Who is Moving to Kootenai County?

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Real Estate

Kootenai County in North Idaho is home to beautiful lakes, natural landscapes, a charming downtown in Coeur d'Alene, and ample other wonderful amenities. Due to its natural beauty and other draws, it has become one of the fastest growing counties in Idaho. In an article by the CDA Press in August, 2021, Kootenai County was listed as the 3rd fastest growing county in Idaho. With all of this growth, one might wonder, "Where are most people coming from?" The answer to that question is vastly answered with the mention of two states - California and Washington. Using data from Idaho's records of surrendered drivers licenses (licenses from other states that were turned in while obtaining an Idaho license), we can ascertain which of these two states has contributed most to Kootenai County's growth.

Drum roll, please...

Ba-Dum-Ba-Dum-Ba-Dum-TSH!!! The results are in, and WASHINGTON is the biggest contributor of surrendered licenses in Kootenai County over the ten years, from 2012-2021! Washingtonians win this prestigious title by a margin of 13% over Californians, with Washington having surrendered 19,893 licenses compared to 17,573 from the Californians. There were 64,678 total licenses surrendered in Kootenai County in this 10 year span, so these two states, combined, make up 58% of all surrendered licenses.

How might this impact the current population make up of Kootenai County? I have a hypothesis that Washingtonians have a higher retention rate in North Idaho due to a couple of factors: 1) Washingtonians are more adapted to the winters than Californians; and, 2) Washingtonians are closer to their place of origin, making travel to see loved ones much easier. In fact, Seattle, being one of the FURTHEST major Washington cities from Kootenai county, is about 1/3 the distance of Sacramento, which is one of the CLOSEST major California cities from Kootenai County. If this hypothesis holds any water, then the current population make up of Kootenai County is certainly more Washingtonian than Californian.

Another interesting way to look at this data is surrendered licenses per capita from the state of origin. The average population of California from 2012-2021 is 5 times that of Washington - approximately 38-million to 7.5-million, respectively. During this time, Californians surrendered about 1 license per 2,200 people, which is a rate of 0.04%, while Washingtonians surrendered about 1 license per 377 residents, which is a rate of 0.2%. Therefore, Washingtonians surrendered licenses at a rate of 5 times Californians when looked at on a per capita basis!

There are other factors that might impact some of this data that are not considered in this blog post. For example, if California has more snowbirds than Washington, it is possible that more Californians have held on to their CA licenses. A factor like this, however, would likely not have a significant impact on the data. Also, it is important to note that Californians have surrendered 573 more licenses than Washingtonians over the last 4 years. This is an average of about 143 licenses per year, so it would take 16 years for California to catch to Washington at the current rate.

In summary, Kootenai County is a rapidly growing area with two main contributors, Washington and California. Washington has outpaced California over the past ten years in their contribution of surrendered licenses by a margin of 13%. When this data is viewed as surrendered licenses per capita of the state of origin, Washingtonians have surrendered licenses at 5 times the rate as Californians. A review of this data, coupled with Washington's proximity to Kootenai County, one can conclude that Washingtonians likely make up the largest segment of the non-native population.

Finally, see below for the TOP 10 states to surrender licenses in Kootenai from 2012-2021!

Top 10
State of Origin Licenses Surrendered
Washington 19,893
California 17,573
Oregon 3,710
Montana 2,823
Arizona 2,347
Colorado 2,036
Texas 1,635
Nevada  1,458
Alaska 1,272
Utah 1,058

All data from other websites is believed to be accurate and reliable. Any inferences made that were based on this data may be the author's opinion. The following websites were used to obtain data:

1. https://cdapress.com/news/2021/aug/22/unsurprising-growth/

2. https://itd.idaho.gov/dmvdata/

3. https://worldpopulationreview.com/