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Old 12-20-2011, 09:40 PM
 
209 posts, read 260,876 times
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I was hoping to get some IF info and find out if I'm just getting suckered into all the Idaho hype or if it would be a good move. Currently, we live in western MA(whole different world from Boston). Semi-rural, weather is comparable except maybe a bit wetter here. Husband and son love snowmobiling, fishing, skiing. Great local organic produce, very low traffic, easy accesibility via highways. Downside...heating oil is 3.50/gallon, taxes are $4K+(on a $367K assesment), health care premium for family of 3 is about $1200/mo, electric(on top of oil bill) runs $160-$260/mo, and college for one semester in-state is $8K+.

We have the opportunity to possibly move to Idaho, with our jobs, and it seems very attractive to cut bills significantly and have more disposable income to enjoy recreational activities, save for college, etc., but when looking at all the "how wonderful idaho is" info on the internet, and then comparing it with the info from the people who actually live there on the forums, I am thoroughly confused. We are definitely east coast yankees if you will, so this would be a big change for us, so only want to consider it if it's truly accurate that idaho life would be better. One of the most important things to us is church/school for our 8 year old, and if we chose IF we would definitely send our son to Calvary Chapel Christian school, but it seems there is a very large LDS population. We have a lot of religious diversity here, but the hyper-liberalism here is just about intolerable, and I don't wish to trade one frustrating situation for another. The property values look great compared to here in MA, but with all the growth is it realistic that taxes would rise significantly there within the next 5-10 years?

Sorry for all the questions, just trying to make the most informed decision possible and whether it's even worth the time/cost/mental effort to pursue this possible move.
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Old 12-20-2011, 11:19 PM
 
Location: Old Mother Idaho
21,482 posts, read 14,393,529 times
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Idaho Falls has a lot of diversity. For sure, the LDS influence is strong here, but so are all the other Christian religions. We have a small Jewish minority here, and a few Muslims.

Much more than anything, Idaho Falls is a very family-oriented town, and always has been. That is not to say the culture is much different out here- Idahoans all tend to have a very self-reliant streak, and like to tend to their own business. In the smaller towns, there is lots of gossip about nothing much, as it always is, but neighbors here get to know each other.

It can be confusing reading what others say about Idaho, but the main thing to know is Idaho is a huge state that is really two different states, cut in half by impassible mountains. The North has relatively little to do with the South and vice versa. The distances and difficulty of travel north to south is the reason for the separation. On a good day, it requires about 11 hours to go from Coer d'Alene in the north to Idaho Falls in the south, and some of that drive is 2-lane, no matter which route a person chooses.

The north is mining and logging country, with some areas that are good farmland. The south is mostly farmland, with mining and logging in some places. Famous potatoes are all grown in the south, and most of the population of the state is also in the south. More than anything else, Idaho is still very lightly populated for it's size. If you drive 20 miles out of any city in Idaho, you can be in a place that is still wilderness, very much like it was 100 years ago.

The thing most newcomers have a hard time with is nightlife. With the exception of Boise, there really isn't much going on, but Idaho Falls is probably very close to C d'A in the amount of nightlife, and may exceed any city in the state except for Boise in it's civic and community organized family activities. We have lots of sports for kids and grownups year round, and there are lots of other clubs. Even so, the pace of life here is very much more laid-back than what you will be used to.

It's not a backwater, though, by any means. We have the Museum of Idaho, probably the finest general museum in the state that brings in major exhibits year round, a new Art Museum, and the Idaho Falls Art Center plays host to a wide diversity of touring musicians, actors and plays, community musicals, and the like, and a large acting group, ARTI, is now in the process of re-building an old movie theater after a fire last year. The ARTI theater will be our second community drama theater.

You can do all the things you like to do here easily. Our snowmobiling territory is some of the very best in the West, with extensive trail systems that stretch for many miles in all directions, and it's possible to pull out a 14" trout from the Snake River, right in the middle of town. The Snake's two tributaries- the Henry's Fork and the South Fork, are both better fisheries than any in Montana, and we have a host of other great fishing streams as well.

The weather here is very dry compared to where you live. Our average rainfall is only about 18" a year, and while we can get a lot of snow, much of it is powder. Depending on where you live here, it's very easy to see exceptional sunsets year round here, as everything to the west is a big vista- the Lost river mountains are 100 miles away, but are easily seen from here. The same is true for the Tetons, which lie 80 miles to the east. It is quite easy to go from high alpine forest to high steppe desert in a day here. Getting these big spaces is something Easterners tend to love a lot when they move here.

We have relatively fewer ex-Californians living here, but we have more Mid-Westerners and Easterners living in Idaho Falls, due to the Idaho National Lab. The INL is the major reason I.F. is so diverse, and it's been here for a very long time now.
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Old 12-21-2011, 09:34 AM
 
Location: Southeast Idaho
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You did not mention, but would you already have a source of income here? If not, get that before coming out if that's what you decide to do.
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Old 12-21-2011, 10:15 PM
 
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I went to school in North Adams. Are you from near there? I would say north Idaho's climate is much more like western Massachusetts, minus the summer humidity.
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Old 12-22-2011, 05:13 AM
 
209 posts, read 260,876 times
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Thank you all for the info! We are currently in North Hatfield - North Adams is a little over an hour west - we are about 10 min north of Northampton.

Nightlife isn't too much of a concern as our town has 3 zip codes but only 3000 people, so the two pubs in town are about as exciting as we get. The snowmobiling, etc. definitely ranks highest on the extracurricular activities. That and I'm willing to trade entertainment choices for no more mosquitos! I think what scares me more is the vastness...in 3 hours I can be in Maine, NH, VT, CT, RI, or NY. It seems like everything is so far away comparatively no matter where you live out west.

Yes, we would be relocating with our jobs, so getting a job there isn't a concern, although I do think about it for our son down the road. He's only 8, but the fact that college is 1/3 the cost there is very attractive. Is the quality of college education good there? We have great schools back east here, but personally I think they're overrated, and ultra liberal agendas puched on our kids here big time. My biggest concern is moving there to take advantage of a lower cost of living, but in reality not seeing much of a difference. Just wondering if the data is outdated because of all the growth or if it really is cheaper overall. Comparing college costs, absolutely..but whether that will be the reality 10 years from now..who knows. I think right now I would definitely choose Idaho Falls over Coeur d'Alene. Anything to watch out for with the homes in IF?
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Old 12-22-2011, 12:06 PM
 
Location: Old Mother Idaho
21,482 posts, read 14,393,529 times
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The cost of living in I.F. is pretty low in comparison to Boise or Cd'A. I can't give you an accurate average home price, but it's probably around $150,000 or so. I.F. went through a 10 year housing boom before the bust, and it's still a buyer's market. There are many really nice older homes in that range as well. Of course, there are many homes above that bracket, and some below it.

I.F. has some great old neighborhoods, many newer incorporated subdivisions, and a lot of new apartments and condos. Ammon, a smaller town that is independent but now has grown to IF's eastern city limit, has a lot of newer homes, and the homes there are somewhat lower priced than I.F., but it's utilities are higher. Ammon city center is about 5 mi. out of I.F.

Iona is another small independent town that lies about 7 mi. east of I.F. Iona is an older community in general, but there are a lot of new homes built in that area, too. The lots in Iona are typically a lot larger than in Ammon or IF... when the town was chartered, the lots were sized large enough to feed farm animals during the winter, so most are around 1/2 acre to 2 acres. Some are 3 acres. Iona is the smallest of the 3 communities.

There are other small towns to the south- Firth and Shelley, and Ucon and Rigby lie northward. All are outside of Bonneville County limits, and all are farm communities.

Food costs are good here, as are gas prices. Idaho Falls generates power, so the rates are lower in the city limits than they are outside, which is powered by a couple of big companies.

IF is the big hub city, and serves a huge radius that is over 100 miles- Jackson Hole, Wyoming is the limit to the east, and we get folks from there shopping here daily. We have an amazing amount of services for a town our size, and IF is the largest medical center in this end of the state.

Idaho State U is the closest university- 50 mi. south, in Pocatello. But I.F. has University Place, a unique extension center that offers classes from ISU, U of I, and BYUI. (BYUI: Brigham Young University, Idaho) BYUI is a private university run by the LDS church, but it offers classes to non-LDS as extension courses. Boise State is the largest, and I think U of I is now the smallest. There are also colleges in Twin Falls and Lewiston. All of them have different specialties- ISU, for example, has the state's only Pharmacy program, and has a Nursing School. U of I has the School of Mines and Forestry School.

It's possible to get some degrees without ever having to leave I.F., but most ISU students here have to commute for some classes.
Idaho's education system is struggling right now, but who's to say what it will be like when your son is college age?

Probably the best liberal arts school in the state is the College of Idaho in Caldwell. It's a small private school with an excellent reputation. C of I has turned out most of Idaho's Rhoades' Scholars, and several of our Governors graduated from there. Caldwell is about 350 miles from I.F., about 40 mi. due west from Boise.
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