Choosing a neighborhood is one of the most important parts of a home search. The cool thing about Boise is that there are dozens of wonderful neighborhoods to choose from, each with unique characteristics that set them apart. I grew up in Boise’s north end and currently live on the Boise bench. I’ve worked extensively in northwest Boise and southeast Boise and can offer insight into virtually any neighborhood (both the broader areas and niche “pockets”) in Boise’s core—within about a five mile radius of downtown.
To me, the wonderful thing about living in Boise is living in a neighborhood that provides access to our community’s amazing resources. I love being able to ride my bike a few blocks to the Boise Greenbelt or being able to easily access our beautiful foothills. I like walking to local parks or being five minutes from downtown. I tend to work with clients who want to live in people-friendly urban neighborhoods with easy access to shopping, dining, education, cultural events and nature.
Having said that, there are also some terrific planned communities in Boise (Hidden Springs), Meridian, Eagle and beyond. When buyers are looking for new construction in contemporary subdivisions, there are several great options in the surrounding area. I like to help buyers identify neighborhoods that offer charm and character and long-term investment potential. Not all subdivisions are created equally—identifying the best of the best is critical.
Here are some (just a few--there are many more) of my favorite little “pockets” in town:
Boise’s North End
The north end as an MLS area is quite large with many sub-neighborhoods within the larger area. Here are some I love:
- The area around 24th & Ridenbaugh. I think that 24th Street between Ellis and Lemp may be the very best blocks in the entire north end. Gorgeous homes from the early 1900s grace oversize lots with huge mature trees—it’s a super-prime location. The neighboring blocks are wonderful, too. Highlights include Elm Grove Park at 23rd & Irene.
The area around 6th & O’Farrell. Streets to wander and explore: Thatcher, Pueblo O’Farrell, 7th, 6th, 5th. This is such a quiet part of the north end with easy access to the Boise Co-Op. Neighborhood landmarks include Hollywood Market at 8th & Resseguie.
- The residential blocks area between 16th and 27th south of State. This area is not as in-demand as the area north of State street, however this provides an opportunity to get a home with all of the benefits of north-end living at a better price. Plus, as people will tell you who live in this area, the convenience that living south of State provides is a huge benefit. This area is closer to the Greenbelt and downtown, has easier freeway access plus is walking distance to many shops and restaurants. Highlights include the park at 23rd & Bannock plus the shopping district at 17th & State.
The Boise Bench
There was a time when the north end was an understated neighborhood filled with modest older homes. I remember it—it’s the neighborhood I grew up in. Over time, as the north end gained in popularity, homes were remodeled and expanded, shops and restaurants opened and property values sky-rocketed. For locals and folks in real estate, the Boise Bench is often referred to as “the next north end,” largely because of the number of affordable homes with such close proximity to downtown.
I personally live on the bench and can offer much insight into this area. Of all Boise neighborhoods, the bench is probably the most mixed. There are areas with tiny little homes built in 40’s and available today for under $100,000 and there are gorgeous view streets with homes selling for over $1,000,000. In-between are several wonderful, eclectic neighborhoods, frequently developed in Boise’s boom of the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Some favorite bench pockets:
- The area around Glen Haven Street. Glen Haven is a haven of a street. It is my favorite street in Boise and someday a home will come up for sale at a time that I could buy it and I will live there happily ever after. With just a handful of homes on two charming circles, Glen Haven is a sleepy, quiet little oasis in the middle of Boise. Each home was custom-designed in the 50’s and 60’s with some homes showing true mid-century modern flair. Surrounding streets—Johnson, Kootenai, Owyhee, Shoshone—are all wonderful and within walking distance to Monroe Elementary and South Jr. High, two terrific bench schools. There are some incredible values—some of the most undervalued real estate in Boise, in my opinion—in this area right now.
- The neighborhoods near Morris Hill Cemetery and the park at Roosevelt & Alpine. Some of the streets in this area—Alpine and Roosevelt in particular—offer lovely views of the Boise Foothills and park. The side streets between Alpine and Emerald off of Roosevelt are charming. This is a quiet little niche neighborhood with friendly neighbors and affordable homes. Pet lovers will particularly love the easy access to the dog park at Alpine & Roosevelt—the park is nearly always busy and is quite the friendly, community hub.
