I’ve grown up around Pocatello my entire life, so I know a thing or two about what citizens enjoy–and what complaints they have.
Here’s what both long-time Poky residents and newcomers say about the town’s worst characteristics and why they stand out more than others.
17. Bad Downtown Roads
Known as Historic Downtown Pocatello, the roads are historically famous for being a source of frustration and confusion for both new and old drivers. One-way streets make navigating difficult, and unless you’ve memorized your route or are familiar with where you want to go, the labyrinth will take your peace of mind in a hurry.
Not only are the one-way streets narrow, but their available street parking is almost always panic-inducing. But because there are few other accessible public parking lots close to downtown restaurants, shops, and offices, you rarely have a choice on whether or not you want to parallel park.
And you want to get that street parking right the first time, or otherwise, you’ll be blocking traffic because of the limited space. Stressful much?
Downtown Pocatello is a busy place with many businesses and eateries popping up in the area, which means you’ll likely find yourself there for various reasons. You may even enjoy its charm–if the roads and parking don’t ruin your mood beforehand.
16. Few Fun Activities
Pocatello has always been slow to accommodate its growing population and university life, and that includes recreational places to enjoy and engage in. You may have to think hard for a place to spend time with your friends and family that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg or is accessible in the off-season.
Chances are, you will have to concede when whatever it is you want to do may not be available or affordable.
15. Yearly Fires
Southeastern Idaho is a classic dry region, so it’s typical for Poky residents to see wildfires burning on nearby mountainsides or valleys. Even when a fire isn’t in the immediate vicinity, smoke that blankets the sky more than makes up for it.
These common natural disasters occur from mid-summer to fall every year.
Although they don’t cause as much destruction as California wildfires or in other densely populated areas, there is still a moderate chance that if you live in more rural parts of the city, your house and property can be affected.
Smoke from the wildfires also have an adverse effect on health. Pocatello residents with asthma or respiratory problems suffer for months at a time because of smoke inhalation and pollution.
14. Too Tight-Knit of a Community
Many people who have lived in Pocatello for most of their lives love the city, and they’ve made great friends and memories within its communities. But for people who haven’t lived in Poky as long or struggle to reach out and make connections know that it can be a bit tough to form relations.
If you’re not a college student, making friendships in Poky can be even harder.
It takes a while for residents to become friendly with others that are deeper than surface level. Since Idaho is a rapidly growing state with people from all over the country (especially California) moving because of the state’s lower cost of living rates, Poky residents have yet to fully adjust to the new normal.
13. Farming Pollution
Like smoke from wildfires, Pocatello is surrounded by large fields that go through yearly plowings and harvests. The dust they create is terrible for allergies and asthma, and they often contribute pollution over the city during later summer months.
The upturned, loose dirt from fields always gets carried by Idaho’s vicious and constant winds, and combined, they create low visibilities on the roads. Without fail each year, dust storms blow across Pocatello’s surrounding interstates and farm roads to the point of blindness.
If you’re unfortunate enough to be stuck in a dust storm in your vehicle, you may have to sit there for hours on end until accidents are cleared and traffic is directed by law enforcement. You could potentially wind up in an accident yourself.
12. Lousy Drivers
Idaho is notorious for bad drivers, and Poky drivers hold to that standard. Whether it’s in town or on more rural roads, expect to have someone try to make your day worse with their bad driving.
Worse, they’ll likely blame you for inconveniencing their terrible habits.
11. College Town
Pocatello is, somewhat surprisingly, a college town. Idaho State University (ISU), located in downtown Poky, inflates the city with student numbers. This means more job competition and fewer parking options in an already cramped part of town.
For college students, you’d think that a small, slightly below average college like ISU would have cheaper tuition. But for a little over 12,000 students, in-state tuition costs 7,000 dollars per year and out-of-state tuition costs over 24,000 dollars.
And a place like Poky won’t have high-paying jobs to help students pay off their tuition without taking out student loans.
10. Low Median Income
For college students and residents alike, Pocatello doesn’t offer above-average median incomes. Although the city’s rent and housing prices are on the lower end compared to the rest of the country, it doesn’t make up for the fact that many individuals only make about twenty thousand a year.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find an available job in Pocatello that doesn’t pay a laughable wage for qualified people.
9. Tough Dating Life
Unless you’re a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints AKA Mormon, you may have a difficult time finding people to date in Pocatello. LDS worshippers make up over 50 percent of the city’s population, and they tend to date and marry others of the same faith.
Online dating has helped people connect in Poky, but if you’re single and looking for a relationship, you’ll have to try a little harder if you want any results.
8. Old Apartments
Pocatello is an older city, but even then, many of the apartments available for both college students and regular residents aren’t up to par with newer complexes in other cities that are just as old or older than Poky.
Many rentals are outdated and haven’t been renovated, which come with a plethora of problems and inconveniences.
