What do you think of Boise, ID, the No. 8 city on this year's Best Places to Live list? What makes it a great American town? Are real estate prices reasonable? How are the schools? What activities and events does it offer? Is it a place where you can live a low-stress life? If you don't live there now, would you consider moving there? Tell us what you think. The best replies will be published here, and possibly in a future story on CNNMoney.com.
Tell us what you think of the No. 1 city on this year's Best Places to Live list.
What makes this city a great American town?
If you don't live in this city now, would you consider moving there? The best replies will be published here.
I moved here a little over a month ago - and I am still in a full-on love fest with Boise. I moved from Dallas, exchanging my high-paying job as an instructional designer with a large international company, to a low-paying (but VERY emotionally fullfilling) job with a non-profit in town. I am 5 minutes away from my daughter's day camp and my husband telecommutes from home. They have a 21-screen movie theater, plenty of Starbucks, an IMAX theater, gourmet dining and great cultural exhibits at the local museums. There is MAJOR snow skiing (day and night) within 20 minutes of town. You drive 30 minutes in just about any direction and you're in the mountains. The people are nicer than ANYWHERE I have lived - and as a military brat, I have quite a list. The best part about it? The "nice-ness" is GENUINE. I love it here - I don't plan on going anywhere real soon.
I love downtown Boise, the restaurants are great, music is really fun, fall festivals are welcoming and family friendly. I don't even ski and I love it here. My daughter's junior high is excellent and boasts a national award winning middle school counselor. I moved here from Santa Barbara and I like this better! Yes, it's cold in the winter and hot in the summer, but my cool mid-century modern house is nestled amongst some of the oldes, tallest urban forest in America. Hyde Park is charming and right around the corner.
I am thinking of retiriing to Boise, as I am really tired of the crowds, politics and traffic of Southern California. From what I have seen in visits to Boise, it has all the amenities of a larger area, with a small town atmosphere,
I lived in Boise for 5 years, from 1998-2003. I moved to Harrisburg, PA, due to a relationship and I miss Boise every day. As noted by "Stephanie" the nice-ness of Boise is very genuine. It felt to me that everyone I encountered was living in Boise because that's exactly where they wanted to be. I loved that the city embraces the presence of Boise State University and makes everything easily accessable. There is a lot of inexpensive to free entertainment and it is easy to get to. I loved the outdoor-centered nature of much of that entertainment that takes advantage of the city's various parks. Being extremely financially aware, I also enjoyed being able to choose from three second-run movie theaters! I never made a lot of money, but I always had plenty to do and I could ride my bike to do most of it, if I chose to. I fully intend to move back to Boise before too much longer. There are still too many things I want to do and see there!
I think boise should actually be closer to #1 than it is. It really has a lot to offer people, great schools, skiing 20 minutes from town, lakes, rivers, great fishing, camping. The people are super nice. Great weather, beautiful changing seasons. Downtown is awesome, lots to do. I would recomend it as a great place to live for anybody, retirees, young families, single people. Very affordable place to live reasonable house prices. I came from california and I would say Boise is an A++
I have visited a few times now. my son attends school at Boise State and plays football for them. We are seriously considering making this our retirement location.
I currently live in So. California and am moving to raise my 14 year old in an atmosphere that is beautiful and where people are warm and welcoming! Thank God I found this site and was able to read comments of others who have made the move. We will be moving there July 2007. My daughter is scared, but can't wait for her to meet nice kids her age. Barbara Burnett thanks to your comment posted I'm convinced this is the place I'll call home. I don't know anyone in Idaho, it was just searching online that made my decision.
Miserable in Downey California
REALITY CHECK: I am a native Idahoan currently living in Boise. I have lived in every major region of the US. Fifteen years ago Boise used to be ideal compared to other places, however, these days, because of all the press, hype, development, and growth, Boise is fast losing its quality of life for which it was originally touted. It reminds me of the growth boom in Phoenix during the late 1980s. Boise is on its way to becoming a mini-LA with rising home mortgages (but low Idaho wages), rising crime, including new gangs and violence (Welcome MS-13!), poor air-quality with long winter inversions, row housing, long commutes and traffic nightmares due to overcrowding and lack of sufficient infrastructure to accommodate the influx
of people. There has been little planning for growth - mostly 'Smart Growth' talk about how to study and plan for it. Farm land has been gobbled up and developed overnight, bringing a sea of Hollywood set-like cookie-cutter subdivisions as far as the eye can see, but without concurrent widening of the impacted roads. At least Phoenix saw the signs and widened farm roads such as Cactus to five lanes with bike paths and sidewalks BEFORE the development. Not Boise. Several of the area's roads still consist of two lanes. The once hidden gem in the mountains a short drive north from Boise called "McCall" is now a nightmare commute on a two-lane windy road along the river with increased traffic due to the newest ski resort, Tamarack. Hey Tamarack, why didn't you pitch in for road-widening costs?
