Living in IdahoIyna Bort Caruso
Idaho is uncrowded and unspoiled with scenery that’s unforgettable.
Here within one of the country’s most rugged landscapes are high deserts, glacial lakes and great expanses of designated wilderness. Hot springs bubble up from ancient volcanoes. In the west is the deepest gorge in all of North America, Hells Canyon, which was carved by the mighty Snake River. The Gem State has scores of mountain ranges making Idaho a premier spot for skiing. In fact, Sun Valley, opened in 1936 in south central Idaho, lays claim to being “America’s first destination ski resort.” Ernest Hemingway arrived in Sun Valley just a few years later, becoming the area’s most celebrated resident.
This year, Bankrate ranked Idaho fourth among the nation’s best states for retirement, citing its low cost of living, low crime rate and inviting weather. Baby boomers have also been taking notice. They’re buying Idaho real estate as vacation homes now with an eye toward year-round residency down the road. California and Arizona are strong feeder markets.
The northern Idaho Panhandle borders Washington to the west, Montana to the east and Canada to the north. Coeur d’Alene, the panhandle’s largest city, is sometimes called the playground of the Pacific Northwest. It is a four-season wonderland of beaches, boating, fishing, skiing and hiking trails. Dozens of large and small lakes blanket the region. Some of the priciest real estate is waterfront property on Lake Coeur d’Alene. Five ski resorts are located within an hour, and big city amenities are about 30 miles away, just across the border in Spokane, Washington.
Just north of Coeur D’Alene is Sandpoint, a beautiful small city sandwiched among a trio of mountain ranges on the shores of Idaho’s largest lake, Pend Oreille. Private mountain retreats, luxury condominiums and golf resort residences are oriented to take advantage of majestic views. Sandpoint is a laid-back recreational and cultural hub anchored by the Panida Theater, a restored Spanish Mission-style building opened in 1927 that was instrumental in transforming this 19th century timber community into a flourishing arts enclave.