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Cost of Living in Idaho, 2021

By: Emily Kho
June 17, 2021

Idaho is most famously known for its potatoes but is nicknamed the Gem State, as it is home to over 70 different types of precious and semi-precious stones. In addition to gemstones, the 43rd state of the United States offers a unique combination of rich heritage, welcoming communities, and a taste of the west.

According to the United States Census Bureau, despite being the 14th largest state in the country, Idaho remains the 38th most populated. Offering abundant scenic areas and natural resources, this Rocky Mountain state is an excellent choice for anyone looking to get out of the hustle and bustle of busy downtowns and breathe in the fresh mountain air.

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

Idaho Housing Costs

Housing costs should always be top of mind when making a big move, as they tend to be some of your highest living expenses. It doesn’t matter whether you plan on making mortgage payments or paying rent each month. You can safely assume that housing costs will likely take up the most significant chunk of your monthly expenses. To get started, you’ll want to build a budget. Here, you will need to consider your housing costs.

The Idaho rental market is highly affordable, even amongst the most highly populated cities. Here is a list of average rent prices in five of the most densely populated Idaho cities, including Moscow, Meridian, Coeur d'Alene, Eagle, and Boise.

CityAverage 1-Bedroom RentAverage 2-Bedroom Rent
Moscow, ID$595$650
Meridian, ID$1,455$1,585
Coeur d'Alene, ID$1,525$1,750
Eagle, ID$1,532$1,755
Boise, ID$1,752$1,947

Year over year, the rental prices in Idaho have seen significant increases, ranging from the low end of 3% in Coeur d’Alene up to 26% in Boise. Not surprisingly, Boise has been named the 18th Fastest-Growing Place in the United States in 2020-2021 by U.S. News.

If you’re looking to cut costs on the house, renting with a roommate might be an option worth considering. For example, if you rent in Boise and split the costs of renting a two-bedroom apartment, you can save $778.50 per month versus renting a one-bedroom apartment on your own.

Idaho Transportation

Throughout the state of Idaho, public transportation isn’t very reliable. Unless you live within the main cities of Boise, Moscow, or Idaho Falls, you will likely need to rely on a vehicle of your own to get around. In the town of Boise, available public transportation options include ValleyRide, ACCESS, Valley Regional Transit, and SHIP.

If you’re planning to live outside of the city, you’ll need to look into 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 state, having a vehicle in Idaho is probably the best way to get around. Thankfully, gas prices in the state are on the lower end compared to the rest of the country and range from approximately $2.44 to $2.84 per gallon, depending on the city.

Idaho Food Costs

The average single Idaho resident spends around $3,792 on food 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 or approximately $925.50 per month.

While these food costs sound relatively reasonable compared to other states, it’s important to remember that these figures are associated with food that has been picked up at the local Albertsons, Westfarm Foods, or Costco, 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 Idaho has to offer includes finger steaks, morel mushrooms, key lime pie, and the Idahoan (meatloaf with mashed potatoes drizzled in a ketchup chili glaze, with white cheddar and Colby Jack cheeses).

Here is a breakdown of the average cost for a meal for two people in a mid-range restaurant, with three courses, by city:

Idaho Healthcare Costs

Having proper healthcare is a crucial element in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, regardless of where you live. Whether you have a condition that requires routine care or you only visit a doctor for annual checkups, you’ll want to ensure you have proper health insurance. Having health insurance ensures you get the necessary treatment should emergencies occur.

A single adult without children can anticipate paying around $2,470 for medical care in a single year. 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 Idaho. Be sure to report your move to qualify for out-of-state coverage, as relocating outside of an enrollment period can cause complications.

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

Idaho Utilities

Because Idaho has a vast mountainous topography, diverse climates are typical, extending the range for average utility bills in Idaho depending on your region. Statewide, Idaho averages approximately 18 inches of rain and 47 inches of snow per year. The hottest month is in July when temperatures can reach 85 degrees, and the coldest month is in January, with a low of 17 degrees.

Despite the cold winters in Idaho, 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, is broken down by the major cities in Idaho:

  • Moscow: $78.82
  • Boise: $155.16
  • Coeur d'Alene: $136.43

These costs cover basic utilities, but they do not cover additional items such as internet. The average monthly costs of internet of 60 Mbps or more, unlimited data, or cable/ADSL in these major cities are:

  • Moscow: $54.67
  • Boise: $61.96
  • Coeur d'Alene : $64.17

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

Idaho Fitness and Entertainment

There are fitness and entertainment opportunities for everyone in Idaho, depending on your personal preferences. If you choose to live in this beautiful state, 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.

Fitness

Winters are notoriously cold in Idaho 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 major cities throughout Idaho is relatively low:

  • Moscow: $30.93
  • Boise: $38.07
  • Coeur d'Alene: $43.75

As the weather allows, you can save on some of your gym membership fees by taking up other outdoor activities. Some of the popular Idahoan adventures include rafting, climbing, and hiking, all of which you could partake in at one of the plentiful National or State Parks.

National and State Parks

Idaho is home to seven national state parks. Entrance fees vary, but you can also purchase an America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass annual pass for $80, which allows access to all of the parks, the most popular being:

  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Hells Canyon National Recreation Area
  • Craters of the Moon National Monument
  • Clearwater National Forest
  • City of Rocks National Reserve

Aside from national parks, Idaho has 27 state parks. Local Idahoans can purchase an Idaho State Parks Passport for $10 per year, offering unlimited day-use access to every park within the state. Some of the most popular state parks include:

  • Hiawatha Mountain Bike Trail
  • Harriman State Park
  • Farragut State Park
  • Henry’s Lake State Park
  • Hells Gate State Park

Other Expenses to Consider in Idaho

One major downside to living in Idaho is its 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%, as well as low property taxes.

If you plan to move from out of state, it might come with additional expenses. Extra costs you will have to budget for might include movers, storage, hotels, and transportation. Other things to consider are additional fees like apartment application fees, security deposits, pet deposits, and other add-ons.

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.

Finding a recommended salary for your new life in Idaho will mostly depend on the lifestyle you plan to have there. The living wage in Idaho is $13.95 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 Idaho is $61,000 per year, roughly $16.97 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 figure out how much money you will need to make to live comfortably in Idaho, you can assume you’re planning to rent in Boise, where the median rent for a one-bedroom will cost $1,752. According to the 30% rule, your monthly wages should be at least three times this amount, equalling $5,256 per month or $63,072 annually.

Final Thoughts

Idaho offers rental opportunities for all, with everything from apartment complexes to remote cabins. In Idaho, you can choose just how much space you want between you and your neighbor, which is not something commonly found in more densely populated states across the country.

If you are looking to move somewhere where you can fully enjoy each season and have the vast wilderness in your backyard, Idaho might be the place for you. Register with Apartment List today and start browsing hundreds of available apartments available for rent in Idaho!

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EMILY KHO
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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