Idaho is a big state with a low population density, located in the northwest corner of the United States. If you Google “Idaho,” you’ll find that most people think it’s a flyover state. The good news is that even a dull state has the potential to be an excellent off-grid living location (and to be perfectly clear, Idaho is NOT a flyover state). Idaho’s population is estimated to be around 1.78 million people, and it has been continuously increasing throughout the years.
General Statistics for Off-Grid Living in Idaho
Living off-grid in Idaho is a good choice, as residents are permitted to live off the grid and catch rainwater. The cost of living is around 5% lower than the national average, the population density is moderate, and the crime rate is moderate as well. The local grounds are rather productive; however, the growing season is brief, especially in the state’s northern regions. Only one factor makes this state unsuitable for off-grid living: the winters.
Many people from California relocate here, primarily because they can no longer afford to live in California, and Idaho is one of their best relocation possibilities. Due to Idaho’s low population density, only two cities with populations of over 100,000 people exist. Boise is Idaho’s most populous city, with 231k residents, followed by Meridian with 107k, Nampa with 96k, Idaho Falls with 63k, and Caldwell with 58k.
Idaho has a large population of people that live off-grid or semi-off-grid, as well as a large population of preppers. Idaho is ideal for both folks who want to live off the grid and preppers because of its low population density. The Sawtooth National Forest, Payette National Forest, Salmon-Challis National Forest, and Nez Perce Clearwater National Forest make up the majority of the state’s pristine wilderness.
Idaho does have its own set of issues, though. One of the most significant disadvantages of living off the grid in Idaho is the local temperature. While the residents have adapted to it, visitors from the south will be surprised at how harsh and lengthy the winters can be. If you’d like to check out a similar alternative, read my piece on Off-Grid Living in Colorado.
What is the Climate in Idaho?
Since Idaho is such a large state, it has a variety of climates. The majority of the state has a humid continental climate, but certain places in the south have a humid subtropical climate. The average summer temperature is around 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and the average winter temperature is around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The local weather can be unpredictable both in the summer and winter – although more noticeable in the winter.
If you’re looking for a state that moderate climate. I recommend reading about Tennessee.
What Types of Crops are Grown in Idaho?
Potatoes are Idaho’s most important crop; in fact, Idaho is the country’s largest producer of potatoes. Hay, wheat, soybeans, barley, sugarbeets, peas, beans, and nursery goods are among the other crops. The majority of the state is also suited for cultivating fruits and vegetables. The higher north you travel in this state, the more greenhouses you’ll see, as the growing season can be short due to the local climate.
What’s Freshwater Availability like in Idaho?
Idaho has no shortage of freshwater, and rainwater can be legally harvested. The average annual rainfall ranges from 10 to 50 inches, with the northern sections of the state receiving the most of it. The average annual snowfall is roughly 100 inches, while certain regions, such as Shoshone County, can receive more than 500 inches. When it comes to yearly snowfall, there is a huge variance across places, so if you’re looking to buy a homestead, be sure to look into the local climate.
What kind of Wildlife is in Idaho?
Idaho is home to a variety of wildlife, including moose, antelope, red deer, cougar; due to its low population density and large national forests, you will be able to find: American black bear, grizzly bear, boreal woodland caribou, mule deer, white-tailed deer, and lynx. Trout, crappies, rainbow trout, white sturgeon, mountain whitefish, largemouth bass, and muskellunge can found in the nearby rivers and lakes. Make sure you understand the local laws and regulations before hunting and fishing.
How to Get Off-Grid Power in Idaho
Solar power: Idaho grants a tax credit of roughly 40% of the cost of installing a solar system, with a maximum of $5000. Furthermore, you should be able to qualify for the federal tax credit, which is worth roughly 26%. That’s one of the better deals on solar power throughout the country.
Wind power: As far as I’m aware, Idaho does not provide any local incentives or refunds for wind power systems, while the federal tax credit can still be used (30%).
Are There Off-Grid Living Laws in Idaho?
Living off the grid is legal in Idaho, as long as you follow the local building codes. You can also lawfully harvest rainwater. Many people, especially in distant places where getting to school during the winter is impractical, homeschool their children. Education rules are strict, and parents are required to file documentation with the local authorities when homeschooling.
What the Road Access like in Idaho
Idaho has some road access issues, particularly during the winter. The annual snowfall can be quite high in some years. Idaho has a number of high-elevation roads. Some of them don’t have guardrails on the sides of them, even at the bends, making driving in these locations risky. In some places, people prefer to utilize snowmobiles because clearing the roads of snow is nearly impossible.
What’s the Price of Land in Idaho?
Housing and land costs are around 14% more than the national average. When looking at the average cost of a home in any state, however, you need also consider the population density. In general, states with a lower population density will have a little higher housing price because the supply is lower than the demand.
What’s the Property Tax in Idaho?
Idaho’s average property tax is around 0.91 percent, which is lower than the national average of 1.08 percent. However, metropolitan property taxes can reach 1.43 percent, higher than the national average.
What’s the Cost of Living in Idaho
Idaho’s cost of living is slightly lower than the national average; you’ll pay about 4% less for groceries, 5% less for healthcare, 11% less for utilities, and 9% less for transportation. The only thing you’ll pay extra for is housing, which is roughly 14% higher than the national average. Even at this higher price, buying a house or a homestead in this state is definitely worth it.
How is the Idaho Job Market?
Idaho has a 3.1 percent unemployment rate, which is lower than the national average of 3.9 percent. When compared to neighboring states, the minimum wage is $7.25, which is the lowest. Forestry, food processing, woodworking, manufacturing, chemicals, mining, and tourism are the most common industries in which most people work.
What’s the Crime Rate in Idaho?
Idaho’s crime rate is much lower than the national average, at 2.7 crimes per 1000 people. This number is compared to 4 crimes per 1000 people nationally. The areas of Island Park, Murtaugh, Arco, Ririe, Roberts, and Cottonwood have the lowest crime rates. The cities of McCall, Blackfoot, Boise, Pocatello, Lewiston, and Twin Falls have the highest crime rates.
Do Natural Disasters Affect Off-Grid Living in Idaho?
Storms, heat waves, floods, wildfires, earthquakes, and snowstorms are all common occurrences in Idaho. Snowstorms, storms, and floods are the most prevalent natural catastrophes in various places. Floods are common in locations where the annual snowfall is rather high.
Overall, Idaho is a fantastic state for an off-grid living since it has a wide range of crop alternatives and a cheaper cost of living than the national average. Idaho isn’t for everyone though. If used to a moderate temperature, you will find it difficult to acclimate to the local climate, particularly during the winter.