MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Seattle sends Boise its economic boom, and its problems

Apr 20, 2018, 5:26 AM

Boise is absorbing residents being pushed out of Seattle at an increasing rate.

Seattle is a hub of externalities — unintended side effects of its growth. The booming economy affects local jobs, affordable housing, development, and in turn the character of the city. The effects radiate out from Seattle. Now it seems those side effects stretch as far as Boise, Idaho as that city’s gap between rich and poor dramatically widens.

Bloomberg recently reported on the top American cities with the fastest-growing wealth gaps. Boise was previously ranked at 76, but after its rich/poor gap suddenly widened by $44,400 between 2011-2016, it jumped up to No. 7. Bloomberg provides one contributing factor:

Migration from crowded and expensive Pacific Coast cities has propelled Boise — the capital of Idaho — onto the list of top 10 gainers in the Bloomberg rich versus poor gap ranking of metropolitan areas from close to the bottom.

The Idaho Statesman backs up that theory, and specifically points out Seattle as one city contributing to Boise’s current population boom.

RELATED: Seattle too expensive? Try moving to Kansas

Seattle, of course, is in Bloomberg’s top 10 list. Not just for the gap between rich and poor. The city ranks on multiple Bloomberg charts such as the widening gap between the super-rich and the middle class, and the widening gap between the middle-class income bracket.

  • Rich / poor gap: Seattle ranks no. 4 as the gap grew $53,000 between 2011 and 2016.
  • Super rich / middle class: Seattle ranks no. 7 as the gap grew by $95,300.
  • Change in middle class income span: Seattle ranks no. 3 as the gap widened by $18,300.
  • Super rich / middle class: Boise ranks no. 5 as the gap grew by $104,300.

Both Seattle and Boise outpace national averages.

To Boise: From Seattle with money

Boise has recently been cited as the fastest-growing city in America. But just like the sentiment from longtime Seattle residents to highly-paid newcomers, the Idaho Statesman reports that Californians have not been welcomed with open arms. Despite the unwelcome sign, Boise’s population grew by 3.08 percent in 2017 (largely from young professionals) and is expected to grow further. Employment grew by 3.58 percent.

Home prices are also increasing — by 11.58 percent just last year.

As Kristina Winterling told the Statesman, the Bay Area was “turning into New York City, where people are so stressed out and confrontational. Imagine making six figures and not being able to buy a house for your family. You’re a renter living check to check in a mediocre town.” The complaint is not uncommon in Seattle, either. Winterling packed up and headed to Boise.

Comparing Seattle-area home prices, it’s easy to see why Winterling and others make the move. The median home price on the Eastside, for example, is $950,000. For that price, you can buy this 3,500-square-foot-house with five bedrooms in Boise.

In Seattle, the median home price is $777,000. Or you could spend that money on this giant, 3,800-square-foot, four-bedroom with 260 degree views.

Not to mention plenty of cheaper homes fit for first-time home buyers, such as this one, or this one.

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Seattle sends Boise its economic boom, and its problems