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Most Boiseans already know that Boise is a wonderful place to live, but now it’s official and public. The Boise area is ranked the number 10 best United States city in which to live, according to the newly published "Cities Ranked & Rated, 2nd Edition," a book published by Frommer's, the popular travel guide experts. "Cities Ranked & Rated" analyzed more than 400 metro areas in the States and Canada and ranked each one on ten major criteria: economy and jobs, cost of living, climate, education, health and healthcare, crime, transportation, leisure, arts and culture, and overall quality of life. Those are categories in which Boise would, to the untrained eye, obviously do well. Not the transportation category, as any car-less chump has already learned, but that’s why Boise’s not numero uno.

Book Ranks Boise 10th Best U.S. City

Most Boiseans already know that Boise is a wonderful place to live, but now it’s official and public. The Boise area is ranked the number 10 best United States city in which to live, according to the newly published “Cities Ranked & Rated, 2nd Edition,” a book published by Frommer’s, the popular travel guide experts.

“Cities Ranked & Rated” analyzed more than 400 metro areas in the States and Canada and ranked each one on ten major criteria: economy and jobs, cost of living, climate, education, health and healthcare, crime, transportation, leisure, arts and culture, and overall quality of life.

Those are categories in which Boise would, to the untrained eye, obviously do well. Not the transportation category, as any car-less chump has already learned, but that’s why Boise’s not numero uno.

Perhaps surprisingly, Gainesville, FL, was ranked the number one best city. The authors say Gainesville is tops because it has “gained popularity among northern migrants seeking a Florida climate and intellectual stimulation without the high prices, tourist bustle and stigma most commonly associated with the state.”

A hearty handful of Northwest cities round out the top ten: Bellingham, WA, in second place; Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton in third; Colorado Springs, CO, in fourth; Ann Arbor, MI, fifth; Ogden-Clearfield, UT, sixth; Asheville, NC, seventh; Fort Collins-Loveland, CO, eighth; San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA, ninth; an Boise-Nampa in tenth.

The book offers detailed descriptions of the cities, including a metro-area profile for each that cites statistics on white- versus blue-collar jobs, the number of below-zero days each year, the cost of an average doctor visit, and total number of Starbucks coffee shops.

According to Frommer’s, one in seven people moves each year, and 40 percent of Americans’ relocations happen between states or counties, not neighborhoods.

The nation’s least desirable place to live, according to the book, is Modesto, CA, which scored a zero on the 100-point scale.

Co-author Peter Sander has written numerous books concentrating in the areas of business and personal finance, including “Frommer’s Best Places to Raise Your Family.” Co-author Bert Sperling has been speaking about cities and quality-of- life issues for more than 20 years and developed the methodology for his “Best Places to Live” software, which is now the standard for studies in this area.

Get details and more travel info at Frommer’s web site.

About J. Gelband

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16 comments

  1. I always like to read an article about which I cannot disagree. In this case it’s about one of my favorite places and I, for one, am glad it wasn’t selected numero uno.

  2. Boise sucks! After living here for two years I wonder what people mean by quality of life. Public planning is poor, education stinks, traffic worsens daily, infastructure is obsolete, pollution rampant. Religious zealots of all factions congregate here. Public transportation is unreliable. The jobs do not offer enough realistic wages outside of two employers. Hours from anywhere relevant. I guess ignorance is bliss.

  3. I’m always a bit confused by a comment like #2, just above.

    “Boise sucks!” And then the author details the many grievances about the place.

    So… why not move someplace else? (And take 100,000 or so others with you!)

  4. Boise has some nice things going for it. The Boise River Greenbelt is an attractive, well-managed urban resource. The city has some excellent parks. It’s downtown neighborhood offers a nice blend of culture and commerce.

    However, I’m afraid Boise isn’t nearly as pretty as I hoped it would be. Many people don’t realize that Boise sits on the edge of the VERY DRY northwest desert. Consequently, it’s a hopelessly brown city and hardly lives up to its billing as the “City of Trees”. (I’m sorry, but lawn irrigation is the only reason that anything green is able to live in Boise.)

    For my part, I prefer a city with more size. Boise is hardly a cowtown, but it still has a lot of growing up to do – it simply doesn’t have the variety or metropolitan flare of larger cities like Seattle, Portland, or Salt Lake.

