Idaho has some of the fastest-growing and most affordable places around.
Flourishing companies like Albertsons in Boise and the Idaho Candy Company in Owyhee fuel the demand for Idaho real estate. But, there are still inexpensive places to live in the potatoes-producing state if you know where to look. So, where exactly should you look for the cheapest places to live in Idaho?
Using Saturday Night Science, we analyzed US Census data on home prices, median income, and overall cost of living for every place in Idaho to identify where you should plant your spuds.
The 10 most affordable places to live in Idaho
What’s the cheapest place to live in Idaho? While the competition was fierce, the cheapest place to live in Idaho for 2023 is Emmett.
If you care about home values and affordability in Idaho, look at the list below; if you don’t find your favorite there, head to the bottom for a complete list of affordable places to live in Idaho.
Check out some more reading about Idaho and the cheapest places in the country:
The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Idaho For 2023
Emmett, Idaho is a great place to live for those looking for an affordable option. With a median home value of $161,400 and median rent of just $680, the cost of living in Emmett is below the national average. Additionally, the cost of living index is 89.0, making it an ideal spot for those who want to stretch their dollar further.
As the county seat and the only city in Gem County, Emmett has a small-town feel with easy access to larger cities like Boise. Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate Emmett’s proximity to the Payette River and nearby hiking trails. And with a low unemployment rate of just 2.21%, there are plenty of job opportunities available for those who choose to call Emmett home.
We’ll take a short drive southwest from Rupert to arrive at our second most affordable place in Idaho, Burley. Burley is located on the south bank of Snake River, one of the premier spots to waterski, windsurf, and fish in southern Idaho.
Buying a home in Burley will set you back about $147,100, the third lowest price in Idaho. The median income in Burley is $52,086, giving the city the third best home price to income ratio in Idaho.
If you’re a sucker for a good deal, there’s nowhere better in Idaho than Payette, a little city an hour northwest of Boise. Payette boasts the fourth cheapest homes statewide, with a median price of $160,500. And with a median income of $49,683, Payette residents pay the sixth smallest percentage of their salaries on homes anywhere in Idaho. On top of that, folks in Payette enjoy the 11th best rent to income ratio in the state. If you do decide to settle down in Payette, be sure to mark the annual week-long Apple Blossom Festival on your calendar.
Located between Idaho Falls and Pocatello, Blackfoot ranks as the fourth least expensive place to call home in the Gem State. Rent in Blackfoot is absurdly cheap, with a median price of $696; that’s less than half the average rent in Idaho. Even more importantly, with a median income of $51,971, Blackfoot residents get the fourth best deal on rent statewide. If you decide you like Blackfoot enough to settle down for good, a home will set you back about $171,700.
But if you’re just visiting Blackfoot, be sure to take advantage of the “free taters for out of staters” deal at the Idaho Potato Museum.
As one of the biggest cities in Idaho, Pocatello proves that you can have all the convenience of a large place without paying a large price. Pocatello is home to the Idaho Museum of Natural History, but if you’re looking for a more unique historical perspective, the Museum of Clean is a great place to spend the day. Homes in Pocatello are the eighth cheapest in Idaho, with a median price of $165,900. Pocatello residents also pay the seventh smallest percentage of their income on rent in Idaho.
Jerome, Idaho, is located in a rural area in the southern part of the state. To give you an idea of what life is like in the region: dairy farming makes a major contribution to the town’s economy. But Jerome is more than just a good place for cows. It’s also the number 6 most affordable place in Idaho for people to call home.
Home prices are cheap in Jerome, a town of 12,182 people. The median home value sits at $168,200. Just to put that number in context, that ranks as the ninth mark in the state. Rents are similarly affordable, with a median value of $804 per month.
Looking at the general economy for the region, the median income stands at $54,535. The unemployment rate comes in at 3.37%.
Given its location, life is relatively rustic in Jerome. However, residents do have access to Idaho’s natural beauty. For instance, the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is about two hours away. For a weekend getaway, folks in Jerome can head to Boise, the state’s capital and biggest city, also about a two-hour drive away.
