The city of Coeur d’Alene can be found in Idaho’s upper panhandle. The name in French translates to “Heart of an Awl,” and it serves as the home of about 52,000 people. It also serves as a bedroom community for the community of Spokane, WA that lies about 30 miles to the west. You won’t find a larger city in the northern part of the state, and its location along a 25-mile lake makes it one of the most beautiful locations in the upper Pacific Northwest.
Because Coeur d’Alene can be tough to say, locals tend to call it CDA or Lake City. The community has seen rapid growth in the last decade because of the development of several resorts in the region. There is a 165-acre natural area that takes up a prominent portion of the downtown area.
The name comes from a federally recognized tribe of Native Americans who once lived along the lakes and rivers of the region. When the French reached the area in the late 18th century, they called them Coeur d’Alene because their business practices were shrewd.
If you’re thinking about moving to this region, then these are the pros and cons you will want to review.
List of the Pros of Living in Coeur d’Alene
1. You are going to be close to nature all of the time in this city.
When the summer months come around in Coeur d’Alene, you’ll find the locals enjoying everything that nature offers in the region. There are numerous opportunities to go camping, boating, and fishing. You can enjoy some world-class birdwatching in the area as well. Winter gives you the option to go snowmobiling in the mountains, skiing, and sometimes even ice skating on the lake. If you enjoy being on the water, then the nearby lake will provide you with a way to relax at any time of year.
2. The city is very walkable because of its size and structure.
An emphasis of fitness is a way of life when living in Coeur d’Alene. The city hosts several fun runs and races throughout the year to help people stay active. You’ll also have plenty of time to get in shape by taking the various trails that wind around the nature areas near the community. The city is also very walkable, which means you could potentially walk to work, depending on where you choose to live. You’ll find many commuters riding their bicycles thanks to the size of the city – unless they are commuting over to Spokane.
3. It still provides you with a small-town feeling.
With the exception of Spokane, Coeur d’Alene isn’t that close to another metropolitan center. Since the city is home to about 52,000 people, there is still an emphasis on maintaining that small-town America feeling that people love. Once you start living here, it won’t take long for the business owners to learn your name and remember your preferences. This community looks after each other in meaningful ways when there is a time of need as well. It’s one of the few places where there is a preference to have a relationship with your neighbors, even if you are a transplant.
4. Traffic doesn’t happen when living in Coeur d’Alene.
If you’re used to a metro area like Seattle or San Francisco, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what is waiting for you in this city. You rarely spend any time stuck in traffic when living in Coeur d’Alene. The only exception to this advantage is when the interstate backs up for some reason.
Because there are fewer cars on the road, you’ll notice that the air is distinctively cleaner than what you might be used to experiencing as well.
5. The climate in Coeur d’Alene is surprisingly temperate.
You are going to experience all four seasons when you start living in northern Idaho. What many people discover when they start living in Coeur d’Alene is that life in the city is surprisingly temperate. Although the winters can get to be a little cold at times, you don’t get the bitter stretches that happen further east in North Dakota or Minnesota. The community receives less than 24 inches each year in rainfall, and you can expect about 38 inches of snow to fall during the typical season.
6. Tourism has helped to create a wonderful culinary community.
If you think that small towns don’t have great restaurants, then Coeur d’Alene is going to change your mind. The growth in the tourism industry over the past decade has led to a surge in world-class restaurants. You’ll find places right on the lake that give you stunning views of the water while you enjoy a glass of wine or a cup of coffee in the morning. There is a craft brewing community active here as well, and you’ll have your choice of all the standard options that most cities of this size have when you want a night out on the town.
You’re also a quick trip away from spending the day in Canada and enjoying the usually beneficial conversion rate to the Canadian dollar.
7. You won’t be the only one who decides to start living here.
There are many people who are moving from California to Coeur d’Alene because of the job market, lower tax rates, and the overall conservative culture of the community. That doesn’t mean you can’t live here if you are more progressive with your philosophies. The people here are warm and welcoming. As long as you’re willing to pull your own weight when you find a home here, then you won’t encounter many problems.
This surge in transplants is fueling an upgrade to the infrastructure of the city. You’ll find parks with new playgrounds, upgraded amenities in the downtown area, and plenty of activities for families to enjoy.
