So you're considering moving to Idaho, but you feel like you're missing some of the pieces of the "Should I or Shouldn't I?" puzzle. Well, you've come to the right place, friend. Just for you, we've compiled a guide to some of the biggest points of consideration from people looking to move to a new state.
Often referred to as the Gem State because of the 72 precious stones produced here, Idaho also has other shiny gems for you to discover - such as several national and state parks, beautiful landscapes and prairies, a blue football field nicknamed the "Smurf Turf," and the brightest view of the stars in the country. This place is simply sparkling.
Not convinced yet, eh? Well then, read on to find out why about 89,000 people move to Idaho (also called the Potato State, though less often) each year - including an impressive number of Californians - and why you just might consider being one of them. Hope you're hungry for knowledge (and potatoes).
So what do the 1,753,860 Idahoans (according to worldpopulationreview.com) do for a living? Well, government and healthcare employees make up the largest percentage of the workforce. Idaho houses the federal Bureau of Reclamation, the National Interagency Fire Center, the U.S. Forest Service, a federal court house and other government agencies in Boise. In addition, the Saint Alphonsus and St. Luke's health systems have large hospitals here.
Agriculture also accounts for a large part of the Idaho workforce - with 15% of all employment belonging to lovers and keepers of their land. This makes sense, considering the sparse population of the state and all of its wide-open farmland - someone's gotta take care of all that land.
The highest-paid workers in the state are those in the healthcare industry and government agencies, according to realestate.usnews.com. The fastest-growing job fields, however, include web development, property management, software development, animal care and real estate, as listed by zippia.com.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that Idaho's unemployment rate, as of December 2017, was just 2.9% - well below the national average of 4.1%. The current minimum wage, however, is only $7.25 per hour, according to minimum-wage.org. It's a good thing that Idaho ranked in 2017 as the state with the 6th-lowest cost of living, according to zillow.com.
While you personally may be fantasizing about living out of your RV on one of Idaho's many desolate prairies, most people will probably be looking to buy some type of stationary house when they move. With one of the fastest-growing populations in the nation, Idaho saw a population increase of 55% from 1990 to 2010, according to worldpopulationreview.com. So what could the housing market possibly be like, with all of these newcomers?
For starters, zillow.com shows that the average value of homes sold in 2017 was $160,500, with an average monthly payment of $1,212 with a mortgage, or $738 per month for a rental property. Apartment prices fall all over the spectrum, with a few giant 3-bedrooms going for as little as $100/month, but the rents ultimately average out, with 1-bed/1-bath joints going for $425/month.
Homes here are pretty new, too - zillow.com states that the decade when many Idahoan homes were built was the '00s (2000-2010). There's also new construction happening, but it seems to be around the edges of the state. Most new homes are popping up around Boise, (near the southwest corner of the state), followed by Idaho Falls (near the southeast corner), Twin Falls (in the south-central area), and finally around Dover (in the Panhandle).
Central Idaho seems to be pretty barren, as far as new development (and population) is concerned. So if you're one of many looking to move here to get away from other people, you may want to shoot for the bullseye - you'll have the lowest chance of being bothered by construction, traffic, new neighbors, and kids running and screaming all over your lawn.
As we were saying, Idaho definitely has an isolationist spirit - so much so that locals joke that their state motto should be "We Want to Be Alone." In 2017, statista.com rated Idaho as having the 7th-lowest population density in the country. Residents also joke that advertising farm tours as a main state attraction is an effective way to keep new people out.
It's interesting to note that most Idahoans actually aren't natives - less than half - 47% of the residents claim to be born and bred here, according to movoto.com. In fact, much of the state is now populated by native Californians, who make up about 12% of the total population, according to boisestatepublicradio.org.
Why do so many Californians pack it up and head for the Gem State? Apparently, they're looking for a slower pace of life - and a lower cost of living. But for all the rich Californian implants buying up the real estate and clogging the roads, a lot of hostility is fueled amongst the true lifelong Idahoans. They frown upon their more tanned counterparts who, they feel, are way too liberal, drive up their home prices and ultimately, drive them crazy.
Idaho is one of the main states in the American Redoubt - meaning it has been suggested as a territory to retreat to, should the American economy go completely belly up. One reason is that the area is a fair distance from many major cities, so it’s thought of as being safe from urban crime and heightened political violence. The geographical location also allows the state to avoid most natural disasters. Basically, it's a safe haven for even the biggest tinfoil-hat-sporting paranoids.
One of Idaho's catchphrases is K.I.S.S. - or, "Keep it Simple, Spudboy." Residents refer to themselves and others as "something else," and take pride in their self-proclaimed eccentricity. One of the state's most famous products was the 2004 film “Napoleon Dynamite,” featuring a protagonist who certainly was ...something else.
Idaho has been ranked as the 7th-most conservative state in a poll by Gallup; 90% of its inhabitants supporting hunting. While there are residents who are loners and just like to enjoy their peace and quiet, there are others who are Bigfoot hunters, and still others who have created a museum featuring more than 6,000 mops, brooms and vacuums. We can't make this stuff up.
Whether you're a pitchfork-wielding loner or a frolicking social butterfly, the Potato State offers plenty to do.
Here are just a few of the state's main attractions:
We're sure you can't wait to get over to Idaho so you can check out all the "weird stuff" here, but chillax for a second. There might be just a few additional things you want to ponder (while stroking your chin and looking towards the ceiling pensively) before packing up your car, van or RV.
Some Idahoan-approved PROs to living here:
Now for the resident-consensus CONs:
We know you came to get the goods regarding all-things Idaho, and we don't want to disappoint. That's why we've compiled a list of a few of the strangest, lamest, and downright "...Huh?" laws still in existence, for your enjoyment.
Here are a few from onlyinyourstate.com:
Well, there you have it, folks - a laughably far-from-comprehensive list of important factors about the Potato State, for your consideration. We know that we can't possibly address all of your concerns when it comes to moving to a new state, but it's our sincere hope that we've given you a bite-sized overview that will allow you to start formulating your ever-important decision.
It's up to you to decide if the Gem State, with its many natural wonders, low cost of living, fantabulous weather and (possibly) paranormal activity sounds like the perfect next destination for you to drop your anchor. We hope you've enjoyed reading our little sneak preview of the state as much as we've enjoyed sharing it.
Good luck, and may your decision be well-informed and thoroughly mulled-over.