When most people think of calling it quits on a career, they immediately think of a move to Florida.
But not everyone wants to spend their golden years in Florida; some of us want to stay close to friends and family and within the great state of Idaho.
But where exactly in Idaho? Well, there’s only one place to go for the answer — data.
To that end, we have tried to identify the places in Idaho that are safe, affordable, and have plenty of things to keep you busy well into retirement.
What did we find after pouring through all the data? Let’s just say we hope folks in Weiser don’t mind us spreading the word.
Here are our top ten places in the Gem State to retire for 2018:
- Weiser (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Rupert (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Sandpoint (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Payette (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Moscow (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Emmett (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Preston (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Rexburg (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Hailey (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Lewiston (Photos | Homes For Sale)
How We Determined The Best Places To Retire In the Gem State
To create our list of the best places in Idaho to retire, we first used Census data to find all places in the Gem State with a population of at least 5,000 that aren’t townships.
This left us with 23 places from across the state.
For these 23, we looked at the following criteria taken from the Census, the FBI’s Crime Report, National Weather Service, and OpenFlights:
- Low cost of living as measured by rent
- Low crime
- Things to do (Museums, Colleges, and Libraries in town)
- Nice weather
- Distance to the closest international airport
- Other retirees (High median age)
We then ranked each of these places for each criteria from one to 23, with the lowest number being the best.
Finally, we took the average rank across these criteria. The place, in this case Weiser, with the lowest average rank was crowned the best of the best, a place for you to start your second careers.
Population: 5,350Median Rent: $641
Distance to Closest Airport: 230 miles
Crime Per 100k: 1,420
More on Weiser: Homes For Sale | Data
The city was named after the nearby Weiser River, but exactly who that was named for is not precisely known. In one version it is for Peter M. Weiser, a soldier and member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804?1806. Another has it for Jacob Weiser, a trapper-turned-miner who struck it rich in Baboon Gulch in the Florence Basin of Idaho in 1861. William Logan and his wife settled in the vicinity of Weiser in 1863 building a roadhouse in anticipation of the opening of Olds Ferry west of them on the Snake River across from Farewell Bend. In 1863, Reuben Olds acquired a franchise from the Territorial Legislature and began operating Olds Ferry. Olds ferry business did well (as did Logan’s) as it diverted much of the traffic from the old Snake River crossing point at Old Fort Boise. Increasing settlement on the Weiser River valley increased Weiser’s population. A post office was established in 1866 as Weiser Ranch. In 1871, it was renamed Weiser.
Population: 7,698Median Rent: $764
Distance to Closest Airport: 64 miles
Crime Per 100k: 3,091
More on Sandpoint: Homes For Sale | Data
The Salish Tribes, specifically the Kalispel and the Kootenai built encampments on the shore of Lake Pend Oreille every summer, fished, made baskets of cedar, and collected huckleberries before returning to either Montana or Washington in the fall. The encampments ended before 1930.
Population: 7,402Median Rent: $644
Distance to Closest Airport: 239 miles
Crime Per 100k: 1,999
More on Payette: Homes For Sale | Data
The settlement was originally named ‘Boomerang,’ a construction camp for the Oregon Short Line from 1882-84 at the mouth of the Payette River. Logs were floated down the river to the sawmills at the camp to produce railroad ties. After completion of the railroad, the settlement moved upstream to its present site and incorporated in 1891 as ‘Payette,’ to honor François Payette, a French-Canadian fur trapper and one of the first white men to explore the area. He arrived in present-day Idaho from Astoria and was later the head of the Fort Boise trading post for the British Hudson’s Bay Company from 1835-44. A large merry man, Payette was highly regarded for his helpful assistance to the many travelers who came through the fort. After his retirement in 1844, he returned to Montreal, but the rest of his life is a mystery.
Population: 24,855Median Rent: $658
Distance to Closest Airport: 66 miles
Crime Per 100k: 2,023
More on Moscow: Homes For Sale | Data
Miners and farmers began arriving in the northern Idaho area after the Civil War. The first permanent settlers came to the Moscow area 146 years ago in 1871. The abundance of camas bulbs, a favorite fodder of pigs brought by the farmers, led to naming the vicinity ‘Hog Heaven.’ When the first US post office opened in 1872, the town was called ‘Paradise Valley,’ but the name was changed to ‘Moscow’ in 1875. The name Paradise persists with the main waterway through town, Paradise Creek, which originates at the west end of the Palouse Range, flows south to the Troy Highway, and west to Pullman where it enters the South Fork of the Palouse River.
Population: 6,590Median Rent: $719
Distance to Closest Airport: 240 miles
Crime Per 100k: 1,927
More on Emmett: Homes For Sale | Data
Rising some 5,906 feet (1,800 m) above sea level, Squaw Butte, named by Native Americans who used this area as their winter resort, stands at the north end of the valley. The Payette River was named after Francois Payette, a fur trader from Quebec who was put in charge of old Fort Boise in 1818 and traveled through the area. Permanent settlement began in the early 1860s, after gold discoveries in the Boise Basin brought people over the established stage and pack train routes. Two of these trails joined at the Payette River north of the present river bridge in Emmett.
Population: 5,252Median Rent: $680
Distance to Closest Airport: 90 miles
Crime Per 100k: 1,542
More on Preston: Homes For Sale | Data
The Bear River Massacre occurred in 1863 at a point a few miles northwest of Preston. The Bear River Massacre Site is a National Historic Landmark.
Population: 27,114Median Rent: $655
Distance to Closest Airport: 209 miles
Crime Per 100k: 730
More on Rexburg: Homes For Sale | Data
Rexburg was founded in March, 1883 when a group of pioneers settled along the banks of the Teton River. They had been sent by Mormon leaders in Salt Lake City, Utah, under the direction of Thomas E. Ricks, to settle the Upper Snake River Valley. The new community, named Rexburg after their leader (Ricks being German for Rex or King) quickly attracted men and women eager to colonize the West. By the time Idaho admitted into the United States as the 43rd state in 1890, Rexburg was the second largest city in the state.
Population: 32,484Median Rent: $666
Distance to Closest Airport: 88 miles
Crime Per 100k: 4,235
More on Lewiston: Homes For Sale | Data
The Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) have inhabited the area for thousands of years. The first people of European ancestry to visit the Lewiston area were members of the David Thompson expedition of 1803. Thompson was looking to establish fur trading posts for the Hudson’s Bay Company of British North America (now Canada). Thompson established the first white settlement in Idaho, MacKenzie’s Post. But it soon failed as the local Nez Perce tribe’s men considered beaver trapping to be women’s work, the tribe was migratory and apparently women thought they already had enough to do. This was followed by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in October, 1805. At the future townsite they encountered settlements of the native Nez Perce. Lewis and Clark passed through the valley on the return trip from the Pacific in 1806 also.
Maybe You’re Not Ready To Retire Yet…
So there you have it, the best place to retire in Idaho goes to Weiser.
If you’re not ready to hang up your office apparel yet, then these places might be up your alley:
For more Idaho reading , check out:
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Idaho For 2018
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Idaho
- 10 Best Places To Raise A Family In Idaho
Detailed List Of Best Places To Retire In Idaho