  5. I completely agree with the folks who have expressed their disdain for Boise. I venture to say that not just Boise, but all of Idaho is a land forgotten by God. I come from large metropolitan areas–Phoenix and Boston. My old man got a job transfter to Boise in ’03 and I was bummed out. No big acts come to Boise (Idaho Center alternates between Rascal Flatts, Larry the F**king Cable Guy, and Idaho Stampede), the inversion smog is disgusting and unhealthy, the locals are hicks who think Boise is “the big city”, and–worst–we have a closeted gay senator. Yes, we are God-forsaken. Education sucks, as does transportation. The state refuses to make more exits off I-84 to the multiple suburban subdivisions. This causes our one or two on-ramps and off-ramps to be crowded at morning and evening rush hours, respectively. It takes 45 minutes to go 8 miles from Meridian to Boise in the morning. Don’t move to Boise. I’m leaving as soon as I finish my undergrad. I’m angry and homesick for Boston as I write this. By the way, that nice little review at the top of the page is the most misleading bull I’ve ever read.

  6. I keep reading how Boise is in the top ten of this list and that list. Or about how great everything here is. I just cannot understand this. This has to be the WORST place for anyone unless you are a middle aged, independly wealthy, overly conservative, closed minded, religious zealot. The roads here suck. There was a total hands off approach by the local government when the town had its boom so everything is sprawling and poorly planned. Most roads don’t have sidewalks or streetlights. hen it gets dark the roads are down right dangerous. The bus system runs sporadically and stops running at like 6:00 PM with no weekend service. There are no Bus stops so people just stand in the streets and try and waive the bus down if they are lucky enough to have one pass. The airport NEVER has enough parking at the terminal. Most of the streets are not pedestrian friendly. There are NO community colleges in the area. Boise State is the only OVERPRICED option for any ongoing relevant education. Despite what the locals think Boise State University is just a glorified community college with a good football team. There is NO culture unless you like Chinese food made by white hillbillies or are a Mormon. I have lived all over the world and I have never been so judged as I have been in this place. I cannot tell you how many rascist comments I have heard in everyday conversations with coworkers etc… This place is terrible and really needs a reality check as the born natives take any type of criticism as an attack on their beloved “jewel” of a city. DO NOT move here. I have been here a year and I will be getting out soon. The top ten lists ARE DEAD WRONG on this one.

  7. I was born in Boise, raised, and lived here my whole life and I must say…I thought I was the only one here that thought Boise was screwed up. I’ve been to other cities and towns (Denver, Minneapolis, Duluth…)and I totally understand what these commenters mean about the locals here being extremely judgemental. You can’t walk anywhere without someone staring you down, like you don’t belong here, regardless of your appearance (did I mention I’m a local?). You can’t hold on a conversation with anyone because they look at you like you’ve grown two heads. And it is true about racial and homophobic slurs that go on around here. I’ve had dozens of people label me as gay for some reason.

    Traffic is horrible. Everyone swerving all over the roads. I guess according to Idaho law, you have to be drunk in order to drive here. Drivers are either overly agressive or extremely slow.

    One commenter mentioned above that the green belt is a good quality, so are the neighborhoods in the north end. But you can only explore the green belt so much until you get tired of it. Not to mention the ample amount of perverts that roam around the Boise river.

    Then there’s the schizophrenic weather year round, but I guess that’s been covered here already, as well as the low paying jobs. All my money I have been saving up is going for my move out of this hellhole and go to school. BSU has nothing much to offer (no Music Technology programs). Seattle, here I come. Sure it rains a lot up there. I’m aware of that, but I’d rather live somewhere that has more happening and more opened minded people than burning to death in 106° weather half the year.

  8. Boise…
    My wife and I have been here about 9 months. It’s been challenging. Fall was nice – everything has a golden hue to it. Winter wasn’t bad (I grew up in Colorado and no where near as much snow) BUT, we didn’t have any of the infamous “inversions”. I had one person tell me they can last a month or more and that so much smog and air pollution is in the atmosphere that it looks like fog. This summer the air was BAD. My wife and I had to quit running outside because we couldn’t BREATHE. Smoke from forest fires, controlled burns, and agriculture contribute to some of the worst air I’ve seen – and I grew up in Denver’s “Brown cloud”.

    As of today, Boise seems like a vacuum. Restaurants downtown (which is a neat little downtown) are closing at a record rate. I’ve never seen so many open lots, empty houses that are brand new, but haven’t been lived in for two years. There’s a reason some of the magazines say it’s an entreprenuer’s dream… There’s a behind the scenes PR push (I have my suspicion) and there is NOTHING HERE. So yes, I guess if there’s no competition than it’s a great place for a business – if the population is here.

