Off grid living in Idaho ( Gem State )

Idaho is located in the northwestern part of the country, it is a fairly large state with a low population density. If you search around the internet for opinions of Idaho then you will probably notice that most people either say that it is a flyover state or an extremely boring one. The good news is that a boring state has all the potential of being a great off grid living state. Idaho’s population is around 1.78 million people and the population has been steadily rising throughout the years.

Idaho is one of the best states for off grid living, living off the grid is legal and harvesting rainwater is also legal. The cost of living is around 5% lower than the national average, the population density is fairly low and the crime rate is also low. The local lands are fairly fertile although the growing period tends to be short especially in the northern parts of the state. There are only two things that are not the best for off grid living in this state, the 14% higher cost for housing and the brutal winters.

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A lot of people from California tend to move here, mostly because they can not afford to live in California and Idaho is one of their best options when it comes to moving. As Idaho has a low population density there are only two cities with a population of over 100k people. The biggest city in Idaho is Boise City with 231k people followed by Meridian with 107k, Nampa 96k, Idaho Falls 63k, and Caldwell with 58k residents.

Idaho has a lot of people living off the grid or in a semi off grid fashion, you will also find a lot of people here who are preppers. Due to the low population density, Idaho is great both for people wanting to live off the grid and preppers alike. Most of the state is untouched wilderness, with plenty of national forests like the Sawtooth National Forest, Payette National Forest, Salmon-Challis National Forest, and the Nez Perce Clearwater National Forest.

At the first glance, Idaho seems excellent for off grid living, although this state has its own problems when it comes to off grid living. One of the biggest drawbacks of living off the grid in Idaho is the local climate, while the locals have adapted to it, but if you come from the southern parts of the country you will be amazed how cold and long the winters can be. If you want to compare Idaho to one of its neighboring states then check out my recent article Off grid living in Wyoming ( Cowboy State ).

Idaho climate

As the state is fairly large it has several types of climates, most of the state has a humid continental type climate and in the southern parts, some areas do have a humid subtropical type climate. The average summertime temperatures are around 85°F, the average wintertime temperatures are around 40°F. The local weather can be unpredictable both during the summer and wintertime, summers are mild to hot and the winters are long and cold. If you want to know how you can start a homesteading blog then check out my recent article How to start a homesteading Blog ( In 10 Steps ).

Types of crops grown in Idaho

The most predominant crop in Idaho is potatoes, in fact, Idaho is the biggest producer of potatoes in the country. Other crops are hay, wheat, soybeans, barley, sugarbeets, peas, beans, and nursery products. Most of the state is also suitable for growing vegetables and fruits. The further north you go in this state you will notice more and more greenhouses, this is because the growing period can be short due to the local climate. If you want to take a look at one of Idaho’s neighbors which has a semi-arid climate then check out my recent article Off grid living in Nevada ( Silver State ).

Freshwater availability in Idaho

Idaho doesn’t have a problem with fresh water and you can also legally harvest rainwater. The average yearly rainfall is between 10″-50″, generally speaking, the northern parts of the state get most of the yearly rainfall. The average yearly snowfall is around 100″, although some areas like Shoshone County can have a yearly snowfall around 500″. There is a massive difference between the areas when it comes to yearly snowfall so make sure to check the local climate if you want to buy a homestead.

Idaho wildlife

Due to the low population density and the numerous national forests, Idaho is home to a lot of animals like moose, antelope, red deer, cougar, American black bear, grizzly bear, boreal woodland caribou, mule deer, white-tailed deer, and lynx. In the local rivers and lakes, you will find trout, crappies, rainbow trout, white sturgeon, mountain whitefish, largemouth bass, and muskellunge. You can find here more info about the fishing license

Generating power off the grid in Idaho

  • Solar power: Idaho offers a tax credit from their income tax, this is around 40% of the solar system setup although the maximum amount is $5000. In addition to this, you also should be able to apply to the federal tax credit which is around 26%.
  • Wind power: As far as I know Idaho doesn’t offer any local incentives or rebates for wind power systems, although you can still use the federal tax credit.

Idaho off grid laws

Living off the grid in Idaho is legal, as long as you respect the local building code you should be fine, in addition to this, you can also legally harvest rainwater. Due to the low population density, a lot of people are homeschooling their children, especially in remote areas where commuting to school and back during the wintertime is impossible. The homeschooling laws are fairly strict, and you will have to file some paperwork to let the local authorities know that you are homeschooling your children. If you want to know where are the best places for off grid living in this state then check out my recent article Best Places To Live Off The Grid In Idaho ( Top 7 Counties ).

Idaho road access

Idaho has some problems with road access, especially during the wintertime as the yearly snowfall in some years can be high. Idaho has a lot of roads that are at a higher elevation, and some of these roads do not have rails on the side of them, not even at the bends, which can make driving in these areas extremely dangerous. Due to the high snowfall in some areas, people tend to use snowmobiles as cleaning the roads from snow is simply impossible in some of these areas.

Price of land in Idaho

The price of housing and land is around 14% higher than the national average. Although when you look at the average cost of a house in any state you should also look at the population density. Generally speaking states with a lower population density will have a somewhat higher price for housing as the offer is lower than the demand.

Idaho property tax

The average property tax in Idaho is around 0.91% which is below the national average of 1.08%, although the urban property tax can be as high as 1.43%.

Cost of living in Idaho

The cost of living in Idaho is a little bit lower than the national average, you will pay around 4% less for groceries, 5% less for healthcare services, 11% less for utilities, and 9% less for transportation. The only thing for which you will pay more is housing which is around 14% higher than the national average, but even with this higher price, it is well worth buying a house or a homestead in this state.

Idaho jobs

Idaho’s unemployment rate is at 2.9% which is below the national average of 3.6%. The minimum wage is at $7.25 which is the lowest when you compare it to the neighboring states. The biggest industries where most people work are forestry, food processing, woodworking, manufacturing, chemicals, mining, and tourism. Idaho is the leading producer when it comes to processed cheese.

Idaho crime rate

Idaho’s crime rate is below the national average, currently, it is at 2.27 crimes per 1000 people and the national average is 4 crimes per 1000 people. The areas with the lowest crime rate are around Island Park, Murtaugh, Arco, Ririe, Roberts, and Cottonwood. The areas with the highest crime rate are around McCall, Blackfoot, Boise, Pocatello, Lewiston, and Twin Falls.

Idaho natural disasters

Idaho has a couple of natural disasters like storms, heatwaves, floods, wildfires, earthquakes, and snowstorms. The most commonly occurring natural disasters in some areas are snowstorms, storms, and floods. Floods can often occur in some areas where the yearly snowfall is fairly high.

In conclusion

Overall Idaho is a great state for off grid living, you have plenty of options when it comes to growing crops, and the cost of living is lower than the national average. With that being said Idaho is not for everybody if you are used to a fairly mild climate then you will have some trouble adjusting to the local climate especially during the wintertime.