By the way, fifteen years ago locals didn't use the word, "commute." The vast majority of us didn't have one, unless we lived in another town or up in Idaho City. It used to take me less than ten minutes to drive to work and we didn't have a recognizable "rush hour." My commute has since tripled one way and I do not dare take the freeway as it backs up for miles (heading west) during rush hour every day. I lived in Jersey for a time and the growing traffic problem in Boise is starting to remind me of the tunnel traffic into NYC. We didn't used to have aggressive driving that's common in large cities, but now I see aggressive driving daily. Courteous drivers and habits are disappearing. Traffic is horrendous around the mall between Thanksgiving and mid-January, around Eagle and on Eagle Road, and on the freeway heading West towards Nampa and Caldwell. Like bumper-to-bumper traffic??? Good! Because we have a lot of it. And, we're forecasted to grow to a million people over the next few decades so it will continue to worsen.
Our strong economy has been touted, but despite the influx of individuals, we have not had a comparable influx of large companies or high-paying jobs to the area. Why don't large employers find this area as attractive? A big portion of our jobs have been in the construction or service-sector industry.
Single? Don't bother unless you plan to remain single. All of my single friends from Idaho and elsewhere complain about the lack of quality singles here. It is not the best town to find singles. Try NYC or LA for that. You can also try Match.com, but it won't take you long to date the posted potentials.
Also, Idaho is still a very conservative state. This may thrill some, but for others, it is a splash of cold water in the face. Idahoans love their guns and hunting. Eastern Idahoans love their church and religion, and their is a good-old boys club that is alive and well in the business, legal, and political arenas. For women and minorities, there are opportunities, but they are a far cry from either coasts' equivalents.
Boise used to be unique and charming but it is turning into every other homogenous town with all the same stores and chains as other places.
While experiences are relative, with each new person who moves into Boise for its "quality of life," the quality of life decreases proportionately. Once a secret is out, it stops being a secret.
Thank you Barbara for your candor. You are obviously experiencing the realities of growing pains. I am considering a move to Boise for it's proximity to outdoor recreation (kayaking and skiing). I currently live in Denver and love all this city has to offer but I can see the writing on the wall of it becoming too large for my taste. I grew up in Atlanta and remember when the population hit one million. The city as I knew it disappeared years ago to be replaced by one I could only compare to NYC with it's myriad of ethnicities and languages. The good that does come from growth is an increased array of restaurants and less of the good-ol-boy network. I agree with your assessment of Boise's rising home costs with disproportionate increases in wages. I was comparing real estate and wages to Denver and I would take a huge pay cut in Boise that would not be offset by housing costs...and gas appears to be more as well.
My family has deep roots in Idaho. Yes, Idaho is conservative, but that is what makes the state great. Besides it is more of a libertarian flavor anyway. Everyone is welcome. We love having great people move here who want to be part of our community.
I agree with Barbara.
I've lived in Boise my entire life, and it is extremely depressing to think about the changes the area has gone through in just the last 10 years, especially considering the remarkable improvements the downtown area and BSU have made.
It's caused primarily by the hordes of people moving here...especially those from California. You can't blame them; they can sell their modest homes there and come here and buy a damned mansion, and improve their quality of life in every way at the same time. I'd do it too, and I don't have a problem with that except that EVERYONE is doing it, and it is dragging the quality of life in this area down.
Also...developers. Argh. They are buying up every single plot of land they can, regardless of it being farmland or foothills or mountain towns, and they are decimating the area by driving up prices, putting ridiculous subdivisions and retail centers everywhere. STOP!
So yeah. Don't move here. Please. And stop trying to turn a buck with soulless speculation and rampant development.
