Could it be because it combines the comforts of a small town with the conveniences of a big city; or, because it is consistently rated among the top communities in the country (National Geographic Adventure Magazine's September 2006 edition ranked Boise as No. 1 for "Best Place to Live and Play," and the August 2006 edition of Money magazine ranked Boise No. 8 for "Best Places to Live"); or most recently, because it was named as the number one place to retire in America (Where to Retire magazine, October 2006)?
Or, could it be because of the city's low crime rate; amazing access to recreation, affordable housing, reasonable cost of living, growing cultural community, or the residents' commitment to preserving its unique quality of life?
Whatever your reason, you are sure to find a neighborhood which will satisfy your tastes, as there are few places in the country with such an abundant mix of urban amenities with the variety of home sites. Whether you desire neighborhoods established well over a century ago, homes located on the river or on the hilltops, condominiums in the downtown area, or new communities featuring every amenity necessary, your search will surely start and end in Boise.
To the energetic, affluent and vibrant, living in Boise's downtown definitely has its benefits. This Idaho capital city serves as the governmental, business, cultural and entertainment center for Southwest Idaho and Eastern Oregon. During the week, the hustle and bustle from the 44,000 people working in the offices, restaurants and shops that are interwoven throughout the historic, renovated and new buildings of the city fill the air. On the weekends, theaters, art galleries, shops and event facilities are packed with patrons from around the region.
Residents of the downtown include a mix of the young, empty nesters, semi-retired, and retired. Over 4,000 people reside full-time in its core, and there are a variety of living options, everything from affordable apartment units to luxurious condominiums. Current opportunities include the Tower Plaza in the Washington Mutual Building, Boulevard 255 in The Grove Hotel, and brand new apartments in the Veltex Residences, all of which offer spectacular views of the city and foothills from their upper floor locations. The historic Idanha Hotel offers newly renovated apartments for city living.
Major renovations, additions and new buildings will increase the number of available condominium units over the next few years. Notably, some of those projects include the Royal Plaza, The Aspen Lofts, Cityside Lofts, Gem Building, The Metropolitan and Boise Place.
The convenience of the area near Boise State is what sold Wyatt Williams when he decided to purchase his home a few blocks from campus. Like many students, Wyatt wanted to take full advantage of the amenities located on campus for his studies while enjoying his commute via bicycle or foot.
According to Wyatt, "The area near the university was perfect for me as I am less than 15 minutes by bicycle to class, the library, or the grocery store."
"I wanted to live in a neighborhood which would provide safe access to the trail system in the foothills for biking, hiking or walking the dog. From my home near Boise State to the trail system, which begins at the Old Penitentiary, it's no more than a 15-minute bike ride when taken slowly. And most importantly, I didn't want to fight traffic to attend the football games, which is currently a leisurely walk from home to the stadium, no more than 10 minutes."
The real estate in the neighborhood surrounding Wyatt and Boise State is predominantly single-family homes, which include a mix of historic brick houses; single-family homes built around the 60's; and newly constructed alley-loaded homes.
The best way to sum up Boise's southeast side is in its varying landscape. It transitions from the traditional homes found on Warm Springs Avenue into the vibrant new subdivisions located at Harris Ranch, Surprise Valley and Columbia Village. Dan Shively recently relocated to this area of Boise after living several years in Chicago. Growing up in the West, he was attracted to the prospect of returning closer to his Montanan childhood home and to Boise's recreation, foothills and downtown nightlife.
Mere blocks from the Boise River and the Greenbelt riverside pathways, Dan considers his neighborhood to be the "sweet spot in Boise housing."
Dan's neighborhood consists of single-family homes, which he has found to be occupied primarily by young executives with families, as well as some retirees. Being removed from the major business and retail sectors of the city, the southeastern sector is somewhat of a destination for families and individuals who would like to be near the hype of the downtown, but like the peace and solitude of their neighborhood.
"Also, a few minutes to the east of my neighborhood are the Shakespeare Festival and Lucky Peak Reservoir. You could say that my area offers great outdoors as well as culture."
Southeast Boise has the closest neighborhoods to the popular Lucky Peak Reservoir, no more than a 15-minute drive. During the summer months, Lucky Peak is filled with family water fun. Having over 45 miles of shoreline and being approximately 12 miles long, there is enough area for all types of recreational activities.
Just north of Lucky Peak Reservoir, the timberline from the surrounding forests meets a few rural neighborhoods. Although outside of the Boise City limits, the area surrounding Robie Creek has become a popular spot for those who desire mountain living and continue to work in Boise. With no more than a 30-minute commute to town, areas like Wilderness Ranch that feature amazing views and the sweet smell of pine are becoming increasingly popular.
The North End extends into the foothills on its north side and abuts the downtown on its south side. Its proximity to downtown puts it in perfect walking distance to some of the area's largest employers and to a hopping nightlife. Homes in the foothills are said to have the most spectacular views of the city.
First-time homebuyers, Matt and Samantha Stevens, moved from California a year ago to be near family who had already relocated to Boise. After living in Boise and getting to know the area for six months, they invested in a home in the North End.
"We bought our home in the North End because we feel that there is a real sense of community here, more than anywhere else in the valley," Matt explained, "We see people out and about walking, running and playing in the neighborhoods. It reminded us of our community in San Diego and it really made us feel like we were home�there's a lot of diversity. It has very successful well-to-do entrepreneurs and young punk-rock skaters with everything in between."
"In addition to the benefits of living in the North End, the affordability of the Boise area enabled us to purchase a home where the cost of prime real estate, like in the North End, would have been prohibitive in Southern California."
For the Fanter family, the lifestyle in Hidden Springs was perfect for them.
According to Chuck Fanter, "We appreciate the outdoor recreation in Idaho. And, when we found this community where open spaces, trails, wetlands, creeks and garden areas were planned in order to preserve the natural beauty of the area we knew that it was where we wanted to build our home."
Hidden Springs is currently building the South Meadow addition which will eventually encompass more than one thousand homes.
Recent years have seen the West Bench become the location of choice for major retailers like Boise Towne Square, a double-decker mall with nearly 200 stores, and several stand-alones like Cabela's, Barnes & Noble, Circuit City and REI, to name a few.
Carl Jorgensen, a Colorado transplant, moved to Boise to take a position with the Forest Service. His home is located on the West Bench near the hustle and bustle of the Boise Towne Square.
"The major benefit of the location of my Boise home is my commute to the office, which most days is less than five minutes. I am also very close to Boise Towne Square and the largest shopping area in the valley; and most importantly, when I want to go to the mountains, I can access the interstate in about as much time as my commute."
Divided by the "connector," the I-84 interchange, what is considered simply the Bench, or the Central Bench, is home to quiet bungalows and amazing brick homes dating back to the �50's. Like the North End, the Central Bench features a wide variety of homeowners and offers quiet established neighborhoods with beautiful mature trees. Boise's largest parks, including Ann Morrison Park and Kathryn Albertson Park, reside below the Bench, and amazing views of the foothills and the downtown area exist over the parks.
Residents of the Central Bench have perfect access to the Boise airport and the downtown; both are less than a 10-minute drive.
Michael Stone, a commercial pilot whose base is Salt Lake City, calls this part of Boise home.
"I love the solace of being away from the hustle and bustle of the main city, but being close enough to go downtown for a night out. My flight schedule originates out of the Salt Lake City Airport; however, I love it here so much that I decided it was worth the commute. I would rather fly above our great state to get to work than drive in Salt Lake through the traffic."
According to Michael, he was also attracted to the south end of town for its great schools and perfect access to the Interstate.
"Often, we leave town on the weekends to go exploring the region. It is very convenient."
To the west and northwest lie the two cities of Meridian and Eagle respectively. Formerly bedroom communities of Boise, both cities now have come into their own, each developing its own unique identity. While some residents have found employment close to home, many residents still commute into Boise, finding the approximate 20-minute commute is a trade-off for their idyllic lifestyle away from the city.
Meridian's new schools, master-planned communities and the sense of a small town make it a common choice for young families, as nearly 70% of the people who live in Meridian have children.
Northwest of Boise, strategically placed between the foothills and the Boise River, is the community of Eagle, a small town with enormous assets. Eagle and the surrounding area have emerged as the site of many of the valley's most exclusive residential developments which include BanBury Meadows, Two Rivers, Island Woods, and Rivers End.
A city which remains quaint and timeless, residential developments throughout the city promote open space and firm design standards, and the downtown is characterized by its western architecture, old-style street lights and tree-lined streets. Abutting Meridian and located about 10 miles from downtown Boise, the vast majority of Eagle residents work in the neighboring communities.