These Are The 10 Best Places To Live In Idaho According To Science

Check out how science determined which Boise suburbs made the top of the list.

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Do you live in one of the best places in Idaho?

We all see the stories come through our Facebook feeds where people talk about how awesome it is where they live in their little corner of Idaho, and people have a hard time determining who, actually, lives in the best place.

Here at HomeSnacks, we don’t trust the untrained eye and instead look to data to understand the best place to live in Idaho.

You might be surprised by the results. Boise is an awesome place to live, but its suburbs actually rank slightly higher. After analyzing almost 200 places in Idaho, we came up with this list as the best places in the Gem State:

  1. Meridian (Photos)
  2. Moscow (Photos)
  3. Rexburg (Photos)
  4. Lewiston (Photos)
  5. Eagle (Photos)
  6. Kuna (Photos)
  7. Boise
  8. Garden City (Photos)
  9. Ammon (Photos)
  10. Chubbock

While Idaho as a state is a pretty darn great place to live, we wanted to find the pockets of greatness. So, in order to determine where the best possible place to live in Idaho might be, we had to crunch some numbers that fall into the ‘awesome’ category, weigh all of the categories against one another, and get an answer.

If you’re interested, you can read about the worst places to live in Idaho.

How we determined the best places to live in Idaho

While there are surveys and public opinion on where the best places to live in Idaho might be, you can’t argue with cold, hard facts. It’s really as simple as deciding what makes a place ‘great’ to live in and collecting the data.

The criteria we looked at were:

  • Population density (the higher the better)
  • Low house vacancy rate
  • Low unemployment rates
  • Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
  • Education (Expenditures per student and Student Teacher Ratio)
  • Short commute times
  • Low crime
  • The best weather

Most of the cities at the top of the list are suburbs of Boise, or at least considered part of the greater Boise City-Nampa Metro area.

Two notes:
1. We broke up the list into two other sections. So, at the bottom of the post is a list of the top 10 midsize cities (with a population of 7,000 to 1,000) and ranked the top 10 tiny places to live (populations under 1,000).

Because, hey, just because a town is tiny doesn’t mean it’s not awesome, right?

2. For the complete breakdown, you can download the data here.

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1. Meridian

Best Cities in Idaho

Source: City of Meridian

Unemployment rate: 4%
Median income: $64,107
Crime Index: 69.2
Sunny days: 211

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 second-highest income in the state, and according to government data, the skies are clearer in Median than any other place in the state. The sixth-lowest crime in Idaho also makes it very appealing.

You can’t argue with large bank accounts and sunshine, can you?

2. Moscow

Best Cities in Idaho

Source: City of Moscow

Education: 2nd best in the state
Crime: 5th best in the state

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 5% is still really good for this town near the Washington state line.

Moscow was originally named Paradise Valley in 1872, for good reason.

3. Rexburg

Best Cities in Idaho

Source: City of Rexburg

Unemployment rate: 3.8%
Crime rate: Best in Idaho

The city with a population of 25,000 has a stellar 3.8% unemployment rate and the 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.

4. Lewiston

Best Cities in Idaho


Education: 2nd-highest ranked in Idaho

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.

5. Eagle

Adjusted household income: Highest in Idaho
Crime: 2nd lowest in Idaho

With a extremely low crime rate and the highest adjusted income levels for all Idaho residents, Eagle ranks in the top 5 for best places to live in the Gem State.

The city with less than 20,000 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.

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6. Kuna

Best Cities in Idaho

Source: City of Kuna

Crime: 3rd lowest in Idaho
Income: 5th highest in Idaho

When you have low crime and high incomes, you can bet it’s a place residents can be happy about. This small Boise suburb of about 15,000 people is one of the fastest-growing areas in the state, and most likely, for good reason.

7. Boise

Best Cities in Idaho

Source: City of Boise

Unemployment: A very low 4.3%
Commute time: 8th lowest in Idaho
Education: 12th best in Idaho

Finally, we come to the capital of Idaho. For a city with such a large population, Boise has a noticeably low crime rate, good schools and low commute times. And an argument can be made that there’s probably lots more to do in Boise than cities higher on the list as well.

