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11 Things to Know Before Moving to Boise

By: Susan Finch
September 8, 2021

Boise is called the City of Trees for a reason. Its stunning backdrop and great outdoors have long attracted new residents. The earliest settlers nicknamed the city when they climbed a hill and looked upon Treasure Valley and its lush forest.

The city experienced a population boom over the last decade and continually makes the "Best of" for everything from cuisine to nightlife. Boise even earned the title of "fastest-growing city in the country" between 2017 and 2018.

Boise’s mild weather, unique culture, diverse demographics, and big-city amenities at a small town price make it a popular destination for college students, millennials, and retirees looking for a highly ranked place to live. From Downtown to the Boise River Greenbelt, Boise offers something for everyone.

Before packing up and moving to the City of Trees, here's what you need to know about living in Boise.

1. What Is It Like Living in Boise?

Boise is the state capital and largest city in Idaho, followed by Meridian and Nampa. Boise is situated in Ada County, which is the most populous county in the state. The county is also home to one-quarter of the state's residents, including a large refugee population. The Boise River flows through parts of northern Ada and the Boise Range mountains are also visible in the northwest. The Snake River serves as a boundary for the southwestern border.

Boise's outdoor activities and gorgeous landscape make it a popular place to settle. Plus, there are even more nature opportunities throughout the state of Idaho. Idaho's combined wilderness spans over 4.7 million acres. It’s huge! This is greater than the total land area of Rhode Island, Delaware, and Connecticut.

2. Cost of Living in Boise

Compared to the rest of Idaho, Boise is more expensive. However, Boise is still a bargain compared to bustling cities like Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake City, and beyond.

According to PayScale, the cost of living in Boise is 8% lower than the national average. Housing is also 12% lower, making the city an incredible bargain. However, the city’s cost of living is starting to increase with the population boom and high quality of life.

Here's an idea of how much things cost when moving to Boise, as reported by PayScale:

  • Energy bill: $143.68
  • Loaf of bread: $2.98
  • Doctor's Visit: $114.47
  • $2.81 for a gallon of gas

Rents and housing prices have been historically low in Boise, though are currently on the rise. The median rent in Boise is now $1,668 for a one-bedroom apartment, with the median rent on a two-bedroom being $1,904. Those prices will look steeper than areas a few hours from the city.

The median income in Boise is also a healthy $60,035, as reported by the United States Census Bureau. By comparison, the median household income is $55,785 in the rest of Idaho.

3. Boise Job Market and Economy

Boise's job market steadily increased 3.6% over the last year. Over the next decade, the future job growth is predicted to rise 50.9%, which is higher than the US average of 33.5%. Sales tax is also low at 6% compared to the US average of 7.3%. Idaho's Gross Domestic Product (GPD) is $84 billion, and Boise's Gross Regional Product (GRP) is nearly $30 million.

Major corporate headquarters call Boise home, including Boise Cascade, Albertsons, and Jand Idaho Timber. Newcomers have employment options in advanced manufacturing, aerospace, technology and innovation, food production, outdoor recreation, and others.

4. Public Transportation in Boise

Depending on where you live in Boise, walking and biking are options to get around the city. Public transportation is minimal, as Boise is a car-dependent city. It's challenging to take advantage of everything Boise and Idaho offer, but it is doable to ditch the auto with some planning. You'll find the most flexibility for walking, biking, and public transportation in Downtown, Veterans Park, Morris Hill, and North End.

Valley Regional Transit is the Regional Public Transportation Authority (RPTA) for Ada County and Canyon County. Every public bus has a bike rack on the front for added convenience. Locals and visitors can also rent a bike when needed at kiosks throughout the city through the Boise GreenBike bike-share program for an affordable price.

Transportation costs are reasonable around Boise, especially if you plan to live Downtown and walk everywhere. Locals can expect to spend about $4,900 on transportation as a single adult—families of two working adults and a child need at least $11,186.

5. The Weather in Boise

Boise boasts a relatively mild and manageable climate. The snowfall in the area is just 18 inches per year, which is less than the US average of 28 inches per year. Multiple snow sports are just a stone's throw in the surrounding Boise Mountains for winter fun. The Boise River and waterfront paths offer fishing and rafting to cool off during the summer months.

The coldest month in Boise in January, with an average overnight temperature of 23.6°F. The warmest month is July, where daytime temperatures rise to 89°F. Spring and Fall are also mild and a good time for hiking and mountain biking.

6. Boise Attractions

Boise's attractions are rooted in nature and outdoor adventure. Locals flock to the Boise River Greenbelt with its tree-dotted trails and parks along the water's edge. The Idaho Botanical Garden boasts Garden Art,15 acres of tapestry, native and domestic plants.

As the capital of Idaho, Boise also features historical attractions like the Old Idaho Penitentiary. The historical prison contains 19th-century prison cells and gallows, weaponry, and artifacts. The sandstone Idaho State Capitol Building and art-deco Boise Art Museum boast historic buildings, artwork, and exhibits.

