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skyline photo of Downtown Boise, ID

15 Things to Know About Living in Boise

Moving to Boise, Idaho? As one of the best mid-sized cities in the U.S., the capital of Idaho offers a low cost of living, lots of fun outdoor activities, and a robust arts and culture scene. Check out these 15 things you need to know about living in Boise!

An Affordable Place to Live in the Pacific Northwest

Boise is not only one of the most affordable cities in the U.S., it’s also one of the best places to live in the Pacific Northwest—without the high price tag of similar nearby cities like Seattle and Portland! Your dollar goes further in the Boise housing market, where the median home price is $191,000, and the median monthly rent is $834—which is well below the national average. If you’re looking for a great place to live near the mountains without breaking the bank, Boise might be for you!

Find Employment in Boise

Skyline shot of Boise, ID with capitol building in the distance. Photo by Instagram user @davenackers

Photo via @davenackers

Looking for a city ripe with employment opportunities? With a low unemployment rate of 2.8%, The City of Trees is a great city to find a job and a hot spot for entrepreneurs. Food production, advanced manufacturing, technology and innovation, and energy are a few of the major industries in Boise. Along with Albertsons, Fortune 500 companies in Boise include Boise Cascade and Micron Technology. If you’re looking for Boise jobs in technology or health insurance, find work with other top Boise employers like Idaho Power and Blue Cross of Idaho!

Attend BSU & Other Great Schools

There are plenty of great colleges in Boise, Idaho where you can earn your degree. Located along the banks of the Boise River, prospective students can choose from over 200 fields of study with excellent nursing, computer science, and engineering programs at Boise State University. Enroll in classes to pursue a degree in architecture, environmental design, or restoration ecology and habitat management at the University of Idaho-Boise. Or, if you’re pursuing nursing, medical, or dental fields, check out the excellent programs at Carrington College.

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A Top Place to Raise a Family

As one of the best cities to raise a family, there’s certainly no shortage of family-friendly things to do in Boise! Feed giraffes in the Giraffe Encounter, meet goats, sheep, and llamas up close at the Zoo Farm, or climb up on the Zoo Boise Carousel at Zoo Boise. Choose from a variety of exhibits to get up close to cownose rays, feed birds, or search for sea urchins and hermit crabs at the Boise Aquarium. Enjoy local food and drinks during the Great Garden Escape, take the Scarecrow Stroll during the Harvest Festival, and view sparkling light displays during Winter Garden aGlow at the Idaho Botanical Garden. Step back into Idaho history with exhibits like the Pioneer Village, Idaho: The Land & Its People and History Explorers Gallery at the Idaho State Museum. Or make a splash on water rides like the Snake River, Corkscrew Cavern, or Mammoth Canyon Family Raft Ride at the Roaring Springs Water Park.

Enjoy Great Weather & Plenty of Green Space

With only 2,924 people per square mile, the City of Trees has 5000 acres of open green space available for residents to enjoy. And, thanks to its position in the Pacific Northwest, Boise weather allows residents to comfortably experience outdoor recreation and stay active year-round! Visit the 25-mile stretch of riverside parks and trails for a scenic spot to jog or ride your bike at the Boise River Greenbelt. Get some fresh air by strolling through the gardens or playing a round of tennis at Julia Davis Park. Play cricket and bocce ball or bring your pup to the dog park at Ann Morrison Park. Go hiking in Boise and soak in breathtaking views on one of the many outdoor trails—like Camel’s Back Trail Loop, Crestline Sidewinder Loop Trail, or Cottonwood Creek Trail to Toll Road Trail. Or hit the slopes with your snowboard or go skiing in Boise at Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area & Ski Resort.

Spend a Day in Downtown Boise

Downtown Boise, often referred to as BoDo, is an ever-growing trendy spot with shopping and dining that you won’t want to miss! Stop in for a pour-over, Iced Vanilla Latte, or Espresso Blend at Slow by Slow Coffee. Find fresh produce, handmade pottery, and baked goods from April to December at the Capital City Public Market. Snag unique gifts, homemade beauty products, and local artwork and jewelry at Mixed Greens. Purchase pop culture items, pose with the Stranger Things couch, or step inside the TARDIS from Doctor Who at Re-POP Gifts—often referred to as the “mini Comic Con.” See a show-stopping public art display at the largest outdoor art gallery in the Northwest, Freak Alley Gallery. Or take part in local events, try tasty food and drinks, and view local art exhibits on the first Thursday of every month at Boise First Thursday.

