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The Cost of Living Battle: Oregon vs Idaho

According to the U.S. Census Bureau July 1, 2019 estimates, Portland is currently home to 654,741 residents. If you’re in manufacturing, Portland is the city for you. It leads the nation in specialized manufacturing in areas like special metal fabrication and high tech electronics. 

On the other hand, Portland has also earned the nickname “the Capital of Weird”. It is also a place that many find unfriendly and insular. Climate change is precipitating devastating wildfires that are becoming stronger and more frequent. 

The huge price tag for fighting the fires is being passed on to the residents of Oregon. Mountain snowpacks are declining and melt is happening earlier each year, which adversely affects summer water supplies. Oceanic acidification is devastating shellfish hatcheries.

Considering relocating to Idaho? The following will give you an idea of how a city like Boise compares to Portland. 

Cost of Living Comparison 

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

  • A family living in Portland with a combined income of $105,275 would only have to make $76,000 to maintain the same lifestyle after moving to Boise.
  • It costs 26.3% more to live in Portland than it does in Boise. (This percentage assumes homeownership and does not take child care or taxes into consideration)
  • A comparable home will cost 38% more in Portland.
  • Groceries are 10.6% higher in Portland.
  • Tomatoes that cost you $1.17 a pound in Boise will cost you $2.31 a pound in Portland.
  • A bottle of domestic beer that costs $1.89 in Boise will cost you $2.77 in Portland.
  • A three course meal for two adults at a mid-range restaurant costs 16.67% more in Portland than it does in Boise.
  • Transportation costs 53.7% more in Portland.
  • A $3.01 gallon of gas in Portland will cost you around $2.72 in Boise.
  • Utilities are 11.2% cheaper in Portland.
  • Healthcare is 5.7% less expensive in Portland.
  • Miscellaneous items like entertainment, clothing, and repairs are 15.7% more expensive in Portland.
  • The property tax rate in Portland is 1.07%. In Boise, you will pay an effective tax rate of 0.75%.
  • Oregon has no state sales tax. The state sales tax in Idaho is 6%.

(Cost of living data from and various other real estate websites)



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 Portland is $419,600. In Boise you can buy a comparable home for $303,100. That’s a difference of $116,500 or 38.4%!
  • 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.
  • The average for a one bedroom apartment in Portland’s City Centre is $1,526.76 and $2,671 for a three bedroom.
  • 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 ranks tenth best in the country for jobs. The city beats Portland, Oregon (58th on the list), Salt Lake City, and Denver. The same report ranked Boise third in the country for highest employment growth. 
  • With the exception of CEO’s, the top paying jobs in Portland are all in the medical field. In Boise, the top paying jobs are medical, architectural, and computer systems management.
  • Physical therapists, web developers, and operations analysts are among the most in-demand jobs in Portland. 
  • 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 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.

  • Portland has 177 public schools that are considered among the best in the state. The student to teacher ratio is 19 to 1. The average math proficiency is 45%, and the average reading proficiency score comes in at 59%.
  • gives the Boise Independent School District an A-. It’s 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. (
  • Tuition at Boise State University is currently $8,394. Tuition at Portland State University is currently $9,579. Both of these numbers reflect the cost for in-state students.

Climate Comparison 

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

  • The year 2020 has seen an unprecedented number of large wildfires throughout Oregon burning in excess of 1,000,000 acres and killing 11 citizens. 
  • July and August are typically the warmest months in Portland with an average temperature of 81°.
  • 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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