Ultimate Guide to Living In & Moving To Boise, ID

Boise is the capital of Idaho and happens to be the most populous city in the state as well. Located along the Boise River, the city sits approximately forty-one miles east of the Oregon border and about 110 miles north of the Nevada border. The population of this phenomenal city has grown rapidly in the last couple of decades to over 240,000 people. 

This scenic region of southwestern Idaho is home to some of the most ideal living situations surrounded by the natural beauty of valleys and rivers. Not only is Boise a most beautiful area to live in, but the diverse housing options, the vast amount of educational and career opportunities, and exceptional amenities make the city one of the most popular places to live in the state of Idaho. 

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The History of Boise

The Boise Valley was originally inhabited by the indigenous Shoshone and Bannock peoples. They resided on this land for thousands of years before the arrival of the first European settlers in the mid-19th century. The valley was once a meeting place for surrounding tribes to gather and trade goods and catch wild salmon in the Boise River. The shelter of the valley walls was helpful in the winter, protecting the locals from harsh winds and the coldest temperatures. 

In 1834, the Hudson’s Bay Company set up a trading post for passing wagon trains that traveled the Oregon Trail along Snake River. In 1862, gold was first discovered in the area and drew a great many prospectors hoping to score big on the site. Shortly after, in 1863, the U.S. Army constructed Fort Boise and the following year, the area was officially incorporated as a city. The gold rush continued on for the next few years, contributing to Boise’s growing population, which had grown to include over 400 permanent structures. 

Once the gold boom ended, the population of Boise started to decline and the city struggled for survival. Also contributing to the city’s hardships was the fact that it was quite isolated, far from any major lines of transportation, and the dry climate could not support the agriculture industry. 

Despite the odds, a determined group of citizens dedicated themselves to making the city liveable. They developed irrigation systems, planted crops, and mapped out the town along the river. Over the years, Boise saw more and more successes. Railway service was finally obtained in 1925, a number of dams and reservoirs were constructed, and the production of agriculture had greatly improved since those first struggling years. 

By the 1960s, a strong population had been established and a new city charter was drawn up. This allowed the city to annex many of the suburban areas, which doubled the population. The city has continued to grow and the 21st century has brought an inclination in job opportunities, quality of life, and a desirable climate. Living in Boise, Idaho has become a coveted position, drawing people from all over to enjoy the benefits of this great city. 

Boise Real Estate

Boise, Idaho, offers a diverse variety of housing styles; a little something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a charming bungalow to spend your retirement years, a starter home to grow your budding family, or a more trendy condo unit, Boise has got what you’re looking for! 

The average cost of real estate within this grand city is approximately $475,000, though properties can be found anywhere from $65,000 to well over $7 million. There is truly something to suit all lifestyles and all budgets. 

A large portion of the real estate market in Boise is made up of detached, single-family homes. These can be anywhere in size from a humble 685 square feet to a more expansive 6,130 square feet. Detached homes start around $125,000 and can cost up to $7,750,000. 

Attached, multi-family homes are another fantastic option for those browsing the Boise listings. This type of home consists of duplexes, triplexes, and townhouses. They start around $269,990 for a two-bedroom unit and range up to approximately $714,000 for a 2,320 square foot, four-bedroom home. 

Condominiums are slightly less utilized in Boise, but are not unheard of. A trendy Boise condo building typically features two- to three-bedroom units costing between $218,000 to $1,950,000. 

Another option that can be more affordable is a mobile or manufactured home. In Boise, these can range in size from 924 to 2,650 square feet. A standard mobile home starts at approximately $65,000 and the more modern, manufactured homes can cost up to $800,000, offering an affordable range for all budgets. 

One of the marvelous features of Boise, Idaho, is the amount of beautiful, open land. The areas that have not yet been developed for residential use will pop up among the real estate listings and homebuyers have the option of building a fantastic home on these properties. Open lots can cost anywhere from $70,000 for one acre up to $2,997,000 for a whopping 609 acres. 

