Idaho has rich natural beauty and a growing population. While it offers many benefits, such as affordable housing, plenty of small-town charm, and a wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities, there are also some challenges to living in Idaho. Some cons include limited cultural and entertainment options, long and harsh winters, and a relatively isolated location. However, for those who enjoy a slower pace of life, a strong sense of community, and easy access to the great outdoors, Idaho may be the perfect place to call home. Whether you’re buying a home in Middleton, an apartment in Boise, or wondering if Idaho is a good place to live, read on for the ten pros and cons of living in Idaho.

Capitol Blvd, Boise, Idaho

Pros of living in Idaho

1. You’ll find affordable housing in many parts of the state

The Gem State has a relatively low cost of living compared to other states. A low living cost can benefit people looking to save money on housing, food, and other living expenses. For those looking to buy a home, look at affordable cities like Twin Falls, which has a median sale price of $289,950, Jerome, where the median sale price is $284,300, or Pocatello, which has a median sale price of $238,000. For those looking to rent, you’ll also notice that rent is affordable. Cities like Nampa have affordable rent averaging $1,525 for a two-bedroom apartment.

2. Idaho is full of beautiful scenery

Idaho is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, from its mountains and forests to its rivers and deserts. The Sawtooth Mountains, located in central Idaho, offer a breathtaking display of peaks and valleys and opportunities for hiking, fishing, and backpacking. The Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, one of the largest wilderness areas in the lower 48 states, offers a remote and rugged landscape ideal for backpacking and horseback riding.

The deserts of southern Idaho, such as the Bruneau Dunes State Park, offer unique landscapes of sand dunes and sagebrush and opportunities for camping and stargazing. Whether you’re looking for breathtaking mountain vistas or serene desert landscapes, Idaho offers a wide range of stunning scenery to enjoy.

The Sawtooth Mountain Range, Stanley Idaho

3. Most of the state has a small-town feel

Idaho’s small towns offer a charming atmosphere and friendly community, which can attract people who prefer a more laid-back and close-knit way of life. Check out Wallace, where you can learn about Idaho’s history and admire the picturesque mountains’ backdrop. Or make your way over to Garden City and explore its art scene. Additionally, the state has a lower population density, making it easier to find peace.

4. There are various outdoor activities for any adventurer in this state

Many outdoor recreational opportunities can be found in Idaho, making it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts. There are countless fishing opportunities, with numerous rivers and lakes offering a variety of species as well as hunting and birding. Furthermore, Idaho has many lakes and rivers that are popular for boating, kayaking, and rafting, as well as numerous camping opportunities. The state’s natural beauty and accessibility to outdoor activities make it a popular destination for those seeking an active, outdoor lifestyle.

Cowboy rodeo riding bucking bronco horse in western USA

5. Agriculture is big in Idaho

The Gem State is well known for its agriculture industry, particularly for its potato production. The state has a favorable climate and fertile soil, making it ideal for growing various crops such as potatoes, wheat, barley, beans, peas, corn, and alfalfa. Idaho also has a strong dairy industry and is one of the leading producers of cheese and butter in the United States. The agriculture industry significantly contributes to the state’s economy and provides jobs for many residents.

Cons of living in Idaho

1. Living in Idaho can be isolating 

Rural counties make up 88% of the state’s land area. If you live in one of these rural towns, like Island Park, you may be driving further for services or amenities. Additionally, the state has a lower population density, making it harder to find specific jobs or social opportunities. However, If you crave seclusion and a cabin in the woods, Idaho could be your ideal destination. Idaho’s forests and rural areas offer ample space for a peaceful lifestyle for its residents.

2. Idaho is known for its freezing winters

The Gem State can get quite cold in the winter, with temperatures dropping below freezing in some areas. Along with the freezing temperatures comes snow, and a lot of it. The cold can be challenging for people who are not accustomed to harsh winter weather, and it is a great reminder to prepare your home for the winter.

snowy country lane in rural Northern Idaho

3. Limited transportation options

Public transportation options are limited in many areas of the state, and the rural nature of the state can make it difficult to access certain places. However, major cities such as Boise, Idaho Falls, and Pocatello have bus systems and some limited rail service. You’ll need a car to get around if you’re living in rural parts of Idaho.

4. Idaho is prone to wildfires

The dense and overcrowded conditions and the presence of dead and dying trees put a large percentage of Idaho’s forest at increased fire risk. In the summer, Idaho is prone to wildfires affecting many areas of the state. Air quality can be poor in these areas due to high levels of smoke. Smoke can concern people with respiratory issues or allergies, so you’ll want to learn how to protect your home from wildfires.

Lake Christine forest fire Basalt Mountain Colorado Rocky Mountain wildfire smoke

5. Idaho lacks entertaining activities

Idaho is a state with a lot of natural beauty, but it is not known for having a lot of activities or attractions to visit. There are no major theme parks or amusement parks, and the biggest cities are relatively small. The state does have some great outdoor activities, such as hiking, fishing, camping, and skiing, but for those looking for more urban activities, Idaho may not be the place for you.

The pros and cons of living in Idaho: Bottom line

From the natural beauty to the small-town charm, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Idaho. However, the ruralness of the state and cold winters may only be for some. And while the Gem state has a lot to offer, it’s essential to consider the pros and cons of living in Idaho before moving. 

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