- The neighborhood north of Emerald between Houston Road and Garden Street. Houston Road would be my number one pick if I could afford a view home in Boise for over $1,000,000. Overlooking downtown Boise with Kathryn Albertson Park just below and the Boise foothills in the distance, this street is super quiet (no traffic below because of the park) and has absolutely incredible views. A quiet, dead-end street, Houston is low-traffic and peaceful. The surrounding streets—Balsam, Marshall, Pike, Irving and more are fabulous, too. Between Roosevelt and Garden, the neighborhood takes on a more “north-end” feel with modestly-sized homes built in the 30’s and 40’s. Garden Street provides access to the Boise greenbelt.
- The area between Crescent Rim and Latah. From the top of Americana, head south on Latah, then east on Meadow Drive. Wander around to Kipling, Tulara, Camrose, Morris Hill and the other surrounding streets in this pristine area developed in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Crescent Rim features incredible $1,000,000 plus estates. The views are gorgeous, the homes throughout the neighborhood completely charming. This is another area where homes are currently, in my opinion, under-valued. There are some incredible opportunities to buy into this highly-livable location at below-market prices.
Northwest Boise is bound more or less by Hill Road to the north, the Boise river to the south, highway 55 to the west and 36th street to the east, though some would argue that anything west of 28th is more northwest Boise than north end. There are hot debates around this topic particularly amongst “natives” who take great offense at anything west of 28th being called the north end. But, technically, according to the MLS maps, area 800, northwest Boise, starts at 36th. For the most part, northwest Boise is zip code 83703. You’ll find a little bit of 83714 on the western end of the area.
Some things to know about northwest Boise:
- This area has excellent access to both the Boise River greenbelt system (biking/walking along the Boise river) and the Boise foothills trail system. If you are a hiker/biker, check out the Rivers to Ridges website: http://www.ridgetorivers.org/. I highly recommend ordering one of the printed maps—it’s a great resource!
- There are several commercial hubs in northwest Boise that make shopping and dining really convenient. 36th & State, Collister & State, 36th & Hill and Glenwood & State offer all sorts of amenities and the area has easy access to libraries, bowling alley, kids gymnastics center, swim lessons, fitness facilities, grocery stores, home depot, and more.
- Northwest Boise was largely developed in the 80’s and 90’s, with parts developed much earlier so big trees and mature landscaping is the norm. Also, there are several more traditional subdivisions with well-kept streets, attached garages, and hoas that keep things tidy. There are also several townhome developments that are very appealing to those seeking a turn-key, low maintenance lifestyle.
- From an affordability perspective, generally speaking, northwest Boise is more affordable than the north end or southeast Boise, more expensive than the bench or west Boise. There are some great values in this area and buyers may feel that they get a little more “bang for their buck.”
- The biggest drawback to northwest Boise is that it involves more driving and a slightly longer commute than north Boise. Residents rely heavily on State Street which can be congested during rush hour. Long-time residents get pretty good at knowing which side routes and back ways can make a specific commute shorter and easier.
Some of my favorite pockets in northwest Boise (listed from east to west—from close-in to farther out):
The Sycamore District
The area between 36th and Collister north and south of Catalpa is quiet and very much has an historic “north end” feel. Catalpa, Whitehead, Sycamore, Hawthorne, Tamarack and 39th streets feature mostly large lots—up to an acre—some with stunning homes that have been remodeled and expanded in recent years. This area has a slightly rural, acreage-in-the-city feel. There are also some infill developments where larger lots have been developed into small subdivisions. The Garden Center and Bistro at 36th and Hill is a popular gathering place and the access to trails and golfing just up 36th north of Hill is fantastic. My favorite home in all of Boise is on Catalpa in this neighborhood. Collister elementary is a math/science magnet school.
Arrowhead Canyon and the surrounding area features homes built in the past 10 years including some new construction. Many of these homes offer views and some sections of the subdivision share a community pool. Pricing in Arrowhead Canyon tends to be quite a bit less than similar foothills neighborhoods in north Boise. Some people complain that it feels too “far out” since you do drive a bit to settle into the foohills north of Hill Road. What I’ve found is that the traffic flow out of Arrowhead onto 36th and then to the freeway is amazingly smooth. The commute from here is actually great and the clients I’ve had buy in this area absolutely love it.
