Relocating to Boise

5 Things to Know Before Moving to Idaho from California

Are you one of the thousands of California residents planning to move to Idaho this year? As a California transplant myself, I know first hand how shocking the differences can be!  In this video, I’m going to share 5 things you might not know yet about the Gem State and how it compares to life in California, so that you are fully prepared for your future life here in Idaho.  


Here’s some of what you’ll learn in this blog:

  • The challenge facing Idaho’s roads in the Boise area, and what the potential plans are to do something to improve it
  • Key political issues that shape how Idahoans vote in major elections
  • One major detail about the Treasure Valley’s weather that could potentially affect your health
  • What you can expect to spend on purchasing a home in Idaho’s capital city of Boise

#1: Transportation

Ask any local here in the Treasure Valley and they will likely tell you that traffic is absolutely awful.   For the last few years, Idaho has been the fastest growing state in the United States and with all of that population growth comes a LOT more cars and congestion on our roads.  According to the Idaho transportation department, like many other states, traffic actually took a dive in 2020 during the early pandemic days but has otherwise continued to increase year over year with the highest traffic counts usually experienced in the summer months each  year.  


Yet, with all of this growth Idaho’s largest cities continue to lack in public transportation options, most commonly only offering limited bus service or shuttle rides, depending on the city.  In a recent survey, 92% of Treasure Valley residents supported a possible high-capacity transit system such as a light rail from Caldwell to Boise, but a system like this is likely still 15-20 years away.  In my opinion, it can’t come soon enough! 

#2: Politics

The second thing to keep in mind before moving to Idaho are your political views.  Idaho is the fifth-most Republican state in the U.S., while California is the third-most Democratic state. 

Generally, Idaho residents are concerned with issues such as budget deficits, lower government spending, and the right to keep and bear arms, just to name a few.  Idaho has consistently voted Republican in every presidential election since 1952 except for 1964, and data shows this is a trend likely to repeat itself in upcoming elections.

#3: Inversions

The third thing to consider if you are thinking of moving near Idaho’s capital city of Boise, is whether you are likely to be bothered by our seasonal inversions.  Now, you might be wondering what exactly an inversion is? Inversions generally happen in valleys like the Treasure Valley, when cold air gets trapped below a layer of warm air.  From about Thanksgiving till Valentine’s day, look up and you may see a layer of haze in the sky- that’s the inversion.  

Unfortunately these inversions can trap pollutants from car emissions, factories, or smoke from wood stoves, and these can potentially aggravate conditions like asthma and bronchitis.  During those months, it’s always a good idea to pay attention to the local air quality report and stay inside on days when the air quality is listed as Orange, or unhealthy for sensitive groups.  The good news is, a quick 30 minute drive into the nearby mountains to our local ski resort Bogus Basin, will take you above the inversion for some clean air and amazing views of the valley.

#4: Cost of Living

Despite our growth, the cost of living in Idaho remains overall more affordable compared to the cost of living in California.  When specifically comparing the two capital cities in each state, Boise vs Sacramento, the cost of transportation and food and groceries are significantly cheaper in Boise, and you are also likely to pay less for things like clothing, entertainment, restaurants, and other service based businesses.  And when it comes to the cost of real estate, Boise is going to give you a lot more square footage for your buck.  As of September 2023, the median list price per square foot for a single family home in Boise was around $220 while you’d be paying $333 a square foot for a typical single family home in Sacramento. 

#5: Prepare for Snow

I recently asked clients and friends of mine who have moved here from California within the last few years, what the number one thing was they wished they knew before moving to Idaho, and overwhelmingly it was how to deal with the cold temperatures and snow that we are blessed with during Idaho’s long winters.  While most places in Idaho definitely experience all 4 seasons, our cold and snowy months generally last from about November through February with an average low temperature of 28 degrees. 

You can expect about 3-4 inches of snow on average in December. and if you are a fan of snow sports, you are going to love easy access to many great ski resorts in Idaho. Just remember to prep for the icy and snowy weather ahead of time by getting snow shovels, studded snow tires, and warm winter clothes purchased in the early Fall before these items start to sell out in stores. And most importantly, after the first winter snow,  it’s also not a bad idea to practice your snow driving skills in an empty parking lot before hitting the main roads to keep yourself, and everyone else, safe.

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