8. Spokane is right down the road from you.
If you find that it is challenging to get a job in Coeur d’Alene, then don’t worry. You can probably find work in Spokane. Commuting is easy thanks to the interstate. Since Washington doesn’t have an income tax, you don’t need to worry about filing two state returns each year either. There is a major airport there, all of the big city amenities you might miss in a small town, and a culture that is similar to what you’ll find in Idaho.
9. You have fewer worries about biting bugs when living in Coeur d’Alene.
When you live in Coeur d’Alene, you’ll notice that the number of flies, mosquitoes, and other biting pests is significantly lower. There are still plenty of bees in the area and some bugs come out during the twilight hours, but you will tend to notice more when they are present after spending a year in this community.
10. One of the best golf courses in the world is in the city.
When you move to Coeur d’Alene, you’ll want to take in at least one round at the Resort Golf Course in the city. The 14th hole is the most unique one in the world. It’s the only movable floating green, and it weighs over 22,000 tons. An underwater cable system allows for operators to move it anywhere from 90 yards at the women’s tees to 220 yards if you’re using the championship one. There are two sand traps to navigate as well. Getting to the green means taking the small ferry on the lake. The course also ranks as one of the best in the world for its conditions and personal service.
List of the Cons of Living in Coeur d’Alene
1. Shopping is fairly rudimentary in the city.
When you live in Coeur d’Alene, you’ll find that your shopping options tend to follow what you’d see in other small towns in the United States. You can still grab your supplies at the local Costco or Walmart, but the larger stores are going to be in Spokane. If you want something specific, you might need to go all of the way over to Seattle or driving north to Calgary. Your only other option is to head west to explore Missoula, Montana. If you have specific needs that can’t be met in the city and shipping isn’t an option, then it might be a struggle to establish a home here.
2. Allergies can be a significant problem for people in Coeur d’Alene.
Because Coeur d’Alene sits so close to the Canadian border, the growing season is a little compressed compared to what you’ll find in the rest of the country. That means you’ll have everything start to bloom at once when spring arrives. If you have pollen allergies, then March and April are going to be miserable for you when living in the city. You’re generally okay once you get outside of that window, but your location 100 miles from the Canadian border can mean some seasonal surprises. An extended summer or an early spring can extend your misery a little bit.
3. Winter tends to set in fast when you live in this city.
You’ll find that when November comes around in Coeur d’Alene that winter has arrived. It tends to last until the first week of March or so most years. This city is one that offers blue skies throughout the year, but the atmosphere tends to become a bit dreary once the cold settles in for the season. Your shorter days mean that you can sneak in some snowboarding or skiing, but a lot of folks tend to find a warm spot at home to binge Netflix.
If you like a little winter, but not a lot of it each year, then Coeur d’Alene is a great place to live. You rarely get an overwhelming storm that shuts down the city for days, and it still provides enough to let you enjoy your favorite sports.
4. The cost of living in Coeur d’Alene is increasing.
Because there is a significant number of expats from California living in Coeur d’Alene, there are some changes happening to the local economy. Traffic is growing, although it is far from problematic at the moment as the city grows. The primary issue is the cost of living, which has risen dramatically over the past twenty years.
Coeur d’Alene has gone from being one of the most affordable places to live in the United States to having a cost of living that is 6% higher than the national average. There is a lot of concern from the locals that have been here for multiple generations that they could get priced out of their home.
5. It can be a challenging place to manage your retirement.
Coeur d’Alene offers many advantages that are worth consideration, but it is not one of the best places in the country, or even Idaho, to contemplate your retirement. The median home price in the city is about $215,000. There is no state tax on estates or Social Security (both pluses), but the number of physicians per capita for the population is below the national average. The Milken Institute also ranks it exceptionally low on its best places for successful aging.
6. Some people may need to get used to the elevation.
Moving to Coeur d’Alene is nothing like going to Denver. The elevation of the city is about 2,200 feet above sea level. If you’re moving from the coast, then the change in altitude can be enough to leave you a little breathless during your first few weeks in the city. You’ll want to be cognizant of when the sun is out as well because sunburns can happen a lot faster here. You might agree with Barbara Walters eventually that the city feels like a little slice of heaven. It could also be a source of discomfort that takes some of the fun away.
The pros and cons of living in Coeur d’Alene involve a combination of financial benefits and weather sacrifices. You may have limited shopping options, but there is also a significant amount of peace and quiet that you’ll experience. If you are looking to save some money and don’t mind the small-town atmosphere, then this community could be the perfect place to settle.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.