Real Estate in Boise, Meridian, Nampa
& All of the Treasure Valley

Jennifer Louis
Residential Real Estate Expert
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The Costs of Living in Boise, Idaho

The Costs of Living in Boise, Idaho

Boise, a top relocation destination, attracting people with its outdoor living, relaxed lifestyle, and affordable cost of living compared to nearby states, Boise is a prime choice for relocating families and professionals. If you’re moving to Boise, understanding the city’s living expenses is essential. Here’s a breakdown of the main costs of living in Boise:

Housing in Boise

When considering relocation to Boise, housing is a top priority. The Boise real estate market offers diverse options, from downtown charm to suburban spaciousness. In Ada County, Ada County’s median home prices as of December were $518,000. In Canyon County, encompassing Nampa and Caldwell, prices were $394,000. Ada County homes range from $350,000 to over $2 million. The Boise housing market trends show days on the market for Ada County 40 days and Nampa 56. Boise’s growth makes homeownership a smart choice for those moving to Idaho, especially in areas like West Boise, Southeast Boise, and West Meridian where there is a lot of growth. Click here to look at active homes on the market in these areas.

Renting in Boise

Historically Boise and the surrounding area have a limited supply of rental housing due to high demand, particularly due to the influx of new residents relocating to the area.  There’s an increase in new residential developments, including apartment complexes, aiming to meet the rising demand for multifamily units, however rental rates will likely continue to increase due to supply and demand over the next several years.  As of January 2024, the average rent in Boise was $1,977/month, but here is a breakdown of other resources and rental costs for the Boise area.  Zillow reports a median rent of $1,750 for houses. Apartment List shows Boise’s median rent at $1,229, while Redfin lists the average rent at $1,582.

Utilities in Boise

Boise’s utility and grocery costs align with national averages, balancing the higher housing expenses. Recent averages (as of January 2024):

  • Electricity: 11.36 cents per kWh, average monthly bill $108.73.
  • Natural Gas: The average monthly bill is $53.
  • Water: The average monthly bill is $49. Veolia North America operates Boise’s water services. Southern Idaho’s irrigation districts provide water savings for landscape irrigation in certain neighborhoods.
  • Internet: The average monthly bill is $53 (8 Mbps). Providers include Century Link, Sparklight, Anthem Broadband, CTC Telecom, AT&T Wireless, and Ting, among others. Total average monthly utility costs are approximately $297, including electricity, gas, cable, internet, and water. In areas like Middleton, Caldwell, Star, private/community wells, septic systems, and irrigation canals are more common.

Depending on which area you make home in the Boise area you could expect the total Average Monthly Utility Costs to be about $297/month, including electricity, gas, cable & internet, and water.  The costs of living in Boise when it comes to utilities are on average lower than neighboring states.

Child Care in Boise

For those relocating to Boise with children, child care is a significant expense. Child care and private schooling costs in Boise vary by care type, child’s age, and institution. Average costs are:

  • Daycare: Approximately $6,905/year in centers, $6,284/year in family/in-home settings.
  • Pre-school: Around $6,429/year in centers, $5,834/year in family/in-home settings.
  • Private Schools: The average cost for high schools in Idaho is about $8,272. Specific fees for Boise schools may vary.

Boise Fuel Costs

For new Boise residents, understanding local fuel costs is vital. As of the beginning of 2024, Boise experienced a notable decrease in gas prices, with an average drop of about 7 cents per gallon. The cheapest gas in Boise was reported to be priced at $2.99 per gallon, while the most expensive was around $3.39 per gallon. This decline in prices represents a positive trend for residents, especially considering the escalating fuel costs over the past year

Lifestyle and Leisure in Boise

Boise’s lifestyle is a draw for those considering relocation to Idaho. Boise is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and culture lovers alike. From the stunning Boise River Greenbelt to the vibrant arts scene, there’s always something to do – without breaking the bank. Many activities, like hiking and visiting local parks, are free or low-cost, making it easy to enjoy the area.