Although they’re likely cheaper than other apartments in more expensive places throughout the country, you’ll have to deal with old parts of the unit and put in the effort to make it look modern or stylish. In short, be prepared for apartment problems.
7. Bad Snow Removal Upkeep
Pocatello doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to keeping the roads clear in winter.
If you’re a driver, you’ll find yourself or others skidding, fishtailing, or going right off the road in your car on more than one occasion. And when that’s not happening, then you may have trouble stopping or getting your car to start moving again at a stop sign or traffic light.
But don’t blame the snow plow drivers. Even though they have a large area to cover on an almost constant basis in the winter, the local government fails to meet manpower, equipment, and budgetary needs to keep roads as clear as they should.
6. Ghost Mall
Pocatello’s mall gets sadder and sadder with each passing year. Stores that try to survive for a year or two in the mall wind up closed or replaced with another business soon after or their spaces stay vacant because there isn’t another shop willing to risk it at the mall.
As mentioned earlier, Poky doesn’t have that many fun, casual spots to hang out or waste time. The mall is a big indication of this shortcoming. Its department stores are all but non-existent, and smaller shops struggle to maintain business or identify with customers. The food court is beyond dismal.
Even though Poky is a decently sized city with a college population, the mall doesn’t gain traction like it once did. When you walk through it anytime except during the holidays, you’ll be a little spooked by how empty the big place is because of its lack of people and shops.
5. High Gas Prices
Pocatello’s gas prices aren’t anything to praise if you’re looking for cheaper fuel.
Although the prices are lower than the surrounding rural areas, they still won’t make you happy. You’ll be upset when you go to Idaho Falls, a nearby city, and find gas ten to twenty cents cheaper, even though it’s less than an hour away.
Gas retailers like to gouge prices in Pocatello because it’s the only larger city in a wide area, so people have to either settle for it or go buy more expensive gas.
4. Inconvenient Airport
Guess what? Pocatello has an airport. Do many locals use it? Hardly.
The airport is tiny, and its planes barely fly anywhere. Yet the flight prices are more expensive than they should be. It’s a commuter airport, so unless you want to fly to Salt Lake City (even when you could easily drive or take a bus), chances are, you’ll be using it to get to a connecting flight to some other larger airport.
Because the flights struggle to make it anywhere on a frequent basis, you will likely have to wait a long time for flights going to and from Pocatello.
Locals typically avoid this frustrating condition by using the Idaho Falls airport or driving to Salt Lake City’s international airport to cut the wait time.
3. Poor School System
One of the biggest complaints from Pocatello public school students, both current and former, is how bad of an education they received.
Due to lack of funding and overall poor curriculum, Pocatello school systems suffer. Idaho as a state has a consistent track for bad public education, ranking 39th in the country, so it’s not a surprise that Pocatello doesn’t do too well either.
A few years back, the school district even fired a cafeteria lady because she gave food to a middle school girl who was hungry but had no money to pay for it.
This garnered national attention and put Pocatello’s school system under scrutiny for its lack of compassion toward both its employees and poorer students.
Teachers are also woefully underpaid at Pocatello schools. They have a better chance of getting better wages at schools in surrounding towns, who have to compete with Pocatello school district salaries in order to hire teachers.
2. Drug Trafficking Area
Every town, large or small, has their problems with drugs. That being said, Bannock County, where Pocatello resides, was designated as a “high intensity drug trafficking area” by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2017.
And so far, the problems haven’t decreased in a substantial way. Law enforcement has struggled to combat opioids, heroin, and meth distribution in the city. Those living in Pocatello can recall having or have had neighbors, friends, acquaintances, and work colleagues with drug addictions. Some even led to overdoses and death.
Locals also know to avoid certain gas stations that are haunts for drug addicts after certain hours, particularly in downtown Pocatello, which is where a lot of drug-related crimes occur.
1. High Crime Rate
Drug trafficking and addictions contribute to Pocatello’s overall crime rate. The city has one of the highest crime rates in the state, ranking it one of the most dangerous places to live in Idaho.
Pocatello’s crime rate is over 11 percent above the national average and 91 percent above the Idaho average.
The chances of being a victim of a crime are 1 in 211, compared to Idaho’s 1 in 447. For a city with a little over 56,000 residents, the statistic is concerning.
People who live in Poky don’t need statistics for them to know to lock their car doors at night, as well as install security cameras and alarms. It’s not unusual to see a Pocatello Facebook friend post about their stolen vehicle or being robbed, especially if they live in downtown Pocatello.
The crime rates and drug issues are a staple complaint about Pocatello from residents, as well as law enforcement and local government’s inability to properly make a difference.
Those who wish to feel safer typically move to Chubbuck, the adjacent town, or other smaller towns dotting around Pocatello where crimes are substantially less common.
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