Idaho is one of the most popular states for older Americans making a move to retire or downsizing as they prepare for retirement. With its lower cost of living, Idaho attracts seniors from other states who want their retirement income to go further, according to Becky Schiebout, a top-performing Boise area real estate agent and senior partner with Barbara Dopp. Retirees in search of a conservative quality of life or a home near family also relocate to Idaho.
Schiebout has worked with out-of-state clients who made a lifestyle change when Covid caused them to retire earlier than anticipated.
“They want to travel. They don’t want to have yard maintenance. They want to just be able to go and leave at their pleasure,” she says, noting that lock-and-leave communities are very popular. “They are over the moon,” she comments about one couple’s move to a gated community largely occupied by retirees.
Head west to Idaho
Over 10,000 retirees or older Americans either migrated to the Gem State or turned 65 from April 2020 to July 2021. This influx of mature residents plays a role in the increasing demand for retirement communities that fit their golden-years goals and financial resources.
Individuals 65 years of age and older make up 16.6% of Idaho’s total population, or more than 315,000 of its 1.9 million residents. Since 2010, this age group soared 60.8% to become the most rapidly growing segment in the state.
In this post, Schiebout, who has extensive experience helping seniors relocate to Idaho, will share her expert insights. We’ve also researched some of the best retirement communities in terms of lifestyle, location, affordability, and safety.
To compile our list of some of the premier communities for retirees in Idaho, we looked at:
- Location of each community
- Access to quality healthcare
- Nearby amenities, services, and recreation
- Established and enforced age restrictions such as 55+
- Ratings and reviews
- Top real estate agent recommendations
What is a retirement community?
A retirement community is a residential housing neighborhood, subdivision, or complex designed for independent older adults seeking an active lifestyle with others of similar age and interests. Many planned retirement communities give mature residents a sense of belonging and a low-maintenance way of life allowing more time for recreation and fitness. Amenities typically include pool, clubhouse, exercise center, as well as social, leisure, educational, and cultural activities.
Residents are generally able to care for themselves and do not require help with daily living or medical services available in assisted living and skilled nursing establishments. Retirement communities may be conveniently located near healthcare providers while continuing care retirement facilities offer supportive and medical options when independent living is no longer feasible.
Contrary to popular belief, a retirement community is not exclusively for retired individuals. The stigma that may be associated with the term “retirement community” does not do justice to the engaging lifestyle and numerous benefits of an age-restricted or independent living community. These communities, often with designations such as “55+,” are popular with Americans making a move to retire, downsizing as they prepare for retirement, or just looking to simplify their lives.
Age-restricted vs. independent living communities
While age-restricted and independent living communities allow seniors to lead an active life with a variety of social, recreational, and fitness opportunities, there are significant differences.
Age-restricted communities are typically designated 55+ and require that at least one occupant is age 55 or older. While residents are often in their 60s-70s, rules set minimum ages for others who live in the household, usually 40 for spouses and 18 for children.
Although some independent living communities may not have specific age requirements, they generally attract people in their late 70s-80s. They offer additional services not commonly available in 55+ communities such as restaurant-style dining, housekeeping, and transportation.
If you prefer living in a more diverse neighborhood, age-targeted and leisure communities are geared toward seniors, but do not have age restrictions.
Retirement communities offer a range of housing options including single-family homes, condominiums, townhouses, and rental apartments. Exterior maintenance and repairs are sometimes included in the monthly homeowner’s association (HOA) or condominium fee, which can remove the need to spend your golden years mowing the lawn, snow-blowing the driveway, or raking up leaves. While smaller properties usually meet the needs of empty nesters, luxury communities may offer homes exceeding 5,000 square feet.
No matter which type of community you choose, you’re likely to find engaging activities and desirable amenities for an active and fulfilling retirement.
What are the most popular retirement cities in Idaho?