Compared with other neighboring states a move to Boise may make more sense when it comes to costs of living. Home prices and utilities compared to Washington, California, Oregon, and Colorado are typically significantly less. Not to mention the amount of time and energy saved due to the shorter commute times and less congestion in traffic.

Boise Real Estate ProfessionalFor expert guidance on moving to Boise, contact Jennifer Louis, a Boise real estate and relocation expert. Set up a time for a consultation here.  In the meantime, make sure to follow me,  Jennifer Louis, Boise Metro Real Estate Expert, and local relocation guide on Instagram, Facebook, or my blog for fun facts about Boise and of course a few things real estate.  (208) 509-9122 or jennlouis@welcometoboiseandbeyond.com.

Your Property’s Assessed Value versus Fair Market Value

Your Property’s Assessed Value versus Fair Market Value

Property owners in Ada County have recently received their 2023 Assessed Value notices, and to the delight of many, there’s a surprising dip compared to the 2022 assessment. This unexpected turn of events is fantastic news for homeowners, as a lower assessed value translates to reduced property taxes. However, if you’re contemplating selling your home, you might be wondering: does the drop in assessed value parallel a decline in your home’s market value? Let’s delve into the differences between a property’s assessed value versus fair market value.

What is Assessed Value?

The assessed value is the dollar value assigned to a home or other property for tax purposes. It takes into consideration comparable home sales, location, and other factors. In Ada and Canyon Counties properties are assessed annually on January 1st.  They are sent to homeowners around the middle of the same year and are due for payment during the following year. Assessed values in Idaho over the past ten years tend to be lower than the Fair Market Value.

What is Fair Market Value in Real Estate?

Fair market value (FMV) in real estate is the price that a property will sell for in an open market, in other words, what a buyer is willing to pay for a home and a seller is willing to accept.  Market value reflects what a property could sell for, irrespective of its assessed values. Relying exclusively on assessed or appraised values may lead sellers to misjudge and potentially misprice their property. Determining a home’s market value involves a nuanced analysis, considering various factors:

  • External Characteristics: Elements like curb appeal, roof and garage, lot size, home style, and the availability of public utilities.
  • Internal Characteristics: Sqft, Bed/Baths, updates, appliances, special features such as RV parking, views, shops, etc.
  • Mechanicals: The age and condition of the HVAC, water heater, plumbing, electrical, etc.
  • Comparables (Comps): Understanding recent selling prices of similar homes in the same area is crucial for a realistic market valuation.
  • Supply and Demand: The dynamic between the number of buyers and sellers in your area influences the perceived value of your property.
  • Location: The neighborhood’s desirability, the quality of schools, and the local crime rate all play a role in determining market value.

According to the Ada County Assessors website, assessors estimate what a typical buyer would reasonably pay for a property on January 1st of the year. Assessors do not consider updates inside the home, such as remodels, new electrical work, plumbing, or new flooring. Given that the Assessment Notice is mailed six months after the assessment, it quickly becomes outdated compared to actual market trends and we see bigger gaps or differences between assessed value and fair market value.  We saw this firsthand in 2022.  According to the Property Value Flyer that accompanied the 2023 Assessment the assessor wrote, “Due to the timing of assessments, last year’s value did not capture 2022’s peak market conditions.”  The real estate market peaked in May 2022 and then prices declined, but the assessment had been decided in Jan 2022 when home prices were still increasing.

So, if your assessed value doesn’t align with your expectations, there’s no need to panic. Assessments primarily serve tax purposes. Home buyers and sellers, however, focus more on market value, recognizing that the true value of a home is subjective. It ultimately boils down to the agreement between the buyer and seller. Your neighborhood real estate professional will be able to provide you with accurate market trends and comparable homes to accurately price your home and get it sold.

Boise Real Estate ProfessionalCurious about the market value of your home in today’s market?  I offer free, in-person consultations to get your home’s current market value and what you can expect during the process. Set up a time for a consultation here.  In the meantime, make sure to follow me,  Jennifer Louis, Boise Metro Real Estate Expert, and local relocation guide on Instagram, Facebook, or my blog for fun facts about Boise and of course a few things real estate.  (208) 509-9122 or jennlouis@welcometoboiseandbeyond.com.

