Moving to Idaho Guide: Discover the Gem State
We created this guide for moving to Idaho to help those who are in their very early stages of researching where they’d like to move. So, what exactly do you need to know before moving to Idaho?
We complied some of the most important items you should consider when making this big decision. According to 2020 Census data, Idaho was the second fastest growing state of the last decade, with a massive 17.3% growth in population. So, is Idaho the right state for you to move?
What You Need to Know about Idaho’s Geography
Idaho is a Pacific Northwest state that borders Montana to the east and northeast, Wyoming to the east, Nevada and Utah to the south, and Washington and Oregon to the west. The Canadian province of British Columbia is just north of the state, and Idaho one of only three U.S. states to share this distinction!
If you love exploring the outdoors, Idaho may be the right place for you. In fact, with an area of 83,570 square miles, Idaho can be divided into several distinct geographic and climate regions. It even covers two time zones!
The relatively isolated Idaho Panhandle is closely linked with Eastern Washington, and the Pacific Time Zone, whereas the rest of the state uses the Mountain Time Zone. Oh, and the United States Forest Service holds about 38% of Idaho’s land, the highest proportion of any state!
From the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area to the waters of the Snake River running through Hells Canyon, to the wonder that is the Shoshone Falls (crashing from a height greater than Niagara Falls), you’re sure to be inspired by Idaho’s natural beauty. You’ll soon find that the variety in the typography is just one of the many things to love about Idaho.
Idaho’s highest point is in the Lost River Range, called Borah Peak, it stands at 12,662 ft tall. By comparison, Idaho’s lowest point is in Lewiston, where the Clearwater River joins the Snake River before continuing into Washington, and that’s only 710 ft!
Speaking of high points, the Sawtooth Range is considered Idaho’s most famous mountain range, but don’t tell that to the Bitterroot Range, the White Cloud Mountains, the Lost River Range, the Clearwater Mountains, or the Salmon River Mountains!
Moving to Idaho Guide on the Weather in Idaho
Idaho’s climate varies widely depending on where in the state you go. It may surprise you to learn that although Idaho’s western border is about 330 miles away from the Pacific Ocean, its climate has a strong maritime influence, especially in the winter when cloud cover, humidity, and precipitation are at their strongest.
This means that temperatures are not as low as would otherwise be expected for a northern state with very high elevations!
In eastern Idaho, the rain patterns are often reversed, with wetter summers and drier winters, and more extreme seasonal temperatures differences because of the semi-arid continental climate.
This just means monthly normal high and low temperatures really depend on where in the state you live. Winters across the state can see low temperatures in the 10s all the way up to a high in the 40s. They can be cold, although extended periods of bitter freezing weather below zero are unusual. Spring brings temperature lows in the teens and highs can reach over 60 degrees.
Summertime is when Idaho really shines with lows in the forties and highs all the way over ninety! In Fall, Idaho really cools off after a sizzling summer with lows sometimes getting into the twenties and highs almost reaching the eighties.
The state has dangers associated with wildfires, which should be something to consider if you plan to build a home.
Moving to Idaho Guide on Getting a Job in the Gem State
If you’re looking for a place to grow your career, consider moving to Idaho! According to an article published by the Idaho Department of Labor, at the time of writing this article, the state of Idaho has seen a steady job growth rate compared to the rest of the United States. Moreover, in 2021, Idaho employers added jobs faster than any other state!
Idaho continues to add more job opportunities, resulting in a steady unemployment rate of around 3%. Industries showing solid job gains included local government (+2.7%); natural resources (+2.5%); financial activities (1.2%); hospitality and food services (+1.0%); transportation, warehouse, and utilities (+0.7%); and construction (+0.5%).
What’s the Situation on Buying Alcohol in Idaho?
Who isn’t curious about how to toast moving to a new state? While there are no large wineries or breweries in Idaho, there are many, and growing, numbers of award-winning boutique wineries and microbreweries in the northern part of the state.
Interestingly, Idaho’s state government does maintain a monopoly over sales of beverages greater than 16% alcohol by volume (ABV), and there are some restrictions on when you can buy alcoholic beverages at the store. Beyond that, if you’re 21 years old or older, you are allowed to purchase and consume alcohol.
Fun fact: Idaho law limits towns to one bar per 1,500 citizens, making liquor licenses hard to get!
What is There to Do in Idaho?
Hopefully you like hiking and camping! Idaho’s nickname, the Gem State, references Idaho’s natural beauty and not an actual gemstone. (Although, the state’s official gemstone is the star garnet, by the way!)