Diverse Neighborhoods

There are many fantastic neighborhoods found within the city of Boise catering to a wide variety of lifestyles. Depending on what you’re looking for, maybe a quiet cul-de-sac, a private, gated community, or a more urban and trendy condo building, a little bit of research will prove that Boise has plenty of options! Here are some of the top neighborhoods found in the city: 

The North End: This area is found north of State Street and contains a great deal of the city’s older homes. This charming section of town is filled with charm and lined with majestic trees. Downtown Boise is not far from this neighborhood, allowing residents to enjoy the best of both worlds: quiet residential and bustling commercial districts. 

Boise Highlands: If you’re looking for homes that were constructed in the 1970s, look no further. Boise Highlands offers a variety of solid, well-maintained homes that have pleased residents for decades. On top of the older charm, Boise Highlands is also home to the popular Crane Creek, a golf course and country club that many of the neighborhood locals frequent. 

Northwest Boise: Lying against the Boise Foothills is this eclectic residential area filled with a mixture of the old and the new. The Northwest has a similar aesthetic to the North End, while adding in a few contemporary developments into the mix. Brilliant natural beauty surrounds this neighborhood including Silver Lake, a reclaimed quarry, and Veteran’s Memorial Park. 

Warm Springs: On the east end of the city sits the beautiful, tree-lined streets of Warm Springs. Some of the largest and most expensive homes can be found in this area, featuring a large number of grand Victorian houses from the turn of the 20th century. The name comes from the collection of natural hot springs that flow in and around the neighborhood. 

West Boise: This is a much newer section of the city made up of a fair-sized commercial district as well as new subdivisions and apartment complexes. Those who wish to be close to a variety of amenities will delight in this contemporary neighborhood. Nearby is the Boise Towne Square Mall, many restaurants, strip malls, and a few industrial buildings. 

Related Post: Revealed: The Top 5 Neighborhoods in Boise, Idaho

How to Spend Your Time 

The locals of Boise have a great selection of amenities to enjoy, from young families to adults looking to enjoy the nightlife. This great city features not only a great deal of beautiful outdoor excursions but something for those rainy days as well. 

Zoo Boise can be found within Julia Davis Park and is home to more than 200 animals from all over the world. The zoo is host to plenty of events as well throughout the year, including holiday-themed excursions at Halloween and Christmas. Young and old alike can find something to delight in at this joyous attraction. 

The Boise Aquarium is another must-see for animal lovers. The 10,000 square foot facility houses more than 35,000 gallons of saltwater and features over 250 species of animals and marine life. This non-profit organization is built on volunteers and donations from the community and is a fabulous place to learn about and admire many aquatic creatures. 

If sports are more up your alley, fret not, because Boise has plenty of incredible teams to support and cheer on! Professional teams include the Boise Hawks (baseball), the Idaho Steelheads (minor league hockey), and the Treasure Valley Spartans (semi-pro football). Boise is also home to the all-female flat track roller derby league, the Treasure Valley Rollergirls. 

When it comes to college football, Boise State University is home to the fabulous Albertsons Stadium. This 36,800-seat stadium is a popular venue for locals to get involved and support their local athletes. Attached is the ExtraMile Arena, a basketball and entertainment venue that seats approximately 12,000 people. 

The Great Outdoors

Living In Boise, Idaho

Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy all of Idaho’s natural beauty and impressive landscapes at the various parks and residential areas throughout Boise. Extensive hiking and biking trails can be found in the foothills north of the Downtown, much of which is a part of Hull’s Gulch. The Boise River Greenbelt runs through Pierce Park and along the river, which is a common spot for fishing, swimming and rafting. 

Camping is a popular hobby for many Boise residents, and it’s no wonder since the city is filled with and surrounded by diverse landscapes including ancient pine forests, arid lava fields, and meadows flooded with a spectacular array of wildflowers. Locals have the choice between plenty of excellent camping facilities that cater to all sorts of camping styles. Whether you prefer to rough it in a tent, pack up the RV, or hit up a cozy cabin, you can enjoy the gorgeous scenery at whatever comfort level suits you best. 

Even in the wintertime, fun and excitement can be had. The Bogus Basin ski area has been a staple to the Boise community since 1942 and offers thrilling winter activities such as alpine skiing and snowboarding, snow tubing, and the more slow-paced cross-country skiing. The peak of Bogus Basin reaches 3,400 vertical feet and consists of sagebrush and forestry. 

