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The Cost of Living Battle: California vs Idaho

Living in Southern California may seem exciting, but it comes with a heavy price tag. Six cities, including Los Angeles rank in the top 20 of most expensive places to live in the United States. Four of those cities are in Orange County. In addition, the problem of homelessness has increased by 12.7% in Los Angeles County since this time last year according to

2020 has seen more 9,279 wildfires burn in excess of 4,359,517 acres (as of November 24, 2020) making it the most destructive fire season in California’s modern history. According to Cal Fire’s website, there have been 31 fire related fatalities.

The fires are becoming more destructive and the air quality is worse than it has been in decades. Fire season starts earlier, ends later, and gets more expensive every year. Experts predict the trend will continue unless drastic measures are taken.

Thinking about moving from California to Idaho? The following will give you an idea of how a city like Boise compares with Southern California.

Cost of Living Comparison 

If you’re considering a move, you need to make sure it makes sense economically. 

  • A family living in Los Angeles with a combined income of $356,556 would only have to make $195,000 to maintain the same lifestyle after relocating to Idaho.
  • It costs 67.3% more to live in Los Angeles than it does in Boise. (This percentage assumes home ownership and does not take child care or taxes into consideration)
  • A comparable home will cost 127% more in Los Angeles.
  • Groceries are 11% higher in Los Angeles.
  • Tomatoes that cost you $1.17 a pound in Boise will cost you $3.70 a pound in Los Angeles.
  • A bottle of domestic beer that costs $1.89 in Boise will cost you $7.00 in Los Angeles.
  • The price to eat out will cost you on average 33.58% more in Los Angeles than in Boise.
  • Transportation costs 95.6% more in Los Angeles.
  • A $3.182 gallon of gas in Los Angeles will cost you around $2.72 in Boise.
  • Utilities are 4.1% more expensive in Los Angeles.
  • Healthcare is 1.9% less expensive in Los Angeles.
  • Miscellaneous items like entertainment, clothing, and repairs are 6.9% more expensive in Los Angeles.
  • The property tax rate in Los Angeles is 0.78%. In Boise, you will pay an effective tax rate of 0.75% 

Real Estate Comparison 

Before you make a move, you need to know that you can maintain your standard of living in a new location. 

  • The median cost for a home in Los Angeles is $689,500. In Boise you can buy a comparable home for $386,400. That’s a difference of $303,100 or 127.5%!
  • Boise real estate is scorching. Mortgage rates are low and the housing supply is limited. 
  • The median sale price for a new home has increased by 17.2% according to Boise Regional Realtors.
  • A 792 square foot apartment in Los Angeles runs around $2,524 a month.
  • The average one bedroom apartment in Boise rents for $1,317. A three bedroom rents for around $1,488.

Career Opportunity Comparison 

Prior to any move, you must feel confident that you will have an opportunity to advance your career in the new city.

  • According to, Boise ranked tenth best in the country for jobs. The city beats Los Angeles (127 on the list), Salt Lake City, and Denver. The same report ranked Boise third in the country for highest employment growth.
  • Top paying jobs in Southern California include CEOs, psychiatrists, and astronomers.
  • In Boise, the top paying jobs are in the fields of medicine, architecture, and computer systems management.
  • Wind turbine technicians, rod busters, miners, and roofers are among the most in-demand jobs in Los Angeles.
  • Web development, stylist, and home health are among the top in-demand jobs in Boise according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Department of Labor.
  • The average salary for a web developer in Boise is $75,000. Stylists make an average of $43,600, and home health aides take home around $23.900.

Public Education Comparison 

If you have children, the quality of the public school system and the opportunities for higher education will be very important to you.

  • The quality of education children receive in Southern California depends in large part on where they live.
  • gives the Boise Independent School District an A-. Its student to teacher ratio is 17 to 1. The average graduation rate is 81%, and the average SAT score is 1200.
  • Boise State University is ranked National Universities #298-#389 in the 2021 Best Colleges edition. The school offers 170 academic programs including the only raptor biology degree in the country. It also partners with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, which is a great microelectronics study resource. (
  • Boise State University’s spring 2021 in-state tuition is $4,030 per semester. UCLA in-state tuition is $12,763. 

Climate Comparison 

If you enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle, air quality, climate and weather conditions in a new location will be a factor in any moving decision.

  • Los Angeles is notorious for smog. The air pollution is caused by a number of factors including the fossil fuels burned by vehicles, planes, ships, and manufacturing. The wildfire crisis has dramatically increased the problem.
  • Temperature wise Los Angeles tends to be warm all year round. January and February are the rainiest months.
  • In Boise the average January high is 38°. July is the hottest month with an average of 91°.
  • March and May are the rainiest months in Boise. Both average 1.38 inches.

(Climate information from 


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