Interesting Stuff

A Growthophobe’s Lament


Boise’s “growth tsunami” continues unabated. And while realtors and chamber of commerce boosters breathlessly extol the virtues of this unique and lovely community, they’re short on providing newcomers with a handy list of 10 tips to ease their personal transition to their new home — a place that’s under severe stress at the moment from the continued pangs of unbridled change and in-migration.

So here are my “Top 10” tips, learned from experience when I came to Boise from rural West Virginia a decade ago. I’ve practiced them, and they’ve served me fairly well. I’ve tried to follow them daily. Hopefully, they’ll serve you equally well in 2022:

–Pick up your dog crap. It’s not neighborly to leave “calling cards” of varying amounts and consistencies throughout the neighborhood. And that means carrying the poop bag out with you, not leaving it on any convenient doorstep.

–Swap your California or Oregon license plates for Idaho tags … promptly. It’s the law. It’s also just good form. Starting to pay the taxes to cope with the infrastructure demands your arrival has caused is only fair. Not doing so is a deliberate “eye-poke” to the community. It marks you as not caring.

–Know and respect your neighbors. In mega-states with tens of millions of residents, like Texas and Florida and California, it’s possible to live an anonymous and detached life. Not here. We have barely 1.8 million people. It’s your job as a new resident to get to know most of them, on a first-name basis.

–Recycle those glossy, granite countertop “Boise lifestyle” magazines from realtors that lured you here. They’re no more reflective of this place than fantasy comic books.

–Remember that while you are busy living a lifestyle, others are simply just trying to live a life. Those shelf-stockers, field pickers, and dirt farmers are the ones who make your tenancy here possible. Understand that they are the ones who are getting unfairly priced out of a city now on growth steroids.

–While you may have just moved in, know and respect that others have been here their entire lives. Their pioneering families may have lived here since Idaho first became a state. History didn’t begin with your arrival.

–Humanize your driving habits. You no longer have a 4-hour daily commute to Bellevue or Marina del Rey. Slow down through the neighborhoods, cool it with the “rolling stops”, and yield to people in the crosswalks instead of flipping them off. There’s no place in Idaho that you need to be that’s that important.

–Fully assume your new Idaho citizenship. Vote, read the newspaper, and take an active interest in what local government is doing. In California, you were just one of 40 million people. Here, it’s possible to be on a first-name basis with the Governor and the Mayor.

–Remember that worth in Idaho is traditionally not determined by the glitz of your house, the cost of your car, or the heft of your bank balance. Here, where your word is your bond, you look people in the eye, keep your word, help others, and treat the place with respect. Adjust to “western” … not “West Coast” … behavior.

–Appreciate all of the good qualities of this place. Work to conserve and protect them for they will be gone soon enough.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Yvonne Schmidt
    Jul 12, 2022, 9:59 pm

    Bravo!! I have been feeling this for a year.
    And please remember our training in school as we learned to drive.
    DON’T CUT THE CORNERS. There just might be a little dog on a leash that you could hit.

  2. Not a small town anymore
    Jul 13, 2022, 11:37 am

    I moved to Boise in 1990 from Southern California when the freeway crowd started shooting at each other for perceived slights. Boise was really nice, traffic was slow, and you could go just a short way out of town to fish and camp.

    I decided to leave Boise about 6 years ago when the traffic, and summer and winter inversions were getting really bad.

    Since, I’ve been watching home prices and the associated taxes soar. I visit a few times a year, but find the drive in from Oregon to be extremely unpleasant.

    Hate to say this, but i consider the Treasure Valley to be a Mega-State / Megalopolis now. Before i left, I’d rarely see a person twice when grocery shopping. Seemed like an endless parade of strangers.

    I found peace by moving to a small Oregon town where i know all of my immediate neighbors, and see the same, genial folks on a regular basis.

    If you don’t like the growth in Boise, I’d suggest you leave. Life is too short for complaining endlessly about something you have zero control over.

    I don’t regret leaving at all, and every day is a blessing in my wonderful new small town.

  3. Guy who moved here from somewhere else is mad at guys who moved here from somewhere else.

    *shakes fist at cloud*

    Being born here or having a mommy or daddy born here doesn’t make you special. Moving here doesn’t make you unwelcome. You don’t get to enforce your privileged white guy rules on people. Chill out bud.

