15 Best Places to Live Idaho

Written by Darren Griffiths
Updated on
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With the state capital, Boise, set right in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, it is fair to say that Idaho is an adventure state. With almost unlimited outdoor activities to explore, fishing and rafting are ever-popular pastimes of Idahoans.

Not only this but with Yellowstone National Park, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, and Silverwood Theme Park on your doorstep, what’s not to like about Idaho?

In terms of a place to live, many highly recommend Idaho. Far from the most affluent of US States, Idaho is home to 1.6 million people whose average income is $47,000, $5000 a year below the national average. Suffice it to say that this state is filled with humble, hard-working Americans, and it seems the community spirit is prevalent wherever you decide to lay your hat.

When deciding where is the best place to live for you, there are a few factors that everyone should look at; cost of living, job opportunities, and median home value. For parents or wannabe parents, factors like accessibility to good public schools and crime rates are also significant.

We have considered all these factors and more when devising this list of the 15 best places to live in Idaho. We have also listened to the views and opinions of local people in each area because statistics don’t always give a fair representation of a neighborhood; however, the people who live there do.

1. Boise

BoiseSource: Charles Knowles / shutterstock

With an outstanding overall A-rating, Boise is the best place to live in Idaho for many reasons. Irrefutably good schools and agreeable cost of living. This will surely be music to young families’ ears! With median home value bang on the national average and median rent $100 a month less than the national average, Boise is below average in all the right ways!

Where Boise is not below average is in its options for commuters and job opportunities. Being a city of over two thousand residents, the area has countless working opportunities. We say inner city, Boise does feel more like a small town than a state capital city.

Local people describe Boise as a hidden gem; we’d agree. Located in the heart of Treasure Valley, you’re only ever 20-minutes from America’s great wilderness.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Boise are:

  • Aquarium of Boise
  • Boise River Greenbelt
  • Boise Art Museum
  • Barber Park
  • Zoo Boise
  • Capital City Public Market
  • Idaho Botanical Garden
  • Boise Art Glass

2. Moscow

Moscow, IdahoSource: Charles Knowles / shutterstock

The humble town of Moscow is a close but fair second-best place to live in Idaho. Home to 24,000 people, this small town is cozy and becoming increasingly popular with millennials. As with anywhere, millennials adopt as home, we can expect to see more development in Moscow in the next decade or so.

Although buying property in Moscow is more costly than in Boise, the median rent could explain the influx of millennials. With the average monthly rent being less than $1,000, this area is exceptionally affordable for young people starting their careers and working their way up the income ladder.

Being a college town, Moscow is a diverse and bustling place to live, with many opportunities to socialize and take up new hobbies.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Moscow are:

  • Latah Trail
  • Appaloosa Museum and Heritage Center
  • Moscow Farmers Market
  • Bill Chipman Palouse Trail
  • Prichard Art Gallery
  • McConnell Mansion
  • Colter’s Creek Winery
  • Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre
  • Idaho Vandals

3. Sun Valley

Sun Valley, IdahoSource: CSNafzger / shutterstock
Sun Valley

Who’d have thought that such a small, rural village like Sun Valley would be ranked as the third-best place to live in Idaho? Alas, it is! If small and rural aren’t adjectives that excite you, let’s try quaint and cozy.

Sun Valley is home to a close-knit community of just under fifteen hundred permanent residents. If they don’t know each other by name, they do by face!

As one of the more expensive areas to buy property, Sun Valley is the most dreamy location of our top three. Here’s the Idaho life plan; start in Moscow, rent, and save for a house. Save enough and jump on the property ladder in Boise, a great place to raise a family. Once the children move out and your 9-5 working life is over, move out to Sun Valley and live happily ever after…easy as that!

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Sun Valley are:

  • Sawtooth Botanical Garden
  • Silver Creek Outfitters
  • Sun Valley Museum of Art
  • Hemingway Memorial
  • Elkhorn Golf Club
  • Gail Severn Gallery
  • Atkinson Park
  • Ore Wagon Museum

4. Sugar City

Sugar CitySource: sevenMaps7 / shutterstock
Sugar City

Although home to fewer people than Sun Valley, Sugar City is a fantastic neighborhood; home to over one thousand residents, Sugar City is a great place to live and narrowly missed out on being ranked in the top three best places to live in Idaho.

Real estate here is excellent quality, great value for money, and incredibly affordable. The median home value is below the national average.

Thanks to the almost non-existent crime rates and good choice of schools, Sugar City is a perfect place to raise a family. 

As noted by residents, one downside to Sugar City is the small variety of restaurants. This should be expected of a neighborhood with less than fifteen hundred residents.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Sugar City are:

  • Ole’s Diner
  • The Playmill Theatre
  • Legacy Flight Museum
  • Eagle Park Campground

5. Meridian

Meridian, IdahoSource: Charles Knowles / shutterstock

Located an easy commute east of Boise, residents love Meridian. We can quote them ‘’I honestly love everything about Meridian!’’. The only thing this resident could complain about was the harsh winters.