    The most disturbing aspect is the pay rate. Salaries are much lower for comparable jobs than they are in neighboring states. Compounding poor pay, is the fact that there are basically two major health coverage insurers in the state. Our health benefits STINK.

    Boise might be a great place in 5-7 years. Right now, people are leaving left and right.

  9. While it is hard to disagree with the above comments about Boise being colder than Hitler’s heart in the winter and hotter than the place He now resides in the summer with very little color except brown on the ground and blue in the sky Boise is not as bad as some other places I’ve lived. My first 3 weeks living in Seattle was spent inside because November is cold and wet (and it doesn’t stop until May…maybe) not to mention the 90 straight days of rain one winter. Then I lived near Sacramento and those 115 degree days were much worse than what Boise had to offer.

    True you could live in better climates like LA or San Diego, but you talk about smog and pollution have you ever seen the skyline of those cities. And I hear that LA has a problem with traffic, and I think Seattle does to if I remember right. Boise’s traffic is nothing compared to those places. Spent a few months in Chicago during the summer 105 and 100% humidity isn’t the greatest either.

    While Boise doesn’t have all the exciting events that bigger cities do, you are literally minutes away from the most beautiful mountains and river valleys in the states. 30 minutes from skiing and miles of bike/hike trails. Just get out town.

    For all you to complain about the people being so judgmental, what is bad about choosing to be different than the people around you and actually trying to change the culture of the area rather than complain about it and leave? It is always interesting to hear people judge someone as judgmental. How about educating instead of labeling.

    I grew up in Boise, moved away for 11 years, and moved back because I couldn’t think of a better place to raise my family and pursue my own success rather than feed off the visions of others. If you don’t like it, fine, but don’t say it sucks because there are far worse places to live.

  10. Hmmm. Well, it was interesting to read the comments. Let’s see, I am middle-aged, conservative, moderately religious, enjoy fishing/shooting, not wealthy but comfortable and my main considerations are a nice home and emerging economy to establish a small business operation.

    I lived in Denver, Atlanta, LA and Seattle so I know the ins and outs of those places and cannot imagine that air quality and traffic in a metro of a half million or so is anything like mentioned above. I have spent 3 hours commuting 40 miles, destroyed a car with the accumulated mileage, been victimized by road rage, had 17 days of 100+ heat, 30+ inches of snow in early October and had automatic weapons used less than a mile from my home. The Idaho Stampede, walking the Greenbelt and a simple university sounds refreshing after all that.

  11. Bummer for you, pretty green here this year, no inversions to speak of, traffic is laughable compared to almost anywhere else I have ever lived. It’s a bit brown between Eagle and a bit north of Horseshoe Bend, but the river canyons are fantastic, Cascade, Payette and the other high mountain lakes are beautiful and the heat is nothing compared to Southern Cal or Tenn.

    Great police officers, friendly store personnel, clean streets and neighborhoods, very happy with our decision to move here.

  12. Boise In A Nutshell:

    Pros:
    – Awesome outdoor recreation half-hour in pretty much any direction (fishing, rafting, kayaking, skiing, etc.). Outdoor enthuasists dream, including beautiful rivers, lakes, and forests and mountains hour or more out of town.

    – Considering you are five hours from SLC, six from Portland, and eight from Seattle, the downtown nightlife compared to the rest of the state and regional area is actually not too shabby for where you are. I am not the largest drinker, but there are plenty of bars and watering holes. Also, a healthy ‘dance scene’ if you know what I mean and can find the people/events.

    – Not too bad a place to raise a family, as the area is considered pretty wholesome. Yeah the LDS may have a big foot-hold in the area, but I’d rather have trustworthy and wholesome LDS neighbors then the gangsta-wannabees and shootings twenty miles west in Canyon County.

    – Weather: You can’t please everyone as far as weather is concerned, but it is actually fairly temperate with four real seasons. Doesn’t usually get too cold or too much snow in the winter, and yeah the summers can be a bit of a scorcher, but that’s what all the outdoor recreation is for. There’s rivers and lakes, and cooler mountain locations to hang out at int he summer.

    Parks/Greenbelt: Boise does happen to offer a lot of city parks and wonderful greenbelt.

    Green: For a city of this size, it has the largest number of closeted pot-heads I have ever seen. However, if you are new, have fun finding anyone who is open about it.

    CONS:

    – As stated before, Boise sits on the confluance of the Western Rocky Mountains to the north , and pretty much semi-arid desert in every other direction for at least five or so hours unless you are in the mountains. If you are looking to get lost in a time-warp, this is the town.

