Aromatic, soaring pines. Towering mountains. And, no doubt, potatoes. Recognized for its starchy Idaho potatoes, more than 13 billion pounds of spuds are harvested here annually.

Idaho was ranked by United Van Lines 45th Annual Movers Study as the 9th most popular state to move to in 2021. The state had an inbound traffic rate of 60.4%, meaning there were more people moving in than moving out during the year. 

Dubbed the “Gem State” thanks to the more than 72 precious and semi-precious gemstones mined here, Idaho is also where the largest diamond was discovered in the United States.

The total population of the state, according to US Census Bureau data, was 1,839,106. This was a 17% increase from the last census in 2010. 

This year’s United Annual Mover Study found the top three reasons people moved to Idaho were to be closer to family (34.2%), retirement (29%) and for lifestyle reasons (27.8%). 

The state’s cost-of-living index in the first quarter of 2022 was 99.4. This is slightly below average for the nation. The individual income tax rate is graduated, and ranges from 1-6.5%. In addition, the sales tax rates in Idaho are currently 6%.

Advantages of Moving to Idaho

Idaho ranks as the third best state when it comes to public safety, according to US News with a low rate of property and violent crimes. Living in one of the safest states is attractive for movers with young families. According to the Crime in Idaho 2020 report, the safest counties are Camas, Lincoln, Owyhee, Bear Lake and Lewis.

Retirement was the second largest reason for moves to the Gem State in 2021. Idaho has been consistently in the top five states for retirees to move to. Most movers were over the age of 45, with 45.1% of all movers over the age of 65. 

One of the best retirement perks Idaho has to offer?  Surprisingly its abundance of golf courses — there are over 100 courses nestled in the state, among its beautiful scenery. 

Top Growing Cities in Idaho

Idaho is the second-fastest growing state in the country, behind Utah. The state has seen its adult population increase from 10.1% from the previous census with its under-18 population decreasing by 1.4%. Idaho’s growth is largely concentrated around Ada County, home to both Boise and Nampa. 

According to chamberofcommerce.org, Boise, Moscow, Eagle and Meridian are among the best cities to live in Idaho

Meridian, situated between the capital city of Boise and Nampa, is the second-largest city in Idaho.  It was one of the 10 fastest-growing cities in the country compared to 2010, increasing from 75,000 residents to nearly 140,000.

Meridian is a great place for families, featuring lower home prices, plenty of outdoor activities, short commutes, and low crime rates. The unemployment rate in Meridian is just 2.7%, compared to a national average of 3.7%. 

Fun Things to Do in Idaho

Idaho is home to many natural wonders, among them Shoshone Falls Park on the Snake River in south-central Idaho. 

Meanwhile, Gravity Hill in Grangeville, Idaho, is an eerie spot that appears to defy physics . So, put your car into neutral and roll uphill. Or, give it a whirl with another inanimate object. There’s another such optical illusion in Post Falls, Idaho.

For another unique experience, check out Black Magic Canyon in Shoshone, a volcanic river canyon in southern Idaho, its sculpted, twirling rock a sight to behold.

The state’s largest (and only) beagle-shaped bed and breakfast, Cottonwood’s Dog Bark Inn affords the chance to sleep inside a man-made dog.

Set in Idaho City, the Sluice Box is an historic landmark-turned-antique-shop brimming with vintage trinkets throughout its maze of interior rooms. Plus, it’s purportedly haunted.

Want to witness the largest potato crisp ever made? Had to the Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot. Take time to explore the exhibits to see how potato farmers cultivated and harvested their crops before modern technology. 

Want to learn about pivotal moments in war history? The Warhawk Air Museum in Nampa is not to be missed — you’ll find artifacts from WWI, WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Also, watch for its rare fighter airplanes on display: the Curtiss P-40 from WWII and the WWII P-51C Razorback Mustang.

True crime buffs should pay a visit to the Old Idaho State Penitentiary in Boise, Idaho. Built by prisoners, it opened its doors in 1872, housing famous inmates that include Raymond Allen Snowden, Lyda Southard, and Harry Orchard. The prison was investigated for paranormal activity by the Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures.”

Outdoor Experiences in Idaho

Loaded with lush, green space, Idaho has 27 state parks with terrain that ranges from  sand dunes to hot spring  and flower-frocked mountain trails. 

