"Ahead and to the west was our ranger station - and the mountains of Idaho, poems of geology stretching beyond any boundaries and seemingly even beyond the world." - Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Storiesplant
Life in Idaho

Located in the wild and scenic American northwest, Idaho is known for mountains, potatoes, and not being too crowded. With just over 1.5 million residents, it's the 14th largest state in the United States, with an area roughly the size of the whole of New England. Not too many people call that area home, however: Idaho ranks 39th in population and is the seventh least-densely populated state. If you need a little breathing room, it might be time to look for a home for rent in Idaho.

The Gem State

You'll find more than just potatoes in the Idaho ground; Idaho takes its nickname, the Gem State, from the fact that nearly every known gemstone in the world can be found in the state. The source of the nickname is easy to understand -- but where did the name "Idaho" come from? Um, no one is sure! Americanization of a Native American name? That's likely. But depending who you talk to, the original meaning of whatever sounds like "Idaho" either meant "behold! the rising sun" or it was a word used by the Plains Apache to refer to the Idaho Territory that meant "enemy." So, that's fun.

Idaho's history is the stereotypical story of the American west. Settlers, then railroads, then more people, then agriculture (potatoes!), growth, and more. Mining was an early industrial powerhouse, but these days, agriculture remains important, as do lumber and wood production, chemical products, manufacturing, and, of course, tourism -- people from near and far love to take advantage of Idaho's many natural splendors. Beer lovers should appreciate Idaho's role in supplying most of the malt Anheuser-Busch uses at its breweries across the country. What's Idaho's biggest industry today? Stop saying potatoes! It's actually the emerging technology manufacturing scene, which accounts for more than 70 percent of the state's exports. Semi-conductors and stuff. The device you're reading this guide on? Maybe part of it called Idaho home once, too.

Finding an Apartment in Idaho

While you might want to establish your own homestead far off the grid, frontier style, you're more likely to find yourself in one of Idaho's big (relative term) cities. Give yourself plenty of time to find the best town for you. It's a big state with a lot of challenging features, like, entire mountain ranges, so getting around will take time. You'll have your choice of a variety of housing. In urban centers, there will be plenty of affordable studio, 1 or 2 bedroom apartments, while further into the rural areas, you'll find homes for rent frequently situated on plenty of land. Of course, there are some traditional suburban areas as well if you want a house to rent with neighbors nearby.

In any city, you'll need the regular renter documents: credit history, references, proof of income -- you know, the usual.

Major Idaho Cities

Most Idahoans are concentrated in two, major metropolitan areas - one in the south and one in the north:

Boise: Located along the Boise River, Boise is the capital of and the largest city in Idaho. Over half of the state's population lives in the greater Boise metropolitan area, which includes the city of Boise proper, and the cities of Nampa and Meridian. If you want to sound like a local right away, call it BOY-see, not BOY-zee, or you'll get called out as a transplant. Boise is located near the Oregon and Nevada borders. While the city itself is mostly flat, it won't take you long to get up into the hills. Downtown Boise is a hub of culture and dining choices, and it includes the "Basque Block" -- a nod to the area's Basque heritage. Neighborhoods in the city range from the hubbub of the city center, to suburban areas developed in the 1960-80s.

Coeur d'Alene: The largest city in the Idaho Panhandle, Coeur d'Alene (Core-de-lane), is home to the other half of Idaho's residents with a population of around 675,000 in the greater metro area. Coeur d'Alene is enjoying a bit of a growth spurt driven mostly by the growing Idaho tourism industry. A resort town, Coeur d'Alene is home to great skiing and winter sports. Its name is a great mix of what makes Idaho unique and interesting -- "coeur" means "heart" and "alene" means "awl," so, don't mess with these people or you'll get an awl to the heart? No, okay, probably not, but the name is thought to be a nod to the fur trade that helped establish the area in the 1800s. Much as in Boise, you'll find a neighborhood that matches your taste -- whether in the resort-heavy center or in the surrounding suburban environs. Coeur d'Alene describes itself as the Lakeside Playground of the Pacific Northwest and it sure seems to be, with seaplane rides, paddle boats, and canoes. It's year-round fun for everyone. Don't miss the Centennial Trail with its 23 miles of paved trail perfect for running or strolling.

Life in Idaho

Fun fact: Lewiston, Idaho, is home to the farther-inland seaport on the Pacific coast, thanks to a system of dams and locks along the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Perhaps it's this system that pulls in weather with a coastal feel -- helping to keep the climate more temperate than one might expect at this longitude and latitude. Of course, it still gets cold and you'll find snow when you want it, which explains why Idaho is home to the original ski resort and the United States' first chair lift, at Sun Valley. Summers provide hot days, but with low humidity and cool nights, it's manageable.

In Idaho, it's all about embracing the outdoors. In fact, the first thing the state's official website invites visitors to do is to find a trail and get outdoors. Okay, we get it! In the winter, hit the slopes or trails for downhill or cross-country skiing. Snowshoeing? Not just for rabbits anymore! For the other three seasons, take time to explore national treasures like the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, the Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge, or the really cool Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area (falconry, anyone?). Did we mention that about 63 percent of Idaho is comprised of federal lands? And we haven't even mentioned the state parks yet. There's basically no reason to stay indoors -- aside from truly inclement winter weather -- and we're sure that no matter where you decide to rent an apartment in Idaho, you'll be close to some of the most beautiful nature around.

If you're over the open range, catch a Boise State Football game, played at home on its iconic blue turf at Bronco Stadium. The whole city turns into a party on game day, and tailgating is huge here. Idaho is also home to a few minor league baseball teams and college basketball.

Perhaps Idaho's state song sums it up best:

And here we have Idaho

Winning her way to fame.

Silver and gold in the sunlight blaze,

and romance lies in her name.

Singing, we're singing of you,

Ah, proudly too,

All our lives through, we'll go

Singing, singing of you,

Singing of Idaho.

Sounds good to us.

ID Renter Confidence Survey
National study of renter’s satisfaction with their cities and states
Here’s how ID ranks on:
Overall satisfaction
Safety and crime rate
Jobs and career opportunities
Recreational activities
Quality of schools
Social Life
Commute time
State and local taxes
Public transit

Overview of Findings

Apartment List has released Idaho’s results from the third annual Apartment List Renter Satisfaction Survey. This survey, which drew on responses from over 45,000 renters, provides insight on what states and cities must do to meet the needs of 111 million American renters nationwide.

"Idaho renters expressed general satisfaction with the state overall," according to Apartment List. "They gave most categories above-average scores."

Key findings in Idaho include the following:

  • Idaho renters gave their state an A+ overall.
  • The highest-rated categories for Idaho were jobs and career opportunities, safety and low crime rate, quality of local schools, and affordability, which both received A+ grades.
  • The areas of concern to Idaho renters were public transit (D) and pet-friendliness (C).
  • Millennial renters are very satisfied with their state, giving it an overall rating of A+.
  • Idaho did relatively well compared to nearby states, including Washington (B-), Nevada (C), and Wyoming (F), but earned lower scores than Utah (A-) and Montana (A).
  • Idaho earned did relatively well compared to other states nationwide, including Oregon (B-), New York (C) and Michigan (B-).
  • The top rated states nationwide for renter satisfaction include Colorado, Alaska, South Dakota, Idaho and Minnesota. The lowest rated states include Wyoming, Arkansas, Mississippi, West Virginia and Louisiana.