Celebrate the City’s Basque Culture

With more than 16,000 members, Boise is one of the largest concentrated Basque populations in the world outside of Spain! The Boise Basque community is celebrated here and even has its own block that includes the Basque Museum and Cultural Center. Take cooking classes, shop handmade items, and try traditional Basque dishes like tapas, paella, and croquetas at the Basque Market. Watch Oinkari Basque Dancers perform traditional dances at the yearly San Inazio festival. And don’t forget to mark your calendars every five years for food, dancing, and culture at the Jaialdi Festival—one of the largest Basque festivals in the world!

Visit Museums in Boise

There are tons of Boise Museums worth the visit. Gain a better sense of the city’s history with a guided tour and learn backstories of past inmates at the Old Idaho Penitentiary. Marvel at over 4,000 works of art, peruse rotating exhibitions, or attend Art in the Park at the Boise Art Museum. Immerse yourself in exhibits about Idaho’s history and first residents at the Idaho State Museum. View lectures, films, musical performances, and rotating exhibits about the Black community’s contributions to Idaho at the Idaho Black History Museum—which once housed the first Black Church in Idaho. Or plan a trip to see rotating exhibits like Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission, Matter Splatter, and Star Wars-themed exhibit The Fans Strike Back at the Discovery Center of Idaho.

Appreciate Boise Arts

If you love the fine arts, you won’t be disappointed by the Boise arts scene. Watch ballerinas glide across stage as they perform shows like Swan Lake or The Nutcracker at Ballet Idaho. Enjoy the Children’s Reading Series, First Thursday Happy Hour, and various seasonal performances like Tiny Beautiful Things at the Boise Contemporary Theatre. See star-studded shows like Hairspray, Pretty Woman, or Disney’s Aladdin at Broadway in Boise. Brush up on your bard vocabulary before enjoying classic plays at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. Or find free comic books, meet comic book authors during panels, try dressing up as your favorite comic book character, and more at the Boise Comic Arts Festival.

Thrive in the Music Scene

artist DJing at the Knitting Factory in Boise photo by Instagram user @fadewoodlive

Photo via @fadewoodlive

As one of Idaho’s musical epicenters, there are plenty of options for live music in Boise! Catch a show featuring indie bands or country artists at Boise music venue, the Knitting Factory Concert House. Experience the classical stylings of talented local musicians at the Boise Philharmonic. Buy season tickets to moving operatic performances at Opera Idaho. Get tickets for the Boise summer concert series to see yearly rotating musical acts like Foster the People, Louis the Child, and The Avett Brothers at Outlaw Field. Listen to jazz performances by the Gene Harris Super Band at BSU’s Morrison Center for the annual Gene Harris Jazz Festival. Head to the space above Mulligans Pub to get a seat at Boise’s newest music venue, The Olympic. And remember to save the date for a rockin’ line-up at Treefort Music Festival, a springtime five-day indie rock festival.

Cheer on Boise Sports Teams

Fans can rest assured knowing there are plenty of sports teams to cheer on in Boise! After moving to Boise, you’ll quickly realize that Boise State football is a staple. Gear up for BSU football Saturdays in the fall to watch the Boise State Broncos (NCAA) play on Lyle Smith Field’s iconic blue turf at Albertsons Stadium. Watch the Idaho Steelheads (ECHL) race across the ice to score a goal at Idaho Central Arena in Downtown Boise. Or head to nearby Garden City, Idaho to watch the Boise Hawks (PBL) hit a home run at Memorial Stadium!

