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Cost of Living in Boise, ID, 2021

By: Emily Kho
September 2, 2021

Boise, nicknamed Bobo for short, is also known as the City of Trees. As the capital city of Boise, this city has a strong history stemming from the Southwestern European Basque influence. Historically, Boise was established by fur trappers who settled in the area. Later on, it became a booming gold town. Today, Boise offers its residents growing attractions, cultural fun, outdoor activities, and delicious food.

Many people flock to Boise because it is known for its affordability. Despite being one of the biggest cities in the area, it remains one of the least expensive for residents. Additionally, Boise is incredibly family-friendly, making it an excellent place for young families looking for a little more space at a lower cost than other areas of the country.

For anyone considering a move to Boise, you’ve come to the right place. First, you’ll want to check out this apartment guide to get started. Next, you’ll want to do some research to find out what Boise’s cost of living prices look like. Thankfully, here at Apartment List, you can take a closer look at the cost of living in Boise to gain a better understanding of what type of budget you’ll need to live comfortably.

Boise Housing Costs

Countless cities across the country experienced significant drops in rent prices as a direct result of the pandemic. However, as things reopen again, we have started to see increases with Boise following suit. According to the latest Rent Report on Boise, the median rent index is $1,105 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,311 for a two-bedroom.

Rent prices took a significant hit in Boise, decreasing from November 2020 through the end of the year. At the start of the new year, rates began taking a notable turn, continuing to trend in that direction. Boise has seen consistent rent increases for the last nine months, with a 0.8% growth over the past month.

Overall, the state of Idaho saw remarkable growth over the last year, with Boise being no different. The city's year-over-year rent growth falls above the state average of 25.0%. At a whopping 29.5%, Boise falls significantly above the national average of 12.4% by over 17%. For more information on the average rent in Boise, read our blog.

Despite the significant growth in rent prices, Boise is still much more affordable than other larger cities across the country. For example, San Francisco’s median rent index is $2,339 for a one-bedroom apartment and $2,776 for a two-bedroom, more than twice that of Boise. Similarly, Seattle's median rent index is $1,687 for a one-bedroom apartment and $2,105 for a two-bedroom, both well above the prices in Boise.

The Boise housing market is also seeing steady growth, with median home prices currently at $506,564. These prices have also seen tremendous rates and are currently up 44.9% year-over-year.

However, if you’re looking to cut costs beyond these relatively affordable rent prices, you might want to consider renting with a roommate. For example, if you rent in Boise and split the two-bedroom apartment costs, you can save $449.50 per month versus renting a one-bedroom apartment on your own.

Boise Transportation

The state of Idaho is not well known for its public transportation. One of the major drawbacks of living in Boise is that its public transportation is severely lacking, especially considering the size of the city.

In Boise, the Valley Regional Transit is the operator of the city’s public transportation. The metropolitan area of Boise has 25 bus routes through Valley Regional Transit. Unfortunately, busses only stop approximately every 30 minutes and services conclude at 7:00 pm, making it a pretty unreliable system for anyone who might need to rely on these services after hours.

Historically, the city had a passenger railway that connected Boise to nearby towns. On the passenger railway, you could get to Meridian, Nampa, and Caldwell. Sadly, this service ended back in 1928.

Needless to say, if you’re planning to move to Boise, you’ll need to look into the costs associated with having a vehicle of your own. According to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, average annual transportation costs come out to about $4,900 for a single individual. Larger families, such as a family of four with two working parents and two children, can anticipate paying around $13,317 in annual transportation costs.

Considering the limited access to public transportation throughout the city, having a vehicle in Boise is probably the best way to get around. Thankfully, gas prices in the state are on the lower end at $2.73 per gallon, compared to the national average of $3.17 per gallon.

Boise Food Costs

The average single Boise resident spends around $3,792 on food annually or roughly $316 per month. For a four-person family with two working adults and two children, these costs nearly triple to $11,106 annually, approximately $925.50 per month.

These food costs may sound relatively reasonable compared to other states. Although, it’s important to remember that these figures are associated with food that has been picked up at the local Albertsons, Fred Meyer, or Whole Foods Market and has been entirely prepared in the home. If home-cooked food isn't your primary source of meals, you will likely need to add a considerable amount to properly budget for additional food costs associated with dining out.

Some of the must-eats Boise has to offer includes finger steaks, deep-fried beef strips, the ice cream potato, the sweet, loaded baked potato, and a huckleberry milkshake made with natural ice cream. Just don’t forget to add some of these local treats to your budget when looking at your food costs.

Boise offers countless dining options, from hip gastropubs to family-friendly spots to upscale restaurants. Eating out in Boise costs an average of $15.75 for a meal at an inexpensive restaurant. A three-course dinner for two people at a mid-range restaurant will run for $60 without alcohol or dessert.

Boise Healthcare Costs

Regardless of where you decide to call home, proper healthcare is crucial in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. You’ll want to ensure you have adequate health insurance, whether you have a condition that requires routine care or you only visit a doctor for annual checkups. Having health insurance provides you with the necessary treatment should emergencies occur.