There are over twenty-five state parks in Idaho, including Bear Lake State Park and Bruneau Dunes State Park, that will make every weekend an adventure! Looking for something a little wild? There are also multiple national wildlife refuges and wilderness and conservation areas that might pique your interest, too!
Another choice is to head over to Boise for culture, food, and fun. A smaller big city, Boise still boasts a variety of fun and interesting things to do including the Boise Art Museum and the Zoo Boise. However, if you’re like us, we’re sure you’ll agree that outdoor Idaho is the best. You’ll be in awe each and everything you step outside!
Important State Symbols in Idaho
The state of Idaho has over twenty official state symbols; we’ve included a few of our favorites here. The first, and most important, is the state vegetable – the potato! Idaho’s agricultural sector supplies many products, but its potato crop makes up around one-third of the nationwide yield!
The state fruit is the huckleberry, and the flower is the Syringa. Another one of our favorite Idaho symbols is the state folk dance: the Square Dance. Probably the most unexpected state symbol is the state fossil – the Hagerman Horse Fossil!
Lesser-Known FAQs About Moving to Idaho
Q: What is the capital of Idaho?
A: The capital of Idaho is Boise. Boise is also the most populated city in Idaho. The Boise metropolitan area, known as the Treasure Valley, includes five counties with a combined population of over 700,000 making it the most populated metropolitan area in Idaho. If you plan to move to Idaho, you’ll probably find yourself in the Treasure Valley!
Q: How do Idaho’s public schools rank nationally?
A: According to a study by US News, Idaho public high schools rank 39/50 in a national breakdown tracking state-by-state high school performance. While education quality can vary widely depending on where in the state you live, this report takes the weighted average of the state’s high school performance into consideration.
Q: What kind of taxes can you expect to pay in Idaho?
A: Your cost of living in Idaho is significantly impacted by the types of taxes you’ll pay. Idaho’s income tax rates range from 1% to 6.5% on Idaho taxable income. Individual income tax is graduated – this means that Idaho taxes higher earnings at a higher rate. The sales tax rate is 6%, and it applies to the sale, rental or lease of tangible personal property and some services.
Sales of food are taxed, for example, but sales of prescription drugs are not. Additional taxes apply to sales of lodging at hotels, motels, and campgrounds. Some Idaho resort cities, counties and auditorium districts have a local option sales tax in addition to the state sales tax.
Idaho also imposes a use tax, which is the same rate as the general sales tax, but there is no inheritance tax. The average urban property tax rate is around 1.129% and the average rural property tax rate is about 0.798%.
Q: What’s it like to vote in Idaho?
A: If you are a first-time voter, you must either submit a copy of a form of ID with your registration form or show it at the polls prior to voting. You can even register online!
Voting before election day at an absentee polling place is available. Contact your county clerk for dates, times, and location of the absentee polling place in your county. Additionally, absentee voting is available, and no excuse is needed. The last day to request an absentee ballot is 11 days before the election and voted ballots must be received by Election Day to be counted.
Q: What are the rules for switching your driver’s license in Idaho?
A: If you have an out-of-state driver’s license, you’ll need to transfer it for an Idaho license within 90 days of moving to the state. If you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL), you will only have 30 days to transfer it over.
Q: When do you need to update your car plates in Idaho?
A: If you are a new Idaho resident, you must register your vehicle with the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 90 days of establishing Idaho residency. You must title the car before registering. You can register immediately after titling on the same visit.
Q: What’s it like driving in Idaho?
A: Like most states, the driving conditions in Idaho are very different in urban and rural areas. Thankfully, Idaho, in a tie with its western neighbor Oregon, ranked at number 27 as the state with the worst drivers in America. Now, that doesn’t mean Idaho drivers are perfect – there’s just too much to look at out the window of the car!
Q: Does Idaho have any walkable cities?
A: Of all cities in Idaho, the best bet for having a walkable lifestyle is going to be in Boise, but even that’s going to be difficult. The city has minimal public transportation, but it is somewhat bikeable. The most walkable Boise neighborhoods are Downtown, Morris Hill, and North End.
Is Idaho the Right State for You to Move?
For those of you looking for outdoor adventure, while still enjoying the creature comforts of city living, Idaho (and specifically the Treasure Valley) may be the right fit for you. The beautiful typography of Idaho, low property taxes, and booming economy all lend themselves into making life great in the Gem State. However, natural disasters like wildfires middle of the pack schools prove that while exceptional, Idaho isn’t perfect.