Moving to Idaho

Parent Q&A

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  • Possibly moving to Idaho

    (5 replies)

    We’re planning a visit to the Boise area in a couple weeks as its a possible choice for moving out of state. We’re interested in the Meridian, Eagle, Star, Kuna, and Nampa cities. Any specific recommendations on what to check out? We plan on driving around the areas, talking to locals, checking out shops, grocery stores, neighborhoods, parks, etc. 

    If anyone can share their recent experience or someone they know from moving from the Bay Area to Idaho it would be appreciated!  I’m particularly interested in how people of color and multiracial families are welcomed. Thanks!

    I urge you to get a copy of Morris Dee's Southern Poverty Law or visit online, for

    a perspective on Idaho, and particularly Coeur d'Alene.


    I have really good friends who live in the North End. They say it’s the only area to live if you're liberal and a person of color. But it’s more expensive. The areas you mentioned are pretty conservative with not much of a downtown area. I hope you plan on a visit.

    I have not lived in Idaho, but if I was considering that move, I would want to read the October 7th article in The Guardian on Shiva Rajbhandari, the student incumbent who recently joined the Boise School Board.  The article gives a lot of salient detail in terms of what this kid was up against.  It really paints a picture of some of the cultural forces at play there, and may offer some answers to your questions.  Wishing you a happy move wherever you end up. 

    I'm a Berkeley native who lived in Boise with my multiracial family for many years. We left 7 years ago. There were pluses and minuses, but for us the minuses outweighed the pluses. Boise had the most amenities & the most people with similar values to ours (culturally, politically). Idaho is very conservative, but Boise is somewhat less so. Still, gun-ownership (and conceal-carry) is a big deal there, the Aryan Nation was founded in Idaho and headquartered there until 20 years ago!

    As POC, we were not comfortable even driving through some remote areas. Californians were increasingly moving in for cheaper housing, however there was some local resentment brewing about outsiders coming in and increasing prices. It also tends to be religiously conservative. A large population of LDS (Mormon) and evangelical Christian, which permeates many things. E.g., at my child's public school an after-care worker chastised kids who said, "Oh, God" (taking the lord's name in vain) and others I met called that "swearing." In general, we found locals to be very nice folks though. Albeit maybe not very..."sophisticated." E.g., low % of college graduates, only a few (small) museums, not much going on culturally (however there are some cultural amenities related to their Basque history).

    And it was very, very white, like maybe over 90%? Boise is a Refugee Resettlement Community, so many POC there were actual refugees from other countries. As a POC, I was often assumed to be a foreign refugee. I have an ethnic name, and once someone called at work who had forgotten my name, so they asked for the "foreign lady." Another time a waitress asked if my mixed-race child was a "mulatto." She was not trying to be insulting, she was just unaware. My husband was in a nearby town with international visitors & locals found it amusing that they were foreign. Things like this made me feel uncomfortable & I never really felt at home or at ease expressing some of my views.

    On the plus side, if you like the outdoors it has a lot to offer, a bit more activities seemed to be arriving when we left, less traffic (although meager public transport), very family-friendly. In some ways it felt easier being a parent there than in the bay area. Changing tables everywhere (even pubs), kids all over and welcome, ample parking. Large families are common, our neighbors had 8 kids. We had our 2nd child after living there several years, but when we only had one we kind of felt like weirdos.

    In terms of local areas, Meridian was growing and getting more amenities. Eagle is the "rich" area - I was told it's almost completely LDS (homogenous). Kuna is more rural, Star more suburban. Nampa mostly just has Northwest Nazarene University (where students must pledge to abstain from alcohol and premarital sex (or face expulsion) and are required to attend NNU's church services). Maybe as a bay area native all of this was just too different for me, but I worried that my children would have limited world views if they remained. Most natives stayed their entire lives and most I met who'd ever been abroad had done so only for religious missions. Salaries can also be very low. My husband and I both have advanced degrees and worked for the state, and we've never been so poor! Cheaper housing did not outweigh overall costs for us. Anyway, feel free to contact me directly if you have questions.

    Since you asked how people of color and multiracial families are welcomed:  search for the Huffpost article of May 17, 2022, "Living with the Far-Right Insurgency in Idaho" which describes the plans and activities of groups of white nationalist extremists to take over the state, beginning with local elective offices.  Remember, too, that in June an armed group was arrested for plotting to disrupt and start a riot at Pride celebrations in Coeur d'Alene.  The lure of affordable housing is understandable, but...

  • Know anyone in Boise, ID?

    (2 replies)


    Please share your comments regarding present-day Boise Idaho and what it is like to live there.

    I've read the few comments on Boise in the archives but they are almost 10 years old. 

    If you happen to know anyone that moved from the Bay Area to Boise, we'd love the connection.  You can post on-list or contact me directly.

    thanks BPNers!

