ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Is Idaho a Good State to go Off the Grid?

Updated on September 2, 2014

City Beach at Sandpoint Idaho


Idaho is a very diverse and beautiful state. It's also one of the freest states in the union. It's easy to start a business here and the weather is perfect, in other words there is very little humidity! I hate humidity. If you are looking to go off the grid in Idaho there are few states that are better suited for that, there are no tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes or floods in Idaho and most people still retain the civility America used to have back in the 50's. But, it doesn't mean that Idaho is perfect. Here are 12 categories that will help you decide whether Idaho is the perfect place to stake your homestead and go off the grid.

1. Weather:

Idaho has a great deal of variation in its climate. Pretty much any weather you want you'll get in Idaho except maybe high humidity. Idaho can get uncomfortably hot in the summer and has reached temperatures of 110 degrees. However, in winter, it can get very cold especially in the northern regions where the normal temperature is usually in the 20's.

2. Water:

The average annual rainfall varies since the lower part of Idaho is high desert while the upper part has a mountain climate. The upper part of Idaho can get from 30 to 38 inches of rain while the lower part can get an average of 11 percent. The average for the United States is 37 inches.

In addition, Idaho has over 3,100 miles of rivers, more than any other state.

3. Building Codes and Alternative Housing Materials:

Most of Idaho requires building code adherence, however, there are some counties in Idaho that are more flexible than others. I have been told that Idaho county has no building codes other than meeting the electrical and septic standards. In most of Idaho you can build your home using any material you want as long as you are not in a subdivision with its own set of standards.

4. Cottage Business Laws:

Idaho's seven health districts operate as independent agencies. Each district responds to local needs. However, having said that, I spoke with a Mr. Patrick Guzzle from the Health and Welfare department of Idaho and he said that historically Idaho has allowed direct to consumer sales of non-potentially hazardous food products (products that don't have meat or milk or bacteria in them) without requiring a license. And, that there is no limit to the amount of money you can make through these sales. Idaho does not allow cottage goods to be sold commercially.

Currently, there is a movement to codify these cottage business practices and put them into law by an organization called "WORC" which stands for Western Organization of Resource Councils.

Given this information I think it would be safe to say that Idaho's Cottage Business practices are as liberal, if not more so than many states who do have laws written on the books.

5. Homeschooling laws:

Idaho is one of 11 states that have no state requirements for parents to initiate contact or give any notice to the state whatsoever that they are homeschooling their kids. In other words, parents have total freedom to home-school their children in Idaho.

6. Rainwater Harvesting:

It is legal to capture rainwater off roof structures and the ground as long as the rain has not entered a natural waterway in Idaho. Idaho was given an A+ by people who rate rainwater harvesting freedoms.

7. Taxation:

  • Idaho has a state sales tax of 6%, however prescription drugs are exempt.
  • Generally all income received by an Idaho resident, regardless of the source, is subject to Idaho income tax.
  • Idaho does not tax social security benefits.
  • Property taxes are assessed at full market value. A general property tax is imposed for local purposes and is limited to 1% of market value. The state property tax is suspended as long as the sales and use tax are in effect. A homeowner's primary residence is eligible for an exemption of 50% of the assessed value of the home, up to a maximum of $81,000 as of 2013. There is also a circuit breaker program. To qualify you must own and occupy the home as your primary residence, you must meet income requirements and you must be either age 65 or older, a widow(er), blind, former POW, fatherless or motherless minor, or a qualifying disabled person. If qualified you your property taxes could be reduced by as much as $1,320 dollars. Idaho's property taxes are on the low side for a western state.
  • Idaho does not have an inheritance tax, gift tax or an estate tax.

8. Gay Marriage:

Same sex marriage is banned in Idaho and earlier in 2014 a bill was introduced to protect the freedom of religious businesses, but I don't think it passed.

9. Gun Laws:

  • There is no state permit required to purchase any rifle, shotgun or handgun in Idaho.
  • You do not have to register any firearms in Idaho.
  • There is no licensing of gun owners in Idaho.
  • There is no permit to carry rifles and shotguns, however you do have to get a permit to carry a handgun.
  • It is unlawful to possess or carry any concealed weapon while intoxicated.
  • You can carry a concealed weapon in your home, place of business or on your property without a license but you need a license everywhere else.
  • It is lawful to possess, purchase, or sell a machine gun that is legally registered and possessed in compliance with all federal laws.

10. Garden and Food Laws:

Raw milk is legal in Idaho and is even sold in stores. You can have a garden in your front yard, in fact you could probably turn your entire yard into a garden and no one will bother you in Idaho. The only caveat to this would be if you were in a subdivision that had laws against it.

11. Raising Farm Animals:

Backyard chickens are allowed in Idaho but you'll have to check with the specific town to see how many are allowed and if you need a permit.

12. Property Prices:

It would seem that the cat is out of the bag because property values have gone up in Idaho. Idaho property is still a good deal when compared to other western states like California or Oregon, however, when compared to mid-western states or southern states ..not so much.

13. Growing Season:

Idaho is one of the most diverse states when it comes to growing crops. You can find high desert, rain forest or alpine meadows. In the north where the area is mountainous and heavily forested the growing season is short and it snows a lot, however in the middle and lower parts of Idaho the growing seasons are longer and they don't get as much snow. If you choose to locate in the northern area you will need a greenhouse and you will have to provide food for your farm animals.

Overall I would say that Idaho is a very good state in you are looking to go off the grid. The weather is good in most areas, there is plenty of water and the laws are (for the most part) bent toward freedom for the individual. There are a few problems, for example the cost of property is higher than many other states and in some areas you will have to put up with a lot of snow. However, in my opinion Idaho is one of the best states to go off the grid, but don't tell anyone I wouldn't want to ruin it!

Would you like to go off the grid in Idaho

See results

You Can Rent this if you ever visit Sandpoint, Idaho


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      21 months ago from Manhattan

      Well Vanessa, Idaho is a very long state so it really depends on where you are at in the state.

    • profile image


      21 months ago

      Brie, you didn't mention the grazing capacities of Idaho in the "Raising Farm Animals" section. What is your opinion on grazing livestock in Idaho throughout the year?

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      4 years ago from Manhattan

      I asked him the same thing, he said because of the political and religious climate. I actually like the political and religious climate myself.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      @billybuc why would you not want to live in Idaho? I'm curious! Must not be the cold since you are waiting for Alaska?

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      4 years ago from Manhattan

      I think so "midget38".

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      4 years ago from Manhattan

      Lower Idaho is high desert so it gets quite warm in the summer there. But, I understand I will be doing some warmer states in the future so stay tuned. Thanks for commenting "suziecat7".

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      4 years ago from Singapore

      Sounds like quite a good place to be!

    • suziecat7 profile image


      4 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Great Hub - Idaho is too cold for me but I love the freeness of it.

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      4 years ago from Manhattan

      LOL, I didn't even consider that!

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      4 years ago from California Gold Country

      Actually it might be the perfect place to go off grid. Haven't you seen those science fair projects that make batteries using potatoes?

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      4 years ago from Manhattan

      Really, why is that Billy?

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      What an interesting niche you have going here. Thankfully, you have written about states I know well. Just between you and me, you couldn't pay me enough to live in Idaho...I'm waiting patiently for Wyoming and Alaska. :)


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)