Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!
Along the Boise River, Pretty Boise Offers Plentiful Outdoor Recreation, Safe Neiighborhoods and a Lively Cultural Scene
At 2,700 feet above sea level in southwestern Idaho, Boise (population 240,000) sits along the Boise River. With mountains to the east, it is a scenic city and got its start as a fort, first built by the Hudson Bay Company in the 1830s. After being abandoned, it was re-built by the U.S. Army during the Civil War.
Today, Boise often lands on "best places to live" lists and has been one of the fastest growing cities during the last few years, thanks in large part to Californians moving here during the pandemic (that growth is slowing somewhat). Boise's lack of pretension, safe neighborhoods, plentiful amenities, outstanding outdoor recreation and unhurried Western pace are some of the reasons why.
The cost of living is 20% above the national average, and the crime rate is below the national average. Thirty-five percent of locals are age 45 or better and nearly 40% of the population holds at least a four year college degree. Politics lean to the right, but that might change as more Californians arrive. Boise also has a sizable Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints population.
The median home price is now $535,000, reflecting just an 8% increase since last year as price increases have been slowing (prices had climbed 35% between 2020 and 2021). The city has a good mix of older, tree-lined areas and newer neighborhoods, with bungalows and ranch ramblers. Areas on the northern end are closer to the foothills.
Outdoor adventurers love Boise because the gorgeous Rocky Mountains are just 20 minutes east of downtown. Here the Ridge to Rivers trail boasts 200 miles of biking, hiking, equestrian and running trails. In town, the Boise River is a hotspot for fishermen, kayakers, tubers and rafters, and the Boise River Greenbelt connects the city's pretty riverside parks.
The city also has a lively cultural scene with a good selection of museums, music festivals and theater groups, including the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. Opera Idaho, the Boise Philharmonic Orchestra and touring Broadway shows perform at the Morrison Center for the Performing Arts throughout the year.
Residents enjoy a monthly Gallery Walk and the Capital City Public Market, a seasonal farmers' market. Boise Public Library has public access computers, free wi-fi and a homebound book program.
The thriving downtown has a pedestrian-friendly section, with events and festivals occuring regularly. Eateries range from old fashioned diners to chic, upscale restaurants. Boise Towne Square Mall is the state's largest shopping venue.
Public transportation is provided by Valley Regional Transit (Valley Ride) which has 17+ routes in and around town. In some cases, the city offers free rides to seniors. For automobile owners, I-84 runs through Boise and connects it to Salt Lake City, Utah and Portland, Oregon.
The parks and recreation department has programs for people age 55+, and the Boise Senior Activities Center has a good menu of activities and services that includes health screenings, computer classes, legal assistance, congregate noon meals, tax assistance and refresher driving courses.
Boise has three hospitals, but St. Luke's Boise Medical Center (520 beds) and St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center (354 beds) provide most of the health care and are award-winning. Both accept Medicare patients, and both are accredited by the Joint Commission. St. Alphonsus is also a Primary Stroke Center.
Locals enjoy four seasons. Summer days are hot and dry with temperatures in the 80s and 90s. Summer evenings are considerably cooler. Winters are cold with temperatures in the single digits, teens and 20s. On average, the area receives 20 inches of snow and 11 inches of rain per year.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes | Is Idaho Tax-Friendly at Retirement? Yes
Boise has a lot to offer, from plentiful cultural amenities and safe neighborhoods to excellent medical facilities and a bounty of nearby outdoor recreation areas. It is a place to consider for retirement.
Named by the eccentric lobbyist George M. Willing, Idaho was one of the last regions in the lower 48 to be explored by Europeans. The Lewis and Clark expedition entered the area through Lemhi Pass in 1805. Trappers and fur traders soon followed.
The Gem State encompasses mountain ranges, river gorges, and lakes. Boise, its capital, is set in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and is halved by a river. Weather can be as variable as the landscape. Maritime influences moderate winter temperatures in the west. The east can experience lower temperatures, wetter summers, and drier winters.
Manufacturing has become the state's main economic driver. Idaho is still a major producer of cattle, potatoes, and trout. Even though mining has faded in importance, Idaho continues to extract gold, silver, molybdenum, as well as 72 types of precious and semi-precious stones. Sun Valley has nurtured the state's newest industry - tourism.
Famous Idaho natives include writers Ernest Hemingway and Ezra Pound along with Olympians Pikabo Street and Dick Fosbury.
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