Relocating to Boise: Moving Guide & FAQs

The Boise, Idaho metro area, known as the Treasure Valley, has become one of the fastest-growing areas in the United States.  While many of the people moving to Idaho seem to primarily come from California, people throughout the U.S. are finding Boise to be their ideal place to live. 

Idaho has been a top choice for many moving away from their home state in recent years, especially since the pandemic. A whopping 194% more people moved to Idaho than out of the state between March and August 2020! 

Top Reasons to Relocate to Boise

If you're one of the many out-of-state newcomers that have decided to make the move, you probably already know the top reasons why incoming folks choose Boise:
  1. Idaho provides many outdoor recreation opportunities
  2. The Boise community and culture is one that promotes work-life balance
  3. With considerably less traffic than in most big cities, a short commute allows for more time spent with friends and family
To put it simply, Boise is seen as a breath of fresh air. 

Boise/Treasure Valley Overview

Population

Boise proper has a population of just under 230,000, with the metro area ranking 77th nationally in population size. The Treasure Valley population is just under 750,000—the Boise metropolitan area is made up of Ada, Canyon, Gem, and Owyhee counties. 

Those moving to the Boise area aren't just settling in the city itself—the metro area includes Meridian, Nampa, and Caldwell (as well as other smaller cities), giving residents plenty of areas to choose from. 

Weather & Air Quality

The region sees all four seasons, but overall those seasons are fairly mild. Summers can get hot—the area does see some triple-digit days—but the proximity to the mountains, rivers, and lakes makes cooling off easy. Winters can be cold, but typically aren't particularly long nor snowy. The city averages about 18 inches of snow per year, and December and January are the coldest months. 

One notable phenomenon new residents should be aware of is winter inversions. Inversions are common in January, in particular, and can last several days. These events affect air quality and can trap cold air in the valley. In the summer, air quality can also be poor due to wildfires in the state and across the west—very often, fires in neighboring states can send smoke across southwest Idaho. 

Things to Do

Most residents and newcomers are all about outdoor recreation. There are plenty of amazing hiking and biking trails easily accessible from pretty much anywhere in the valley. There's tons of camping opportunities close by, and even more if you don't mind a bit more driving. Whitewater rafting, standup paddle boarding, floating the Boise river, boating at Lucky Peak—water lovers can take advantage of all sorts of activities throughout the summer. 

Boise attracts plenty of big-name entertainment acts, with lots of concerts throughout the year, and some cool annual events like Treefort Music Festival and summer concerts at the Idaho Botanical Garden.  The food and drink scene in Boise is highly regarded, with so many amazing food options across the area. There's a big Basque scene that offers festivals and food. Downtown Boise has a ton of great restaurants and bars, making it easy to have a great date night or girl's night out. 

If outdoor rec isn't your thing, you'll be in the minority, but you'll still find stuff to do. Catch a Boise State football game or visit the Boise Art Museum. Catch one of the festivals or check out Art in the Park in the summer. 

The Boise airport is small but easy to navigate, and while you may not find a huge number of direct flights, you can get pretty much anywhere with some connecting flights through larger cities in neighboring states. If you're hoping to roadtrip, some popular destinations include Yellowstone (about 7 hours away), Salt Lake City (4.5 hours), and the Oregon coast (around 9 hours). 

Why are People from California Moving to Idaho?

This is one of the key questions people are asking about Idaho's population growth. While new residents come from all over the country, 26% of the 80,000 people who moved to Boise in 2018 were from California, and a significant number of Californians have followed in the years since. So why are people moving from California to Idaho? Here are two key reasons.

Cost of Living

Housing is very affordable in Idaho—although housing prices have significantly increased since the start of the pandemic. Housing in California is more expensive, especially for young professionals trying to get established. Many young professionals find themselves living paycheck-to-paycheck in California, while their dollar seems to go much further in Idaho. The median home price in California is over $750,000, while Idaho's is just over $460,000. Bay Area price are even higher, so many California residents moving to Idaho are from that area. 

Lifestyle

Idahoans live life at a slower pace than Californians. Cities are much smaller, so there is less traffic and overpopulation compared to many California metro areas. Idahoans like to take life a little slower, taking more time for family and friends, and having more of a healthy work/life balance.  While city living in Idaho is different from city living in California, it's preferable for many young professionals and families trying to settle down and establish themselves.