Best Winter Activities in Boise

Best Winter Activities in Boise

Welcome to Boise and Beyond’s blog series focusing on living like a local in Idaho.  If you are one of the many who have recently relocated to Boise and the Treasure Valley here are some of the best ways to fit in and acclimate to your new home.

Discovering Boise’s Winter Scene

If you haven’t yet experienced the colder months in Boise, you really should. Winter in the Treasure Valley stands out from most other cities in the US, mainly due to its mild weather, while offering a plethora of enjoyable winter activities. With only a fraction of annual snowfall and consistently sunny skies, it’s easy to stay active throughout the winter season. Here are some of the best activities to partake in this winter in Boise and the surrounding Treasure Valley.

Winter Markets in Boise

Boise Winter MarketsBoise is renowned for its support of local businesses and hosts several outdoor markets during the warmer months. Even in winter, you can still experience these markets at two different locations.

  1. The Wintry Market is situated at the Boise Centre in Downtown Boise (850 W Front St, Boise, ID 83702) from November 17th to 18th. This indoor event showcases the creations of local artists, craftsmen, and vendors, featuring over 175 participants. This year, they have expanded to include artists from Arizona, Montana, Oregon, and Washington, offering unique goods and crafts at affordable prices.
  2. Boise Farmers Market, one of the most popular weekend events all year long in Downtown Boise, moves indoors during winter. You can purchase produce and goods from local farmers and vendors on Saturdays from 9 AM to 1 PM, from November 4th to December 23rd. They will be at two different locations; click here for details and a map to the markets.

Sledding/Hiking/Tubing

Boise Winter Activities Outdoors

While snow doesn’t stick around all winter in Boise, when it does, it creates fantastic opportunities for outdoor fun. Here are a few of my favorite places for sledding and hiking:

  1. Camelback Park in Boise’s Northend transforms into a sledding adventure when snow arrives. At the beginning of winter, preparations are made by attaching hay bales to many trees, ensuring safe sledding. Hike up the hill and enjoy tubing or sledding down, all while taking in some of the most breathtaking views of Boise. Even without snow, Camelback Park is a great place for hiking, offering ample hiking and running trails with extraordinary valley views.
  2. Eagle Island State Park, hosted by Gateway Parks, opens its popular tubing hill from November to March every year. There is an entrance fee, and additional charges apply for activities. The park provides food, drinks, and a firepit at the base for spectators.
  3. Bogus Basin, a non-profit winter park only 16 miles from Boise, offers a wide range of winter activities. It’s an ideal spot for a half-day or full-day trip to enjoy the snow. You can explore a tubing hill or purchase a pass to take a chairlift and ski or snowboard down any of the 90 runs on the mountain. The views are breathtaking, and you’ll find various spots for food and drink as well as indoor areas to warm up.

Soak in Idaho’s Hot Springs

Best Hot Springs Near Boise

Idaho is literally covered with hot springs waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. You can pick up a guidebook or visit a website to find many springs you can hike to during the day or twilight hours. Some are privately maintained and family-friendly just outside Boise. Here are two of my personal favorites:

  1. The Springs in Idaho City, are located just 45 minutes northeast of Boise near the historic mining town of Idaho City. Here, you can enjoy a spa-like experience with a soak in their natural hot spring pool while listening to local musicians or indulging in local cuisine. You can also rent a private pool or get a massage. Kids are welcome on Saturdays and Sundays, but reservations are required.
  2. Gold Fork Hot Springs, north of Boise on the route heading towards McCall, is situated in the town of Donnelly in the foothills of the North Fork Range. They offer multiple pools at different depths and temperatures, making it an excellent soak for the whole family, from young to old. Please note they are closed on holidays and Tuesdays, and cash is the only accepted payment method. It’s advisable to call ahead to ensure they are open and have ample space.

