Best Places To Retire In Idaho For 2020


We analyzed over 23 places in Idaho to identify the ones that offer the most to retirees.

Editor’s Note: Data has been updated for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the best places to retire in Idaho.

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Looking to find a gem of a place to retire in the Gem State? Look no further, because we've used science and data to determine the hottest spots in Idaho to call home for those looking to permanently hang up their office apparel.

Idaho may not immediately come to mind when thinking of states to retire in, but if you're an outdoors enthusiast with nothing but time on your hands, it's got a lot going for it. Those that want to keep fit with winter sports will love having access to Sun Valley in Sawtooth National Recreation Forest. For folks who prefer hiking, there's Hell's Canyon, which will, names aside, provide heavenly trails and (for those without heart conditions) intense whitewater rafting. And if you just want to kick back and enjoy some startling beauty, there's Idaho's Shoshone Falls, also known as "the Niagara of the west."

So just where are the best places to retire in Idaho? Most of these places are off the beaten track, with most being a few hours away from the nearest big cities. Emmett is the closest place on this list to Boise, while Rexburg is the only place under an hour from Idaho Falls. Three of the cities on this list (Moscow, Hailey, and Lewiston) are also featured on our list of best places to live in Idaho, so you know that they're not solely catering to older communities.

Grab your baked potatoes, settle down beside Lake Coeur d'Alene, and read on to learn the best places to retire in Idaho.

Why did Preston take the top spot? And where are Meridian and Nampa?

These cities are sure to satisfy your retirement priorities, whatever they may be. It's good to note that 40% of this list overlaps with our list of best cities for families in Idaho, so you might just have an easy time convincing the kids and/or grandkids to move somewhere close by.

You might be asking just how we determined which spots have the most going on for retired folks. To weed out some anomalies that pop up with super-small communities, we only looked at places with a population of at least 5,000, which left us with 23 cities to rank. Then we looked at data from the Census, the FBI's Crime Report, National Weather Service, and OpenFlights. Finally, we examined which places had plenty to do, a higher median age, a low cost of living, and a low crime rate. By ranking each of the 23 cities on a scale of 1 to 23, with lower numbers being better, we arrived at our result.

Which city ranked as the #1 spot to retire in Idaho? According to the data, Preston is the best spot to spend your retirement in the Gem State.

For more Idaho state reading:

The 10 Best Places To Retire In Idaho For 2020

Preston, ID

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 5,311
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Rent: $655
Distance to Closest Airport: 90 miles
More on Preston: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Preston is a city in Franklin County, Idaho, United States. The population was 5,204 at the 2010 census. The city is the county seat of Franklin County. It is part of the Logan, Utah-Idaho Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Emmett, ID

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 6,670
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Rent: $679
Distance to Closest Airport: 240 miles
More on Emmett: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Emmett is a city in Gem County, Idaho, United States. The population was 6,557 at the 2010 census, up from 5,490 in 2000. It is the county seat and the only city in the county. Emmett is part of the BoiseNampa, Idaho Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Hailey, ID

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 8,259
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 3)
Median Rent: $813
Distance to Closest Airport: 222 miles
More on Hailey: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Hailey is a city in and the county seat of Blaine County, in the Wood River Valley of the central part of the U.S. state of Idaho.

The city is named after John Hailey, a two-time Congressional delegate from the Idaho Territory.

Payette, ID

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 7,394
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Rent: $761
Distance to Closest Airport: 239 miles
More on Payette: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Payette is a city in and the county seat of Payette County, Idaho, United States. The population was 7,433 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Ontario, ORID Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Review Of Payette by HomeSnacks User

That's just a few incidents in one small town,,Every town has issues,,Let's take a look at the big cities,, Detroit filed for bankruptcy,,The CITY is all but abandoned,, Halloween people burn down houses for sport,, Homeless People freezing on Church Doorsteps,,Most of the businesses are run by people who aren't citizens and g*d forbid you have a life threatening situation and have to be ambulanced to the hospital because it will take hours for them to get to you if they decide to show up at all,,then if you do manage to make it,you spend an hour going through security before you are triaged and treated,,Children run the streets 24/7 unsupervised and if they go to school,,the usually end up dropping out before they reach middle school,, Idaho is full of small town communities where people help eachother and a handshake still means something,,Jus because we live in Payette does NOT mean we are living in poverty,,are uneducated or poor,, Crime is everywhere not just in Small Town Idaho

Moscow, ID

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 25,174
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Rent: $695
Distance to Closest Airport: 66 miles
More on Moscow: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Moscow is a city in northern Idaho along the state border with Washington, with a population of 23,800 at the 2010 census. The county seat and largest city of Latah County, Moscow is the home of the University of Idaho, the state's land grant institution and primary research university, as well as the home of New Saint Andrews College, a Christian liberal arts college.