According to Schiebout, some of the best cities in Idaho for retired or older Americans include:
Why seniors choose Idaho
There are many reasons why Idaho is an appealing destination for Americans making a move to retire or to downsize in anticipation of retirement. Some of the most notable include:
- Tax-exempt Social Security benefits help stretch your monthly check
- No inheritance, gift, or estate taxes provide more money for family members
- Relatively low property and sales taxes
- Favorable cost of living with health, utilities, grocery, and transportation costs less than the national average
- Spectacular scenery with waterfalls, canyons, forests, and mountains
- Outdoor adventures including hiking, biking, hunting, fishing, skiing, rafting, and boating
- Safety and security with lower crime rates than the U.S. average
- Growing number of adults aged 55+ and retirement communities with various housing options and price ranges
- Affordable medical care
- Plentiful wineries and breweries to quench your thirst
- Entertainment venues such as the Ford Idaho Center
- Treefort Music Fest, Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic, and other festivals
- Cultural attractions such as the Boise Art Museum
- Diverse climate with four distinct seasons
Our picks for some of the best retirement communities in Idaho
There are a number of outstanding retirement communities in Idaho. Based on the parameters listed above, here are some we feel are worth considering:
Phone number: (208) 917-4859
Location: Meridian, Idaho
Price range: High $500s – mid $700s
About: Cadence is a 55+ gated complex located within the master-planned community of Paramount. ENERGY STAR® certified attached and single-family homes are sized from 1,545 to 2,160 square feet. Floor plans feature two or three bedrooms, two or two and a half bathrooms, and two or three-car attached garages. Amenities include a clubhouse with fitness center, indoor lap swimming pool, whirlpool spa, pool table, and dining hall. Walking paths, bistro area, and pickleball courts are among the neighborhood’s outdoor highlights. An on-site lifestyle coordinator organizes social and recreational activities. New construction is offered at Cadence at Bainbridge and Cadence at Century Farm in Meridian.
Ratings and reviews: Rated 4.5 out of 5 on Google reviews, Cadence is noted for its beautiful homes, appealing floor plans, great facilities, and lovely mountain views.
Nearby amenities or attractions: The Village at Meridian offers shops, restaurants, movies, and entertainment just a few miles away. Residents enjoy the great outdoors at Eagle Island State Park and BanBury Golf Course. Area attractions include Roaring Springs Water Park and the Meridian Speedway. Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center and other health care providers are easily accessible. With its location in the Boise metropolitan area, Cadence offers active retirees a variety of recreational and cultural opportunities.
Phone number: (208) 344-2941
Location: Boise, Idaho
Price range: Mid $200s – low $400s
About: Brooke View is a charming 55+ gated community surrounded by scenic walking and biking trails. This land-lease development offers single-family, one-story houses ranging from 1,400 to 1,800 square feet with two or three bedrooms, one or two bathrooms, and two or three-car garages. RV and boat storage is available. Amenities include a clubhouse, exercise room, and library. Residents lead an active life with many social activities, events, and classes such as bingo, potluck dinners, pancake breakfasts, crafts, and cards.
Ratings and reviews: WIth a Birdeye rating of 5 out of 5 and Facebook rating of 4.5 out of 5, reviews indicate that this safe, well-maintained community has friendly residents, many activities, and a great location.
Nearby amenities or attractions: Brooke View is conveniently located a mile from Interstate 184 and 10 minutes from the Boise Airport. Hillcrest Country Club offers golf and tennis. Boise Towne Square, Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, and downtown Boise provide shopping, dining, entertainment, and medical facilities just a short drive away.
Golden Spike Estates
Phone number: (208) 687-4441
Location: Rathdrum, Idaho
Price range: Low $300s – low $400s
About: Golden Spike Estates is a 55+ land-lease community with spectacular mountain views. Single-family residences range from 1,200 to 1,850 square feet with two or three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and attached two-car garages. Residents enjoy resort-style living with amenities such as an indoor pool, hot tub, sauna, fitness center, nine-hole chipping green, bocce ball and pickleball courts, and movie room. The 12,000-square-foot clubhouse is the setting for many social and recreational activities. RV and boat parking is optional.
Ratings and reviews: Rated 4.8 out of 5 on Google reviews and 4.3 out of 5 on Facebook, this community is praised for its many amenities and services to support carefree retirement living, friendly neighbors, great location, and numerous activities.