    – Traffic/Transportation. While very little compared to other regional larger cities like SLC, Portland, or Seattle–the planning for highway and city infrastructures has been poorly planned, though this has been somewhat remedied with new overpasses being built in the outlaying metro areas. Public Transportation is almost non-existant other than a pitiful bus system. Boise could use a good high-speed rail system simliar to SLC’s, and even has the starting infrastructure sadly enough.

    – Malls: Strip malls. What’s with the glut of strip malls? Some of them are almost a blight. Ever drive down Vista or Overland area, you’ll know what I mean. It’s an old joke about Boise and strip malls.

    – Law Enforcement: The law enforcement are rude and will profile you according to race (hispanics beware) or simply because you are driving a beat-up car. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-LEO, but I’ve never been in a city where I’m more afraid of being shot or harrased by LEO’s then Boise.

  13. Interesting to me to see all the negative comments. I have lived in Denver, D.C., Salt Lake, and now Boise, and it seems to me that most of the people who hate Boise don’t have a good idea of what a real city is. Traffic? Are you kidding me? The people? Comparatively, I find pretty good customer service here. I have never been “stared down”. I would be interested to see how some of these negative nancies fare in a real city where there’s a half million people trying to get to work every day in the city, or gangsters staring you down instead of a redneck from Kuna. Get real.

  14. Well, its been two years since I left Boise to Phoenix and I have to say that after my original comment from earlier…..I never made a better decision by leaving that great depression, I’m out of debt from living such a high cost of living, low wage wannabe city. My friends that I grew up with there are in financial ruin and they want to move too, my business is thriving here is Scottsdale and its easy to get things started, people just have more money here, because the jobs pay better and the taxes are lower, and yes, I HATE Boise and I’m NOT a liberal, the traffic is still better here and the weather is well, no comparison, its still raining there I heard and its almost June.
    I grew up there, so I KNOW the place.

  15. Kevin, I also lived in the Phoenix area (Mesa) and although Scottsdale is by far in my opinion the nicest city in the Phoenix metro area, the area as a whole is crime infested, a traffic nightmare, and hotter than Hades in the summer…..even in the middle of the night…..which you probably wouldn’t be outside anyway due to fear of being mugged, or kidnapped. You don’t like the rain? I guess you don’t, considering Phoenix is one of the driest areas in the country. No grass in your front yard, no being allowed to even wash your car in your own driveway due to water shortage, no greenery and loads of smog and pollution….have fun in Scottsdale.

    Your fiends who grew up in Boise are in financial ruin? So if they grew up in Phoenix they would be financially well off? You are obviously an idiot if you truly believe that, and there are plenty of businesses that are both thriving and failing in Boise and Phoenix. High cost of living? Get your FACTS straight, Kevin. The cost of living index actually shows that it is more expensive to live in the Phoenix metro area than Boise. The average Household income in Boise is $47,898, in Phoenix it is just over $48k. Scottsdale is a different story, though, as it is the living destination of the very wealthy in the area. Comparing Scottsdale to Boise in terms of wealth is no different than trying to compare Beverly Hills with Oklahoma City.

    Traffic better in the Phoenix area? You are insane! Compare your car insurance cost now compared to what it was in Boise- that will give you a good comparison as to what insurance companies think of the traffic….and theft where you live.

    Go ahead and keep hating Boise- that will keep you and others like you out of here, but your reasons that you stated are just plain ignorant in why you claim Scottsdale is so much better than Boise.

  16. Best place I have ever lived

    I have lived in many other states, Oregon, California, Washington, Texas and Maryland. Idaho by far has been the best hands down. I live in Meridian, Idaho and it is a great community to be part of. ( no I am not Morman.) The Valley offers a high quality of life for ease of living. Low crime rate, beauty abound, four seasons, neighboords, stores and streets are clean. People are more respectful here than any place I have ever lived. Are things perfect. No, but as close to perfect as one can get. The area offers lots of shopping, outdoor activities, plays, all in all a wonderful place to call home. I have lived here for 7 years and have not once regreted ever moving here. My only regret is not moving here sooner. I recommend Boise, Idaho and the surrounding area to anyone seeking a great place to live. Do yourself a favor, come here for a week of vacation and you too will fall for Boise. Also, it doesn’t snow very much here, about 12 inches a year. But we have a ski resort here in town about 14 miles up the mountian. Lots of golf courses to choose from too, about 140 of them in the valley. Cheap to golf here. It is beautiful to have four true seasons.