Who Else is Moving to Boise?

As Boise Dev reports, new residents in the Treasure Valley mostly come from other areas of the state. Washingtonians are also flocking to the area, followed by newcomers from Oregon, Utah, and Arizona. 

Pros and Cons of Moving to Boise, Idaho

Boise is known as the "City of Trees" and the state itself lives up to the PNW hype with its wide range of landscapes from mountains to deserts. These beautiful landscapes and the attractions they offer are visible from the city and are within a short driving distance. 

Idaho is an outdoor enthusiast's dream, but also an adventurous family's ideal location as there are so many outdoor activities nearby. This is just one of the few benefits of living in Boise, Idaho.  

Other pros include:
  •  Genuine, friendly residents
  • Family-oriented community
  • Mild weather with all four seasons
  • Low unemployment rate
  • Amazing food and drink scene
  • Short commutes 
There are few drawbacks to living in Boise, but population growth is contributing to or exacerbating some of the main issues with the area, including:
  • Air quality (inversions in the winter; wildfires in the summer)
  • Little diversity in the population (the city is 89% caucasian)
  • Rising housing and development prices (especially since the pandemic)
  • Lack of quality public transportation
  • Low minimum wage
Boise currently has one of the hottest real estate markets in the country. However, the cost of living is lower than many other metro areas even though it has increased in the past few years.

Is Boise, Idaho a Safe Place to Live?

Boise, Idaho, is one of the top choices of places to live for families because of the safety it offers. Boise's crime rate is 25% lower than the national average. It is safer than 42% of cities in the United States, with a 1 in 54 chance of a resident becoming a victim of a crime. Plus, year over year, crime in Boise has decreased by 19%.

Best Neighborhoods in Boise, Idaho

While there are many incredible neighborhoods in the Boise metro area, there are two that are of particular note—Southeast Boise and Harris Ranch (part of East Boise).

Southeast Boise

Southeast Boise includes the stretch from Boise State University (BSU) to Bown Crossing and Barber Park over to the Oregon Trail. It's one of the largest neighborhoods in Boise and is known for being the most diverse. It's one of the top choices for young professionals and college students because of the easy commute to downtown and BSU.

There are many locally-owned shops and a wide variety of restaurants (ranging from Korean BBQ to vegan favorites) that locals love to frequent. The area also provides unrestricted access to Boise's 25 miles of biking/walking trail called the Greenbelt, as well as the river and all that it offers. This area is a true cycler and foodie paradise. 

Southeast Boise offers many great starter homes, with many new listings every week. If you're looking for tree-lined streets in a more private and tranquil setting, you can find these types of houses in the "Boise River Corridor" ranging from $600,000 to $1+ million. If you desire new construction, there's much to be seen south of Gowen Road, with homes ranging from $450,000 to $700,000.

Harris Ranch

Harris Ranch spans North of the river and East Warm Springs Avenue into the Boise Foothills. It's more of a tucked-away community with a great location for fun in the river and hiking in the foothills. It's a short commute from Downtown Boise and is considered to be a very dog-friendly and family-friendly community. Nearby schools have high ratings from parents, especially parents that are newer to the area. While Harris Ranch has been established for a long time, it's only more recently a suburban area of Boise. 

There are several new neighborhoods in the Harris Ranch area that are situated near Micron. These conveniently-located neighborhoods are prime spots for incoming Boise residents who work at Micron and elsewhere. Some of the notable neighborhoods include:

  • Spring Creek
  • Mill District
  • Mill District Square
  • Barber Junction
  • Timber Square
  • Harris North
  • Harris Crossing
  • Moxie Ridge
  • The BLVD
Several of the new build phases are already complete, but there are still homes and townhouses available in some of the in-progress phases. If you are relocating to Boise and are interested in the Harris Ranch area, here's a look at the build phases:

  • Spring Creek (complete)
  • The Mill District (complete)
  • Dallas Harris Estates (in progress)
  • Dallas Harris Estates townhomes (in progress)
  • Harris North (in progress)
  • Barber Junction (complete)

Are you looking to relocate to the Southeast Boise or Harris Ranch area? Reserve your self-storage unit from Barber Valley Self Storage! Check out the great units we have available right in that area.