    Let’s cut the xenophobia.

    Signed, someone who was born here, and whose parents and grandparents were too. #ImNotSpecial

  4. Well Said.

  5. I appreciate the sentiments and feel much the same… although it does seem rather ironic that a guy who arrived 10 years ago is lamenting how Boise used to be.

    It’s all relative, I s’pose.

    I was born at the old St. Alphonsus Hospital downtown, 68 years ago… so imagine how an old coot like me feels about the changes!

    There’s not much I can do about it, but the Boise I grew up in was a MUCH nicer place than nowadays, or even 10 years ago. Back when the Statehouse and Hotel Boise were the tallest structures… Curtis Road was out in the sticks! When they built the Hillcrest Shopping Center, it seemed vast – they had zoo-animal cutouts on the parking lot light posts, so you could keep track of where you parked! I’d gladly give up the double-decker stadium and connector and mall to go back. (I’d like to keep the Greenbelt. THAT little bit of 2022 Boise is WAY nicer.)

  6. David Klinger
    Jul 13, 2022, 9:58 pm

    Contrary to the comments, I first started coming to Boise on government business in the early 1990s, about 30 years ago. That doesn’t make me a native, but it does give me a bit of perspective on how this city has changed. Many of the changes have been good. But I think many of us can agree that the unusually rapid acceleration of growth over the past 5-10 years has sacrificed some of the qualities that have made Boise so special as a big small town. Traffic congestion, escalating taxes, unaffordable homes, and an increasingly frantic pace to life are hardly a good or equal trade for the latest trendy alehouse or food cart, in my humble opinion. One of the first months I was finally here as a resident, while walking down the street Cecil Andrus stuck out his hand and remembered my name from about 30 years prior. I miss that, and wonder whether Boise will still possess those indefinable qualities that have make life here so rich, when our downtown becomes nothing but condo canyons and we no longer know our neighbors.

  7. I agree, but we are likely seeing the tail end of California or out-of-state money coming in to local real estate. The Federal Reserve is slamming the door shut on real estate speculation with the rise in interest rates. On the table is a collapse of the bubble, from a near $600,000 median sale price in Ada County, down to sub-$200,000 median prices in the next few years. I think it’s really understated in the media/real estate industry how much of the price surge was due to investor activity rather than actual end user demand. That said, many end users bought houses with 5% or less down and were basically underwater from day 1. They have very little capital invested, and won’t think twice about walking away when prices dip low enough. Home “equity” will prove to be a mirage.

  8. If you areconcerned about growth in Boise you should either leave or do something about it. Boise’s Zoning Code Rewrite revisions just came out Tuesday. The changes basically do away with any single family zoning, unless you live in a historic district, a special plan area, large lot overlay or a new subdivision with an HOA and HOA or CCR’s. Transit coridors, transition zones and strategic infill will rule the day with high desnity infill. It’s coming with a full head of steam, so change is doubling, tripling even quadrupling down, while limiting your voice in the public process. But of course, your votes matters- at election time and when they want an aditional 3% in property taxes. Here is the video from Tuesdays work session. The zcr update begins at 20 minutes.

  9. I think Boise is a great place to live!

    I certainly do not want to live in North Idaho or Eastern Idaho.

  10. Perfect! As multi-generational, lifelong Idahoan, I fully concur with your list.

  11. The traffic isn’t bad here. Nor are the taxes. Pace of life is silly and subjective.

    And gee, you met Ceece once. Good for you.

    I’m glad you value your opinion so highly.

  12. ?Condensed,
    1) Pick up your dog crap.
    2) Swap your California or Oregon license plates for Idaho tags within 90 days.
    3) Know and respect your neighbors.
    4) Recycle those glossy magazines from realtors that lured you here.
    5) Remember others are getting unfairly priced out of a city now on growth steroids.
    6) Know and respect others.
    7) Humanize your driving habits.
    8) Assume your new Idaho citizenship.
    9) Repeat #6.
    10) Appreciate all of the good qualities of this place.


    A better Top 10 wrapped into 1.

    West Virginia just called Klinger.

  13. oh yeah, here is the famous quote for all those political California refugees

    “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”

  14. I moved from Seattle in February and I am happily adapting to my new way of life. In Seattle I would be labeled many horrible names because of the way I believe. I am finally home.

Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address: