Idaho Real Estate Prices: The proper perspective

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Has North Idaho become too expensive?

So, for whatever reason you are looking for a better neighborhood. Perhaps you want a better place to raise your family or to retire.

 You have heard from “some Realtor guy” on Youtube about how you can “Live Better in North Idaho.”

So, you jump on the internet to do your research and the FIRST thing you discover is that the cost of North Idaho real estate is not cheap!

It’s kind of like taking a journey up a mountain to see the layout of the land and when you get to the lookout point you are surprised to see your view is obstructed by…trees…you can’t see the forest through the trees.

Like a big fat tree obstructing your view, it is hard not to fixate on the fact that  North Idaho real estate prices have gone up over 10% a year for the last four years and counting.

Some give up on North Idaho completely because they believe it to be “too expensive” based on the real estate prices alone.

But is it possible that by fixating on the cost of real estate in North Idaho we do ourselves a huge disservice by not looking beyond the trees to see the bigger picture?

And just what is the bigger picture?

We are going to look into Three things:

1) Real estate prices have gone up everywhere

2) Real Estate prices are only one part of determining the overall affordability of a place to live

3) Affordability is only one part of determining the overall lifestyle vlaue of a place to live

Let’s dive in…

 1) Real estate prices have gone up all over the country the last several years, not just in North Idaho.

graph us home prices

And while it is true that North Idaho real estate prices have gone up slightly more than the national avergage, it is important to recognize that no matter where you look to relocate…prices are higher there too!

And, if we are completely honest, most of us would want more house and property than we can afford no matter what state it is in.

2) Real Estate prices are only one part of determining the affordability of a place to live

In a 2018 comprehensive study, US News ranked each state for how affordable it was for the residents who lived in them.

US News confirmed Idaho’s higher than average real estate prices and ranked Idaho as #36 in “Housing Affordablity” among all US states. That’s pretty high!

But, the study also showed Idaho had the 4th least expensive cost of living in all of the country.

Cost of living in their study was defined as utilities, grocery items, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous goods and services that we all use for everyday living*

Those willing and able to cross the threshold of higher real estate prices and buy in North Idaho, actually find their day-to-day living costs are quite low.

After combining housing affordability and cost of living, US News ranked Idaho #25 overall for Affordable Living in the US.

That means those who live in Idaho experience the average affordability for Americans, even with higher than average housing costs.

But, North Idaho is NOT average…more on that later.

Of notable interest is how Idaho ranked for affordability among the 13 Western Region states comprised of Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California.


As you can see in this chart, the US News study revealed that Idaho had the 3rd least expensive housing of the 13 Western Region states:   

Cart Housing Affordability
 And when it came to Cost of Living, Idaho was, by far, the most favorable for its residents compared to the other 12 Western States:

   Chart Affordability

When Housing Affordablitiy and Cost of Living are combined, Idaho is the most affordable state to live in of all the Western United States!

Cart Affordability 2 

3) Affordability is only one part of determining the overall lifestyle value of a place to live

Allow me to demonstrate:

Picture your dream property…is it good because…. it is affordable…of the amount of land…the custom kitchen…the open floor plan…the granite counters…perhaps it has a shop?

Now, picture the worst neighborhood you have ever seen…are you there?

What if I were to tell you I would give you your dream home and property for free! All you had to do was live in it and raise your family in it…but the home had to be in that worst neighborhood you just imagined!

Would you do it?

If you don’t do it, it is probably because you value something more than affordability…like safety and location!

The North Idaho lifestyle is unmatched in what it offers.

Few places in America offer all these qualities of life in one location:

…things like a strong Conservative Culture, safe and clean cities, modern amenities, excellent health care, mild four-season weather, plenty of water, fewer people per square mile, all surrounded by unmatched outdoor beauty and recreation.

The North Idaho lifestyle is WAY ABOVE AVERAGE! Yet, it is AVERAGE in affordability for the country and the MOST AFFORDABLE place to live in the west!

So, the next time you hear that, “North Idaho is too expensive!” …remember to look beyond the trees and keep things in perspective.

When it comes to North Idaho…there is much forest beyond the trees!

 *US News uses a metric based on the Council for Community and Economic Research   it is based on six components: housing, utilities, grocery items, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous goods and services.

Written by: Kory Martinelli Owner/Realtor of The Martinelli Realty Team Professional Realty Services Idaho