Boise’s Winter Gardens and Parks

Boise Garden's In WinterThe Treasure Valley is brimming with beautiful parks that come alive in winter. There are several private gardens and parks that are a must-visit in winter, as well as places to play, run, or build a snowman during the day. Here are a few of my top recommendations:

  1. The Idaho Botanical Gardens light up with their Winter Garden aGlow from November 23rd to December 31st. Here, you can stroll through paths adorned with twinkling lights and explore a winter wonderland. They offer food and warm drinks, such as hot chocolate, or you can check out an adult beverage at the Snow Globe Bar. Additionally, they feature a Gingerbread Village and have numerous fire pits scattered throughout the gardens.
  2. Edwards Greenhouse is one of the best places to escape the cold and still feel like you’re outdoors throughout the winter. The thermally heated historic greenhouses in NW Boise provide a warm and tropical environment, allowing you to shed your coat and immerse yourself in the beauty of plants and natural aromas. You can bring your lunch and enjoy it under their gazebo. You can also partake in yoga classes or potting classes in their flower shop. Don’t forget their kids’ pop-up park in February, where an entire greenhouse is cleared and transformed into an indoor playground and picnic area.
  3. Ann Morrison Park is an excellent public park for letting your dog play on Dog Island and run in the snow, or you can head to one of the many grassy areas and build a snowman. Located on the Boise Greenbelt, it’s an ideal place to soak in some sunshine and enjoy the winter ambiance.
 

Go to the Movies, Boise Style

Boise Winter Activities Egyptian Theater

If you need a break from the cold but still want to get out, winter is a great time to visit some of Boise’s coolest cinemas.

  1. The Flicks, located in downtown Boise, is a one-of-a-kind cinema for movie lovers. They feature independent, foreign, art films, and some of the best Hollywood movies on their four screens. Additionally, they have a café serving local fare, where you can grab a snack, dinner, or enjoy wine and beer before or during your film.
  2. The Egyptian Theatre is a historical gem in Boise that you shouldn’t miss. During the colder months, they showcase seasonal movies like “Love Actually” and other past blockbusters. Be sure to check their calendar for live performances, including the Nutcracker and popular comedians and musicians.

 

Boise Real Estate Professional

 

Don’t let the Fall and Winter months keep you inside, there are so many great places to explore in Boise and the surrounding Treasure Valley.  Looking to discover more about Boise Metro Area?  Follow this blog or set up your personal consultation with Jennifer Louis, Boise Metro Real Estate Expert, and local relocation guide.  (208) 509-9122 or jennlouis@welcometoboiseandbeyond.com

 

Boise’s Thriving Coffee Culture – A Java Lover’s Guide

Boise’s Thriving Coffee Culture – A Java Lover’s Guide

Welcome to Boise and Beyond’s blog series focusing on living like a local in Idaho.  If you are one of the many who have recently relocated to Boise and the Treasure Valley here are some of the best ways to fit in and acclimate to your new home.

Discovering Boise’s Coffee Scene – Best Cafes and Brews

Whether you’re a Boise local, a weekend explorer, or a long-time resident, there’s something undeniably alluring about the coffee culture in the City of Trees. While it might not rival Seattle’s coffee empire, Boise is making its mark as a fantastic place to savor your next cup of Joe, with an ever-growing number of delightful coffee shops throughout the Treasure Valley. Let’s dive into some of the Best Boise coffee spots that are keeping Boise’s caffeine enthusiasts buzzing.

Primal Coffee

Primal Coffee Boise

Tucked away snugly on The Bench in Boise, Primal Coffee is a cozy, intimate coffee haven. The moment you step inside, you’re enveloped in a friendly, chill vibe that sets the perfect tone for your coffee experience.  It’s common to hear the baristas welcome you by name and know your favorite beverage before you order.  Serving pastries and goodies from the popular Gastons Bakery as well as some other treats makes it a well-rounded place for a meet-up or to catch a bit before work if you live in the area.  The coffee is so good and you can tell the owner really cares about the quality of each brew and what goes into his customer’s cups.  If you are on the Bench it’s worth the stop.

