Not too long ago, Jack Rowell, a Keller Williams agent from San Diego, called to ask if he could interview me for his Where People Move podcast. In his podcast, Jack explores the areas people move to when they move out of California. He wanted me to talk about North Idaho and the Coeur d’Alene area. If you live in Idaho, it won’t come as a surprise to learn that a large percentage of people who move here from out of state come from California (26%). It’s also not hard to see why.
Coeur d’Alene is in the North Idaho panhandle. Our trade area encompasses about 175,000 people, which makes it small enough to still have a lot of natural beauty and space, but big enough to have the usual amenities. We have box stores like Walmart, Home Depot, and Costco. We also have dozens of lakes, golf courses and ski resorts…basically something to do during every season, indoors or out. This alone often gets us ranked as a top place to retire when you’re young and active.
Why We Moved
My family and I moved to Coeur d’Alene fourteen years ago to join my dad in his real estate business. That was the very beginning of the Bennett Realty Group. People ask us what we like best about the area, and that’s a tough question. What I keep coming back to, though, is it’s a place that has that small town feel. It was the kind of community that we wanted to raise kids in, and it reminded us a bit of the type of towns we lived in when we were young. We could let the kids go outside and play; they could walk to school unescorted. They had a freedom that a lot of people don’t know anymore. The bonuses are a ton of things to do, a low cost of living, and great schools.
About Coeur d’Alene
Our median home price right now is sitting at about $305,000, compared to $118,000 five years ago. That represents a typical single family home of about 2,000 square feet with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. However, that’s one type of home. If you want an executive home in a gated community, we have that. We have homes on the waterfront, as well as condos in the middle of downtown. There are suburban homes on quarter-acre lots. Or maybe you want a 1-5 acre lot; we have that, too. We have huge tracts of land with working farmhouses and barns. It is rare to see the variety of homes that we have in such a small geographical area. And water…oh boy, do we have water! We are lucky to sit atop one of the nation’s largest aquifers, so the farms and ranches are supplied with the water they need to operate.
While talking to Jack, I discovered that the median home price in San Diego is around $590,000. To give you an idea of the comparison, we sold a home last year that was about 2,200 square feet. It was a rancher with a bonus room, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and it had a 36’x40′ shop (we call them toy boxes) on 5 acres for under $500,000. In town, the same price will buy a highly upgraded, similarly sized home on about half an acre in a very nice neighborhood.
You might be wondering what the lifestyle here is like, given the wide variety of amenities. Coeur d’Alene’s downtown is, in my opinion, pretty unique. It has that small town feel, with its historic buildings on Sherman Avenue, Coeur d’Alene’s equivalent of Main Street. In the summer, they hang baskets of flowers on all the street lamps, lending to the quaint small town charm. But our cute little downtown, located right by the lakeside, hides modern touches. We have amazing restaurants, microbreweries and distilleries. The Coeur d’Alene Resort, a top tourist destination, anchors downtown. A few modern high-rises with high-end condos are within walking distance. All of that right next to historic neighborhoods and parks, as well as college campuses. North Idaho College is in Coeur d’Alene, and LCSC, BSU and UI have satellite campuses there as well.
One thing we’ve done really well is community planning. We are building as fast as we can to keep up with demand, but they’re doing a good job of planning communities that are close to schools, littered with parks, intertwined with trails, and close to retail spots so you’re not having to drive far to get what you need. I’m also proud of our community for putting their egos down and rolling up their sleeves to solve problems when needed. Here we have neighboring school districts working together instead of fighting each other for every tax dollar, coming together to improve graduation rates.
I hope that gives you some idea of what it’s like here and why people are coming en masse to our area. For more, you can click the video icon above to see the full interview. While you’re there, subscribe to our You Tube channel to see more great content.