What It’s Like… Living in North Idaho

Last month marked 6 years since my family moved from central Oklahoma to the panhandle of Idaho.   It’s been quite a journey of learning and adjusting to a new place, but I’m finally starting to arrive at a place of knowing what to expect from the changing seasons, people, and living here year round.

One of the first thing that struck us upon moving to north Idaho is the culture. People who move here from California go on about how friendly everyone is, and when we moved here we couldn’t believe how rude everyone is.  I guess that means that Cali and Okie land are vastly different and Idaho, falls somewhere in the middle.  🙂  The more we’ve lived here though, I’ve come to find that it’s not so much a rudness that people have, rather than an independence and reserve.  In a culture where living off grid, hunting, and everything outdoors is an integral part to the lifestyle many people maintain, a lot of people are very independent, and don’t rely on anyone for much of anything.

Yearly, the changing seasons were difficult to adjust to.  Especially moving from Oklahoma where we had about 9 months of “fair weather” it seemed we exchanged it for 9 months of winter.  We’ve come to expect our first snow somewhere around the last week of October to first week of November,  which is usually spot on each year.  We can also expect to still get snow into April.  In summer, we will get about 1-2 weeks of temperatures in the 90’s and (possibly) 100 but it cools off enough at night where you always need to take a sweatshirt with you, when you are out during the day…. even if you are sweltering in your shorts and tank top.

Following are a couple of short and possibly unrelated facts about living in North Idaho:

The growing season here is very short if you don’t have a greenhouse, but wild berries are plentiful and we look forward to going huckleberry and black berry picking each year.

Driving an hour or more to go somewhere to shop, eat, or visit someone is just part of the deal around here… Things are pretty spread out.  

Dancing is a “thing” up here.  Square dances, contra dances, and swing dances are held on a regular basis at many different locations during the winter time when most people have less going on.  For my family, these dances are some of the highlights of our month, and week.  

Most people know Idaho as the “Potato State”, funny thing is when we buy potatoes from the store, they usually come from Washington…. go figure

Lower population per square miles = Everyone knows everyone else, and just might be related to half the people in the county if they’ve lived here over 20 years.

Kayaking, white water rafting, fishing, hunting, hiking, boating, water sports, biking, skiing, snowboarding;  Idaho is the truly the outdoorsman’s paradise!

Winter is a time of rest.  Especially when you live out of town, own some property, and have animals.  Because summer is so short, its the craziest, busiest time of year trying to get as much done as possible.

Summer days are pretty long, with sunup at about 4:30 am, and sundown at 8:30 pm (so its light enough to see from about 4 am till 9pm).  During the fall, winter, and early spring months though that completely reverses and sunup is about 7:30 am and sundown at 4pm.  Of course daylight savings helps with that…

Living with mountain views outside the windows is pretty cool!

There is a joke I’ve learned about Idaho, and it goes like this:  Idaho has two seasons, winter, and road construction.  It’s so true!  Idaho has some of the best roads I’ve ever seen, especially in comparison to Oklahoma roads.   During the winter, 20 minutes is a good buffer to add for travel time when going somewhere because of road conditions.  During the summer though you may need to add up to 40 minutes because of construction.

Being surrounded with state parks and having national parks not far away provides some amazing opportunities for all kinds of outdoors activities. 

Idaho is a nature photographer’s dream. 

People from all walks of life and many different places live here.  Each drawn by something different.  But I think there is one thing that Idaho represents for just about everyone who moves here:  Rual Opportunity.

I hope this second post in my “What It’s Like” series gave you a peek into life in Idaho.  Until next time! 


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