10 Best Places To Live In Idaho For 2020


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

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the best places to live in Idaho.

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

Well you've come to the right place as we've been ranking the best places in Idaho for the better part of a decade now.

We all see the stories come through our Facebook feed 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. So, HomeSnacks set out to determine where the best places to live in Idaho might be.

You might be surprised by the results. Boise is an awesome place to live, but its suburbs actually rank slightly higher. 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.

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.

What's the best place to live in idaho for 2020? According to the most recent FBI and Census data, Meridian ranks as the best place to live in idaho for 2020 amongst the 31 places above 5,000 people. Sorry small towns in idaho, you have your own list.

Read to learn more about the top ten places to live in idaho, a detailed explanation of how we ranked the places, a map of the best places, and a full table of all the places in the state.

It's our sixth time ranking the cream of the crop in idaho, so we have a ton of data to help you find the right place to call home.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the best states in America or the best places to live in America.

For more Idaho reading, check out:

The 10 Best Places To Live In Idaho For 2020

Meridian, ID

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 97,008
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $242,000 (4th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.1% (10th best)
More on Meridian: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

If you want to score some of Idaho's most coveted real estate and the state's 2nd highest median income in terms of median home price to income ratio, look no further than the Gem State's #1 best place to live, Meridian.

Yes, according to our SnackAbility research, Meridian is one of Idaho's largest cities for both likability and population. In fact, this city of 97,008 residents is part of The Center of the Treasure Valley and we can see why. So, here are some tips to help navigate the cost of living in this Idaho treasure like a pro. First, homes in Meridian are the 4th most expensive in the state, so your household median income needs to be at least $68,131/year to afford Meridian's median home price, $242,000.

You shouldn't have trouble finding a job in the city "Built for business...designed for living" as the unemployment rate here is the 10th lowest in the state at 3.1%. And after you get your ducks in a row, make sure to leave time for the fun things that Meridian has to offer because we wouldn't want you to miss out on the annual Meridian Dairy Days Festival or the perfect day spent with the family at Kleiner Park.

Eagle, ID

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 25,075
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $383,700 (1st best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.5% (13th best)
More on Eagle: Real Estate | Cost Of Living

Head about 15 minutes directly north from Meridian and you will run into Idaho's 2nd best place to live, Eagle.

Be prepared to pull out the pocket book and write a pretty big check for a home here as Eagle has the highest median home price in the state. The overall cost of living in Eagle is also quite a bit more expensive than both the state and national average. To live the Eagle dream comfortably, you're going to have to make upwards of $84,432/year. Yes, you have to have the big bucks if you want to play in Eagle--probably why there are only 25,075 residents in this Idaho town.

What this small town lacks in size, it makes up for in big time safety and big time personality. Matter of fact, the crime rate in Eagle is virtually non-existent: it is the 10th safest city in the state. In terms of personality--A.K.A. amenities: you'll find both classical and contemporary experiences in Eagle; and the best part, you can explore it all by walking, hiking, biking, public transportation--or even by paddling if you're up for it. (Word on the street, the Boise River Greenbelt will connect you to everything Eagle and Boise.)

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 8,495
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $258,100 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.6% (7th best)
More on Star: Real Estate | Cost Of Living

A star on an old school house led 19th Century travelers to and from this destination and now Star, Idaho is the 3rd best place to live. Today, only 8,495 residents call it home, but that is starting to change as Star is one of the fastest growing places in Idaho.

However, if you want to "Live the Life of Riley" in Star, you're going to have to make $54,386/year to manage this city's slightly higher than average cost of living. As a result, Star continuously ranks as one of the richest cities in the state. The people in Star are super smart, too, and it seems to be trickling down to the youngsters as over half the adult population has some sort of college degree and the high school dropout rate here is one of the lowest in Idaho. A piece of advice, you're going to want to find time between making that median income and schlepping the kids to some of the best schools in the state to experience Star's vast Canyon Country that includes the pristine Boise River and some of the best kayaking in the upper northwest.

Kuna, ID

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 18,445
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $175,300 (13th best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.8% (3rd best)
More on Kuna: Real Estate | Cost Of Living

Blink and you'll miss Idaho's 4th best place to live because this is truly some small town living. But, don't let this one stoplight town fool you, there's a bunch of big Idaho fun to be had here and the town's overall cost of living won't break your bank. Quite the contrary, to be honest, as the median household income in Kuna is the 4th highest income in Idaho: $64,456/year.

If you do decide to move to Kuna without a job, you'll probably be able to find one right away whether it's in Kuna, or the nearby cities Nampa and Boise. But, don't wait because the locals here will not be happy if you mess with their great unemployment rate as they have the 3rd lowest in the state at 1.8%.

Kuna's big-city energy mixed with Old West charm is no small potatoes here either. You can relax at one of the town's four wineries by day and you can experience the town's hot night-life along Indian Creek after dark.

