Fall colors over Boise during sunset, with streets and small houses visible.

7 Best Places to Live in Idaho in 2024

From the Rockies to the infamy of state parks, welcome to the gem state, indeed. Idaho is a match made in heaven for life if you love, live, and breathe the outdoors. Its adventurous spirit is infectious for a healthy lifestyle year-round, with swimmable rivers and lakes, skiable terrain, and dense forests that idealize the Idaho wilderness. These seven cities and towns thrive in a variety of industries, providing numerous job opportunities and even more ways to unwind in your preferred style.

Choose the capital city of Boise, the beautiful Coeur d'Alene by the lake, or the smaller town of Moscow. Meridian is a thriving city with a high income, while Pocatello offers dirt-cheap housing and access to the hot springs, and Twin Falls sits near the Niagara of the West. Achieve the revered work/life balance from this list in 2024 and plan for the future, where no two days are the same, because guess what? You are in the Pacific Northwest, the most diverse region in the US, a dream for outdoorsmen, dark sky watchers, and otherworldly sights.


Multifamily residential apartment buildings with fall colors in Boise, Idaho.

Multifamily residential apartment buildings with fall colors in Boise, Idaho.

Coming in first alphabetically and for many scenarios, Idaho's outdoorsy capital city is unsurprisingly the best place to live in the state for every taste of locals. Boise thrives as an economic and development center, with a sizeable industry-related workforce as well as those who commute from some of the suburbs. For its 235,684 population with an average age of 37.5, living in Boise means a perfect balance of stimulation, nature, and entertainment at the fingertips-worthy price of the median home of $496,900. Offering 90 parks and over 200 miles of multi-use trails, the most populous city in the state scores high for livability, which is not always the case for capital cities.

Boise balances business opportunities with ways to relax seamlessly, with a vibrant downtown core of dining, shopping, and independent boutiques—those you would hound down in smaller towns. Families and sightseers enjoy a handful of grassy parks and cultural sites, like the striking state capitol building, the renowned Egyptian Theatre, and the Boise Art Museum. Full of local magnetism and a cosmopolitan vibe, the famous “city of trees” with its open-air attractions is fascinatingly historic. It was founded by fur hunters and quickly developed as a gold mining hub. Now, with its pride and joy, the thriving Basque culture, and the cost of living only 3.6% higher than the national average, this shiny capital is indeed a desirable place to call home.

Coeur d’Alene

An Aerial View of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho from over Lake Coeur d'Alene.
An Aerial View of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho from over Lake Coeur d'Alene.

This northwest city in the state, translated as the “heart of an awl” from Iroquois, is the best place to live in the state for many reasons. Awash in natural beauty, lower house prices by 1% than last year—a nearly unprecedented trend in the present-day economy, with a median cost of $534,823—signify the perfect time to make a move. Home to only 58,000 but rapidly growing, the residents enjoy an enviable resort lifestyle alongside a stunning namesake lake, which makes achieving the perfect work/life balance breezy. Easy on the eyes, the spectacular scenery is perfect for decompressing and finding friends among the outdoor lovers for the many golf courses in the area, like the revered, first and only, floating green. Although easygoing city life with minimal traffic feels like all play and no work, its thriving industries, tourism, and health care offer many job opportunities.

On the other side of the coin are the higher cost of living and world-class restaurants. Its downtown area is a cultural hotspot to mingle and browse among fun boutiques, art galleries, cafes, and great dining spots, often waterside. Thus, locals employ work-hard, play-harder tactics, as evident by the average household income in Coeur d'Alene of $85,457 and a poverty rate of only 9.67%. Small-town vibes with big benefits are the primary draw in this walkable city, which you can enjoy along a bird-watching trail, in a snowmobile, or with a fishing rod in hand. As the focal point of this city, the lake and its forested banks offer nature from the doorstep for all kinds of activities and recreation, like summertime water pursuits, which erase the need for a getaway. 