My husband has been offered a position in Boise and we would be leaving the hustle and bustle of Phoenix to go there. In reading these blogs, I have found information on the city and it sounds like a wonderful place to live. I am originally from Austin Texas and was saddened to see my city torn apart by growth and expansion for the "betterment" of the city. The city was no better after the growth and it has not slowed down. So I can sympathize with native Idahoans on seeing their city and way of life compromised. Please don't ever change.
Barbara, Your comments about BOI are extremely poignant. I have been going there for business about 7 years and often wanted to relocate. The growth,traffic and crime are real. I see it every time that I visit. That said, it is no different from Tempe/Phoenix of 30 years ago . You have opened the eyes of the dreamers and been very factual for the realists. I appreciate your comments, but I still want a place in BOI.
I find it interesting that some people are putting together people moving from California and the emergence of gangs and violence. I lived in Idaho for two years before returning to Northern California. While there are no nicer people than in Idaho, the wages and lack of quality jobs are what cause issues in an area. You see this in places like Detroit--when good jobs are nonexistent, the quality of living goes down for all.
I do miss real seasons, cheap housing and utilities, but I think I'm staying put. Lovely area, lovely people, but isolated.
I lived in the Boise area for 11 years. I have watched the morality and sense of community steadily decline. While I agree that the influx of people from other states has contributed to it I don't feel that it's the quality of those people but rather the quantity. The infrastructure and economy in the area were never designed to support the rapid increase in population that has occured in recent years. This increased demand has caused the cost of living to increase while the median income has been stagnant. So of course the crime rate is going to increase, it's just following the poverty rate. The majority of people relocating to Boise are not necessarily bringing the gangs and violence with them. However, by helping to increase the population they are developing a social environment in which organized crime and gang violence can thrive. If this problem is left unchecked, the city and state we have all enjoyed, will no longer exist in it's current form.
I lived in Boise between 1999-2000. I was a delivery driver there, and can see where Barbara is coming from. In the short 15 months I lived there, 5 brand new Albertsons grocery stores were built throughout the Treasure Valley , plus the "Y" freeway was in it's initial phase for expansion. I saw the hand-writing on the wall. One other comment......the SMOG ! Driving in from the east (from Twin Falls) , the ever-obvious ring of black that emcompassed the area. Quite shocking, considering it's lack of people.
Boise is great if u like small town living. But if you're used to living in a big metro area then you won't like it here. I miss the big city and I can't wait to go back home.
I am what they call a true Boisean. I have lived here for 23 years.
!!!THIS PLACE IS GREAT!!!
There is such a strong sense of community here in Boise, Idaho. The people are not stuck-up, they're no mean or grumpy. Actually the people are really nice. Nicer than any of the people in other cities I have stayed in. It is possible without doubt to walk up to anyone you would like and start a conversation without having to worry about getting the cold shoulder. The women! If you go to the right places here there is a bounty of great single women and a large percentage of them are successful too!! With hundreds of gourmet dining experiences around town those taste buds of yours wont ever be bored again. There is everything from Cheesecake factory to the maccaroni grill. Italian, Basque, French, American, Mexican. If there is a flavor we've got it. Alive after five during the summer means that every week on Wednesday there is a free outdoor concert with beer, food and great people right smack in the middle of downtown Boise next to the tallest building in Idaho. We have art in the park once a year with hundreds of artists from around the nation coming to visit Boise for this 3 day event. There is the Hyde Park street fair which is another 3 day event that is supporting the conservative side of the city. There is some of the best hiking, backpacking, climbing and fishing in the nation only a short drive away making a perfect vacation very easy and cost-wise.
The schools here in Boise are fantastic. You can earn college credits in high school and dont really have to worry about much. The teachers are amazing too. They all seem to have that free-spirited mindset that seems so common with boise residents. All people want to do here is help and give what they can to the community.
As for the downside to Boise, ya sometimes traffic can be a little annoying around rush times. There is some air pollution but that is only during certain 2-3 week periods around wintertime. Normally it is not bad at all. Gangs...Ha! what gangs? There is only the people who think they are gang members. Its just a fake. THERE IS NO REAL ORGANIZED GANG CRIME AND THERE ARE NO GANGS. Just some stupid high school kids who think it funny to spray-paint a garage or two. They don't even write much. Housing costs going up---HA look at a city like Seattle that wants 500-600 thousand for a 3 bedroom house and then come to Boise and find a nice one for 200 thousand. Its freakin cheap is what it is. And you should get in quick too because property values are slowly going up. For example: my parents bought their house about 4 years ago. It is 105 years old and they bought it for about 150,000. Now we remodeled it inside and out and spent maybe 30,000. It is now worth over 300,000. How is that for pay-off.