    I don't have direct experience, but my friend's son went to college there and every time they visited him she was tempted to move there. She said: very clean, farmer's markets, beautiful, active and low cost of living. 

    My best friend lives in the north end of Boise and has been trying to get me to move there for years. She is a outdoor enthusiast and bird watcher. The nature areas are great and has a pretty nice downtown. It is sooo much cheaper then here to live and to buy. The down sides are it’s mostly conservative, has open carry even in schools. And I might be nervous to have my Bernie or Social Democrats stickers on car. But hey, she says it’s changing and they are even taking in refugees. She’s actually teaching them English as a volunteer.

    so I guess that’s some info.- :)hope it helps.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Moving to Boise

Sept 2008

We are becoming fed up with the cost of living in the Bay Area and wondering why we are crazy enough to live here and pay what we do (for housing, food, name it!) The reasons are obvious to me (my family is here, the climate is great) but I'm opening my mind and researching an eventual move to Boise, where I've never been, but where my husband has traveled for business - and he's enamored with it. (although he hasn't been there in the winter!)

We are pretty comfortable here...we own our home, squeeze in a vacation or two a year and are happy with our daughter's school and our school/church/neighborhood communities. We also have a preschooler and one on the way, and the thought of living in a larger house half the cost of ours, on the same single salary with the ability to easily save for college and retirement with fewer financial worries has me daydreaming of packing my bags. I love being close to family, but in all honesty, we could afford to fly back and forth to see them as often as we do now, which is maybe 6 times a year.

We are planning an exploratory trip to Boise this fall, if only to rule it out entirely. Prior to that, any tips, information or suggestions would be appreciated: neighborhoods, lifestlye, community...has anyone lived in Boise, contemplated a move there or know someone who has? California Native

I've been to Boise twice (both times in the summer) and and I understand the allure of wanting to live in a simpler, less expensive place. The first time was for a conference and I loved it so much I took my family back the following year --mainly for a rafting trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, although we spent some time in Boise. We considered buying a vacation home there but decided against it. What I loved about the area: cute, small, affordable, nice small city feel with some music, food, art and jewelry stores, fantastic outdoor access--attracts folks who have outdoor interests, close to Bay Area. What I didn't like: much less ethnic diversity (the city does boast a Basque population) and the number of churches in the surrounding areas where we might have bought property. The latter implied to us that we might be out of place in this environment, since we are a mixed ethnicity family. Boise fan

I've never lived in Boise, but my in-laws do so I've spent a couple of weeks a year there for the past 10 years or so. Everytime we get back I tell my husband how I am so happy we do NOT live in Boise.

Why? Because I love being in Berkeley where we can walk to the library, the store, the Cal campus, church, etc, etc. I also love the variety of buildings and shopping choices we have here. You'd better hope gas is cheaper in Idaho because you will be needing a lot of it! The area is growing rapidly, but it is all in poorly planned, spread out subdivisions located off 4 lane streets with terrible traffic. Every store is a big box store with a huge parking lot around it. You are very lucky if you can walk to get a cup of coffee.

My in-laws live in Meridian (the closest suburb to Boise), but we go into Boise for shopping & entertainment. If I was going to move to Boise, the ONLY places I would consider are the North End or Hyde Park area of Boise proper. This is one of the oldest areas of the cities so it is not so reliant on the car. There are commercial strips you can walk to and there is a little more variety in the housing stock. Downtown Boise is not a bad place either (restaurants, shops), but there's not a lot of family-friendly housing near Downtown (BoDo).

From what I understand, the winters aren't all that bad. But I don't enjoy driving 50 mph on the previously mentioned horrible roads when they have ice on them! Summers get hotter than they do in Berkeley, over 100 degrees.

Of course there are positive points - the view of the mountains is lovely. There seem to be a lot of families there. The housing prices are lower than they are here (although not hugely cheaper in the areas I mention), but you get what you pay for. Fine for some, but not for me.

From a friend who move to Boise in '95: Well, a lot of people have relocated to Boise from all sorts of places, but I believe the majority are from neighboring states. Folks from Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Wyoming kind of move here to be in a western Florida. . . .

If you are moving from the Bay Area to Boise, you can find some of the stuff you are used to, some of the time. There's pretty good coffee, an arts community, and beautiful recreation areas. However, the urban amenities are fewer and farther between than in a more densely populated area. You can't buy hard liquor at the grocery store. There is one real mall in southern Idaho.

Be aware that Idaho is a very Republican state. Many people in this area have extremely conservative views on religious, social, and political issues. You can check out the Boise paper at to get a flavor of this community. Be sure to read the letters to the editor. Note that many residents view The Statesman as extremely liberal.