A single adult without children can anticipate paying around $2,470 for medical care in a single year in Boise. A family of four with two working adults and two children can expect to pay $6,274.

The federal healthcare marketplace lists out what coverage will be available to you in Boise. Be sure to report your move to qualify for out-of-state coverage, as relocating outside of an enrollment period can cause complications.

You may be able to maintain your insurance coverage even when moving to a new state if you’re under 26 and still on your parent’s insurance plan. Check through your parent’s provider to see if your new Boise hometown has doctors that fall within the network.

Boise Utilities

Because Boise has a vast mountainous topography, diverse climates are typical, extending the range for average utility bills depending on your region. Statewide, Boise averages approximately 13 inches of rain and 18 inches of snow per year. The hottest summer temperatures in Boise can reach 100 degrees, and the coldest month is in January, with a low of 23.6 degrees.

Despite the cold winters in Boise, utilities typically fall below the national average of $240 monthly. The average cost of monthly utilities, including electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage for a 915 square foot apartment in Boise, is $165.99.

These costs cover basic utilities, but they do not cover additional items such as the internet. The average monthly cost of internet of 60 Mbps or more, unlimited data, or cable/ADSL in Boise is an additional $62.79.

Other monthly costs to consider, such as a cell phone, will average you $94 monthly. You can seek discounts on these monthly costs by bundling your cell phone with your internet provider or new customer discounts.

Boise Fitness and Entertainment

Depending on your personal preferences, there are fitness and entertainment opportunities for everyone in Boise. If you choose to live in this beautiful city, you will likely take the time to enjoy the outdoors. Just don’t forget to account for some of your fitness and entertainment expenses in your budget.

Winters are notoriously cold in Boise and filled with snow. Because of this, maintaining your fitness year-round will likely require a gym membership. Thankfully, the average cost of a fitness club in significant cities throughout Boise is relatively low, costing you around $37.00 per month.

If the weather allows, you can save on some of your gym membership fees by taking up other outdoor activities. Some of the popular Boisean adventures include mountain biking, climbing, and hiking, all of which you can partake in at one of the plentiful parks managed by the City of Boise.

Some of the local favorites include Camel’s Back Park, a starting point for multiple hikes, which includes trails where you can take your dog off-leash. Julia Davis Park is one of the larger parks in the city and is home to three different museums. Lastly, Fort Boise Park is another go-to spot for local athletes, with three lighted softball fields and six lighted tennis courts.

Other Expenses to Consider in Boise

One major downside to living in Boise is dealing with the state of Idaho’s progressive income tax rate, with the top rate up to 6.925%. Thankfully, to help balance this, the state has relatively low sales tax at 6% and low property taxes. The combined sales tax rate in Boise, including state, county, and city rates, is currently 6%.

If you plan to move from out of state, you’ll need to remember that this move might come with additional expenses. Extra costs you might have to budget for include movers, transportation, hotels, and storage. Other things to consider are additional fees like apartment application fees, pet deposits, and security deposits.

You’ll also want to decorate your new apartment to make it feel like home. Make sure you decorate your apartment on a budget. Otherwise, these costs could start to add up.

The recommended salary for your new life in Boise will mostly depend on the lifestyle you plan to have there. The living wage in Boise is $14.29 per hour, which is the basic wage needed to pay for essentials such as housing, food, and necessities for an individual adult.

The average salary index in Boise is $64,000 per year, roughly $17.73 per hour.

With this information, you can calculate your recommended salary by utilizing the 30% rule, which says you should not be spending more than one-third of your gross income on rent.

To determine how much money you will need to make to live comfortably in Boise, assume you’ll be paying for the median rent for a one-bedroom at the least, which will cost $1,105. According to the 30% rule, your monthly wages should be at least three times this amount, equalling $3,315 per month or $39,780 annually.

This recommended salary is for a very basic Boise lifestyle. If you know that you will have many additional living costs, including dining, entertainment, you’ll need to anticipate these needs and search for a less expensive apartment, a higher salary, or ideally, both.

Thankfully, the typical annual salaries for common professions in Boston are highly competitive. The three highest typical annual salaries belong to Architecture and Engineering, Management, and Computer and Mathematical positions, respectively.

Final Thoughts

Boise offers rental opportunities for all and is especially welcoming to those who have a deep appreciation for the outdoors. You can easily find apartment complexes located in the dynamic downtown or remote cabins hidden far from the rest of the city. Boise is an excellent choice for those who enjoy space but aren’t willing to give up the convenience of some of the urban environments.

If you are looking to move somewhere where you can experience the great outdoors while thoroughly enjoying each season, Boise might be the place for you. Register with Apartment List today and start browsing hundreds of available apartments available for rent in Boise!

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Emily is a professionally trained SEO writer who covers a wide range of topics but specializes in business and hospitality content. With over a decade of professional writing experience in the hospitality industry, Emily comes from a strong background in the field backed with a BS from the world-renowned William F. Read More
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