How is Idaho for retirement?
Learn how Idaho is for retirement and some of the benefits you can expect to find when you retire in the state.
Idaho offers a mix of natural beauty, serene landscapes, and a vibrant cultural scene, which caters to the needs of seniors. The state hosts a stunning collection of state and national parks, including the famous Yellowstone National Park. If you are considering retiring in Idaho, here are things you should know.
Idaho is a good state for retirement due to its tax benefits, natural beauty, good climate, outdoor recreation, and good healthcare. The state exempts Social Security income from state income taxes, and it has low property taxes and sales taxes; public pensions may also be eligible for a deduction. However, incomes from retirement savings plans and private pensions are considered taxable incomes, and subject to state income taxes.
Is Idaho tax-friendly for retirees?
Idaho is one of the states that fully exempt Social Security income from state income taxes. You will need to attach Form 39R to your Form 40 to get the tax exemption.
Other retirement incomes such as private pension and retirement savings plan withdrawals are fully taxable at the state income tax rate of 1% to 6%. Public pensions from federal, state, and local governments may qualify for a deduction if you are age 65 or older, or you are at least 62 and disabled.
Idaho has a 6% statewide sales tax on goods and services, one of the lowest sales tax rates in the country. Some cities, but not all, levy an additional sales tax on goods and services. You can expect to pay an overall sales tax of 6% unless you settle in the select cities that levy a sales tax.
How much are property taxes in Idaho?
The effective property tax rate in Idaho is 0.49%, which is one of the lowest property tax rates in the United States. Homeowners can expect to pay a property tax of about $1,817 annually for every $100,000 in property value.
Idaho homeowners may qualify for the Idaho property tax reduction program if they meet certain terms. If you are age 65 or older, you use your home as your primary residence, and your household income for 2022 is $37,000 or less, you may be eligible for a tax deduction starting from $250 to $1,500 on your property tax bill.
Pros of retiring in Idaho
Low cost of living
If you are retiring on a budget, Idaho can help you stretch the dollar further. The state boasts a relatively low cost of living, and you will pay less for groceries, utilities, rent, and daily expenses than in other states like Florida and California. Retirees also enjoy senior-specific discounts or reduced rates for recreational activities, public transportation, and select goods and services.
One of the biggest prides of Idaho is its natural beauty encompassing lush forests, huge tracts of untouched wilderness, rugged mountains, and a stunning collection of state and national parks. There are more than 30 state and national parks in Idaho where seniors can hike, camp, or go for leisure walks. The 25-mile Greenbelt in Boise is ideal for seniors to walk, jog, or bike while enjoying panoramic views.
Low crime rate
If you are keen on settling in safe neighborhoods, you will find plenty of them in Idaho. The state has one of the lowest crime rates in the country, with 204.7 incidents per 100,000 people, which is below the national average. Large cities like Boise and Twin Falls have the highest number of police officers in the country and they are generally safe across the year.
Idaho is culturally diverse, and the state has a mix of people from diverse backgrounds, including Hispanics, Latinos, Native Americans, Black Americans, etc. The state has a vibrant cultural scene, and there are numerous museums, theaters, art galleries, and festivals where people come together to experience different cultures. In Boise, you can visit the Morrison Center for the Performing Arts and Boise Art Museum, where you can find a huge collection of exhibits.
Idaho experiences all four seasons, and you can expect a mild climate year-round. Winters tend to be cold and freezing, and the snow is good for skiing and snowboarding. Summers come with humidity and heat, and it is the perfect time to explore a diverse range of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, fishing, and golfing.
Cons of retiring in Idaho
Limited public transportation
You will likely need a car to get around since the public transportation system is not as effective as in bigger cities like Boise. Idaho is a large state by landmass, and cities are dispersed away from each other. You should plan to get a car if you plan to travel across the various towns in Idaho; public transport will be unreliable and less effective.
Idaho winters can be cold and snowy, which may be undesirable for seniors who prefer a mild climate. Some regions have recorded some of the coldest temperatures in the continental US, with temperatures going as low as -54 degrees Fahrenheit. However, Idaho is known for its geothermal hot springs, most of which provide a way for Idahoans to have some fun in the winter months.
Limited options for luxury shopping
Because of Idaho’s large size and space population, there are few big cities. While you easily buy day-to-day shopping at Walmart and the Home Depot, there are not as many options for luxury shopping. You may need to shop things online or go out of state for specific luxury brands. With the increasing population, more retailers may enter the market, and provide options for luxury shopping.
Hunting and gun laws
Hunting is a major aspect of life in Idaho, and it can be a big culture shock if you are moving from a state with fewer guns. Idaho is an open-carry state, and you can carry and even use a firearm without having a license. If you are a fan of hunting, you will find some great opportunities in Idaho. Also, the gun laws give residents the right to defend their family and property, which can be uncomfortable for residents.
Best places to retire in Idaho
If you want to retire in an outdoor-oriented town, Sandpoint is a good town for retirement. This town offers great access to Lake Pend Oreille, the state's largest lake; you can find plenty of waterfront properties to buy or rent. Active retirees will find plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities like boating, skiing, and biking. There is more to do in Sandpoint, including the Bonner County History Museum and Kinnikinnick Native Plant Society’s arboretum. You can also find fresh farm produce at the farmers’ market.
Twin Falls is the biggest city in the Magic Valley area, and it lies along the Snake River and the Snake River Canyon. It offers plenty of outdoor recreation, including hiking, boating, fishing, and golfing. You will also enjoy the spectacular views of many beautiful waterfalls in the town, including Shoshone Falls, Pillar Falls, Perrine Coulee Falls, and the Twin Falls where the town gets its name. Twin Falls has a vibrant downtown area with restaurants, shopping malls, breweries, and art galleries.
Blackfoot grows more potatoes than anywhere in the world, and it is nicknamed the "Potato Capital of the World." You can tour the Idaho Potato Museum to see the largest ever baked potato and potato chip. You can also explore the Blackfoot Green Belt along the Snake River to enjoy plenty of outdoor activities like hiking and camping.
Idaho Falls is the largest city outside the Boise metropolitan area, and it has a vibrant arts scene. You can find art galleries, live performances, an art museum, and a history museum. Its location along the Snake River and its proximity to Yellowstone National Parks allows seniors to enjoy an active lifestyle. There is more to see, including the Art Museum of Eastern Idaho, the ARTitorium on Broadway, and the Collector Corner Museum.