Where are the best places in the state of Idaho?
To the untrained eye they are the places that have awesome economies. They’re the places in Gem State where people have the best jobs, residents are all above average, and the sun shines the most.
However, here at HomeSnacks, we don’t trust the untrained eye and instead look to data to understand the best places to call home in Idaho.
There might be some surprises on this list, but when you look at the unbiased data, it’s hard to argue against.
After analyzing 30 places in Idaho, we came up with this list of the best places:
- Meridian (Photos)
- Eagle (Photos)
- Star (Photos)
- Moscow (Photos)
- Rexburg (Photos)
- Chubbuck (Photos)
- Ammon (Photos)
- Hailey (Photos)
- Lewiston (Photos)
- Post Falls (Photos)
Follow along as we provide more insight into how we reached our overall best places to live in Idaho.
The Pressing Question: Size
Before we even started to collect data, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit cities with populations over 100,000 against places with a population of 18?
We firmly decided no, that just isn’t fair.
So to create our ranking, we broke places to live into three tiers:
- Cities — Populations over 5,300
- Towns — Populations between 1,000 and 5,300
- Small Towns — Populations below 1,000
This left us with 30 cities, 61 towns, and 134 small towns.
We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best places have more of everything and therefore you need to have over 5,300 people to truly be ‘the best’.
You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.
How We Calculated The Best Place To Live In Idaho
Now that we had our set of cities, it was time to rank them.
We ranked each place in Idaho across a number of criteria from one to 30, with one being the best.
We then took the average rank across all criteria, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title “Best Place To Live In Idaho”.
The criteria we looked at were:
- Median Home Values
- Median Income
- Population Density (Higher better)
- Unemployment Rate
- Commute Time
- Education Levels
- Health Insurance Coverage
- Poverty rates
If your city or town isn’t among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart of the best places in Idaho.
Otherwise, buckle up for a ride down good living lane with Meridian at the end of the cul-de-sac.
Population: 88,247Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Values: $199,100 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.3% (7th best)
The third-largest city in the Gem State is the best when it comes to overall likeability. According to the data, Meridian is a little slice of heaven when it comes to Idaho living.
It’s part of the Treasure Valley, which is a fitting name.
It’s residents have the 2nd highest income in the state, and according to government data, the skies are clearer in Median than any other place in the state. The 6th lowest crime in Idaho also makes it very appealing.
You can’t argue with large bank accounts and sunshine, can you?
Population: 22,711 Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Home Values: $327,800 (1st best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (4th best)
The city with 22,711 residents has actually grown tremendously over the last 20 years. There must be something in the water in Eagle, as the small town has turned out several notable NFL players.
The 24th shortest commutes and 1st highest incomes are an added bonus.
Population: 7,255 Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Home Values: $206,800 (4th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.6% (1st best)
Known for its low unemployment rates and great education, Star is a wonderful place to live in this state.
The relatively stable household incomes and below average crime rates don’t hurt either!
While it may not be as great as some other places on this list, Star still holds its own in in Idaho.
Population: 24,855Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Home Values: $209,700 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 9.3% (27th best)
Moscow is much smaller in size than Meridian, and it therefore has a higher-ranked education system and much lower commute time. An unemployment rate of 9.3% is still really good for this town near the Washington state line.
Moscow was originally named Paradise Valley in 1872, for good reason.
Population: 27,114Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 2)
Home Values: $182,200 (8th best)
Unemployment Rate: 10.8% (29th best)
The city with a population of 27,114 has a stellar 10.8% unemployment rate and the 1st lowest crime rate in the entire state, so you can bet it’s a great place to live and raise kids.
The town on the Montana border has about a 95% LDS population.
Population: 14,326Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 2)
Home Values: $158,200 (13th best)
Unemployment Rate: 6.1% (16th best)
Say what you want about cheap living. The fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s A LOT of demand to live in Chubbuck.
Chubbuck ranked impressively high for its crime rate (29th overall) and its short commute times (8th).
We think that’s worth the price of admission.
Population: 14,767Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 2)
Home Values: $167,000 (12th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.6% (8th best)
With a population of just 14,767, Ammon is still one of the fastest growing areas in Idaho. The Montana border town has a significantly-higher number of outdoor recreation activities, such as hiking, biking, rafting and skiing.
However, it can get a lot chillier in Ammon than in other parts of the state in the winter. That might be a good thing, though.
Who wouldn’t want to live in a place like that?
Population: 8,058Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 2)
Home Values: $266,500 (2nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.7% (10th best)
Who doesn’t want to live inHailey? Because, according to the data, most everyone should want to.
Crime is lower than the state average, and the unemployment rate sits at only 4.7%. The school systems are generally well funded, meaning lots of personal attention for area kids.
Expect to see more of Hailey in the news in the coming months.
Population: 32,484Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Home Values: $167,200 (11th best)
Unemployment Rate: 5.3% (11th best)
Lewiston has the highest student-expenditure ratio in the state of Idaho, meaning they take education seriously here. With a higher-than average median household income as well, this town on the Washington border is a great spot to make home.
Lewiston was once the capital of Idaho, until 1864, when it was relocated south to Boise.
10. Post Falls
Population: 30,157 Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
Home Values: $168,200 (10th best)
Unemployment Rate: 5.4% (13th best)
Post Falls makes a case for being one of the best places to live in Idaho mainly because of a low crime rate and a higher than average household income level.
And when school spending is higher than the national average and only 5.4% of folks are jobless, you can bet Post Falls residents are glad to live where they do.
Wrapping Up The Best Of The Best In Idaho
If you’re looking at areas in Idaho with the best economic situations, where there’s lower than average crime, and a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
Meridian made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for 2018.
Best Towns To Live In Idaho
- Tyhee (Pop. 1,066)
- Ketchum (Pop. 2,719)
- Dalton Gardens (Pop. 2,356)
- Iona (Pop. 2,266)
- Hidden Springs (Pop. 2,474)
- Lincoln (Pop. 2,808)
- Grangeville (Pop. 3,153)
- Sun Valley (Pop. 1,398)
- Soda Springs (Pop. 2,963)
- Mountain Home AFB (Pop. 3,094)
Best Small Towns To Live In Idaho
- Hayden Lake (Pop. 731)
- Fernan Lake Village (Pop. 152)
- Blanchard (Pop. 233)
- Bennington (Pop. 283)
- Lost River (Pop. 14)
- Genesee (Pop. 951)
- Placerville (Pop. 19)
- Bloomington (Pop. 220)
- Conkling Park (Pop. 74)
- Drummond (Pop. 1)
If you’re curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Idaho:
- Emmett (Pop. 6,590)
- Nampa (Pop. 87,896)
- Weiser (Pop. 5,350)
For more Idaho reading , check out:
- These Are The 10 Drunkest Cities In Idaho
- A Hilarious Look At The 10 Most Redneck Cities In Idaho
- A Hilarious Look At The 10 Most Redneck Cities In Idaho
Detailed List Of The Best Cities In Idaho