Economics - Idaho has a tough couple of years ahead. Still, it's probably doing as well as most states, in these difficult times. There are small, high tech firms based here, and Boise is a medical center for a large area. Still, the overall base of employment is much shallower here than in a more densely populated area. Do some research with the chamber of commerce and/or state agencies on the employment outlook. Idaho does try to encourage small business startups.

Religion - The two largest groups in this area are Roman Catholics and Mormons. The greater Boise area does have considerable diversity in religion, due to Boise State and the high tech community. For example, we have a Hare Krishna temple here, which serves a primarily Indian congregation. We also have a long-established Reform synagogue.

One additional thought from my friend who moved to Boise: The first winter is hard for Californians. I've learned to bear in mind this local wisdom: If you make it through January, it's all downhill from there. Just remind yourself of this every morning until April. The good thing about winter is no yard work.


Moving to Boise, Idaho

Jan 2006

I have a good job offer in Boise, Idaho. It's only about 70% of what I make now, but the equity in our Berkeley home could buy a decent home there with little or no mortgage and I could send my kids to a good public school. A ''long'' commute there is 20 min. We are looking for a more relaxed pace of life- if I or my husband were unable to work here or even want to cut back, we would have to sell our home. We can't save for college etc., even though we work very hard at 2 good jobs. It makes little sense to downsize here and pay way too much for a smaller house or take on an extra hour commute each day.

I would like to hear from anyone who has lived in Boise. It's a nice medium size, a beautiful natural setting, and the weather doesn't seem too bad in the winter (although I prefer sandy beach to the ski trail). Our concern is that although we are a ''pale-white'' family ourselves, I love Bay Area diversity and find it invigorating to work with people of all stripes in my current job- and Boise is 98% white, overwhelmingly Christian/ Mormon. We do not attend church, are socially liberal (support gay marriage and right-to-choose) and traditional swing-voters who have swung quite liberal under the current Presidential reign (but not quite radical-Berkeley-liberal). I'm thinking I might hate it socially and working in the public sector, and my kids will get grief for being little heathens and will be exposed to gay-bashing and racism. I know Boise is the most liberal town for 150 miles in any direction, but it's the only big town for 150 miles in any direction. I want to raise my kids in comfort and have more quality time with them, but I want them to be open-minded world citizens, too.

Help me out here with any impressions you might have to offer. Anon

My husband grew up in Boise. It's a nice little town and we'd consider settling down there if the opportunity arose, and we are a totally blue state racially mixed family.  Don't worry about the red state vs. blue state stuff. I've lived in a lot of different places and people everywhere display their intolerance in different ways. The Bay Area is no different except for being in denial about it. I've seen plenty of postings from parents whose Bay Area raised kids have been exposed to racism, sexism and gay bashing.

I grew up in Boise, and I've lived here in Berkeley for 3.5 years. So now you know my bias. I understand your concerns. Idaho has this reputation for being a little backward, etc. And I must admit that there were only a few African Americans in my whole school (more Asian- and Hispanic-Americans) But Boise has changed a lot in the past few years and is becoming more and more diverse all the time. I love it there. It's still largely white and Christian but those things are not bad in and of themselves. (The US as a whole is something like 75% Christian, so what do you expect?) No one in Boise will think you are weird for not going to church or for not being religious (kids at school thought the religious kids were weird). Your kids won't be considered heathens. No one will think any thing of it if your kids have black/white/purple friends. About the gay-issue. It might surprise you to know that there is an annual Gay/Lesbian Pride parade in Boise. There is a fairly large gay population there in proportion to the size of the city. I wish I had numbers, but I don't.

Besides, so much of what your kids end up believing and becoming is influenced by what you as parents teach and value. I went to public school and don't recall any teachers inappropriately preach their political agenda--liberal or conservative. And most of my friends ended up on the liberal side. Granted, 'liberal' in the bay area is further left than 'liberal' in the Boise, but that's true of MANY places.

I have no reason to try to persurde you to make the move there, but I would like you to know that Boise is a wonderful place to grow up. And you can even get pretty decent sushi there, too, believe it or not!

Anyway, I'd love to answer any other questions you have if I can. sz

I can't think of anywhere affordable that will have Bay Area diversity and open-mindedness but I can't help thinking the cost of living here has to be driving out some of the diversity- especially socio-econmically. So I don't know specifically about Boise but I'm sure you'd find a nice community, however small, among the conservative majority. Exposing your kids to the sort of culture you describe, that would be the hardest part of the choice for me as well, but ultimately you can't shelter them from hatred, ignorance, et al. but try to use their experiences as teaching/ learning experiences. and on the bright side, if you move you may be able to afford to visit the bay area AND the tropics or other cultures yearly.... good luck

I lived in Boise about 20 years ago, and have to say that I would NEVER live there again. I found the social atmostphere intolerable and I left. Yes it's cheap, yes the wild life is beautiful, but how many rock climbing conversations can one handle without going insane?