Idaho, the Gem State, is not often the top of anyone’s list for retirement destinations. Still, with its relatively low cost of living and somewhat tax-friendliness on retirement income, there are some appealing places to retire in Idaho.
Idaho is ideal for those who love the outdoors and want to stay active throughout the year. It has 30 state parks and 7 national parks and sites, including part of Yellowstone, giving retirees plenty of outdoor opportunities. The mountains, rivers, and parks will keep any outdoor enthusiast quite happy during their retirement years.
Additionally, Idaho is a very pedestrian and bicycle-friendly state. It even has a 25-mile trail, the Greenbelt, perfect for staying active and taking in the local views in the Boise area.
In addition to the stunning scenery, Idaho’s weather provides a mild climate with all four seasons, where the winters and summer do not reach extreme temperatures found in some other parts of the country, like California. Anyone who wants a mild climate could also consider Arkansas or perhaps Hawaii.
Idaho’s taxes impact seniors differently, depending on the source of their retirement income. Social Security is not taxed at a state level in Idaho; however, other forms of retirement income such as 401Ks or IRA income are taxed between 1.6% and 7.4%.
However, Idaho’s property tax and sales tax are minimal, making the cost of living quite reasonable. Additionally, Idaho has no estate or inheritance tax. Idaho also offers a property tax reduction for homeowners 65+ years old.
And if you are looking for a state with excellent medical care at a reasonable price, Idaho has that too. Boise is home to two of the state’s top hospitals, both known for their affordable medical care.
The final reason why Idaho is an excellent place to retire is that it has an exceptionally low crime rate, significantly lower than the national average.
Where to Retire in Idaho
- Coeur d’Alene
- Percent of Senior Population: 13.6%
- Overall Population: 228,959
Boise is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the northwest and is one of the most beautiful. This scenic city is ideal for those looking to live in a pedestrian and bicycle-friendly city. Boise was even named “Best Town to Live and Ride” by Bike Magazine.
Though Boise has a rich history as a mining base for the Oregon Trail, today it is known for being one of the country’s top tech cities. It is also home to Boise State University, which helps add to the city’s colorful and vibrant culture.
The downtown area is full of shopping and restaurants, with the 8th street district full of sidewalk cafes giving the area a more European flair. In addition to shopping and restaurants, the Boise downtown area also offers:
- Multiple wineries and breweries
- Boise Art Museum
- Idaho State Museum
- Basque Museum and Cultural Center
- Morrison Center
Plus, there are a variety of venues for live performances throughout the downtown area.
Sports fans will also appreciate watching some of the city’s local teams, such as their minor league baseball, basketball, and hockey teams. And of course, the Boise State Broncos football team.
Active retirees will also enjoy taking in the nearby outdoor treasures such as the Boise Mountains, local dunes, and Boise River. Not only is there an abundance of hiking and camping in the area, but adventurous retirees will also enjoy white water rafting and exploring the local canyons. Outdoor-loving retirees will also like:
- Bogus Basin
- Idaho Botanical Garden
- Julia Davis Park
- Oregon Trail
- Boise River Greenbelt
- Boise National Forest
- Hulls Gulch
Boise also has more than 5 hospitals and numerous other medical facilities, giving residents plenty of choices for health care. Best of all though Boise is a large city, it still has a below-average crime rate.
- Percent of Senior Population: 12.1%
- Overall Population: 114,161
Meridian, just outside of the state capital, Boise, started as a farming community back in the late 1800s but has transitioned to a high-tech city over the years. It is one of the country’s fastest-growing cities, and the endless business opportunities found in this city are what drive the economy here.
Located in the Boise Valley, Meridan is also very appealing to active retirees. With the many local parks, national parks, and the Boise Mountains, retirees will have an abundance of outdoor options to keep them busy.
Meridian is one of the best places you can find for those looking to retire to a growing high-tech city with the convenience of outdoor opportunities. Plus, Meridian is the home to multiple colleges and universities, adding the vibrancy of the area.
