Why people are moving to Idaho — and Idaho Falls — like never before

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It’s no secret. Idaho is the fastest-growing state in the country, and not because people are making babies. People are coming here on purpose.

Unlike neighboring Utah, the third fastest-growing state, Idaho’s increase in population is due to people actively moving here from other states.

Idaho Falls is one place people are looking to move to specifically.

“I think we’re seeing a lot of people move here from out of state, particularly because of the cost of living and the quality of life,” said Idaho Falls Economic Development Director Dana Briggs.

Cost of living

Almost everything in Idaho is cheaper. Cost of living in Idaho is 7.8 percent lower than the national average, according to GO Banking Rates. Transportation is a bit more expensive than the national average, but the scenic drives more than make up for it.

Idahoans also enjoy one of the smallest tax burdens in the country. Overall Idaho’s tax burden is 29.6 percent below the national average and is the lowest among the western states.

“If you look at other places in the country, people are paying a lot of money to work in larger cities,” Briggs said. “Sometimes with regards to wait-times with commutes, traffic and everything like that we just see that people come here and express such relief for not having to deal those things anymore here in Idaho Falls.”

Jobs

Idaho’s unemployment rate is at 2.9 percent. That’s significantly lower than the national average of 3.7 percent.

“We have a lot of growth with businesses — in the business community,” Briggs said. “We have a need for employees.”

According to Data USA, Idaho’s highest paid jobs are in the medical industry. And Idaho offers specialized work in agriculture and conservation.

Idaho is also home to large employers such as Melaleuca, INL, Snake River Landing and Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.

Snake River Fur Trader statue along the Riverwalk (greenbelt) in Idaho Falls. | EastIdahoNews.com file photo

Safety and security

U.S. News put Idaho in the top 10 safest states to live, with the sixth lowest violent crime rate and eighth lowest property crime rank in the country.

According to safewise.com, Idaho’s crime rate is 25 percent lower than the national average.

“Idaho Falls is not immune to crime, and we have an active police department,” Briggs said. “I think that when people come here from another area, Idaho and Idaho Falls particularly is so safe (compared) to what they are used to. … Coming to Idaho Falls, they’re not afraid to walk at night.”

The great outdoors

Idaho has some of the best hunting, fishing, and hiking in the country.

Rootsrated.com’s list of top 10 hikes in Idaho includes Mount Borah, Sawtooth Trail, South Bitch Creek Canyon and the wilderness trail to Echo Crater.

“While we are a gateway to a lot of national parks and state parks in the area, Idaho Falls is also a destination to some of those outdoor activities,” Briggs said.

The region also has vast mountain ranges and wilderness ideal for big game hunting, and sportsmen have easy access to a variety of fishing holes like South Fork of the Snake River, Henrys Fork of the Snake River, Hagerman Trout Ponds and Henrys Lake.

Idaho isn’t only good for being outdoors when it’s warm outside. The ski hills and snowmobile trails across the state make Idaho a perfect destination for winter sports as well.

“I think a lot of people are coming here because of what they see as the benefits of being in our area,” Briggs said.