Review Of Moscow by HomeSnacks User

I was born in Napma, raised on a farm in Homedale, went to school in Marsing, graduated from Weiser and then moved to Moscow. I kind of agree with the article, which does state it is opinion based! I certainly prefer northern Idaho to southern for sure. I definitely feel safer in norther Idaho than southern, people are more friendly too.

Rupert, ID

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,782
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 2)
Median Rent: $646
Distance to Closest Airport: 153 miles
More on Rupert: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Rupert is the county seat and largest city of Minidoka County, Idaho, United States. It is part of the Burley Micropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 5,554 at the 2010 census.

Lewiston, ID

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 32,604
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 4)
Median Rent: $720
Distance to Closest Airport: 88 miles
More on Lewiston: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Lewiston is a city in north central Idaho and the county seat of Nez Perce County. It is the second-largest city in the northern Idaho region, behind Coeur d'Alene, and ninth-largest in the state. Lewiston is the principal city of the Lewiston, ID - Clarkston, WA Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Nez Perce County and Asotin County, Washington. As of the 2010 census, the population of Lewiston was 31,894, up from 30,904 in 2000.

Blackfoot, ID

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 11,854
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Median Rent: $598
Distance to Closest Airport: 167 miles
More on Blackfoot: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Blackfoot is a city in Bingham County, Idaho, United States. The population was 11,899 at the 2010 census. The city is the county seat of Bingham County. Blackfoot boasts the largest potato industry in any one area, and is known as the "Potato Capital of the World." It is the site of the Idaho Potato Museum, and the home of the world's largest baked potato and potato chip. Blackfoot is also the location of the Eastern Idaho State Fair, which operates between Labor Day weekend and the following weekend.

Rexburg, ID

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 27,957
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 2)
Median Rent: $699
Distance to Closest Airport: 209 miles
More on Rexburg: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Rexburg is a city in Madison County, Idaho, United States. The population was 25,484 at the 2010 census, up from 17,257 in 2000. The city is the county seat of Madison County and its largest city. Rexburg is the principal city of the Rexburg, ID Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Fremont and Madison Counties. The city is home to Brigham Young University-Idaho, a private institution operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Idaho Falls, ID

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 60,147
Rank Last Year: 10 (No Change)
Median Rent: $748
Distance to Closest Airport: 186 miles
More on Idaho Falls: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Idaho Falls is a city in and the county seat of Bonneville County, Idaho, United States, and is the largest city in Eastern Idaho. As of the 2010 census, the population of Idaho Falls was 56,813, with a metro population of 136,108. As of 2016, the population was estimated at 60,211.

How We Determined The Best Places To Retire In the Gem State for 2020

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 -- 224 cities and towns.

We then narrowed it down to places with at least 5,000 people that weren'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 Preston, with the lowest average rank was crowned the best of the best, a place for you to start your second careers. You can download the data here.

Maybe You're Not Ready To Retire In Idaho Yet...

So there you have it, the best place to retire in Idaho goes to Preston.

If you're not ready to hang up your office apparel yet, then these places might be up your alley:

  1. Nampa
  2. Caldwell
  3. Chubbuck

For more Idaho reading, check out:

Where Are The Best Places To Retire In Idaho?

Rank City Population Median Rent
1 Preston 5,311 $655
2 Emmett 6,670 $679
3 Hailey 8,259 $813
4 Payette 7,394 $761
5 Moscow 25,174 $695
6 Rupert 5,782 $646
7 Lewiston 32,604 $720
8 Blackfoot 11,854 $598
9 Rexburg 27,957 $699
10 Idaho Falls 60,147 $748

How Is The Area 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.