You’d find it nearly impossible to find a lower price on homes than in Rupert, our seventh cheapest city in Idaho. That’s because, at a median price of $123,700, Rupert has the first least expensive homes in the state. Even better, Rupert enjoys the best home price to income ratio in Idaho. Rupert is also one of the best cities for families in Idaho, you if you’re just starting a new family without much in the way of excess funds, Rupert’s got you covered. And don’t worry about being bored here; we promise that there are loads of things to do on a budget in Rupert.
Rupert is located in southern Idaho, between Pocatello and Twin Falls.
Fruitland, Idaho is a great place to live for those looking for an affordable option. With a median home value of $165,300 and a median rent of $917, the cost of living is quite reasonable compared to other places in Idaho.
In addition to being affordable, Fruitland also boasts a strong economy with an unemployment rate of just 2.51%. Its location along Route 95 in the Treasure Valley makes it an ideal spot for those looking for easy access to both Boise and Oregon. Fruitland offers a great quality of life at an affordable price point, making it a top choice for those looking to settle down in Idaho.
As an affluent suburb of Pocatello, the cost of housing in Chubbuck is a bit pricier than the preceding cities on this list. To give you an idea, the median home price in Chubbuck is $224,000 and the median rent is $886. However, Chubbuck’s residents are also among the best-paid on this list, with a median income of $65,619. That gives Chubbuck the tenth best home price to income and fifth best rent to income ratio in Idaho.
If you’re worried that there won’t be enough free things to do in your free time, consider that Chubbuck has over 20 parks, so you will never be bored.
Lewiston, located in north central idaho, is one of the cheapest places to live in the state. With a median home value of $222,000 and median rent of just $787, residents can enjoy a lower cost of living compared to other cities in Idaho.
The city offers a small-town feel with easy access to outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and boating. Plus, with a low unemployment rate of just 3.21%, job opportunities are available for those looking to relocate.
Cheapest places to live in Idaho FAQs
The county in Idaho with the lowest cost of living is Adams County. The average living wage in Adams County is $81,054 according to MIT data. Adams County has the lowest cost of living because it has relatively less expensive childcare and housing costs compared to Idaho as a whole. Childcare costs $10,277 a year in Adams County for two children compared to the Idaho average of $12,392. Housing costs, defined as a blend of the average rent and average mortgage payment, are $8,808 per year in Adams County compared to $10,812 on average in Idaho.
The cost of living in Idaho is 4.5% lower than the US average. According to MIT, the required living wage for a family of four with two working parents in Idaho is $85,747 vs the national average for a family of four with two working parents of $89,744. The median income of a Idaho household is $58,915.
The cheapest housing market in Idaho is Weiser. The average home value in Weiser is $122,100, the lowest in the state. The average home value in Idaho is $235,600, almost 1.9 times higher than Weiser.
Methodology: How we determined the most affordable places to live in the Gem State for 2023
Determining affordability for places in Idaho boils down to two factors:
- How much money do I make?
- How much does it cost to live here?
You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make to determine affordability. For example, imagine a place in Idaho where median incomes are $100,000 and housing costs $200,000 to buy. That’s more affordable than living in a place with a median income of $50,000 where houses cost $101,000. The ratio of income to home prices is higher in the first example.
With that logic in mind, we derived several cost of living statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2017-2021 for Idaho. The cost of living statistics are:
- Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
- Median Rent / Median Income (lower is better)
- Median Home Price
You can include median home price as a stand alone variable because high home prices generally correlate with higher costs for all goods and services (heating, electricity, food, etc). You then compare these cost of living metrics for each place in Idaho to figure out which is the least expensive.
We aggregate those rankings into a “Cost of Living Index” for each city in Idaho. The “Cost of Living Index” allows you to rank all of the 33 places in Idaho that have more than 5,000 people from least expensive to most expensive.
The place in Idaho with the lowest cost of living according to the data is Emmett.
We updated this article for 2023. This reports reflects our tenth time ranking the cheapest places to live in Idaho.
Idaho Affordabilility Summary
This is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in Idaho for 2023, if you’re looking at the cost of living numbers in Idaho.
Here’s a look at the most expensive cities in Idaho according to the data:
For more Idaho reading, check out:
Cheapest Places To Live In Idaho
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