The area around Plantation golf course is lovely. With excellent river access and golf course view homes, the area has a lush, green, peaceful feeling. Homes are a bit older and many recent sales have been original owners selling homes that have not been updated since being built in the early 90’s. New owners are taking on a substantial amount of remodeling. The pay off, though, is a well-located home in a prime location.
Jordan’s Landing/John’s Landing/Castle Hills/Point Sub
Right around the intersection of Castle Drive and Hill Road near Cynthia Mann elementary are a half a dozen subdivisions developed in the 80’s and 90’s. This is a fantastic area with great foothills access, strong schools, mature trees and a nice neighborhood feel. You can find homes in a wide range of prices, sizes and styles. If I were going to set out on a home search for my own family, this would be an area I would consider for the walkability to area schools and the quiet, low-traffic subdivision lifestyle.
With homes developed along the river and surrounding a series of neighborhood ponds, Riverside Village offers a lush setting surrounded by natural beauty. Homes offer many of the features and benefits of prime southeast Boise riverside neighborhoods. There is a gated section of Riverside Village with riverfront homes priced above one million dollars. This is a high end location yet pricing is much more affordable than comparable neighborhoods in southeast Boise.
Lakeland Village/Carlton Bay
Set between State Street and the River, the area around Lakeland Village and Carlton Bay (from Ulmer to highway 55) is one of the westernmost neighborhoods in northwest Boise. This area offers lots of single level options and is popular with retirees who want easy access to highway 55 and McCall. Lakeland Village is beautiful and also offers some new, high-end townhomes as well as larger homes near the river.
I have not been to Avimor. It feels really far away. I drive by it on my way to McCall and every time think, oh my goodness this is so far away. If new construction was a priority and a person had no commute and wanted to easily get into the mountains, this might be the perfect place to live. Is it in my wheelhouse? Nope. Could it be? Maybe. I wonder how long it takes for the Avimore listing agents to see this can invite me out for a tour?
The area around Gary Lane & Hill
Many of the homes off Gary Lane are smaller and relatively affordable. I had clients buy here who are avid runners and they love how easy it is to get out for a long run either on roads in the area or down to the greenbelt or up to train running in the hills. This area is a bit further out but very quiet and just about every lot offers either a front or back yard peek at the foothills. You feel very much apart from the hustle and bustle in this area and there are some great buys to be had. Google will tell you this is Garden City but it’s not, it’s very much Boise. No one can tell me why Google thinks this is Garden City. Not that it matters as Garden City is a perfectly fine place to live if you are either in the Glenwood/River section or the Waterfront District. But that is a tangent.
All of the other neighborhoods in NW Boise
From the hillside homes above Hill Road to Quail Ridge to the area off of Pierce Park to the pockets between State and the river there are dozens of little areas that I have not written about here. If you have questions about a specific street or address or need help with any neighborhood information in Boise, feel free to email me directly. I geek out on this stuff and truly feel that with the variety of neighborhoods in our city, there is a place to call home for everyone.
More than any other area in our valley, Southeast Boise has a completely different feel to me. Maybe it’s because I’ve personally lived in neighborhoods in northwest Boise, north end, bench and west Boise but I’ve never lived in south east? I’m not sure. But whenever I’m there I get the feeling I’m in a fancier, more proper sort of place. Not that southeast Boise is too fancy. It’s not. Well, parts of it are. But it’s all still Idaho and Boise and very friendly and down-to-earth
Southeast Boise offers modern day subdivisions, extra-thoughtful landscaping, wide, sane commutes, fine schools, delicious restaurants and excellent access to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Also, southeast Boise has Bown Crossing which is about the most adorable shopping/dining district anywhere. This area offers fantastic access to everything beautiful that Boise has to offer including being across the river from the Idaho Botanical Gardens, Tablerock, and the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. Strong development in Harris Ranch ensures numerous new construction options, too.
Southeast Boise offers both starter homes and million dollar properties. Competition is tough in this area with many homes seeing multiple offers and pricing among the strongest in the valley. Residential areas tend to be centered around Broadway, Boise Avenue, Apple/Bergeson or Parkcenter. There are tons of housing options in southeast and the neighborhood character and feel can vary widely. If you have questions about a street or neighborhood, feel free to email me with a specific question.