Idaho Falls

Idaho Falls Temple next to the Snake River in Idaho Falls.

Idaho Falls Temple next to the Snake River in Idaho Falls.

Home to some 70,000 residents, Idaho Falls is the commercial center for the Eastern Idaho region, lacing along the fruitful banks of the Snake River. Offering a ton of outdoors from the doorstep, locals enjoy a morning run, daytime strolls, and sunset viewing, as well as waterfront cafes and restaurants. Thriving primarily through energy, technology, and agriculture, as well as health care, Idaho Falls attracts people from various backgrounds seeking equal outdoor access and a diverse job market. The city proudly caters to a manageable work-life balance, with an average household income of $87,582. Its Idaho National Laboratory is one of the nation's leading nuclear research and development facilities, while products grown in the area around it include Idaho potatoes, wheat, barley, and sugar beets for local use and export. Idaho Falls, a younger city with a median age of 33.9 years, offers a median home value of $359,816. 

Home to Idaho State University and Eastern Idaho Technical College, this city is perfect for families, prospective students, as well as young professionals and researchers. The successful school districts and an assortment of fun activities make it an excellent place for couples to settle and plan a family, with a stable economy, a growing workforce, and access to the outdoors for a getaway. The city enjoys quick access to national parks such as Yellowstone and Grand Teton for a weekend or camping trip in the summer. Also contributing to an enriching lifestyle is the vast cultural and lively arts scene, which is no surprise with so many natural areas that offer inspiration for recreation. The favorite leisurely activities revolve around the water, like rafting and fishing, while the lower cost makes it easy to enjoy regular fun nights out, entertainment, shopping, or saving up for a dream.


The little town of Meridian, Idaho, featuring a car race track and a water tower.

The little town of Meridian, Idaho, featuring a car race track and a water tower.

Meridian, the fastest-growing city in Idaho and "one of" in the whole country, must be popular for a reason, so let us tell you why. Included on Livability’s Best Places to Live in the US list, it is, in fact, a very livable and lively suburb in Boise that nearly 138,000 of its residents find value in daily. Meridian offers a family-friendly atmosphere, new neighborhoods every year, and a lower cost of living than in a lot of other cities. Located in the heart of Treasure Valley, this aptly named treasure trove of landscapes offers every taste of outdoor splendor, with deserts, mountains, forests, rivers, and lakes. Locals enjoy hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, boating, and camping, as well as skiing in the winter. For culture, great restaurants, live music, art galleries, and shopping are at your fingertips.

Attracting new families, its largest school district in the state serves over 35,000 students, while one of the most thriving job markets in Idaho is expanding with the growing population, so there are jobs awaiting both residents and newcomers. Home to St. Luke, Blue Cross of Idaho, Jacksons Food Stores, and Scentsy, other sectors leveling up include health care, education, retail, manufacturing, and a large remote workforce. Living in Meridian, the second-most populous city in the state, with a median age of 35.9, you have the opportunity to buy a house at a median value of $517,000 while enjoying an urban-suburban mix of shopping, restaurants, and culture. It may be one of the most expensive places in Idaho, but with a wide variety of housing for all budgets, the average household income in Meridian is $120,303, and a 6.39% poverty rate makes the burden feel less. 


 Aerial view of part of the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho, USA.
 Aerial view of part of the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho, USA. Editorial credit: Charles Knowles / Shutterstock.com

Ranked 91/100 by HOMEi as a fantastic place to live, Moscow, a small town, is home to 25,435 people and has only a 0.7% higher cost of living than the national average. With a median household income of $41,896, a median home costs $240,500, and rent comes out at $1,250 a month, 34% cheaper than the national average. Housing is much more affordable than in other towns and cities, so for newcomers with money, it is a place full of opportunities to plan for the future. Home to the University of Idaho, the second largest in the state, and recreational activities abounding, the low crime rates are a cherry on top for this all-around attractive new home for your family.