Moscow, ID

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 25,174
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $224,400 (6th best)
Unemployment Rate: 5.9% (25th best)
More on Moscow: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

If you're looking for a classic northern Idaho small town, your journey should start and stop in the state's 5th best place to live, Moscow.

Moscow's cost of living is slightly higher than the state and national average, but can you really put a price on low crime, great schools, and serenity? If you answered "no" to any of those three, this is what your average cost of living will look like if you choose to buy your forever home in Moscow: your household will need to make the city's median income, $38,533/year to afford the median home price of $224,400. Your main living expenses like--but not limited to--groceries, healthcare, transportation, and utilities are going to put a slightly bigger dent in your budget more so than if you lived in one of Idaho's cheapest places to live. But, the crime rate here is 37% below the national average and your kids will have access to some of Idaho's best schools. In fact, Moscow not only holds some of Idaho's best private schools, it has one of the state's nationally acclaimed blue ribbon schools, J. Russell Elementary School.

Ammon, ID

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 15,403
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $189,900 (11th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.4% (12th best)
More on Ammon: Real Estate | Cost Of Living

Ammon is not a rear view town by any means; in fact, it's not only one of potato country's top 20 fastest growing places for 2020, it's Idaho's 6th best place to live.

Located 15 minutes directly east of Idaho Falls, this Idaho-Montana border town is every outdoor enthusiast's dream. Ammon has great biking and playgrounds for kids at McCowin Park, but a quick day trip to Idaho Falls River Walk or a weekend trip to Yellowstone National Park/a> would be well worth your time and Ammon's cost of living; which by the way, is quite a bit less than the state and national average. Yes, the median home value here is the 11th best in the state.

So, pack your bag with your love for the outdoors and a great value and move to Ammon: we promise you won't be disappointed.

Rexburg, ID

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 27,957
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $199,800 (9th best)
Unemployment Rate: 7.4% (30th best)
More on Rexburg: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Rexburg gets Idaho's 7th best place to live stamp of approval by the youngsters. Rexburg has the youngest median age (23 years-old) in the state, making it a prime spot for singles.

What's the draw for the state's youngest population? Well, Rexburg's cost of living is relatively reasonable compared to the rest of the state, the crime rate here is 80% less than the national average, and there's a university inside the city's limits. More importantly, if you love being outside, you will never be bored in Rexburg as it's also super close to Yellowstone and Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park.

However, we recommend that you have a job in place before you move your life to Rexburg because the unemployment rate in this city of 27,957 residents is the 30th highest in Idaho at 7.4%. We also suggest that you start your search at Brigham Young University-Idaho and Madison Memorial Hospital if you can swing it as they are two of the top companies to work for in Rexburg.

Lewiston, ID

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 32,604
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $178,500 (12th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.4% (16th best)
More on Lewiston: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

In Idaho's 8th best place to live, Lewiston, you'll find larger than life Idaho hospitality, the world famous Hells Gate State Park where the Snake River and Clearwater River collide, and an affordable cost of livings by the state's 2020 definition.

The following are Lewiston's cost of living details. if you want to move to Lewiston be prepared to pay $178,500 on a home as this city's median home price is the 12th in the state. And if you want to get ahead in this city of 32,604 residents, your median household income needs to be at least $51,887/year so that you can afford Lewiston's slightly higher than average living expenses like groceries, healthcare, and utilities. You'll be in luck, however, in the job department as Lewiston has the 16th lowest unemployment rate in the state at 4.4%.

Post Falls, ID

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 31,945
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $193,000 (10th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.2% (11th best)
More on Post Falls: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Up two spots from last year Post Falls has a new look and title to unveil, and it starts with the title "Idaho's 9th best place to live".

The third Idaho-Washington border town to make our list, you'd be lucky to call this Spokane River city home for many reasons. For one, it's super safe. Simply put, it ranked the 18th safest as there were only 647 crimes recorded here at the time of this report and the city's overall crime rate is 26% below the national average. Secondly, you only need to make $51,521/year to afford the 10th best home price in the state at $193,000. And third, if you are a parent of a soon to be high school student, the high school dropout rate in Post Falls is not only one of the lowest in the state, it's one of the lowest in the country.

And it wouldn't be doing Post Falls justice if we didn't mention that it scored a 9/10 for amenities on our SnackAbility scale. There's a ton of fun to be had in Post Falls and it starts with a bike ride through the city's Black Bay Park.

Chubbuck, ID

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 14,728
Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $160,700 (16th best)
Unemployment Rate: 5.1% (18th best)
More on Chubbuck: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

The closest city on our list to the Potato Capital of the World, Blackfoot, Chubbuck rounds out our list as the 10th best place to live in Idaho. Chubbuck's bold energy and outdoor culture has transformed this town of 14,728 residents into one of the Gem State's best of the best. It also doesn't hurt that your Idaho dollar will go the furthest in this city as the cost of living here is one of the lowest on our top ten list.