7. Food Scene and Nightlife in Boise

Boise was already earning buzz for its growing culinary scene, though it wasn’t until recently that it became a city for foodies. Boise features global cuisine from Ethiopian to Eritrean food. For Russian cuisine, Alyonka Russian Cuisine serves old country dishes in a modern space. The growing population of Basques, a Southwestern European ethnic group in Spain and France, also brings a new flavor to the city. The Basque-inspired Txikiteo features fusion dishes, traditional eats, and tapas.

​​The Sapphire Room is Boise's most popular music venue, though local performers often perform at the Riverside Hotel. Spacebar Arcade brings back the nostalgia with arcade games, comic books, and old-school board games. Esquire named Pengilly's Saloon one of the top 100 bars in the nation and is ready for a party Pool tables, live music, and worn wooden floors keep locals going until the late-night hours.

8. Major Annual Boise Events

Boise's cultural diversity is evident in its festivals like Refugee Food Week. The festival promotes the universal power of cuisines, connects the community, and amplifies the presence of refugees in the restaurant industry.

Boise is also home to the "toughest half-marathon in the northwest," which is held every April. Serious runners and locals and visitors race along Robie Creek to support local businesses and organizations. Boise Music Festival boasts musical artists and a summer blow-out.

With such a stunning backdrop, honoring the outdoors is a must in Boise. The Spirit of Boise draws tourists and locals to watch hot air balloons celebrating the end of summer and embrace Boise's beauty.

9. Sports in Boise

Sports lovers root for their home teams in year-round events. The Boise State Broncos get the college crowd charged up at the Albertsons Stadium, while hockey enthusiasts watch the Idaho Steelheads play on the home ice of Idaho Central Arena.

For baseball, the Boise Hawks hit home runs at the Memorial Stadium. The team isn't affiliated with the MLB but is a part of the Pioneer League. Basketball fans watch the Basketball fans catch Boise State University's Bronco shoot hoops.

10. Top Universities in Boise

Boise is an attractive option for up-and-coming graduates and job seekers. Boise State University and a handful of private degree programs draw college students to the city. Boise boasts a robust job market, culture, arts, nightlife, skiing, rock climbing, and river sports.

11. What Neighborhood in Boise Should You Make Your Home?

Boise’s rich urban culture, food scene, and nightlife make it a fun place to live, work, and play. Whether you want an active lifestyle or a tranquil neighborhood, you can find it in Boise.

Downtown Boise

Downtown Boise is an urban playground with restaurants, pubs, nightlife, and culture. It still maintains Boise's unique sense of community where locals still greet each other. Plus, Downtown is the place to live if you want to walk and bike around your neighborhood.

Downtown Boise is the epicenter of meetings, conferences, government, and all other city-based businesses. Best of all, this area is centrally located in all things Boise. You can spend time running on the Boise River Greenbelt or hiking in the nearby foothills.

Find the apartments for rent now in Downtown Boise.

North End

The prominent neighborhood of North End brings a quaint lifestyle and quick access to the booming downtown area. The charming streets of North End Boise are known as the City of Trees and are home to the famous Hyde Park.

North End is the neighborhood to take advantage of outdoor fun. Some of the state's most beloved activities, including mountain biking, golfing, camping, and skiing, are available in this neighborhood.

Find hundreds of apartments available for rent in the North End.

Southeast Boise

Southeast Boise is one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods in Boise. It’s an excellent place for anyone looking for quick and easy access to downtown, the river, and the Greenbelt.

Boise State University calls Southeast Boise home, giving this neighborhood a slightly younger demographic than the rest of the city. Thanks to the influx of new businesses, including coffee shops and brunch spots, there is plenty to do. Despite being a college town, Southeast Boise still provides residents with a close-knit neighborhood feel, and you'll often see children playing around in the front yard.

Local landmarks in Southeast Boise include the Simplot Sports Complex, Brown Crossing, and Barber Park. The neighborhood seamlessly blends fun, young, urban living with the old-fashioned suburban feel.

Find an apartment for rent in Southeast Boise.

Boise Heights

The condensed neighborhood of Boise Heights is one of the best places to live in the entire state. Anyone looking for a densely suburban living arrangement will enjoy living in this Ada County neighborhood.

This quiet area of Boise is home to many retirees, but that's not to say there isn't plenty to do in Boise Heights. Here you will find a wide assortment of parks, coffee shops, restaurants, and bars.

Additionally, Boise Heights schools are highly rated, making it an excellent place for young families looking for more land to call home.

East End

If you are looking for history and culture like none other, the East End is where you should consider planting your roots. The tranquil and tight-knit neighborhood has an unbeatable location to everything Boise has to offer. You can easily maintain an active, urban lifestyle with close proximity to downtown, all while enjoying the quiet suburban life at home.

Take a bike ride along the Greenbelt or visit the MK Nature Center, Kristin Armstrong Park, the Old Idaho Penitentiary, or the Idaho Botanical Garden, all located within the East End.

Find an apartment for rent now in the East End.

Final Thoughts

Ready to move to Boise? Start apartment hunting with an Apartment List.

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Susan Finch is a freelance writer and content manager focusing on local experiences, travel, and anything relating to really good food and craft brews. Her work has appeared in travel guidebooks and national magazines and newspapers. Read More
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