Nearby amenities or attractions: A golfer’s paradise, Golden Spike Estates is located near Hayden Lake Country Club and numerous golf courses. More than 50 lakes in the area provide opportunities for water sports while Coeur d’Alene National Forest offers hiking, camping, fishing, and outdoor recreation. Supermarkets, banks, pharmacies, and medical facilities are less than three miles away. This community is 25 minutes from downtown Coeur d’Alene with cultural attractions such as The Art Spirit Gallery and upscale restaurants.
Phone number: (208) 366-4430
Location: Meridian, Idaho
Price range: Mid $500s – mid $600s
About: Village Bungalows offers a maintenance-free, active lifestyle for residents aged 55 and older in a small mountain community. One-level single-family homes feature 1,500 to 2,250 square feet of living space with one to three bedrooms, two or three bathrooms, and attached two-car garages. Amenities include a clubhouse for social gatherings and activities, fitness center, outdoor pool, patio, and attractively landscaped park.
Ratings and reviews: With a 3.6 out of 5 rating on Google reviews, comments state that this community understands the interests, needs, and desires of its residents.
Nearby amenities or attractions: Located near The Village at Meridian, residents have access to shops, restaurants, and entertainment. Health care providers close by include St. Luke’s Meridian Medical Center and Primary Health Medical Group. Seniors enjoy a round of golf at BanBury Golf Course and other courses in the area. Downtown Boise offers cultural attractions only twenty minutes away while Boise Airport allows for convenient travel.
Phone number: (208) 772-9617
Location: Hayden, Idaho
Price range: High $300s – high $500s
About: Leisure Park is a 55+ community offering single-family and attached homes ranging in size from 1,112 to 2,926 square feet. Two to four bedrooms, two or three bathrooms, and attached two or three-car garages are available. Residents enjoy socializing, dancing, cards, bingo, and classes at the clubhouse featuring a fitness room, spa, stage, library, and billiards.
Ratings and reviews: Rated 3.8 out of 5 on Google reviews, residents note that Leisure Park has a prime location, is well kept up, and has amenities needed by seniors.
Nearby amenities or attractions: Situated near golf courses, parks, and the Coeur d’Alene National Forest, active seniors enjoy outdoor recreation such as golfing, skiing, hiking, fishing, biking, and boating. Pharmacies and grocery stores are close by while a quick drive to downtown Coeur d’Alene offers shopping, dining, and entertainment. Residents have convenient access to Kootenai Health, Northern Idaho Advanced Care Hospital, and other healthcare services. Area attractions include the Bird Aviation Museum and Invention Center, Silverwood Theme Park, and the Findlay Stadium Stateline Speedway.
Phone number: (208) 755-6857
Location: Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Price range: Mid $400s – high $600s
About: Residents of Meadow Ranch enjoy an active lifestyle in this rural 55+ community. Detached cottage-style homes and townhouses offer 800 to 2,200 square feet of living space, energy-efficient designs, one to three bedrooms, one or two bathrooms, and attached one or two-car garages. A refurbished dairy barn and vintage windmill add to the neighborhood’s charm. Amenities include a clubhouse, exercise room, library, garden, apple orchard, and scenic trails for walking and biking. Residents socialize at potluck meals, holiday parties, and seasonal gatherings.
Ratings and reviews: Not available
Nearby amenities or attractions: Located near Interstates 90 and 95, Meadow Ranch offers convenient access to shopping, dining, recreation, and medical services. The Village at Riverstone features shops, restaurants, movies, and more. The Kroc Center provides facilities for sports, swimming, exercise, and the performing arts. Seniors enjoy walking, jogging, and biking on the Centennial Trail. Medical care is available at Kootenai Health.
How can I find a retirement community near me?
There are many other retirement communities in Idaho. One way to see your options is to search the Internet with phrases such as “retirement communities near me” or “55 and older communities near me.” Check ratings, reviews, and comments posted on the Better Business Bureau site, Google reviews, and industry websites.
Another way to find a quality retirement community is to consult a top real estate agent in your area or the location you are considering. An experienced agent who knows the local market can provide valuable insights into community characteristics such as crime rates, affordability, home construction quality, and the reputation of the governing association. By getting to know you and asking the right questions, an agent can navigate you to properties that best fit your lifestyle.
