Boise has made so many top 10 lists for being the best place to live and with the lifestyle changes brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic, Idaho is one of the fastest growing states. The articles boast our abundance of recreational activities, affordability and safe surroundings. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly feels like a utopia sometimes; my Instagram handle is @LoveBoise for good reason! I often hear from out-of-state clients interested in the Boise real estate market. Many of them are convinced they want to move to Boise before even setting foot inside state lines.
Making a move to a different city, state or even country, takes so much more than a desire for change. As someone who made the move to Boise almost 20 years ago, I have personal experience in making it my home and helping other people resettle here. From choosing a place to retire or raise a family away from the grind of a major city, it takes a strategic plan complete with reflection and research. Housing is in short supply, so it’s important to find out if Boise is going to be a good fit for you, rather than just taking the grass-is-always-greener approach.
To find out if Boise fits you, experience the city through a local lens. If you’re thinking of making a move to Boise, here are questions to ask, as well as some ways to find answers. We’ll start with some frequently asked questions about Boise.
What’s the cost of living in Boise? In 2019, Boise was named the best, affordable place to live my MarketWatch.com. While this remains the case for things like the price of milk, gas and utilities, the housing prices in Boise have shot up in the last 5 years. Boise remains significantly less expensive than San Francisco or New York City when it comes to housing and other cost of living factors. However, it might surprise out-of-state buyers that housing prices are closer to other capital cities like Denver and Salt Lake City, which have experienced similar population spikes.
What is the weather like in Boise? Boiseans are famous for saying that we get all four seasons, sometimes all in one day! They also say that if you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes. Both are certainly true. We have more than 200 days of sunshine on average per year, making for hot, arid summers with little-to-no rainfall. We also have mild winters. This means that if it’s cold and rainy in town, it’s snowing on top of Bogus Basin. This makes shoveling the driveway usually unnecessary, especially when there’s a powder day on the mountain.
Does Boise have good schools? When looking at schools on websites like GreatSchools.org, keep in mind that a 5/10 in Boise is a good average school that many parents and students enjoy. Buyers coming from large metropolitan markets will have to consider the context. A one-point difference in Boise doesn’t always mean there’s a plunge or surge in property values.
Since COVID-19 and the consistent rise in housing prices, the flood of newcomers to Boise has lifted all boats when it comes to schools. We’re not relying as much on neighborhood boundaries as we used to determine housing prices. Plus, our schools are consistently improving.
Is Boise safe? Boise has consistently ranked high on Internet lists that tout its low crime rates and scarcity of natural disasters. A low rate of unemployment and a relatively low affordable cost of living contribute to these factors. Hurricanes are non-existent and earthquakes and tornadoes are rare, though wildfires do occur.
If reading the answers to those questions leaves you wanting to take the next step, keep reading.
Questions to Ask:
Is your job transferable? Boise’s industries grow year over year, but the job market here is unlike other cities. This is especially true when it comes to wages. If you’re moving to Boise, do so with a job that can be remote or have one lined up. If you’re moving from a city like Chicago, LA or San Francisco, the opportunities in Boise will look different. Find out if you can transfer with your job or if you can work remote.
How does the community receive newcomers? There’s a funny thing that happens when you ask someone in Boise if they’re from here. Instead of a binary Yes or No, they quantify their answer with their arrival date. For example, if you asked me, “Are you from Boise?” I’d say, “I’m an Idaho native, but I moved to Boise in 2001.” This sensitivity to Boise natives translates to some rumors you might hear about it being an unfriendly city to newcomers. This is especially the case for people from California.
I’ll say this, people from Boise are becoming more aware of the intense growth that we’re experiencing. However, their bark is worse than their bite overall. Boiseans are genuinely kind and friendly. If you move to Boise because you want to live a life of connection and community, embody that goal when you arrive.
What neighborhood is right for you? Boise boasts so many beautiful places to live. From the banks of the Boise River in Southeast Boise to the winding hillsides of The Highlands, you can’t go wrong. To determine a good fit when it comes to a neighborhood, I advise buyers to stay in an Airbnb in the neighborhood they think they want to live in, as well as one somewhere new. This will provide a better idea of how your family will operate within the community.
Be sure to consider where you might be working or what schools are nearby, and if you will walk something with high walkability, or if you don’t mind commuting. By staying in a few neighborhoods, you’ll find what parks you like to visit, how much driving you’ll have to do and what grocery stores you’ll frequent.
Once you’ve found some answers through a reflect-and-research period, I’d be more than happy to help you find a home in Boise. I suggest having rental housing secured while you find a place. Boise’s housing is in such short supply when it comes to renting and buying, so have a plan in place. Looking for a home might take longer than you expect. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.