If you’re planning on moving to Idaho, add these cities to your list.

Home to world-famous potatoes, dramatic landscapes, abundant outdoor recreation, and rugged mountains, Idaho has it all. Across its seven diverse regions, there are towns, landscapes, and adventures for everyone. Each region is full of charm, amenities, and vistas rivaling any state in the country.

The prominent Bitterroot and Caribou ranges of the Rocky Mountains stretch across most of northern, central, and southeastern Idaho, spanning the borders between both Montana and Wyoming. Further south, the fertile Snake River Plain runs the rest of the state from Yellowstone National Park to Eastern Oregon. Forested mountains, hills, and valleys make up a majority of the state’s landscape, while rivers, prairies, volcanic calderas, and remote desert constitute the rest.

The majority of Idaho’s population lives in the Snake River Plain (specifically the Treasure Valley) in cities like Boise, Meridian, Twin Falls, and Caldwell. Many people also live further north in places like Moscow and Coeur D’alene. Dry weather is fairly common throughout the state, with snow ranging from a trace to dozens of feet. Precipitation is more likely the farther north you go.

But which cities in the Gem State are the best for you? In this Redfin article, we’ve uncovered the best places to live in Idaho, ranking them on qualities such as affordability, navigability, and number of amenities. You can find more information about our methodology here or at the bottom of the article.

1. Boise, ID

Population:

236,634

Average Commute Time:

18.8 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$37,191

Median Sale Price: 

495,000

Median Rent Price: 

$1,613

Unemployment Rate:

3.3%

With world-renowned outdoor recreation, a relatively affordable cost of living, and navigable layout, Boise tops our list as the best place to live in Idaho. Known as the “City of Trees”, Boise is the state capital and largest city in Idaho, so it’s no surprise there’s a lot to do in the area. It’s a popular place to live, too, and has seen consistent growth over the past decade.

Located in Treasure Valley in southwest Idaho, Boise provides both an urban and rural feel. Skyscrapers, sprawling neighborhoods, and a lively downtown are next door to untouched natural beauty and outdoor recreation. 

Just northeast of the city is the jagged Sawtooth Mountain Range, providing forests, peaks, trails, canyons, and rivers to explore. Table Rock, Harrison Hollow, and Freddy’s Stack Rock are all within a half hour by car. For those who want a shorter adventure, the calm Boise River runs right through the city center, perfect for river rafting and relaxing.

In downtown Boise, The Treefort Music Fest is one of Boise’s flagship events, drawing musicians and music lovers from around the country for several days. Additionally, the Boise Art Museum showcases a diverse range of contemporary and traditional art, while the Idaho Shakespeare Festival offers outdoor performances of classic plays during the summer months.

Boise’s climate is semi-arid and sees all four seasons, with hot summers, cold winters, and more than 200 days of sunshine. 100°F days are uncommon (but are becoming more frequent), and winter temperatures average around 34°F. Some snow is common in the winter.

Boise homes for sale | Boise houses for rent | Boise apartments for rent

coeur-d-alane-id

2. Coeur d’Alene, ID

Population:

56,733

Average Commute Time:

18.7 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$29,123

Median Sale Price: 

$639,500

Median Rent Price: 

$1,792

Unemployment Rate:

2.4%

Located just east of Spokane, WA along the massive Harrison Slough, Coeur d’Alene is second on our list of the best places to live in Idaho. Tall, evergreen mountains, deep blue lakes, and miles of trails are everywhere you turn in this resort city, attracting thousands of visitors during the warm summer months. The city has French origins and was historically the land of the Schitsu’umsh Tribe (also called the Coeur d’Alene Tribe).

There are amenities abound in Coeur d’Alene. Whether you want to kayak along Lake Coeur d’Alene, hike in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains, or just wander down historic Sherman Avenue, you’re sure to find something to love. Popular landmarks include the North Idaho Centennial Trail, Tubbs Hill, and Beverly’s restaurant. 

