Moving to a mountain town means easy access to skiing, hiking, golf, fly-fishing, and more. Unfortunately, it also usually means jaw-dropping home prices, a dinky airport, limited health care, and tourists galore. Not in Boise.
Yes, locals here can ski at Bogus Basin 16 miles from downtown, stroll or bike 85 miles of trails, and paddle or fish on the Boise River, which runs through town. But they'll also find low taxes and affordable homes.
Plus, Boise has become a nucleus of culture and health care. Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center is ranked in the top 5% of hospitals nationwide for clinical performance.
Where to live
North and East of downtown: Prices in the city center are steep, so buyers should concentrate on the surrounding neighborhoods, says Boise real estate broker Jason G. Smith. "Traffic isn't an issue," he says. "So you don't need to be right downtown to enjoy it."
You'll find two-bedroom condos or small single-family houses priced at about $300,000 in the North End.
Southeast and Northwest Boise: On a tighter budget? Head to these neighborhoods (located about 10 minutes from the city center) for homes starting around $200,000.
What to do
Outdoors: Walk along the Boise River Greenbelt or explore the trails winding out of Hull's Gulch or Camel's Back Park. The city has two open-air Saturday markets, which are a great place to find produce and bump into friends.
Art: The Boise Art Museum has 3,000 permanent works and presents diverse exhibitions ranging from site-specific installations to collections of ancient artifacts.
Performance: Grab tickets for the opera, philharmonic, or ballet. Boise State's Morrison Center hosts national tours of Broadway shows, stand-up comedy, and live music, while the Shakespeare Festival fills a 770-seat outdoor amphitheater.
And there's more to come: Construction is under way for a new $70 million, 65,000-square-foot cultural center, slated to open in 2015.
Retirement benefits are taxed, though some types of pensions qualify for a deduction. There is no inheritance or estate tax.