As a growing city, Meridian offers an abundance of shopping and dining opportunities. Not to mention, other cultural venues like the Meridian Symphony Orchestra and the many museums found in nearby Boise and Nampa. Meridian also has its fair share of wineries and breweries, so residents and visitors alike will never go thirsty in this city.
Though Boise is just minutes away, Meridian has multiple medical centers plus a full-service hospital, Treasure Valley Hospital. Add the Boise health facilities and there will never be an issue finding medical care. And just like the rest of the state, Meridan has a below-average crime rate.
- Percent of Senior Population: 16.9%
- Overall Population: 52,414
Coeur d’Alene, located in northern Idaho, is near the Montana and Washington borders. It also resides along the shores of Lake Coeur d’Alene, one of the cities major attractions and why many choose to retire here. Plus, when it is too chilly to enjoy the lake in the winter, residents often find themselves at one of the two nearby ski resorts.
In addition to being picturesque the town also has a small town welcoming feel.
Those who love the outdoors and exploring the wilderness will find Coeur D’Alene the ideal place to settle down. And golfers will love the Coeur D’Alene Resort Golf Course, which happens to be the only course with a movable green. While Coeur D’Alene is a bike-friendly city, it is not as pedestrian-friendly as other cities in Idaho.
Because the local economy is primarily driven by tourism, the town has an abundance of shops, galleries, and dining choices. Plus, there is a small college in the area adding to the cities culture.
The housing here is reasonable, though slightly above the national average, housing is still around $330,000. Unfortunately, Coeur D’Alene does not have as many medical facilities in the area and the crime rate is higher than the national average.
- Percent of Senior Population: 21.6%
- Overall Population: 15,434
Hayden also located in northern Idaho is near Coeur D’Alene, and even has scenic views of the Coeur D’Alene National Forest. Hayden sits on the shores of Hayden Lake, which is 499 acres.
Hayden is a hot spot for tourists who love the outdoors but still retains its relaxing warm feel. It is especially attractive to visitors and residents looking for a place to swim, boat, or fish.
Hayden Lake once suffered from high phosphorous levels. However, huge improvements have been made to restore the water quality to its crystal clear state.
In addition to enjoying Lake Hayden, retirees will also like visiting George Anderl Memorial Park, English Point Recreation Area, Canfield Mountain Natural Trail, and Caoncourse.
And since Hayden is less than an hour’s drive, on I90, to Spokane, residents can enjoy a fun afternoon at their many wineries, restaurants, and boutiques. Plus, there is an abundance of amazing views and parks perfect for hiking and camping in between Hayden and Spokane.
The Hayden Senior Center is a great place for new residents to meet other retirees in the local area. The center offers a variety of services like:
- Exercise and wellness classes
- Craft classes
- Games like Bingo, Pinochle, and Bridge
- Computer classes
Hayden also has 1.75 medical centers per 1,000 residents. Though this isn’t the highest figure in the state, there are still enough options to keep residents happy and healthy.
- Percent of Senior Population: 17.4%
- Overall Population: 8,931
If you want to retire on a lake where you can fish, boat, and enjoy the tranquility of the lapping waves, then Sandpoint might be the place for you.
Located in northern Idaho, Sandpoint sits on both Lake Pend Oreille and Pend Oreille River. This small mountain town has some of the most beautiful scenic views found in the country.
Sandpoint is the ideal place for retirees looking for a quiet, relaxing place where they can enjoy the outdoors year-round.
Beyond the lake and river, Sandpoint also has access to thousands of acres of green forests perfect for hiking, biking, and camping. Plus, with the nearby mountains, there is downhill and cross-country skiing in the winter. And for those who are looking to go a bit faster, the local forests offer a great opportunity for snowmobiling too. Some of the favorite sites in the area include:
- Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness
- Schweitzer Mountain Resort
- Mickinnick Trail Head 13
- Gold Hill Trail
Sandpoint also offers other activities such as the local Farmer’s Market, Bonner County History Museum, and the Kinnikinnick Native Plant Society’s arboretum. Plus, because tourism is a large part of the economy, there are several shops, restaurants, and cafes in the area.
Though it is a small town it still has 6.34 medical centers per 1,000 residents.
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