The Best Places to Live in Idaho

by Kate Carpenter
Idaho boasts several great places to live.

Idaho boasts several great places to live.

For those unfamiliar with Idaho, it might be hard to picture anything but sagebrush or potato fields. But Idaho's cities---and the state itself---are frequently named as some of the country's best places to live. Two cities in particular, Boise and Idaho Falls, regularly top the list of locations for businesses and families to settle down.

Idaho's Advantages

Idaho is frequently recognized for its family- and business-friendly reputation. The Idaho Department of Commerce lists several of Idaho's recent recognitions, including the fact that it was recognized for having the fastest growth for green jobs by the Pew Institute, and for having the highest number of patents per capita by the Fraser Institute. It was ranked No. 4 among states for business by CNBC in July 2008.

The state was also named by the U.S. Census Bureau as No. 5 for having the best homeownership rate in the nation. The Small Business and Entrepreneur Council said Idaho was second in lowest energy costs in April 2009.


Idaho's capital city, Boise, is frequently highlighted as a prime U.S. city. In fact, "U.S. News and World Report" named Boise as one of the Best Places to Live 2009, listing the city's proximity to outdoor adventures, beautiful scenery, and location near Boise State University among its advantages. The magazine also named companies such as Micron and Hewlett-Packard in citing the city's economic benefits.

In March 2009, MSNBC.com also named Boise as the eighth-best midsize metropolitan area in the country, and the Christopher Leinberger-Brookings Institute Scholar said Boise had the best downtown in the Rocky Mountain West in April 2009.

An article in National Geographic-Adventure refers to Boise as part of the "real West," highlighting its access to trails, kayaking and other recreational pursuits, its variety of downtown restaurants, and its affordable cost of living.

Idaho Falls

Though much smaller than Boise---the city has approximately 50,000 residents---Idaho Falls was named one of RelocateAmerica.com's Top 100 Places to Live in 2009. The report focuses on Idaho Falls' relative closeness to national parks, wide-open rural areas and outdoor recreation areas. It also lists many of the city's in-town recreational opportunities, including a public greenbelt near the falls, golf courses, a small zoo and live arts performances among its attributes.

Idaho Falls is near the Idaho National Laboratory nuclear research facility, which provides many highly skilled job opportunities, and jobless numbers are still low in the area. There is a wide variety of shopping, restaurant and other retail options in the city's small downtown, and the city's cost of living is extremely low.

In April 2009, fDi (Foreign Direct Investment) Magazine also named Idaho Falls as the sixth-best microcity of the future.

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