There is a great ski resort 25 minutes from downtown Boise. They have alpine as well as a very large nordic area.
There are plenty of city parks along the Boise River which by the way is one of the best parts of the city. During the summertime the water is great and you can make either a weekend event of it or a spur of the moment decision. I always say if there is nothing to do while its hot, just hop in a raft, tube or even just flippers and go float the river. There places that you can riversurf, jump out of the trees, fly off a rope-swing or just plain relax on a beach all right in the middle of the city.
So really I think the good outweighs the bad entirely making this as I have found one of the BEST PLACES TO LIVE.
I have read so many good things about Boise, I am planning a move there and am job hunting and house hunting right now. Yes, I have heard traffic can be a bear, but unless you live in a reaallly small town, ya get that everywhere. The outdoor recreation is what draws me and the fact that there are actual friendly and nice people living there. I like to say hi to folks and not get a look like I have a third eye or something. Being raised in the south, California is great but the atmosphere is cold and dead. So, Idaho here I come-ready or not!
I just moved from Boise 9 months ago for my husbands job after living there for 8 years and I love Boise. It is home. I long for it. It is the best place to find support for a young family such as mine. It is true that crime has increased, but that is the world today. Boise is the most wonderful place to be.
I lived in Boise from 1996- 2003 I LOVED IT. I moved there from the San Bernardino area in southern California. I wanted to raise my then 2 month old son in a better place. I now live in Casa Grande, AZ just 30 miles south on the Phoenix metro area. I do miss Idaho bad. The jobs there don't pay much, at the time my husband (he also worked 2 other part-time jobs) and I worked for the state and only had 1 car payment, a mortgage and still lived paycheck to paycheck with no luxuries at all. The reason we left Idaho was just that a better job, with a good retirement. I would move back at the blink of an eye (if only I could get my husband to say yes) if I could. I miss the SEASONS here in AZ we only have hot and hotter. I miss riding our bikes on the greenbelt and tubing the Boise River in the summer. I have never lived in a place that had so many family events always scheduled Easter egg hunts at Anne Morrison Park, the Meridian Fall Carnival, the McCall winter festival, the Boise River Festival, The Christmas Caroler's, and chest nuts on 8th street in December. The only family I had in Idaho was my husbands grandmother, when I would go home to California, all I could think was how I could not wait to get back to Idaho. Yes, it is true traffic started to get out of hand, later working as a deputy I saw the out of state crime wave start to move in, but also with the bad folks come some good folks. I think that Idaho needs higher paying jobs so that it does not force it's people out.
I have lived in the Boise area for about nine years. Before that, I lived in Colorado and Portland. I travel frequently all over the US for business. For people who are reading these posts but not from Idaho, you need to be provided some perspective to understand the comments from the locals.
Most of them are not very happy with the growth and think the city is heading in the wrong direction, because many of them want a smaller city with farms and no growth, but you have to take the good with the bad. And, quite frankly, they have no perspective, because they have lived here their whole life.
It is true traffic is worst, and the people in charge of those decisions are slow to react and plan for the growth, but you can still drive from one end of Boise to the other in 25 minutes, and 95% of the people in Boise get home from work in less than 20 minutes. Try that trick in Portland, Seattle, DC, or Denver. In addition, they are constantly widening roads and decreasing congestion, but there is definitely a growing pains with transportation.
Housing has gone up, but it has everywhere, and it is still significantly cheaper than Portland, Seattle, SF, and just about any other randomly selected city of similar or larger size you pick in the US.
I am told crime has increased statistically, but I am not sure why that is actually being referenced by people here as an issue. I jog every night in the evenings by myself, and the neighborhoods and streets are usually dead, let alone gangs going around town beating people. I don't know anyone who has been robbed or hassled. Most crime that does exist is a result of meth users and by a friend or family member who is into drugs. We go downtown all the time and have never had any issues.
Boise is conservative and has a religious overtone (33% of the city is LDS, and most of the rest are practicing Christians of some faith), but it has become more liberal in the past decade. Al Gore stopped through a month ago, and they had to move him from a small venue to the local sports arena due to ticket demand, and he still sold that place out in hours, so someone here likes liberals.