Many people live and work within the Coeur d’Alene area, including neighboring Post Falls and Hayden. This helps keep commute times down and roadways clear. Commuting into Spokane along I-90 may take around an hour, though. Climate in the area is also pleasant. Summers are about 6.6°F cooler than Boise, with colder and snowier winters.One downside is that Coeur d’Alene housing prices are much higher than most other cities in Idaho, and $150,000 higher than Boise. Also, it’s important to note that the bed of Lake Coeur d’Alene is quite toxic with lead and arsenic due to past and present mining operations. You can still swim and play in it, but should thoroughly wash sediment off your clothes. The government has been working on cleaning the lake for decades, with some progress.

Coeur d’Alene homes for sale | Coeur d’Alene houses for rent | Coeur d’Alene apartments for rent

twin-falls-id

3. Twin Falls, ID

Population:

54,300

Average Commute Time:

17.5 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$25,727

Median Sale Price: 

$360,000

Median Rent Price: 

$1,532

Unemployment Rate:

1.9%

Twin Falls comes in as the third-best place to live in Idaho. About 130 miles southeast of Boise and nestled in the fertile Snake River Plain, Twin Falls is known for its natural beauty. The city boasts a relatively affordable cost of living – median sale and rent prices are well below the national average (14% and 31% lower respectively) – as well as renowned views of riverine canyons, waterfalls, and ancient calderas. The College of Southern Idaho calls the city home as well.

The highlight of the city is the Snake River Canyon, which lies just north of town and provides opportunities for river rafting, cliff jumping, swimming, or relaxing. Most people head to Centennial Waterfront Park, Shoshone Falls Park, or Twin Falls Park to hop in the river or see awe-inspiring waterfalls. Just an hour and a half from town, you can also explore Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve, a vivid glimpse into the volcanic history of the Snake River Valley.  Multiple golf courses, hiking trails, and parks dot the landscape as well.

Twin Falls’ climate is similar to Boise and other cities on the plain. It’s fairly dry and sees all four seasons, with hot summers and cool winters. Only around 10 inches of precipitation falls every year, most of it in the winter and spring. Some snow is common, and because it’s located at nearly 4,000’, high and low temperatures can be wildly different. 

Twin Falls homes for sale | Twin Falls houses for rent | Twin Falls apartments for rent

meridian-id

4. Meridian, ID

Population:

129,736

Average Commute Time:

22.5 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$36,614

Median Sale Price: 

$541,650

Median Rent Price: 

$1,807

Unemployment Rate:

2.1%

Next on our list is Meridian, a farming town turned sprawling Boise suburb. A low unemployment rate, high per-capita income, and active housing market helped the city claim the number four spot on the list.

Located just west of Boise in the Treasure Valley, Meridian is a suburban city home to great views, quaint shops and restaurants, and large parks. The city is remarkably popular; Meridian is actually one of the fastest growing cities in the country and has become a new epicenter of Idaho. In fact, the city government expects the population to grow another 52% by 2040. This growth has bolstered the regional economy and allowed the city to expand its gridded layout, offering more room and opportunity for homebuyers and businesses.

Traffic can be an issue in the region, however. Meridian has long been a bedroom community to Boise, as many people who live in Meridian work in Boise. This means a lot of people commute every day, causing tough rush-hour traffic. And paired with the limited regional public transportation, travel times can be quite long. 

While it’s primarily known for being a suburban commuter town, Meridian has a lot going for it. The Village at Meridian, an upscale outdoor mall, is the most famous, featuring appealing architecture, water features, boutiques, and familiar restaurant chains. Wahooz Family Fun Zone and Roaring Springs Waterpark are other beloved attractions for all ages. Settlers Park and Eagle Island State Park are nearby for outdoor activities, too. 

Meridian homes for sale | Meridian houses for rent | Meridian apartments for rent

lewiston-id

5. Lewiston, ID

Population:

34,896

Average Commute Time:

15.8 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$30,173

Median Sale Price: 

$361,500

Median Rent Price: 

$1,261

Unemployment Rate:

2.0%

Located in North Central Idaho along the Washington border, Lewiston comes in at number five on our list of the best places to live in Idaho. Lewiston sits at the intersection of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers, making it Idaho’s only seaport and a hub of industrial production. As such, the city is home to many agricultural and industrial companies, namely paper and timber products. A large portion of the city’s population works in these industries, with Lewis-Clark State College providing applicable career and technical education

House prices and rent prices are well below the national median, and a large portion of the city’s population is employed. These qualities have helped the city maintain a steady growth rate and make it an appealing place to live. 