Some of my favorite southeast Boise neighborhoods:
Old South Boise Village
This neighborhood is a lot like the north end except that it is smaller, closer to downtown and Boise State, easier access to the airport and homes cost much less. Homes do not come up in this area very often and when they do they go quickly. There are a handful of acre home sites that back to Manitou Park that are dreamy. Some agents are unfamiliar with this area and probably would not make the same comparisons to the north end. But having grown up in the north end and having sold a dozen or so homes in this little pocket, I think that the quality of life, access to amenities, walkability and historic neighborhood character are very similar. This area represents an excellent value. You’ll want to be south of Boise avenue, west of Broadway and the closer to Manitou Park, the better.
East of Broadway/BSU area
Another area with a “north-end feel” is the area east of Broadway from the University to Linden. This area consists largely of homes built in the 1940’s during the post-war boom. Homes on this side of Broadway tend to be a bit smaller and many have basements. The closer to Boise State, the more students live in the area and the more apartments are mixed in.
OK, so this isn’t a neighborhood pocket but is just one street. It’s a long circle filled with mid-century homes and I would encourage anyone who has an opportunity to live on Crystal Way to go for it. It’s an adorable street.
Developed in the 80’s and 90’s, Lakewood offers nice lot sizes, community parks, big trees and homes with character. Many homes are ready for remodeling but have great bones and sell for strong pricing because of location. Lakewood is a Boise classic known for its livability and community feel.
River Run is a river front neighborhood that is some of the most expensive real estate in Boise. With many patio homes and condos, this is a popular neighborhood for those seeking a turn-key lifestyle. The Island at River Run offers large lots and large, architecturally designed homes in a gated community.
Spring Meadow/Pier Point
Spring meadow sits on the north side of Parkcenter and includes river front homes, Pier Point is on the west side of Parkcenter and does not have riverfront property so the homes in Pier Point tend to be more affordable. Both neighborhoods offer nice, solid homes built in the 80s and 90s with easy access to downtown via Parkcenter Boulevard. These are terrific neighborhoods that are easy walking distance to Riverside Elementary and Bown Crossing as well as the Boise greenbelt.
East Meadow Park
This neighborhood was developed around a private park. It’s small enough that neighbors know each other and share a true sense of community. The nearby Burton Woods and other areas surrounding Liberty Elementary are also terrific.
I think that one of the most fun places to live in Boise would be in a loft or patio home at Bown Crossing. These homes do not come up for sale very often and when they do they go quickly. Tucked right next to the popular Bown Crossing shopping district, these homes are right on the greenbelt and highly walkable to all sorts of fun. Newer construction and immaculate, this community is incredible.
Technically this is part of MLS area 200, Northeast Boise, but I’m including Harris Ranch information here because it’s so connected to the rest of southeast Boise. Harris Ranch was literally a huge cattle ranch before the Harris family began to sell it off and have the land developed.
The first phases in Spring Creek and the Mill District were developed in the early 2000’s through around 2003. There was a lull in building during the recession and then things have picked up again in recent years. This is a HUGE area with a lot of new construction, including some commercial (dining, retail) coming on in the next year or two.
This is an incredible area to buy a new home with easy access to downtown and popular Boise outdoor recreation.
Wood Duck Island/Oakmont/Barber Point
If you’d like more mature trees and landscaping and a larger lot than you’ll find at Harris Ranch, these neighborhoods that sit between Boise Avenue and the river have a lot to offer. With winding, walking-friendly streets and gracious homes, these neighborhoods are long-time Boise favorites.
Surprise Valley is popular for its pools and community club house as well as access to trails and walking paths, and quiet culdesacs. This is a terrific area with large homes and nice back yards. There are a series of rim view homes with stunning views of the foothills.
On the outer edges of southeast Boise is Columbia Village, a huge planned community that includes a recreation center with gym and pool, walking paths, and top-performing Trailwind Elementary and Les Bois Jr. High. This is a huge community that was first developed in the late 1980’s followed by a lot of building in the 90’s and into the 2000’s. Columbia Village has excellent access to the area’s largest employer, Micron Technology. This area offers a 15 minute drive into downtown Boise with relatively affordable housing prices.
Other southeast Boise areas
There are dozens of pockets that I have not mentioned but do call or email me if you have any questions about a specific property, street or neighborhood. I cannot think of a single “bad” part of southeast Boise—there are so many areas to love!
Coming soon... information about the historic East End, South Boise, West Boise and Meridian.