the rest! From short-term housing to buying a home, we are here to make your relocation to Boise as smooth as possible. We provide relocation assistance to Boise, Meridian, Eagle, Nampa and the surrounding areas.
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