Locals enjoy access to hunting, hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and white-water rafting without the resort vibe and fewer tourists that many other towns have to balance. Moscow's major industries include government, manufacturing, and healthcare, and while job opportunities may be scarce if you're not in the field, it won't bother the remote workers or retirees who enjoy the small-town vibe and feel at home once they score in the limited house market. Moscow feels comfortable and homey, with major retailers and independent shops, but it is definitely growing in amenities, including the annual community fair and a ton of activities for the locals. The annual, kid-friendly events include rendezvous in the Park, the Jazz Festival, the Renaissance Fair, and the Art Walk.


Traffic and urban life in the city of Pocatello, Idaho, USA.
Traffic and urban life in the city of Pocatello, Idaho, USA. Editorial credit: Michael Gordon / Shutterstock.com

According to the HOMEiA Score, Pocatello, a small city of 56,320, is a standout place to live, ranking it 83 out of 100. Despite being 13.7% above the national average cost of living, the dirt-cheap housing is perfect for first-town home buyers, families, and students. With a median home value of $154,000 and a median household income of $46,617, owning is less expensive than renting. Home to Idaho State University, you can also boast about owning a home in an authentic Idaho town with nearby mountains and forests. The down-to-earth vibe and myriad of attractions are second to none for the size of the city, including the Idaho Museum of Natural History and the Fort Hall Replica, similar to an Oregon Trail trading post, both telling of the rich history in the region.

For something modern and a favorite family pastime, the Aquatic Center is a small outdoor water park tailored to children, while only 40 minutes out of the city, Lava Hot Springs is a revered escape for every type of local. Whether you're seeking health and rejuvenation, an indoor kids’ area, or just an express escape, the natural hot springs are the answer to everything. Soak up the good vibes and feel the stress melt away, complete with water slides to help you rediscover your inner child. Alternatively, its grocery scene is oriented around Trader Joe’s Whole Foods, as well as a weekly summertime farmer’s market, so fresh and organic food is always on your table, plus an option to buy a home with a lot of land or grow your own garden!

Twin Falls

Distant aerial view over the river canyon with cars driving on the road at Perrine Bridge, Twin Falls, Idaho, USA.

Distant aerial view over the river canyon with cars driving on the road at Perrine Bridge, Twin Falls, Idaho, USA.

Twin Falls appeals to young professionals and families, with good schools, a diverse job market, and a dynamic cultural scene where the median age is 34. Twin Falls is home to 56,000 people, and with housing prices 1% lower than last year at $340,732, it is relatively inexpensive to live there, with an average household income of nearly $80,000. And what a life it is! One of the best places to live in Idaho, Twin Falls' abounding outdoor landscape is second to none, with some of the state's most wondrous natural wonders a quick drive or a hike away, like the beautiful Shoshone Falls, "the Niagara of the West." One of the largest natural waterfalls in the United States is one of the numerous other cascading waterfalls in the area around it.

Needless to say, the hub of Southern Idaho is an active community along the beautiful Snake River, which is great for morning strolls or an express retreat to decompress over a wealth of outdoor activities. Whether you're into browsing the art scene or something more extreme, the city soars high, being home to Perrine Bridge, a tourist destination for base jumpers over the Snake River into the canyon below. From boating, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and other water sports, you'll be living in the city that witnessed Daredevil Evil Knievel attempt to jump across the Snake River Canyon on a rocket-powered bicycle, so that seals the deal! 

Idaho: Where Adventure and Tranquility Meet

With 1.9 million people, Idaho's cities are growing while retaining some of the most affordable housing prices in the nation, low crime rates, and bustling economies. Idaho, a PNW state, abounds in breathtaking terrain and pristine lakes, with perfect towns and cities in between for all tastes. 

Evoking the definition of life/work balance, the Gem State beckons with untouched landscapes of natural wonders that can be yours a hand's reach away. Plus, being a tourism destination, Idaho, the second-fastest-growing state in the nation in 2022, turns many visitors into locals, offering a diverse cultural scene—simply put, the place to be.

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