12 questions to ask before you buy a home in a retirement community
Ask these 12 important questions before you commit to purchasing a home in a retirement community:
1. Will I own the home or is this a lease community?
The answer to this question may seem obvious, but when it comes to retirement communities, there are multiple options ranging from small rental apartments to spacious single-family homes and much more in between. Even if you’re an empty nester, you may not be ready to part with all of the treasures you’ve accumulated during your lifetime, so evaluate square footage and floor plans to make sure they meet your needs.
Some communities have a land-lease structure in which you purchase the house, but lease the home site. This arrangement may eliminate or lower property taxes, but you’ll incur monthly bills for the property lease, water, sewer, trash and snow removal, and amenities.
In addition, it’s important to identify all the costs of living in the community and determine if they fit your budget. You should consider these costs as well as the sales price:
- Monthly HOA or community fees and what services they include
- Closing and other transactional costs
- Entrance or buy-in fees
- Cost of living in the area
- Property taxes including any reductions or exemptions for seniors
2. What are the community rules?
Most active adult communities have a set of rules that must be followed. As a homeowner, you’ve probably had a lot of free rein to do things your own way, so ask for a list of regulations and decide if you will be comfortable abiding by them. These might include:
- Restrictions for visiting children, grandchildren, and other guests such as how many visitors are allowed, length of time, and use of facilities
- Pet policies including the number permitted, types, breeds, and sizes
- Parking regulations such as number of cars, location, space for RVs or boats
- Dress codes in public areas
- Renting limitations or restrictions
- Regulations for home renovations, improvements, and exterior paint color
- Noise parameters including daytime and nighttime decibel allowances
3. What are your new neighbors like?
Having good neighbors with similar interests and views plays a huge role in your quality of life, especially when you retire. If possible, attend a few community events and get to know some of the residents so you’ll discover what it’s like to live there.
4. What plans are there for the adjacent property?
This is an especially important question for newly constructed retirement communities because the breathtaking view when you moved in could be obscured by a strip mall or high-rise building if neighboring areas are developed.
You should also look into plans for vacant land near established communities to avoid traffic and congestion that might come with future development.
5. What type of assessments have been made?
Assessments can be common for any community, but for seniors living on a fixed income, it’s vital to know what improvements or repairs have recently been completed and what assessments are anticipated for the near future.
6. Is the community financially sound?
You will want to know if the developer and association are on solid financial ground before you make a commitment. Ask to look at annual budgets or financial statements to determine if the community is in a position to handle an unexpected emergency such as fire or flood.
7. Is the community able to keep up with future growth?
Your due diligence should include finding out if there is sufficient infrastructure in place, careful planning, and ample space to allow for future expansion while maintaining the neighborhood’s relaxing ambience.
8. Is there a reserve fund for maintenance?
Also known as a sinking fund, this is a financial safety net for major items that deteriorate over time such as a clubhouse roof or heating and air conditioning systems. Without an adequate fund, you could face huge unforeseen assessments when critical shared systems break down.
9. What other projects has this developer completed?
Research the builder online to find out about previous projects and ask for references. Do your homework to find out about the developer’s reputation and how complaints were handled.
10. Is the governing association easy to work with?
Look for a community board with a proven track record of working together and finding solutions. Find out if board members are competent, effective, and civil. A dysfunctional board led by power-hungry or inept individuals may prove to be the cause of great angst and can harm the unity of the entire housing complex.
Ask a number of residents about their experiences with board members and how issues were resolved. Read past minutes and attend an association meeting to form your own impressions. Check with your real estate agent about opinions of other clients who moved into the community. Research the neighborhood association or HOA with online resources such as the Community Associations Network.
11. What security measures does the community have?
Safety is of critical concern to seniors, so evaluate the security systems in place such as video surveillance and procedures for visitors. Find out if communities are gated or guarded and how emergency situations are handled.
12. What is the resale value of properties in the community?
Although you may plan on spending your golden years in an active retirement community, you can’t control what life has in store and may need to move closer to family or into an assisted living facility. Ask your real estate agent about the projected resale value and check HOA rules for restrictions on for-sale signs. Some communities have their own sales offices and prohibit hiring an outside agent. Keep in mind that new construction is the main competition for retirement homes, so it might be harder to sell if developments continually pop up all over town.
