Boise, Idaho has become a popular destination for young families and millennials. See why Boise is one of the fastest growing cities in the country.
Twenty years ago, most Americans would have been hard-pressed to find Boise, Idaho on a map. Now it’s one of the fastest growing cities in the country. The city added over 150,000 new residents in 2019 and 2020, 27,000 from out of state and over half of them under 35. So, what is it about Boise? Why has this traditionally sleepy town suddenly been transformed into a popular destination for young families and millennials?
Boise is a small town with a diverse economy. It’s tech sector is booming. Hewlett Packard and Micron Technology (manufacturer of memory-chips) have been a major presence since the 1970s, but the area’s begun to attract startups and incubators as well.
In fact, thanks to the city’s pro-business policies, the number of technology firms has increased 61 percent over the past ten years. And with talent and capital continuing to pour in from Seattle, Portland, and Silicon Valley, Boise’s tech sector is expected to grow even further in the next decade.
But technology isn’t the only area where Boise is thriving. It’s pro-business environment has led to an explosion in:
Manufacturing. Idaho is a leading manufacturer of sophisticated, high-end products for construction, transportation, robotics, electronics, heavy industry, and supply chain services.
Agriculture. Like most western states, Idaho is a major center of food production. Besides potatoes, the state’s most famous crop, its agriculture sector also includes global companies specializing in cheese, yogurt, dairy, livestock, fruit, and energy bars.
Aerospace. Though not traditionally associated with aviation, Idaho’s high-tech manufacturing centers and proximity to international airports has drawn investment from several major aerospace firms. Currently, there are more than three dozen aerospace companies in the state, with more expected to set up shop in the coming years. The entire sector is expected to grow by 20 percent over the next decade, transforming the region into a major hub of research, operations, and assembly.
Low Cost of Living
For a dynamic economy, Boise has a relatively low cost of living. The government collects only 8.8 percent in taxes, compared to 9.8 percent in Oregon and 10.3 percent in California.
On top of this, Idahoans pay less for food, utilities, and natural gas. Rent is also considerably lower than other parts of the nation, though it’s predicted to climb as more people move into the area.
Housing prices are also surging, but remain well below major cities such as Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. In fact, the prospect of owning a house is one reason so many young people move to Boise in the first place.
The average American spends 52 minutes driving to and from work every day. For workers in Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, the average is 56-64 minutes. In Boise, it’s 36 minutes. Unlike many major urban centers, long commutes are the exception in Boise. Half the people live less than 15 minutes from their workplace.
Low Crime Rate
Boise isn’t just one of the safest cities in America; it’s one of the safest cities in the world. Crime, especially violent crime, is far below the national average.
Cool but Pleasant Climate
For a northern city, Boise has a mild climate. Days are sunny most of the year and residents experience four distinct seasons. Winters are cold, but don’t see much snow. Summers are warm, with highs reaching into the upper 90s.
Great Access to the Outdoors
Boise is surrounded by miles of wilderness: lakes, hills, mountains, rivers, hot springs, deserts and waterfalls. And because of its mild winters, most of these attractions are available year-round.
In spring, summer, and fall, residents can go hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, kayaking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and whitewater rafting. In winter, the mountains are open for skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing.
Its close proximity to nature also makes Boise a staggeringly beautiful place to live. The Boise river flows directly through the center of town and the city is surrounded by mountains, which are clearly visible from most neighborhoods, including downtown.
Thriving Food & Wine Scene
Boise’s food and wine culture has exploded in recent years. There are fifteen wineries in the metro area, with many more scattered across the surrounding countryside, producing wines as good as anything you’ll find in California or Washington. Beer is thriving too. Idaho has over 50 craft breweries, more per capita than almost any other state.
Foodies have a lot to be excited about as well. Alongside diners serving local delicacies such as finger steaks, morel mushrooms, and the Idahoan (a loaded meatloaf sandwich with cheese, mashed potatoes, and ketchup-chili), you’ll find restaurants serving Russian, Cuban, Mexican, Ethiopian, and Basque food as well.
Local Music & Theater
Boise’s cultural scene isn’t likely to eclipse New York or LA anytime soon. Nonetheless, people living there will find plenty to enjoy. The city is a regional hub for jazz, theater, and indie rock. Every year, it hosts the Gene Harris Jazz Festival and the Treefort Rock Festival ‒ a five-day celebration held in the middle of downtown, featuring some of the best bands in the northwest.
Boise is also home to the Idaho Shakespeare Company, which stages diverse renditions of Shakespeare’s classic works in an amazing outdoor amphitheater. Street art is also flourishing. The nation’s largest outdoor gallery (Freak Alley) is located just a few blocks from the city center.