The bad part about Boise is it isn't very culturally diverse, but that is common in smaller areas that are isolated from larger cities, and it doesn't have much in the ways of museums. However, Boise is getting more entertainment stops in the form of concerts (Elton John was here a few months ago), broadway shows, misc (David Copperfield and Blue Man Group), etc., so you aren't completely cut off.
It is also true that many of the new jobs are in the service sector and construction, but there are also many new jobs in teaching, nursing, and technology. The MEDIAN income is $60K, so not everyone is working full-time at Wal-Mart. HP and Micron, for example, have a huge presence here.
Overall, what most have said in these posts is true, but keeping it in perspective, Boise is a relatively safe, inexpensive, entertaining place to live, if you don't mind a little isolation, the occasional religious and political intolerance in social debate, and a lack of cultural diversity that exists in larger urban areas.
I think it deserves its ranking.
My family & I live in Boise for almost 15 years.I have seen the changes & growth over the years.My family love the out door life style & low crime rate is what make us decided to raise family.We knew the job pay rate is low but we did not know that there is more issue about Idaho than low pay rate.There are some people want to invite or attract outside businesses & individual about job & business opportunity but the fact this is simply just an illusion.Boise, Idaho is a place for people that have money.If you have money you may probably make it.Second, religion is big factor when finding a job & getting promoted or keeping a job.I even remember a post note in a bill board at BSU 15 years ago it says "We give job to idahoans only period". Today, despite of growth I see around.I wonder if idahoans is truely & prepared to accept that growth is not something to view as a threat but something we can be open minded instead being selfish. Californians are the most hated people in Boise 15 years ago but I'm glad it's the least thing I hear today.Boise will always be a home to us.Because she has so much beautiful natural resources to share & appreciated.It is a best place to raise family but as far as job opportunity, it is an illusion that the idaho local media trying to create to attract potential investors.You probably seen "Now hiring or Accepting application" signs.That just to make it look like there is job in Boise.New housing in Boise I call it a doll house.People have to spend over 200k just to own quality home which is still not close enough compared to most quality house built in other state just for under 200k. Lastly, Boise is one of a worst medicare in the united state.I've seen more non profit organization asking for money .When I was laid off from a major company after over 5 years in service, my child with medical issue could not get any assistant from the state.Because of my wife's 11k/year income plus the unemployment benefits that my former employer unjustly trying to deny me is to much to qualify for temporal assistant which I have never ask for any and a tax payer for 15years.A doctor in Boise refuse to give prescription medicine for diabetes because she thought since I have no job she also asume I have no insurance. Well, anyone still think Boise is the best place to live? Any one think so, "We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service" A Boise slogan. When they are done sucking up your money & you become so much a financial trouble to them.These is what some people in Boise will say "If you are not happy get out'! The best thing ever happened in Boise are those good people that came from other state & willing to take the chance & invest their money to a state that never wanted a growth. When me & my wife meet someone from another state or country, we ask them "How you like it here in Boise" instead asking selfishly like they owned the state like "What make you move here'. For the most part it is not the question I find offensive but the way they ask the question. Good Luck...
WE ARE ON OUR JOURNEY TO MOVE TO BOISE IN JUST A FEW MONTHS, WE LOVE THE DOWNTOWN AREA AND CAN'T WAIT TO HAVE 4 SEASONS AGAIN! WE HAVE READ THE GOOD AND THE BAD AND IT IS DEFINATELY A BETTER PLACE THAN ARIZONA TO RAISE A FAMILY , THE CRIME HERE IS HORRIBLE LET ALONE THE SCHOOL SYSTEMS !!
Well, me & my wife are teachers from San Diego, California.We sold our house to raise our two boys in Boise, Idaho. The City was truely a place to raise family.But my wife & I can't get a job for some reason. My wife end up getting a teaching job in ASU & planning to follow her with my kids.I'm sad Boise didn't work out for us.It's a nice place but we rather be on a place that has an opportunity & it has descent pay rate.As far as crime rate, well if your looking for trouble it doesn't matter which city you live.Arizona maybe hot on summer or crime is not compare to Boise but I noticed something different about people I met in Arizona, they pull together & local community church do the best they can to help each other out.In Boise, Idaho your on your own. Boise is good to buy a vacation home or something extra out of pocket but not a place to rely to make a living unless you belong to a certain church that monitors its members.
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