The young man sitting next to me on the flight to Boise grew excited when I told him I have lived in the same home for nearly 36 years.
“Wow! You gotta be happy about property values going up over that amount of time,” said the newcomer from San Jose. He had attended university and married in Tennessee and wanted to move back to his native California–but he couldn’t afford to live there.
When a 1400 square footer costs upwards of half a million, Idaho is a bargain basement–especially for the guy who sells that 1400 footer. He moves to Idaho, doubles his size for $375,000 and has money left over for an SUV.
None of this is news to those of us who live here, and California just happens to be the nearest and most recent housing market to produce millionaires out of otherwise pretty middle class folks. In Idaho it is the farmers and ranchers with large land holdings who benefit from selling their acres to eager developers.
The net result is these people who paid next to nothing in property taxes for a lifetime under “agricultural exemptions” suddenly strike it rich. For the rest of us it means increased land values that result in increased taxes. Our land is worth more, but only if we sell it.
Then we are faced with the question of “where do WE go?”
Resentment manifests it self as “anti-Californian,” but the same situation once existed in Hawaii when the Japanese invaded the second time–with money in the 1980’s and 90’s.
Montana’s Bitter Root Valley south of Missoula has suffered as much as Idaho, but last week signaled a change in attitude. Voters tossed out the conservative Ravalli County commissioners and made it clear “enough is enough” when it comes to rampant growth.
That valley is dotted with log cabins that rival the grandeur of Old Faithful Lodge in Yellowstone National Park. Of course the neighbor’s property value–and tax–skyrockets as soon as the newby builds his dream home.
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