Here are a few of the notable highlights:

  • Snake River Canyon —a more than 50-mile canyon separating Twin Falls County and Jerome County, is a popular destination — features a walking path along the canyon for on-foot visitors, and hiking trails around the canyon. Visitors can also fish or boat on the Snake River. The 486-foot tall I.B. Perrine Bridge over Snake River is a popular place for BASE jumping.
  • Bruneau Dunes State Park, located in southwest Idaho, is home to the tallest single-structured sand dune in North America. 
  • For those wanting to relax, try out one of the state’s over 100 hot springs, such as Kirkham Hot Springs or Burgdorf Hot Springs.
  • Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, Idaho, is a 212 foot tall waterfall, making it one of the largest natural waterfalls in the U.S. In fact, it’s 45 feet taller than Niagara Falls. 
  • Hagerman Fossil Beds offers an exciting peak at life from 3 million years ago. It’s also where you can learn about now-extinct creatures from the Pliocene Epoch.
  • Box Canyon in Wendell — home to North America’s 11th largest spring — affords amazing views of clear water and an opportunity to swim in the spring. Near the canyon is a 20-foot waterfall.
  • Prefer to bike? The Route of the Hiawatha is a 15-mile-long bike trail that goes through train tunnels and over trestle bridges. A mostly downhill ride, it’s perfect for those wanting a relaxing ride through the scenery of northern Idaho.

Home to two of our country’s mightiest national parks, Grand Teton and Yellowstone, the Idaho portions are significantly less busy than their Wyoming and Montana counterparts. Consider a scenic drive along the 70-mile Teton Scenic Byway, which runs along the western slopes of the Teton Range.

Meanwhile, Idaho’s nearest Yellowstone entrance — the park’s busiest — brings you to geyser paradise. 

If seeing a bear tops your bucket list, a drive through Yellowstone Bear World in nearby Rexburg, Idaho, guarantees up-close sightings. The wildlife park is home to grizzly bears, black bears, elks and moose. Plus, it features a petting zoo and amusement rides, too. Cap off the detour with a stop at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, a wildlife center and educational facility with resident grizzly bears, gray wolves and river otters. Learn more in our guide, “National Parks of the Interior West: Adventure Awaits in Your Own Backyard.

Idaho Eats

Idaho is about way more than potatoes. A classic is finger steak, an appetizer that’s rarely seen outside of Idaho. Finger-length strips of steak are breaded and deep-fried and served golden and crispy usually, with French fries and a dipping sauce. 

Love mushrooms? Spongey, pinecone top-like morels are plentiful. Foragers with permits hunt for these prized fungi throughout the mixed forests of Idaho, particularly during the rainy season.

For a fabled slice of pie, head to Blue Ribbon Café & Bakery, where down home cooking, like country fried steak, mingle with sweet treats, such as sticky caramel pecan rolls and homemade cherry pie.

Want to pick up some of Idaho’s best produce? You’ll want to visit Emmett, a town known for its fertile valleys and fruit production.

Craving the best baked potato in the world? Ketchum’s western-themed Pioneer Saloon has the perfect fix. Try the football-sized ones called the Jim Spud, a baked potato with teriyaki beef and all the traditional fixings.

Weather in Idaho

Idaho’s terrain is dynamic and varied, consisting of rugged mountains, grassy, flower-stipped valleys, wide open plains and fertile lowlands. Idaho experiences a full range of seasons. As such, the best time to move here tends to be between mid-April to late October. 

While the early spring can bring ice and snow, Idaho’s summers more than make up for it. During the summers, Idaho experiences warm to hot temperatures. 

Summers in Idaho are packed with beautiful sunshine, though it’s offset by plenty of rain. The precipitation, however, is a benefit to the state’s near-perfect growing conditions. While snow and ice grace Idaho between the months of December to February, it is rare for the state to experience sub-zero temperatures. 

Idaho is susceptible to a wide variety of severe weather hazards, including thunderstorms, flooding, strong winds, wildfires, snowstorms and hailstorms.

With a wide range of weather possible in the state,  it’s best to plan your move ahead of time. And to plan a wardrobe filled with layers of clothing. Keep an eye on the forecast before your moving date and be prepared in case anything changes.

Prepare for Your Move to Idaho

Considering a move to the Gem State? A professional moving company like United Van Lines can make your move as simple and efficient as possible. With help from a professional long-distance mover, you can enjoy the many wonders Idaho has to offer — without the stress. 

United Van Lines offers a variety of moving plans that can tailor to your needs. Our MyUnited Move Portal can help you stay organized throughout  your journey to Idaho, complete with customized tools that help keep track of your important contacts and major milestones. Learn more about our moving services and get your online quote today!

United Van Lines Moving Tips

United Van Lines understands that moving out of state can feel overwhelming. That’s why we’ve created this catalog of resources to further assist with your move. 

Still trying to decide where to move? Check out the latest United Van Lines Annual Movers Study. Each year we interview our customers about where they’re moving and why. Our info-rich Moving To articles help familiarize you with your next home state. United helps you stay organized throughout your move with the help of comprehensive online moving checklists. We also offer many expert tips on packing and preparing for your move.

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