Check out the area around the community
Vetting the retirement community with the 12 questions above will help you uncover crucial insights into what life might be like within the boundaries of those neighborhoods, but you will want to look beyond the front gates.
To truly identify the best retirement community for you, take the time to research the history, reputation, culture, and amenities available in the surrounding host city or town. Find out what the area has to offer that can improve or enhance your retirement years. The following questions will help you decide if you are making the right move:
- How far away are the nearest hospital, urgent care center, and other medical facilities?
- How safe is the city or town and what is the local crime rate?
- How easy is it to access major highways and commuting routes?
- Is the community located directly on a busy, noisy highway?
- What conveniences are nearby such as restaurants, shops, banks, or grocery stores?
- Is there a dog park or groomer close by?
- What forms of public transit serve the area such as a bus route, commuter rail, or transportation specifically for seniors?
- Are churches or places of worship that fit your beliefs in close proximity?
- Are there undesirable businesses or manufacturing facilities nearby?
- Is the community near enough to an airport for convenient travel or too close with excessive noise?
- Are there connecting bike paths or walking/hiking trails?
- What recreational, entertainment, and sports facilities are within a reasonable distance?
Q&A: More tips about retirement communities in Idaho
How much does it cost to live in a retirement community in Idaho?
Independent living costs of $2,495 per month make Idaho one of the more affordable states for seniors. Schiebout says the price of homes has risen in recent years with properties in 55+ communities averaging $500,000 to $600,000.
Where do most seniors live in Idaho?
Known as the Treasure Valley, the Boise metropolitan area has Idaho’s largest concentration of seniors and includes Nampa, Caldwell, Meridian, Eagle, Star, Middleton, and Kuna.
What is the 80/20 rule in some retirement communities?
Although 55+ communities have age requirements, to be compliant with the Housing for Older Persons Act (HOPA) and federal Fair Housing laws, they must comply with the 80/20 rule mandating at least 80% of units be occupied by a minimum of one person who is age 55 or older. This regulation also stipulates that the community demonstrates its intent to provide housing for those 55 years and up. Since residents of any age may live in the remaining 20%, younger individuals may remain in the home if the older occupant passes away or requires assisted living or skilled nursing care.
When should I visit a prospective retirement community?
To get the clearest picture of whether a retirement community is the right choice for you, it’s best to visit at different times of the year. You may love the area where you spend your vacation in the fall, but feel differently in the winter when the temperature plunges. Remember, you are making long-term retirement plans, so multiple visits are worth the time and investment. It’s also valuable to consider several different retirement locations and compare the benefits and drawbacks.
Are there real estate agents that specialize in helping seniors?
Yes. Agents can receive the Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®) certification from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) after completing a training course that prepares them to meet the needs of older homeowners. An SRES agent will be well-versed in the areas of retirement, downsizing, estate planning, and other topics of particular concern to seniors. To learn more, see our post: Should You Hire an Agent Who Is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist?
Living your golden years in the Gem State
With a myriad of outdoor recreational activities amidst a breathtaking rugged landscape, Idaho draws older Americans looking to stretch their retirement dollars and lead an active life. Although it is the nation’s top producer of potatoes, the multitude of top-rated retirement communities in the state is no small potatoes for those looking to downsize or give up their 9 to 5 jobs in exchange for leisure pursuits.
As you begin your quest for the best retirement communities in Idaho, take the time to thoroughly research and visit potential cities and neighborhoods. Do some soul-searching to determine if you want to live in close proximity to other seniors or if you prefer a more spacious, private location. Schiebout says some retirees opt for single-family homes on large lots with room for an RV rather than a 55+ community.
While you might be enamored with the state-of-the-art clubhouse and social events, ask yourself if you will take advantage of all the amenities the community offers. Although many retirees intend to utilize these facilities, Schiebout says they often do not. If you’re living on a fixed income, it’s important to decide if costly HOA fees are worth the money.
With the abundance of rare minerals leading to its nickname, the Gem State, older Americans have the opportunity to find a gem of a retirement community in Idaho. HomeLight’s free Agent Match platform can connect you with an SRES-certified agent or a top-performing real estate agent who can help you downsize and guide you in your search for a great retirement community in Idaho that will make your later years truly golden.
Header Image Source: (Fudo Jahic / Unsplash)