Boise, the 99th-largest city in the U.S., was named as one of the top 10 cities in the country in an article written by TIME Magazine, called, “Cities Getting It Right.” Way to go, Boiseans!

Boise reportedly has great drivers, too.

8. Garden City

Best Cities in Idaho

Source: City of Garden City

Population: Smallest on the list of the top ten cities (11,000)
Student expenditure: Highest in Idaho
Sunny days: 5th in Idaho

The small town of Garden City, nearly surrounded by Boise, also has a very low student-teacher ratio (14-1).

9. Ammon

Best Cities in Idaho

Source: City of Ammon

Adjusted income: 3rd highest in Idaho
Crime: 7th lowest in Idaho

With a population of just under 14,000, 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.

10. Chubbock

Best Cities in Idaho

Chubbock Days Parade. Source: City of Chubbock

Population: 2nd highest population density in Idaho
Education: 16th best in Idaho

The small city of Chubbock, north of Pocatello, has a population of just under 14,000, and is only 4 square miles big. That means it’s residents can get cozy with one another talking about how great it is to live there.

Idaho’s Best Mid-Size Cities to Live In

  1. Hansen
  2. Sugar City
  3. Hailey
  4. Ucon
  5. Paul
  6. Heyburn
  7. Lincoln
  8. Aberdeen
  9. Shelley
  10. Rupert

Idaho’s Best Tiny Cities to Live In

  1. Genese (population 994)
  2. Fernan Lake Village (pop. 180)
  3. Nezperce (pop. 405)
  4. Hazelton (pop. 874)
  5. Teton (pop. 683)
  6. Ririe (pop. 838)
  7. Lewisville (pop. 511)
  8. Menan (pop. 783)
  9. Bennington (pop. 230)
  10. Rockford (pop. 253)

Detailed Best Idaho Cities To Live In

City Population Best Place To Live Score Rank
Meridian 75210 7.25 1
Moscow 23866 7.88 2
Rexburg 25402 9.19 3
Lewiston 31862 9.25 4
Eagle 19952 9.69 5
Kuna 15192 9.69 5
Boise City 208332 10.13 7
Garden City 11095 10.31 8
Ammon 13575 10.69 9
Chubbuck 13773 11 10
Twin Falls 44097 11.44 11
Hayden 13258 11.44 11
Jerome 10757 11.63 13
Burley 10157 12 14
Blackfoot 11781 12.19 15
Post Falls 27609 12.25 16
Idaho Falls 57021 12.63 17
Coeur D’Alene 44426 13.06 18
Pocatello 54145 13.19 19
Mountain Home 13879 14 20
Nampa 81667 14.56 21
Caldwell 46229 15.19 22

Again, for the complete breakdown of the charts, which have all the rankings in column form, download the data here.

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4 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Best Places To Live In Idaho According To Science

  1. Interesting Analysis. Curious whether any of you have actually spent any significant time in Idaho: To rank Lewiston above the major cities in North Idaho ranks on statistics shows your ranking system is very flawed! I was born in Lewiston and live north of Coeur d’ Alene and doubt you folks have ever spent any time in Lewiston. Might be a good idea to get some local input?

      1. Hi Jim, my mum a Canadian from Vancouver moved there in 1950, her first comment was “there are no trees!”. We left every summer to go to lake Coeur d’ Alene to avoid the stench of the paper mill on hot summer days, and I mean “Hot”. I think Lewiston is an acquired taste, but in Idaho it would be way down my list of places to live, behind Sandpoint, Cda, Post Falls, McCall, Haley, Ketchum, most of Boise and quite a few other places that don’t come to mind. The good is that the climate is warmer in the winter being at the bottom of the Canyon and there is a lot of great recreation and hunting within a couple of hours.

  2. Funny you rate Garden City as #8 on Best Places to live and you rate it #1 on your list of Most Dangerous Places to live. ???????????

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