Lewiston’s climate is similar to other Western Idaho cities. It’s fairly dry and sees all four seasons, with hot summers and cold winters. It’s generally warmer than cities further north, though, especially compared to Spokane and Coeur d’Alene. Boise has a comparable climate, even though it’s nearly 300 miles south. The climate is also ideal for agriculture, especially vineyards. Clearwater Canyon Cellars and Lindsay Creek Vineyards offer a selection of local wine.

While Lewiston may be small and fairly remote, it has no shortage of things to do. Some of the highlights of the area include Hells Gate State Park, Locomotive Park, and the Nez Perce County Historical Society.

Lewiston homes for sale | Lewiston houses for rent | Lewiston apartments for rent

moscow-id

6. Moscow, ID

Population:

26,249

Average Commute Time:

15.6 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$24,421

Median Sale Price: 

$543,000

Median Rent Price: 

$1,035

Unemployment Rate:

4.1%

Coming in at number six is Moscow, Idaho. Moscow (pronounced “moss-COW”) is a college town on the border of Washington known for its natural beauty and being the home of the University of Idaho (U of I). The city is in North Central Idaho just 10 miles west of Pullman and Washington Statue University, and 30 miles north of Lewiston. 

For being a small city, Moscow is home to some major events. It’s even earned the nickname “Heart of the Arts.” The Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival, Renaissance Fair, Artwarlk, and Festival Dance are popular among locals and draw tourists every year. Moscow even hosts an award-winning farmers market from May through October on historic Main Street. It’s also easy to catch the U of I Vandals playing basketball, football, or any other number of sports year-round.

Local shops are a big part of life in Moscow, too. Safari Pearl is a beloved comic book store just outside the university, while downtown, Breakfast Club provides all the brunch fixings you’re craving. Historic Downtown Moscow has a majority of the city’s historic and popular amenities, including the Moscow Food Co-op, Bucer’s Coffee House Pub, and the Nuart Theatre. 

Weather in Moscow is similar to Coeur d’Alene, but the topography is wildly different. The primary difference is the fertile Palouse Hills. These ancient, glacial hills stretch westward for as far as you can see and change dramatically according to the season. In spring and summer, they are flowering, rolling green hills; in the winter, they transform into snowy hills. 

Moscow homes for sale | Moscow houses for rent | Moscow apartments for rent 

nampa-id

7. Nampa, ID

Population:

110,951

Average Commute Time:

23.4 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$22,422

Median Sale Price: 

$408,950

Median Rent Price: 

$1,480

Unemployment Rate:

3.3%

Nampa is the seventh-best place to live in Idaho on our list. Another suburb to the west of Boise, Nampa is actually the fastest growing city in Idaho and among the most popular in the nation, beating out neighboring Caldwell and Meridian. House and rental prices are more affordable than Boise, but commuting into the big city may be difficult during rush hour. 

Nampa is 20 miles from Boise and within driving distance of plenty of outdoor activities, meaning you’ll hardly go a weekend without something on your calendar. The Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge and Lake Lowell provide picturesque views and plenty of recreation opportunities, while dozens of bars, restaurants, and big-city activities await in Boise. And similar to other cities in the Treasure Valley, you’re within an hour to dozens of wineries

Even within the city, there is plenty to do. The Warhawk Air Museum, Lakeview Water Park, and West Park are especially popular among locals. Northwest Nazarene University also calls the city home and hosts events throughout the year. Brick 29 Bistro, Burger Theory, and Jalapenos Bar and Grill satiate the city’s food cravings.

Nampa homes for sale | Nampa houses for rent | Nampa apartments for rent

caldwell-id

8. Caldwell, ID

Population:

65,920

Average Commute Time:

25.8 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$20,302

Median Sale Price: 

$386,990

Median Rent Price: 

$1,357

Unemployment Rate:

4.0%

Caldwell is the eighth city on our list of the best places to live in Idaho. A suburb of Boise, Caldwell is located 28 miles to the west in an area known as Canyon County. The Canyon region has been growing remarkably quickly as of late due to its relatively low cost of living and ample space for growth. In fact, Caldwell was recently one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S., alongside Meridian and Nampa. 