If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend it. Primal Coffee:  20 N Latah, Boise, ID 83705

 

Sunshine Spice Cafe

Sunshine Cafe Boise local dining you should know aboutThis is another one of the local Boise dining spots you may not know about, Sunshine Spice Café.  One of my good friends and long-time clients, Lisa loves to try new spots.  We try and meet monthly to check out a new coffee spot and this was her pick.  I never noticed it because of its location in a strip mall off of Fairview in NW Boise, but oh man, I wish I had discovered it before.  It’s owned by four sisters from Afghanistan and it highlights Middle Eastern baked treats with an American/European twist. They are so friendly when you walk in and the café is pleasantly decorated with paintings from local artists available for purchase.  The Turkish coffee is delightful and strong, and if you are looking for a little spice in your coffee the Safron Latté is worth the trip alone.  Don’t miss this unique, one-of-a-kind café.

Sunshine Spice Café is so good that there was a line out the door when we were leaving and they were recently featured on the Food Network show, The Next Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives last month.  You can try it out yourself here, Sunshine Spice Café and Bakery: 6911 W Fairview, Boise, ID 83704

 

Push and Pour

Boasting not one but two fantastic and dog-friendly locations in Boise, Push and Pour offers a unique warehouse ambiance that instantly puts you at ease. Plus, their avocado toast is the stuff of legends, featuring homemade sourdough bread and what feels like an entire orchard of avocados generously spread on top.  I love both locations for different reasons.  The location on the Bench features loads of outdoor seating and something for everyone if coffee isn’t their thing.  The Garden City location is just a few steps away from Quinns Pond and the Surf Wave part of the Whitewater Park experience.  Bring your dog inside or sit outside on their patios, but either way just a great overall experience and worth the trip.

They have several great locations in Boise.  Push and Pour is located at 214 E 34th St, Garden City, ID 83714, 501 S Ash St, Boise, ID 83702, and 13 S Latah St, Boise, ID 83705

 

Form and Function

Nestled in the heart of downtown Boise, Form and Function offers a modern, loft-inspired ambiance that’s bound to get your creative juices flowing. As coffee roasters, they take their craft seriously, and their skilled baristas brew up some of the city’s best coffee. With ample seating and a pleasant atmosphere, it’s an ideal spot to catch up with friends or get some work done.

Here is more about this trendy coffee spot:  Form and Function located at 511 W Broad St, Boise, ID 83702

 

Alchemist Coffee

Known for its amazing atmosphere and laid-back vibe, Alchemist Coffee is a local favorite. And, of course, they deliver delicious coffee that’s bound to make you a regular.

They have two great locations both with easy access and ample parking.  Check out Alchemist Coffee located at 10650 W Overland Rd, Boise, ID 83709, and 2701 W Stewart Ave, Boise, ID 83702.

Boise’s coffee scene is continually evolving, and these popular spots are just a glimpse of the caffeinated treasures you can discover here. Whether you’re seeking a quiet moment for yourself or a lively gathering with friends, Boise’s best coffee shops have something special brewing for everyone. Don’t miss out on this vibrant and growing coffee culture – come, explore, and sip your way through the City of Trees!

Don’t let the Fall and Winter months keep you inside, there are so many great places to explore in Boise and the surrounding Treasure Valley.  Looking to discover more about Boise Metro Area?  Follow this blog or set up your personal consultation with Jennifer Louis, Boise Metro Real Estate Expert, and local relocation guide.  (208) 509-9122 or jennlouis@welcometoboiseandbeyond.com

Boise Real Estate Professional

Boise Home Builders and Your Construction Options

Boise Home Builders and Your Construction Options

Choosing the Right Builder and Community

Finding the perfect builder and community is your first crucial step in the exciting journey of constructing your dream home in the Treasure Valley. With over 100 active builders to choose from, this can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Jennifer Louis, a highly recommended realtor with expertise in relocation, is here to help.  Here is your guide of Boise Home Builders and your construction options to get started.