Located just outside of the Pocatello Metropolitan Area, Chubbock's household median income $59,148 to median home price ratio is the 16th best in the state. An average priced home in Chubbuck will run you $160,700. More importantly, all that extra cash that you save with Chubbuck's low cost of living will allow you the freedom to spend a little more on the things that matter: like, spending the "best day ever" with your family at the annual Chubbuck Days Festival in August.

Mapping The Best And Worst 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 5,000
  • Towns -- Populations between 1,000 and 5,000
  • Small Towns -- Populations below 1,000

This left us with 31 cities, 60 towns, and 113 small towns.

We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best cities to live in Idaho have more of everything and therefore you need to have over 5,000 people to truly be 'the best'.

Now we also realize that city living might not be your cup of tea, so we ran the following analysis on towns and then again for small towns.

You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.

How We Calculated The Best Cities 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 31, 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
  • Crime
  • Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty rates

Sources of criteria include the New Census Data and FBI Crime Data. You can download the data here.

After the dust settled, what was the best place to live in Idaho? That would be Meridian.

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.

Wrapping Up The Best Places When It Comes To Living 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 the best place to live in Idaho for 2020.

Best Towns To Live In Idaho

  1. Tyhee (Pop. 1,066)
  2. Ketchum (Pop. 2,719)
  3. Dalton Gardens (Pop. 2,356)
  4. Iona (Pop. 2,266)
  5. Hidden Springs (Pop. 2,474)
  6. Lincoln (Pop. 2,808)
  7. Grangeville (Pop. 3,153)
  8. Sun Valley (Pop. 1,398)
  9. Soda Springs (Pop. 2,963)
  10. Robie Creek (Pop. 1,570)

Best Small Towns To Live In Idaho

  1. Hayden Lake (Pop. 731)
  2. Fernan Lake Village (Pop. 152)
  3. Blanchard (Pop. 233)
  4. Bennington (Pop. 283)
  5. Genesee (Pop. 951)
  6. Conkling Park (Pop. 74)
  7. Bloomington (Pop. 220)
  8. Troy (Pop. 888)
  9. Dover (Pop. 709)
  10. Wardner (Pop. 155)

If you're curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Idaho according to the data:

  1. Emmett (Pop. 6,670)
  2. Weiser (Pop. 5,326)
  3. Caldwell (Pop. 53,205)

For more Idaho reading, check out:

Where Are The Best Places To Live In Idaho?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Meridian 97,008 3.1% $242,000
2 Eagle 25,075 3.5% $383,700
3 Star 8,495 2.6% $258,100
4 Kuna 18,445 1.8% $175,300
5 Moscow 25,174 5.9% $224,400
6 Ammon 15,403 3.4% $189,900
7 Rexburg 27,957 7.4% $199,800
8 Lewiston 32,604 4.4% $178,500
9 Post Falls 31,945 3.2% $193,000
10 Chubbuck 14,728 5.1% $160,700

How Is Your Town In ?

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.

7 thoughts on “10 Best Places To Live In Idaho For 2020

  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. ???????????

  3. Ask an IDAHO RESIDENT!!! What in the world can i do for you? ellae_forreal
    I know the area. and i can give you real understanding on the data.
    If you haven’t been to these places, ask me to make this curious lists more meaningful. First, have lived in southern( Boise area) and now northern (Coeur d’Alene area) just ask.
    I looked at these best, and I looked at the worst places too- I lived in southern Idaho, in fact, NAMPA, and I worked at the college of Southern Idaho- a great community college. I went junking in Caldwell. I had friends that lived in Garden City. I’ve been to Twin Falls. None of the info of the “snackable” was even close to my personal experience.
    I would not want to live in Meridian.To me, Its not a cute town, and the way it is laid out causes lots of traffic jams. I never felt unsafe in any of these places.
    Ketchum is cool, and so is Hailey, but none of this mentions the cost of living, or the possibility of a person working there. Ditto for Sun Valley. I don’t know where y’all got the numbers for these things. The MLS? Recent sales? hmmm.
    Some of the little towns mentioned are miles from a big city to get groceries or other city things, like, well, sushi.
    Post Falls is the bedroom community of Spokane Wa. and slated to grow to 90 thousand people in the next 5 years. Hayden is ok, lots of subdivisions coming in and Dalton gardens, a bit older, and more $. I think your prices are a bit off-
    Up here in north Idaho, One zipcode can cover MILES and miles, and lots of homes. More numbers, take an average. Might not be accurate.
    Coeur d’ Alene is close to these areas- and there are high end homes on the lake, and there are lesser priced homes. 325k is average- Today I toured a 3br 2.5 bath bungalow for 330k. (949 N16th st, CDA 83816) Super cute, would have been atleast twice that price in Seattle.
    Idaho resident, and realtor at Prime Real Estate Group CDA
    People first, transactions second. Low pressure, real person.

  4. Wondering how much you liked Nampa and how long you lived there. I am looking to retire in Idaho, but want someplace with very little rain or snow.

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