Natural beauty, abundant outdoor recreation, and a fairly affordable cost of living are some of the city’s biggest draws. New private developments are always under construction, including the recently completed Sky Ranch Business Park. Some downsides include underfunded schools, a quiet nightlife, and a car-dependent layout. For example, there is just one bus route into Boise (the 43 Caldwell Express), and the city has a Walk Score of 24 out of 100. However, as the city grows, more infrastructure and funding are expected to follow. 

Caldwell boasts a variety of attractions for year-round fun. Indian Creek Plaza has undergone some major upgrades and is now a downtown hub for restaurants, entertainment, and shopping. Just outside of town, you’re just 15 minutes from the Sunnyslope Wine Trail, which includes 20 local wineries. And restaurants in town don’t disappoint, either – Amano’s head chef was recently (2023, 2024) named a James Beard Foundation semifinalist for best chef.

Caldwell homes for sale | Caldwell houses for rent | Caldwell apartments for rent

post-falls-id

9. Post Falls, ID

Population:

44,194

Average Commute Time:

20.0 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$24,969

Median Sale Price: 

$477,950

Median Rent Price: 

$1,678

Unemployment Rate:

2.0%

Post Falls is a small suburb of Coeur d’Alene, just east of Spokane along the Idaho border, and is known for its riverside charm, outdoor recreation, and even fine dining. The city is situated in the Spokane Valley along the Spokane River, next to the famous waterfall at Falls Park. The climate is nearly identical to Coeur d’Alene and nearby cities. Summers are hot and winters are cold, with a generally cooler and wetter climate than Southern Idaho. It’s still a high and dry landscape, but sees plenty of snow.

House prices have risen substantially in the past five years, contributing to a higher cost of living. Remarkably, since April 2019, prices have risen by more than $200,000, nearly doubling. Population growth, economic development, and popularity have all contributed to this rise, which has changed some locals’ perceptions of the area. 

Living in Post Falls means you’re never far from fun activities. Falls Park grabs all the attention, but don’t overlook the Q’emiln Walls, Post Falls Community Forest, or seven miles of calm river to Lake Coeur d’Alene. The Findlay Stadium Stateline Speedway even offers auto-racing events from April through October.

Post Falls homes for sale | Post Falls houses for rent | Post Falls apartments for rent

eagle-id

10. Eagle, ID

Population:

32,399

Average Commute Time:

22.5 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$51,917

Median Sale Price: 

$740,000

Median Rent Price: 

$2,173

Unemployment Rate:

0.9%

Eagle, ID rounds out our list as the tenth-best place to live in Idaho. Located 10 miles northwest of Boise, Eagle is an idyllic and affluent suburb home to a close-knit community, rolling hillside views, seasonal events, and many spas and golf courses. Eagle’s cost of living is far above most places in Idaho, however, and commuting south into Boise can be a challenge. For these reasons, it only earns the number ten spot. 

Activities abound in Eagle. Consider strolling through the Eagle Saturday Market or spending the day playing a round at the BanBury Golf Course. Two Rivers Salon & Spa and the Eagle Day Spa are perfect for unwinding after a busy week. As for restaurants, Rembrandts, Vintage 61 Wine Bar & Kitchen, and Bodacious Pig Barbecue offer some of the best cuisine in town.

Outdoor recreation is also a favorite among locals, and it’s no surprise why. Miles of trails, dozens of parks, beloved water features, and even an island are spread throughout the suburb, offering year-round activities for everyone. The 25-mile Boise River Greenbelt runs straight through town, Heritage Park offers a water feature popular during the warm summer, and Eagle Island State Park even has a swimming beach, waterslide, and trails for horseback riding.

Eagle homes for sale | Eagle houses for rent | Eagle apartments for rent

Methodology

Redfin’s Best Places to Live rankings are meant to help home searchers make an informed decision when choosing where to live. To attempt to measure the overall quality of a metro area, each ranking takes into account several key factors, including access to healthcare, open outdoor space, navigability, housing trends, employment statistics, income, and travel time to work. Only metros with a population of 20,000 or greater were considered for our Idaho list. More information about our methodology can be found here.

Data valid April 2024. This article is for informational and educational purposes only.

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