Exploring Home Builder Types

When embarking on the journey of building a new home, one of the fundamental decisions you’ll need to make is selecting the right type of home builder to suit your preferences and needs. Here, we delve into the three primary categories of home builders, each offering a distinct approach to the art of home construction:

1. Production Builders

Production builders are renowned for their efficiency and streamlined processes. These companies specialize in constructing a range of homes based on the same set of floorplans. This repetition allows them to create consistent, high-quality homes. However, there’s a trade-off. While production builders often provide a multitude of options and upgrades, these typically come at a premium. In the pursuit of efficiency, the client experience may sometimes be less personalized compared to other builder types.  There are various price ranges and community types with production builders in Boise and the surrounding Treasure Valley.  Depending on the production builder you choose you may have less participation in customizing the home.  CBH Homes is one of the largest production builders in the Valley and they offer minimal options to customize.  They became a spec home builder several years ago during the Boise Boom and removed most options that a homeowner can choose in new construction.  They still offer options for landscape and fencing in some of their communities and you can often upgrade to include their window coverings and appliances or negotiate to have these included in the contract price.

2. Semi-Custom Builders

Semi-custom builders strike a balance between the convenience of pre-designed floorplans and the flexibility to make modifications. Clients can choose from a selection of floorplans but also have the opportunity to personalize finishes and amenities to better suit their tastes and requirements. What sets semi-custom builders apart is their increased level of client interaction. They tend to be more hands-on throughout the construction process, often having superintendents on-site to oversee the project, ensuring that your vision is brought to life.  Brighton Homes is a good example of a semi-custom home that is popular with homeowners in the Treasure Valley.  They have been around for nearly 30 years and have built-in many popular subdivisions and parts of the Treasure Valley.

3. Custom Home Builders

For those seeking a truly unique and personalized home, custom home builders are the answer. They are dedicated to crafting one-of-a-kind homes tailored to the individual preferences and requirements of each client. Unlike other builder types, the price and size of the home do not determine whether a builder is considered custom. Many builders claim to offer custom services, but only a select few can genuinely be classified as custom home builders. In this category, clients typically purchase a lot, collaborate closely in designing their dream home, and then engage a builder to bring their vision to life. While custom home construction offers the highest level of personalization, it’s important to note that it’s often the most expensive route to homeownership.  There are many custom builders to choose from, for example, Shadow Mountain Homes which has been building luxury homes in the Boise, Idaho area for nearly 30 years.

In summary, choosing the right type of home builder is a pivotal decision in your home-building journey. Your selection will significantly influence the design, cost, and personalization of your dream home, so consider your priorities and budget carefully before making a choice.

Why Jennifer Louis is Your Key to Success

Jennifer has an extensive track record of working with numerous builders in the area. Her firsthand experiences and client feedback from those who’ve had homes built or purchased under construction are invaluable. She’ll expertly match you with the right builder and community, ensuring you start on the right path.

If you are coming from out of state you will start with in-depth video consultations to get a feel for the area and where you may want to begin.  Based on your criteria and the initial consultation you will be sent a list of builders and homes under construction to start viewing floorplans and communities online.  She will then start registering you as her client with the builders and getting the communication started for your first tour through the community and homes.  If visiting in person is not an option Jennifer will work on your behalf providing you with detailed information to make the right home selection from afar.  This support covers everything from touring homes that align with your preferred floorplans and model homes to reviewing all contracts and composing addendums. She’s skilled at negotiating terms, attending design appointments, and overseeing inspections, ensuring the builder delivers as per the contract.

Jennifer Louis is your trusted partner in making your dream home in the Treasure Valley a reality.  Contact her today to set up a free consultation to get you matched up with the right builder in the right community or area in the Boise area.

Boise Real Estate ProfessionalIf you are considering relocating to Boise and the surrounding area and buying a home  I offer a free, no-obligation consultation and will help you start the home-buying process in Boise.  In the meantime, make sure to follow me,  Jennifer Louis, Boise Metro Real Estate Expert, and local relocation guide on Instagram, Facebook, or my blog for fun facts about Boise and of course a few things real estate.  (208) 509-9122 or jennlouis@welcometoboiseandbeyond.com.