There are 47 schools within the Meridian community, almost all of which can boast above-average exam results and a successful stream of alumni.

If raising a family within the city limits of Boise did not appeal, then perhaps Meridian can provide you with the balance you’re seeking. With great schools for youngsters and accessible commuter routes into Boise to assess countless job opportunities, Meridian is a bit of a winner.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Meridian are:

  • Roaring Springs
  • The Village at Meridian
  • Downtown Meridian
  • Meridian Speedway
  • Settlers Park
  • Warhawk Air Museum

6. Ketchum

Ketchum, IdahoSource: Maxine Livingston / shutterstock

Ketchum is the closest town to Sun Valley. If being in the luxurious Sun Valley felt far removed, try doubling the population and adding in a suburban, rather than rural, vibe.

Long-term residents describe Ketchum as a special place and never cease to tire of the range of outdoor activities high on their doorsteps.

House prices in Ketchum may still be a little higher than other areas in the northeast of the United States but think critically about value for money when studying real estate in the area. For example, $899,000 may initially seem like a steep investment, but you’re getting a grand, spacious, 4-bedroom, 4-bathroom family home that will grow with you and your brood.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Ketchum are:

  • Sun Valley Museum of Art
  • Chapter One Bookstore
  • Whiskey’s Bar
  • Magic Lantern Cinema
  • Easley Hot Springs
  • Lizzy’s Fresh Coffee

7. Eagle

Eagle, Idaho, MapSource: sevenMaps7 / shutterstock


in Idaho may be a bit of a tongue-twister if you say it over and over fast (you’re trying it, aren’t you?!), but this mid-sized town on Highway 44 firmly deserves its place within our top ten.

Home to over twenty-one thousand residents, Eagle is a happy and community-oriented town with a range of high-performing schools, a reasonable cost of living, and accessible commuter routes into Boise City.

The cost of living is a little dearer than in neighboring Meridian, but the home value would be agreeable to many working families. For around the national average, you can get a 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom family home for a fair price.

As with anywhere in Idaho, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors from a home base in Eagle.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Eagle are:

  • Eagle Island State Park
  • Heritage Park
  • Eagle Saturday Market
  • Banbury Golf Course
  • Gateway Parks
  • Firebird Raceway

8. Ammon

Ammon, idahoSource: Zechariah Judy / Wikimedia

Just outside the city of Idaho Falls lies the edge city of Ammon, home to over fourteen thousand residents. Property prices here are a steal, and for those seeking a rental property, you’re in luck in Ammon; the median monthly rent is below $1,000 per month.

Although on paper an edge city, Ammon has developed (and successfully retained) a homely, small-town feel. Local people mention that they are delighted living here. With larger cities like Idaho Falls accessible in under an hour, they get all of the shopping and entertainment facilities they could desire.

Ammon is worthy of consideration for parents looking for a place to live in Idaho. Although none of the 22 public schools are A-rated, they consistently perform above the national average.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Ammon are:

  • McCowin Park
  • Museum of Idaho
  • Idaho Falls River Walk
  • Idaho Falls Zoo
  • Collectors Corner Museum
  • Sand Creek Golf Course
  • Willard Arts Center

9. Hailey

Hailey, IdahoSource: Lee O'Dell / shutterstock

Hailey in Blaine County, Idaho, is just a stone’s throw away from Sawtooth National Forest. As a place to raise a family, Hailey has little to complain about: good schools, low crime, and a community atmosphere. Hailey can boast that it has the best range of public schools in all of Idaho.

Sawtooth National Forest provides children access to the exciting and enchanting American wild. The hiking and camping available in the forest, not just for children, would offer any adult a chance to reconnect with nature and be free.

The median household income in Hailey is a little above the national average. This has created a happy and diverse community of permanent residents.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Hailey are:

  • Wood River Trail
  • Sun Valley Resort
  • Rotarun Ski Area
  • Fly Sun Valley
  • Craters of the Moon
  • Galena Lodge & The Trails
  • Sun Valley Museum of History

10. Garden City

Garden CitySource: The Knowles Gallery / Flickr
Garden City

On the outskirts of Boise, Garden City is a commuter suburb of the Idaho state capital. With over eleven thousand residents calling this neighborhood home, a diverse and hard-working community is here.

As ever, access to outdoor activities is easily achieved despite the suburban nature of Garden City.

Monthly rent in Garden City is romantic, to say the least; for less than $1,000 per month, you have access to all the excellent facilities and amenities offered by Boise, including the job market, with an agreeable cost of living.

