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Imagine IF

Why Idaho Falls is the best place to call home

Published online: May 23, 2022 Articles, Business, East Idaho Business Brad Cramer
Viewed 1046 time(s)

In a world of algorithms and big data, it seems as though we can find the perfect answer to everything through numbers and analytics. Idaho Falls has been the beneficiary of this trend as its key performance statistics—low unemployment, low cost of living and low crime—continue to place it high on the national “best places” radar.  Such recognition includes “Top 100 Places to Live” from Livability, Wallethub’s “Best Small Cities to Start a Business” and even “Best Performing Small City in America” by the Milken Institute in 2021.  

While these accolades are truly an honor and have told the world what local residents already knew, data driven metrics can feel a bit empty when it comes to really describing what makes a place somewhere you want to be. Data doesn’t capture a place’s soul.  It can’t truly convey the rhythm of life or the vernacular landscapes and flavors of a town. 

Recently my department at the City of Idaho Falls kicked off the Imagine IF initiative, which is a plan to manage the incredible growth our area is experiencing. But before it became yet another data and trend driven document, we wanted to begin by understanding what citizens appreciate about their city. We partnered with On the Ground Consulting to conduct a city-wide survey to ask people what they love about living in Idaho Falls. The nearly 700 responses offer a fantastic qualitative supplement to the data-based reviews noted above. 

The most common responses about what makes Idaho Falls a great place to live included descriptions of a town that still feels small, where neighbors still know each other and that has excellent outdoor spaces. People described how they love a peaceful, evening bike ride around the Riverwalk or watching the leaves of the massive trees in the historic neighborhoods change color in the fall. They expressed appreciation for the many events, both large and small, hosted throughout the year. As one respondent wrote, Idaho Falls is a “small town with big heart.  I have everything I need without being overwhelmed.” 

These characteristics are what build a community and create a place worth living. They validate what famed urbanist Joel Kotkin wrote in his book The City: A Global History. “What makes cities great?” he asked.  “Three critical factors have determined the overall health of cities—the sacredness of place, the ability to provide security and project power, and last, the animating role of commerce.”  

The statistics of other studies demonstrate Idaho Falls is providing security and a great place for commerce and business. But it won’t last without the sacred connection people feel to their hometown; without the traditions, the landmarks, the friends and the memories.  

As you discover Idaho Falls, what will connect you to the community? What will be your reason to love Idaho Falls? Beyond the numbers, beyond the jobs and wage growth, beyond the cost of living, what will make this place the city where you decide to stay? Maybe you’ll connect with new friends at a downtown coffee shop or savor the tastes and aromas of a local chef’s restaurant. Perhaps you’ll marvel at the 4th of July fireworks or jam out to a local band.  Or maybe it will be the simple pleasure of a walk by the falls and Japanese gardens or exploring the local vendors offerings at the farmer’s market. Whatever your reason for wanting to experience Idaho Falls, you can expect to find more than just what the numbers tell you. Here you’ll find a community worth being a part of. 

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