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Money Magazine recently spotlighted Idaho as one of the best states for retirement—and it’s easy to see why. Idaho has a beautiful natural climate encompassing snow-capped mountains, pristine lakes, canyons, and the rapids of the Salmon River—with plenty to do for active and adventurous seniors. The pure air quality in the state has led to its rating as the best environment in the West. But you can still enjoy the shops, culture, and entertainment of the big city—as well as stress-free small-town life.

Idaho has a high-altitude steppe climate, with low humidity and plenty of sunshine. Winters are harsh, and summers are hot in the lower altitudes. In the mountains, summertime is much cooler.  Idaho has a lot of sunny days; its average rainfall is only one-third of the US average.

Lewis and Clark crossed the northern part of the state in their search for the Northwest Passage. And much of this area of the state still looks much the way it must have then; it’s full of forests as well as the Sapphire Lakes, perfect for hiking and camping. Southwestern Idaho is the opposite; it’s the state’s largest metropolitan area, where you can find the state’s three largest cities: Meridian, Nampa and Boise.

The rest of the southern part of the state—south central and southeastern Idaho—features open areas for horseback riding, rock formations perfect for climbing, and plenty of state parks—as well as hot springs and plenty of Native American history. In the eastern and central parts of the state, you’ll find the mountains and gorges, including creeks where Hemingway once fished and the Salmon River—famous for its rapids.

Cost of living and real estate prices vary depending on which area of the state you live in, but in general the cost of living in Idaho is about average compared to the rest of the country. The top marginal income tax rate is 7.8% in Idaho, kicking in at a little over $24,700. Overall, Idaho’s tax burden is about 10.1%–13th highest in the country. Property taxes are much lower, however, ranking in at 37th out of 50 states, and there’s an exemption of $1,320 available to anyone age 65 or over. Idaho doesn’t tax social security benefits, and it gives certain exemptions for military and civil service retirement pay.

There are many different Idaho assisted living and senior communities in various towns and cities across the state. Boise is Idaho’s biggest city, located near the Boise River and the Rocky Mountains. It’s the third largest city in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s growing rapidly—with over half a million people. The city is only an hour’s drive from the Boise National Forest, and offers plenty of social and cultural activities as well as shopping and dining.

But Boise isn’t the only place for Idaho senior independent living. Idaho Falls has a more mild climate than much of the rest of the state. The home of Idaho State University and the University of Idaho Falls, this college town has its own chamber orchestra, symphony, opera, and theatre groups. It’s also close to the Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone.

Meridian, located in Treasure Valley, offers a great option for Idaho senior communities. The climate is more temperate than most of the state, with a high desert climate that features cool summers and mild winters. It’s a large dairy farming community, with the annual Meridian Dairy Days Festival. Housing in Meridian is fairly affordable compared to the rest of the state, and the area is in close proximity to several excellent hospitals.

Assisted living in Idaho is ideal for outdoorsy seniors who are looking for a small-town atmosphere—but the sophistication of a big city. Check out our listing of Idaho senior communities, and find your perfect retirement option today.