The Bench: Just south of Downtown is the area known as “the Bench.” Named after the sudden increase in elevation, resembling a step, or more accurately, a bench (It’s not called “the step,” now is it?), The Bench (or Benches) was created long ago as a shoreline to the Boise River. These days, The Bench is home to many residential neighborhoods, mainly consisting of older, single-family houses built between the ‘60s- ‘80s, with a few newer homes and apartment complexes mixed in. Depending on where you’re looking, rent prices can vary greatly. West Bench tends to be more expensive, while Central Bench is more wallet-friendly and offers many apartment and home rental choices.
West Boise: The West end of Boise happens to be the flattest section, but this doesn’t refer to the lifestyle or nightlife in the area. With an abundance of strip malls, restaurants and bars, West Boise offers many places to call home. New housing subdivisions and apartment and condo complexes are available in West Boise in neighborhoods like West Valley. It is also the perfect area for those with a bit of a shopping bug, as it’s home to Boise Towne Square Mall, the largest mall in the state.
Southeast: Southeast Boise offers a little something for everyone. Surprise Valley* is located on the Boise River, with a mix of housing. Another reason this area is desirable is because it is central (about 15 minutes away) from all areas in Boise, making it easy to head to the river, the mountains, the greenbelt and downtown.
Downtown: In most cities, living downtown is considered chic. It is no different in Boise. The cultural center and the heartbeat of all things hip in Boise, downtown is home to the business district and high-rise apartments. Areas such as 8th Street are home to sidewalk cafes and restaurants, as well as bars and boutiques. Living here, you’ll have an all-access pass to farmer’s markets, jazz festivals and nightlife.
North End: If you looking for old, historic and classic, this end of Boise is for you. The homes here were built in the 1920s and ‘30s and sit on tree-lined streets (like the much-coveted Harrison Boulevard). While there are an abundance of single-family homes and homes with large yards in the area, there are also apartment complexes to choose from. Close enough to the downtown area to capture a view (Downtown Boise is visible from Camel's Back Park), the North End is a bit more costly than other Boise areas. This area plays host to special events and street fairs throughout the year. In 2008, the American Planning Association proclaimed Boise's North End to be one of “10 Great Neighborhoods”.
Winter, spring, summer and fall (no, we aren’t singing James Taylor), this city features them all. Hot, dry summers are followed by cool fall temperatures. However, fall is the shortest season here, as winter slips in fast and the city becomes snow-covered. Because the summer and winter temperatures can be extreme in the Treasure Valley, be sure that the apartment or home you rent has central heating and A/C rather than window units or baseboard heaters. It may cause your electric bill to be a bit higher but it’ll be worth every penny in the dead of winter or the middle of a 100 degree summer.
Navigating through the Treasure Valley
When it comes to transportation, most residents rely on a good set of wheels to maneuver through bumper-to-bumper traffic. Although not as grid-locked as other top one-hundo cities, (the average commute time is 20 minutes) Boise has its fair share of traffic along I-84, the city’s main highway. This interstate also connects Boise with Portland, Oregon and Salt Lake City, Utah. For those looking to reduce their carbon footprint, take comfort in the fact that Boise has a network of bike paths, or greenways, throughout the city and surrounding regions, such as the Boise River Greenbelt, which runs along the banks of the Boise River and connects one end of the city to the other.