There are not only high-performing schools in Garden City but a good range of choices for parents, too; 35 public schools for approximately two thousand children growing up in this neighborhood.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Garden City are:

  • Boise Hawks Baseball
  • Ann Morrison Park
  • Telaya Wine Co
  • Barbarian Brewing
  • Western Collective Beer
  • Western Idaho Fair
  • Asana Climbing Gym

11. Pocatello

PocatelloSource: Eric Kjaemperud / Wikimedia

Property prices in the Pocatello area are some of the most affordable in Idaho. For under $100,000, you can invest in a quaint 3-bedroom family home. Any property under $100,000 would be considered a ‘project.’

Plenty of houses in Pocatello are ready to walk into and decorate to your taste. With median home value below the national average, be sure to search for the best deal.

Crime levels in Pocatello are deficient, well below the national average. Local people praise the area for its safety and security and claim they are pleased living here. Describing Pocatello as ‘quiet, friendly and conservative,’ there is little to find fault with this homely college town.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Pocatello are:

  • Museum of Clean
  • Fort Hall Replica
  • Bannock County Historical Museum
  • Old Town Pocatello
  • Zoo Idaho
  • Gibson Jack Trailhead
  • Outer Limits Fun Zone
  • Palace Playhouse

12. Idaho Falls

Idaho FallsSource: Carlo Emanuele Barbi / shutterstock
Idaho Falls

Residents rave about living in Idaho Falls, and understandably so. House prices are fair, and monthly rent low. The city was created following the flow of the Snake River, so fishing and outdoor pursuits are in no short supply as ever in Idaho.

Plenty is going on in Idaho Falls as a major city to keep everyone entertained. The Museum of Idaho, the Idaho Falls Zoo, cinemas, restaurants, and 10-pin bowling all support this community actively and out of the house.

Idaho is a safe state to live in, and Idaho Falls is no exception.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Idaho Falls are:

  • Museum of Idaho
  • Idaho Falls Zoo
  • Japanese Friendship Garden
  • Downtown Idaho Falls
  • Art Museum of Eastern Idaho
  • East Idaho Aquarium
  • Freeman Park

13. Rexburg

RexburgSource: B Brown / shutterstock

The small city of Rexburg is nestled away in Madison County. Hosting the campus of Brigham-Young University Idaho, there is a fluctuating but content population of over twenty-six thousand residents.

This suburban area is as safe as any other city in Idaho, and the local people quickly note the place’s family-friendly atmosphere. Locals say that although Rexburg is a small town, there are many opportunities here, with plenty to do to keep you busy and entertained.

University students seldom want to relocate once their studies have ended, so Rexburg is rapidly expanding. Suffice it to say, if you check back in a year or so, this college city will have climbed up the ranks.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Rexburg are:

  • Legacy Flight Museum
  • Yellowstone Bear World
  • Rexburg Idaho Temple
  • Porter Park
  • Cress Creek Nature Trail
  • Museum of Rexburg
  • Rexburg Rapids

14. Hayden

HaydenSource: sevenMaps7 / shutterstock

Hayden Lake is a big draw for many people who move to this neighborhood. Boating and fishing, unsurprisingly, are popular pastimes with the residents of Hayden.

Although on paper a suburban area, many of the houses on the market right now are tucked back from the main road, sheltered by evergreen trees and offering expansive garden areas.

The property in Hayden is very affordable. An investment slightly over the national average would land you a 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom home with a double garage to match. If you’re looking for space over aesthetics, a rustic 5-bedroom, 3-bathroom home would warrant a reasonable investment of just over $200,000.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Hayden are:

  • Triple Play Family Fun Park
  • Raptor Reef Indoor Water Park
  • Hayden City Park
  • Hayden Lake
  • Honeysuckle Beach
  • Silverwood Theme Park
  • Timberline Adventures

15. St Anthony

Source: Calvin Beale / Wikimedia
St Anthony

Rounding up our list of 15 best places to live in Idaho is the humble town of St Anthony. Home to a friendly and welcoming group of over three thousand residents, there is little to complain about in this small town. The median home value is very reasonable, below the national average, and monthly rent is below $1,000 per month.

The lack of public schooling options makes St Anthony fall in line lower on the list. Parents have little choice, with only one school available at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. These schools are performing to a high standard, and students are happy and learning well.

Local people note that their only complaint is that the winters are brutal, just as they are statewide. No real problems here in St Anthony, it seems.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in St Anthony are:

  • Henry’s Fork Greenway
  • Mad Moose Pizza
  • Museum of Idaho
  • Kelly Canyon Resort
  • Museum of Clean
  • Idaho Museum of Natural History


15 Best Places to Live Idaho:

  • Boise
  • Moscow
  • Sun Valley
  • Sugar City
  • Meridian
  • Ketchum
  • Eagle
  • Ammon
  • Hailey
  • Garden City
  • Pocatello
  • Idaho Falls
  • Rexburg
  • Hayden
  • St Anthony