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Idaho has almost 12 million acres of public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). That equals 22% of the state’s total land. Public land gives residents and visitors access to hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, rafting, camping, climbing, and more.
The median home price in Idaho is $599,000, and while this number is up 32.1% since May 2021, it has dropped 2% since August of this year. In some areas, homes sell for more than a million dollars, but in others, prices are dramatically lower, making mountain views and access to public land a real possibility.
Idaho’s key industries include aerospace, tourism, outdoor recreation, energy, and agriculture. The state also grows more potatoes than any other state in the U.S. Statewide, the median household income is $58,915, and the Idaho Department of Labor projects industry job growth in a range of industries from healthcare to wholesale to mining.
Energy costs in Idaho average 11.38 cents/kWh, which falls below the U.S. average of 15.42 cents/kWh. Idaho ranks fourth in the U.S. for their use of renewable energy sources, which generated 74% of electricity in the state in 2021.
Average property tax rates are divided into urban and rural rates, and we’ll list them both for each county. Idaho property taxes typically fall below the national average which factors into an overall lower cost of living in the state versus other states in the U.S.
To determine the cheapest places to buy a house in Idaho, we looked at median home values, median income (in 2020 dollars), and the cost of living index. Keep in mind that these variables are subject to change and are also dependent on each individual’s lifestyle and expenses.
Median home price: $298,000
Median household income: $41,250
Cost of living: 13% lower than the national average
County: Twin Falls
Property tax rate: Urban – 1.1513%; Rural – 0.991%
Filer is a small town in Twin Falls County just on the outskirts of Twin Falls. The town enjoys a sense of small town community but with added amenities in the neighboring towns. Every year they host the Magic Valley Stampede at the Twin Falls County Fair, a PRCA rodeo that spans three days.
Home prices in Filer are up 13.5% from February 2020, and homes are staying on the market for an average of 62 days.
Median home price: $273,495
Median household income: $37,552
Cost of living: 14% lower than than the national average
Property tax rate: Urban – 1.431%; Rural 0.817%
As one of Idaho’s best kept secrets, Weiser places a strong focus on their community — their town slogan, “We love our kids, our community, and our country,” is proudly proclaimed on their town signs. It is home to the National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest, a nationally known event where fiddlers showdown and the town comes together. It is located in western Idaho, just across from the Oregon border and just over an hour away from Boise.
Home prices in Weiser are up 12.0% from August 2020, and homes are staying on the market for an average of 66 days.
On the eastern side of the state, Blackfoot lies in between Idaho Falls and Pocatello. It is known as the Potato Capital of the World and is home to the Idaho Potato Museum. Much of the employment in the town is thanks to its potato crops. Blackfoot is settled near the Blackfoot Mountains to the east, though much of the range is privately owned.
Home prices in Blackfoot are up 28.2% from October of 2020, and homes are staying on the market for an average of 49 days.
Historic Downtown Pocatello offers a range of activities from food and drink to art and fashion settled in historic buildings near the western foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The city offers easy access to the mountain range where you can drive ATVs, bike, and run (or walk).
Home prices in Pocatello are up 21.7% from October 2020, and homes are staying on the market for an average of 38 days.
The Salmon River runs right through the town and mountain views can be seen from just about anywhere. As with much of Idaho, it’s surrounded by public land, so you can spend the day driving an ATV around the mountains, fishing the river, hiking, or camping — take a sweater, sometimes it snows in the mountains in June!
Two restaurants highly recommended by locals include Junkyard Bistro — get the pasta — and Bertram’s Salmon Valley Brewery — get the Hazelnut Ale. Salmon is also known for the Salmon Select Sale, a horse and mule auction. But even if you aren’t in the market for a horse or mule, it’s a great time to hang out with community members, check out vendors, and get a drink.
Home prices in Salmon are up 17.3% from October 2020, and homes are staying on the market for an average of 58 days.
Challis is a tiny town about an hour south of Salmon, but it’s not without its charms — it offers a lot in the way of outdoor recreation. The Challis Hot Springs, a naturally occurring pool of water that rises from the earth’s crust. It is geothermally heated, so it offers a relaxing place to let the stress of everyday life wash away. You can also visit the Land of the Yankee Fork State Park which offers ghost towns, Wild West shooting reenactments, and access to public land for hiking, ATVs, camping, and more.
Home prices in Challis are up 19.7% from September 2020, and homes are staying on the market for an average of 91 days, 21 days less than September 2020.
Emmett is the largest city in Gem County — it’s also the only city in Gem County, though there are smaller, unincorporated towns like Bramwell and Letha. The Gem Island Sports Complex offers baseball fields, a skate board park, an amphitheater, walking paths, and a stocked fish pond. The city also offers access to the Boise National Forest with 113 sq. miles of open public access.
Home prices in Emmett are up just 1.1% from July 2020, and homes are staying on the market for an average of 53 days.
8. Mountain Home
Mountain Home Air Force Base is located southwest of Mountain Home and is home to the 366th Fighter Wing and a daily base population of 9,193 people, including civilians and military dependents. Mountain Home’s downtown is undergoing a revitalization aimed at encouraging local entrepreneurs and bringing in outside businesses. As you can probably guess by now, Mountain Home also offers lots of access to outdoor recreation and is home to Danskin Peak Lookout Tower, Long Gulch Falls, Big Fiddler Creek Falls, and more.
Home prices in Mountain Home are up 16.9% from May 2020, and homes are staying on the market for an average of 48 days.
Osburn is a narrow strip of town sandwiched between two mountain ranges in the Silver Mining Valley mining region, just south of the Coeur d’Alene National forest in northern Idaho. Though the town offers museums and the Sierra Silver Mine Tour, much of what it has to offer will take you out of town and into the mountains that surround it.
Home prices in Osburn are up 27.3% from May 2021, and homes are staying on the market for an average of 61 days.
10. Saint Maries
The St. Joe River that flows through Saint Maries offers whitewater, fishing, swimming, camping, and hiking. You can also do some fly fishing and boating and there are companies in the area that offer guided boating trips. Outdoor activities reign supreme, but it also offers quaint downtown shopping, Paul Bunyan Days, and “Race the Joe” Jet Boat Races.
Home prices in Saint Maries are down 10.4% from May 2021, and homes are staying on the market for an average of 63 days.
Find the right Idaho home with the help of a top agent
Idaho is a beautiful and unique place that can take your breath away with its beauty. Rushing rivers and time-worn mountains dominate much of the state, and if you enjoy hiking, camping, boating, hunting, and more, this is the place for you. Working with a trusted partner who can help you find the right Idaho home can make the transition seamless and smooth.
Header Image Source: (Hai Nguyen / Unsplash)
- "Potatoes," Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (November 2021)
- "QuickFacts: Idaho," United States Census Bureau (July 2021)
- "Idaho Profile and Energy Estimates," U.S. Energy Information Administration (March 2022)
- "2021 Annual Report," Idaho State Tax Commission (January 2022)
- "Property Taxes by State," WalletHub (March 2022)