Sun Valley : Idaho


What It Is Like to Retire in Sun Valley

Sun Valley, Idaho has a great pedigree as a community.  Railroad magnet Averill Harriman sent Count Schaffgotsch on a yearlong trip to the west in pursuit of the perfect vacation destination to create passenger traffic for his railroad. The Count found Sun Valley and was immediately hooked on the beauty of the Sawtooth Mountains. The Sun Valley area encompasses the famous 5 star Sun Valley resort that has long drawn in celebrities and the world’s wealthy.  It also includes Ketchum, ID, former home of Ernest Hemingway, and current location of Mt. Baldy - one of the world’s top ski mountains. Ketchum, low-key but decidedly prosperous, is in turn about 12 miles from Hailey, the region’s business center and nearest airport.  Boise, Idaho (pop. 150K), the state capital, is about 2 1/2 hours away.

Movies set in this gorgeous locale include “Bus Stop” and “Sun Valley Serenade”. Less wealthy settlers include the shepherding Basques who came to tend the numerous flocks of sheep that summer here. Ski bums and outdoorsy types also abound, along with wealthy owners of second homes and retirees. It makes an ideal retirement community for active adults 55+ who enjoy the outdoors. Skiing, golf, hiking, fishing, and mountain biking are superb here. The air is dry and summers are pleasant, winters are warm for a ski resort.


Where to Retire in Sun Valley and Home Prices

The immediate Sun Valley-area includes Sun Valley (pop. 1,400) and Ketchum (pop. 2,700), only one mile away from Sun Valley.  Ketchum is considered by most to be basically comparable to Sun Valley in terms of desirablility and price. According to Zillow, the median home value in Sun Valley was $1,112,758 in mid-2022, the median home value in Ketchum was $1,184,145. However, some beautifully rusticated western homes sell for millions.  Hailey (pop. 8K), 12 miles south, is significantly more reasonably priced than Sun Valley and Ketchum. In Hailey, most homes range from $250,000 to $700,000.


What Is Special about Sun Valley

Beautiful setting; a desert in the mountains; Sun Valley Lodge and resort. Low key, outdoorsy atmosphere. Skiing (downhill and cross country), hiking, fishing, biking, etc.  Relatively mild climate. Gorgeous Redfish Lake one hour north.  Rustic yet refined.


What Is Not Special about Sun Valley

• It’s busy in the season • Development is going to continue • Housing is expensive but prone to boom and bust 


Who Will Like Retirement in Sun Valley

The Sun Valley-area attracts active people from all over the world in search of outdoor beauty and recreation, as well as those who enjoy a vibrant cultural scene.  Those include artists and writers (Ernest Hemingway lived here).  Many of those people are wealthy and some live in 2nd homes.  The area is attractive to those who like the outdoors-- skiing, hiking, biking, etc.--as well as cultural activities like music/bands, art gallery walks, summer symphony, film festivals, etc.  


Local Economy Is Driven by

Tourism and second homes drive the economy.

Climate and Physical Environment

Sun Valley, located in central Idaho. Climate is dry and sunny.  It is also one of the warmer ski resorts in the west. Some years it has problems getting enough snow but ski mountain has good snowmaking. Average January temp is 31 high, 8 low; average July temp is 81 high, 45 low. Altitude is just under 6,000'.


Restaurants & Cultural Scene

There are some very nice shops and galleries in Sun Valley. Plus many first-rate restaurants.


There is not much crime in affluent Sun Valley.

Medical Facilities

St. Luke's Hospital is located in Ketchum--built in 2000 or so, quite posh.



The Ketchum Airport could not be closer or more convenient.

Valuable Links

Visit Sun Valley

What people are saying about Sun Valley

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