Elsa Owsley, a Coeur d’Alene real estate agent, has a long list of selling points for prospective out-of-state buyers thinking about moving to the Gem State.
Idaho is a great place to live and raise a family, with low home prices (compared to California), a relatively low crime rate and safe schools. All parts of Idaho are rich with outdoor recreation opportunities.
Owsley can add one other selling point to those who care: politics. Idaho is a refuge for people who are tired of the liberal politics in blue states such as California, Washington and Oregon.
Make no mistake: Not all of Owsley’s transactions revolve around politics. She will cheerfully sell houses to any qualified buyer, including those who voted for President Joe Biden. But as Idaho’s agent for the Texas-based Conservative Move, she gets plenty of leads from buyers considering a move to Idaho for political reasons.
She had more than 100 leads from Conservative Move in 2019, almost 90 last year and has had more than 40 in the first couple of months of this year — with more certain to come. Not all prospective buyers will plant roots in Idaho, but the Gem State is one of the nation’s most popular places for conservative-minded folks to settle. Conservative Move lists Texas, Idaho, Tennessee and Florida as the most popular landing spots.
Owsley, a transplanted Californian who came to the Lake City seven years ago, has heard the political chatter — and experienced similar frustrations with blue-state politics.
“A majority of my buyers are leaving those states because of the liberal governments,” she said. “We left (Southern California) for several reasons. The cost of living was through the roof and our vote basically didn’t count. The laws being passed were not what we wanted to be a part of. We looked through the U.S. and Idaho was one of the top three or four states on our list. We chose north Idaho, and we love the area.”
There is a lot to love about the Coeur d’Alene area, for sure. But other parts of the state have attractive features. “The Boise area is popular, because there is less snow,” she said.
Paul Chabot, who started Conservative Move four years ago after moving to Texas from California, recently has launched Law Enforcement Move for police officers and Military Move to assist those looking for veteran-friendly states.
“When you look at all three entities, the common denominator is that red states come to the top,” Chabot said. “These are the best places for families for Conservative Move. They are the best places for police protection and the best places to move for military veterans who love the Second Amendment and their right to bear arms. There are so many clients who are leaving these blue states, and I don’t see it slowing down … and a huge number of people are coming to Idaho.”
Chabot’s story is similar to Owsley’s.
“We decided we had enough,” he said. “Sometimes you have to walk away. We adopted the thought that we can’t help people who don’t want to help themselves.”
So, Chabot and his wife, Brenda, moved the family to northern Texas (McKinney) and found utopia. “What it has felt like is how California used to be (in the 1970s) — a place where schools and homes are safe and people can be with their kids in a park.”
They came up with the idea of helping other families flee blue states for red and are operating in 40 states.
“And it isn’t just California where people are leaving. It’s basically any blue state where people are disgusted with the liberal politics,” he said.
In Idaho, there’s concern within the state Republican Party that rapid growth in the Gem State could benefit Democrats, as it has in Arizona. “Republicans controlled the Arizona House of Representatives by very comfortable margins for years,” said Amos Rothstein, executive director of Idaho’s GOP. “Today, that lead shrunk to a mere two seats. Arizona went from a solid red state to a battleground state due to high population growth.”
Owsley, who is not associated with the state’s Republican Party, does not see a similar trend happening in Idaho. And Chabot is working behind the scenes to make sure that Idaho stays red.
Malloy is a veteran Idaho columnist. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.