Taking the Idaho Potato to the Next Level

Idaho farmers lead the nation in potato production—so don’t be surprised to find eccentric and unique spud selections at local restaurants! Try Westside’s Famous Idaho Ice Cream Potato and other delicious food at the Westside Drive-In. Choose between five different types of potatoes and five different proteins when you order fries with “burgers on the side” at Boise Fry Company. Find unexpected pizza flavors like Potato/Bacon Pizza at the Pie Hole. Order the amazing Idaho Potato Skins, Loaded Smashed Potatoes, or Potato Salad at local BBQ joint, Goodwood Barbecue Company. Go traditional and sink your teeth into a Loaded Potato with melted cheese, tomato, bacon, sour cream, and salsa, or simple oven-roasted potatoes at Big City Coffee. And if you’re into starchy shenanigans, true potato lovers can rent a stay at the Big Idaho Potato Hotel, a 336-square-foot potato-shaped Airbnb!

Feast on Great Boise Food Finds

With a rich culture and trendy downtown area, it’s no surprise that Boise cuisine is top-notch! Get breakfast in Boise with dishes like Cinnamon/Raisin French Toast, Trav’s Famous Breakfast Burrito, or a Spinach and Italian Cheese Frittata at Goldy’s Breakfast Bistro. Enjoy Seared Halloumi Tacos, Steak Frites, or a Black Bean Sweet Potato Burger at the Bittercreek Alehouse. Chow down on the Man V. Food Burger, Mushroom Bacon Burger, or the famous one-pound Big Jud Special burger at Big Jud’s. Order authentic Italian food like Three-Cheese Lasagna with Meat Sauce, Sausage & Peppers Arrabiata, and Quattro Formaggio at Luciano’s Italian Restaurant. Bite into the Tomato Basil Fondue & Grilled Cheese, 8th Street Tacos, or Northwest Crispy Chicken Salad at the popular Downtown Boise eatery Fork Restaurant. Or cool down with ice cream flavors like “Heart of Gold” Caramel & Smoked Sea Salt, “West Coast Best Coast” Pistachio Honey, and “Cookies with Gramma” Coconut Cookie Dough at The STIL.

Discover The Secret of Idaho Wine

grape vines in J. Victor Vineyards with Telayawine photo by Instagram user @telayawine

Photo via @telayawine

Part of the up-and-coming Snake River Valley wine region, Boise has become a hot destination for wine-tasting and vineyard tours! Sample wines made with Idaho grapes like the Petite Sirah, Rizza Reisling, or classic Sidewinder Syrah at Coiled Wines. Sip on local wines like Boushey Cab Franc, Shaw Stanton Petite Verdot Magnum, and Lanae Ridge Sangiovese on a cozy patio overlooking the Boise River at Telaya Wine Co. Spice up your night with unique ingredients that challenge your palate when you try the Jalapeño Wine and Jalapeño Wine Lemonade at Potter Wines. Purchase traditional bottles of wine or four-packs of canned wine in flavors like Swamp Donkey, Daft Pink, and Electric Youth at Split Rail Winery. Reserve a table for a group Boise wine tasting or grab a bottle of Bearded Quixote Tempranillo, Vermouth, or Cabernet Sauvignon at Cinder Wines, a must-visit winery in Boise. And be sure to try at least one of the 800 bottles of wine from all over the world found at Hyde Park Wine.

Experience Boise’s Exciting Nightlife

pinball and arcade games in the basement of The Arcade Underground in Boise photo by Instagram user @spacebararcade

Photo via @spacebararcade

There are plenty of things to do in Boise after the sun sets. Have a drink with friends and split a Nacho Platter at Liquid. Order a Cheesy Bretzel Roll with authentic German biers like Tucher Helles Lager or Ayinger Celebrator served in a hefty mug at Prost German Pub. Head to local favorite Downtown Boise dive bar to sip on unique drinks like Into The Thick Of It, Sanitize and Pray, Hoyeaaaa!, and I’m Getting Ripped Tonight! at Cactus Bar. Try creative craft cocktails like Hot Buttered Rum, a Ginger Drop, or the Humbug at Press and Pony. Settle in for live music with touring indie bands and late-night dancing at Neurolux. Or play classic arcade games, console games, or board games while sipping craft beers and listening to live music at Spacebar.

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Moving to Boise? Extra Space Storage has storage facilities throughout the Boise area that can help simplify your moving process. Find self storage near you!

About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.