Education in Boise

Students from kindergarten through twelfth grade have access to some of the top public schools in the state. The Boise School District is made up of thirty-one elementary schools, eight middle schools, five high schools, and two specialty schools. Home to approximately 24,895 students, BSD is the second largest school board in Idaho, topped only by the Meridian School District who educates more than 35,000 students. 

Alternatively, students can choose to attend one of the many fantastic private schools within the city limits. This includes religious schools, Montessori programs, and other privately funded institutions. Some of the most well known private schools include the Catholic Bishop Kelly, Foothills School of Arts and Sciences, and Riverstone International School. 

Post-secondary students can attend a range of technical schools or, of course, Boise State University. Both the University of Idaho and Idaho State University offer satellite campuses in the city, offering plenty of options for post-secondary education. 

Artistic Outlets

Boise is no stranger to the arts. There are so many amazing outlets for local musicians, painters, sculptures, and performers as well as a great destination to explore a myriad of wonderful and educational museums. 

The Boise City Department of Arts and History has been dedicated to promoting arts, culture, and history in the city since 2008. Locals and tourists alike can take advantage of the various efforts put forth by this department, enjoying festivals, events, street performances, and so much more all year long. The Arts and History Department has also organized several educational programs to get youth interested in the arts in some form or another. Many school trips involve touring the many music, theatre, museums, and galleries throughout the city, allowing children to learn about each form of artistic expression. 

Musicians can enjoy any style of music from jazz to theater to indie. There are many venues to hear new and exciting live music from local artists as well as experience the talents of world-renowned musicians. The Gene Harris Jazz Festival takes place in Boise every spring and brings crowds of jazz lovers to enjoy the vibrant art. The Treefort Music Fest occurs annually in March and is dedicated to up-and-coming bands.

Several theatre groups are scattered throughout the city, offering a range of familiar, unique, big, and small productions for all tastes. To name a few: the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Boise Little Theatre, Boise Contemporary Theatre, and ComedySportz Boise. 

Museums of Boise include a vast array of exhibits, each offering a unique experience to visitors. Some of the top museums in the city include the Boise Art Museum, the Idaho Historical Museum, the Basque Museum and Cultural Center, the Idaho Black History Museum, the Boise WaterShed, and the Discovery Center of Idaho. The Downtown Boise Association hosts a gallery stroll on the first Thursday of every month to showcase new exhibits and keep the spirit of art alive in Boise. 

Shops and Restaurants

Moving To Boise, Idaho

Perhaps the most popular shopping center in all of Boise is Boise Towne Square. Home to more than 150 stores and services, the Towne Square is the largest retail complex in Idaho and has also been contributing to the state’s economy for more than twenty years. The anchor stores found within the mall include Macy’s, JCPenney, Kohl’s, and Dillard’s. 

If you’re seeking great deals on designer names, there’s no other place in Idaho than the Boise Factory Outlets. Visitors to this plaza can find such names as Eddie Bauer and Pendleton. Shoppers can find an excellent selection of clothing, home goods, and other merchandise. 

The heart of Downtown Boise is filled with vibrant shops and local businesses. The main core features over 100 shops, eighty restaurants, and an incredible selection of microbreweries and nightlife venues. If you’re looking for locally sourced products, hand-crafted furniture, and small, family run businesses, then Downtown is where you need to be. 

Foodies can find an excellent collection of diverse dining opportunities. Boise offers a little bit of everything including Italian, Indian, traditional American, Mediterranean, Mexican, and more! Whether you’re looking for an intimate steakhouse for date night, a cozy cafe to enjoy specialty coffees, a charming breakfast nook on a lazy weekend morning, or a lively pub featuring craft brews and exceptional food, you can find it somewhere in this diverse and exciting city! 

It’s not hard to understand why so many people compete for a home in the beautiful neighborhoods of Boise. From the eclectic shops to the magnificent outdoors, there are so many benefits to residing in Idaho’s capital. The stunning surrounding scenery alone is enough to capture the hearts of any potential resident considering living in Boise, the rest is all added perks!