Alex is the founder of 9Kilo Moving, which he started to help people easily find and choose the right moving company to make their move as stress-free and seamless as possible. He has spent over 20 years working in the moving industry, so he knows every aspect of the business and uses his knowledge to write about the industry and give moving advice. More on about us page
The state of Montana is located in the Northwestern corner
of the United States, and chances are, you’ve heard of it to be the ‘Big Sky
Country’. Well, the state surely lives up to its unofficial nickname. The sky
here can stretch out into the distance, as far as our eyes can see. It gives
you the chance to capture a neat 360 degree panoramic view without any
obstruction. This is probably among the top reasons why people fall in love
with the state at first glance.
Apart from the sky, the common thread that lures people into
moving to Montana is the jaw-dropping beauty of the mountains. The mountains
are the theme of the lifestyle in the state of Montana, so much so that the
word ‘Montana’ is often synonymous to ‘Mountains’. To emphasize, we mean you
can actually find tourist shirts in the state that say ‘Montana is calling and
I must go’.
Although many people are called to move to Montana, not
everyone chooses it to be their home state. Montana is geographically the
fourth largest state in the US, but population wise it is the eighth least
populous state. Curious why? Well it is considered that Montana isn’t
everyone’s cup of tea. The lifestyle and culture is very much unlike big
cities. It lacks big chain food joints, crowds, tall buildings, skyscrapers, corporate
hustle, and much more.
To understand if it truly ticks all your boxes, you would
need to understand if you’re ready to embrace the extreme weather conditions,
countryside lifestyle and economy of the state. So here’s an abridged version
of all the aspects you should consider before moving to Montana.
CALCULATE MY MOVE
If Montana is on your
mind, you have to take into consideration the winter months of the state that
begin around mid-Sept and last all the way upto the end of March. Winter is the
dominant season of the state. And although the state looks magical with
everything covered in a blanket of the snow, it’s not always a rosy picture.
During winters, it is very common for blizzards and snowstorms to bring towns
to a standstill. On some days, the frail presence of sunlight could make
driving and getting out in the snow much more complex. You would also need to
budget in all the snow equipment, gear and investing in a more terrain
appropriate reliable vehicle with all season tires to get through the winter
But on the other hand,
Montana is a winter wonderland! If you love the magic of winters and wish to
celebrate it like the locals, you have a plethora of winter activities to
choose from such as - Skiing at Whitefish Mountain Resort, Snowmobiling, Dog
sledding on lakes, snowshoeing in Glacier National Park and much more. Montana
also has plenty of space for cross-country skiing which is why the state
attracts a whole lot of tourists during the winter months.
When it's not winter, the
state enjoys three distinct seasons - Summer, Spring and Autumn. The snowfall
begins to subside by the month of April, but temperatures continue to remain
cold, even with spring just around the corner. From the beginning of May upto
the month October, the state experiences some of the most pleasant times, as
the landscape registers a good deal of sunshine and warm weather.
Key Takeaway - Montana winters can remind you of the landscape in the movie Fargo. And if winters are something you detest, it can be difficult to adjust, since the state experiences 6 months of cold weather. Warm months begin around April and seem to step out of the way by the beginning of October. Montana loves its winters, but the locals also celebrate dozens of festivals during the warmer months.
Geographically, the state is the fourth largest in the US.
But not all areas of the state are equally populated, hence there’s certain
clusters of cities that have easy access to rails and local buses, while for
the rest, things are pretty spread out. A road trip to Montana will prove that
it does have lots of open spaces. In fact, for miles, you would probably not
even come across a gas station as often as you see them in big cities. It is believed
that you could stand on the middle of the road for hours before a truck or
another vehicle passes by on the same road as you.
All the more reason for you to ensure that you have
sufficient gas at all times on Montana roads. The roads in Montana are also
highly populated with mountains, so this is just a heads up that winding roads
would be something that newcomers have to eventually acquaint themselves with.
On the plus side, clogged roads aren't a common sight in Montana, even though the state does have an extensive network of roads, highways and 5 interstate highways. The state shares a huge chunk of its border with Canada, hence you do have the advantage of crossing international borders from the North portion of Montana. Overall, there are 13 road crossings that could get you to Canada.
The state’s largest and most extensive airports are:
Do note that most airports are away from the city and
depending on the town you will be residing in, the airport could seem like a
long ride away. Also, there are very few direct flights out of the state
because of which you’ll probably be taking a connecting flight to reach your
The north side of the state in particular is served by
Amtrak's ‘Empire Builder’ train. This is a long distance passenger train that
operates thrice a week and runs along Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, North
Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois. In the state of Montana, the train
has stops in Libby, Whitefish, West Glacier, Essex, East Glacier Park,
Browning, Cut Bank, Shelby, Havre, Malta, Glasgow, and Wolf Point.
Intra City Travel: Most of the large cities such as the university towns of Bozeman, Missoula, Butte, Helena would have state buses running frequently. Other than these big cities, most of the smaller towns don’t have the best public transportation systems. If anything, it's more feasible to have your own private car to get around, since things are pretty spread out. Even if you have your own car, remember that the streetlights and cell service could be poor, and you must be mindful of the animals on the road. The people of Montana share the road with a number of animals such as the elk, bison, deer and cows, which is why it is absolutely necessary to pay attention to the road even if there’s no traffic.
The population of Montana is just beginning to cross the 1
million mark. As the population is increasing, the state economy is slowly
starting to transition from resources based jobs like mining, farming, logging
to tech based industries.
However, currently the state is still largely dependent on
the tourism, mineral extraction, micro breweries and energy production sector,
as the transition is steady but slow. A large number of Montanans work jobs in the service
sector and the urban hubs. The cities of Billings, Missoula, Bozeman,
Kalispell, Great Falls, Helena, and Butte are where the crowd flocks in huge
numbers for jobs.
in mind that many of the job opportunities in Montana are seasonal. It's
possible that it can get way tougher to find a job in winter since during
extreme weather conditions, a good deal of services come to a standstill.
Presently, few of the top employers that have their headquarters in the state
are Talen Montana, Billings Clinic, Kalispell Regional Healthcare, Fringe
Benefit Resources, St Vincent Healthcare and Washington Corporations. In recent
years, the healthcare industry is growing to be one of the largest employing
services in the state.
Key Takeaway - Healthcare, Agriculture, Forestry, Tourism, Energy Production, Manufacturing and Construction are few of the top performing industries in Montana.
According to Zillow, the median value of homes in the state
is approximately $311,024. Which means the housing costs in Montana is almost
on par with its neighboring states. Although, it isn’t completely there yet.
Even so, it is considered that the cost of living is still on the higher side
of things, despite the standard of living being in contrast to metropolitan
cities. This is probably the cost to pay for quiet peaceful surroundings of
lakes and mountains. If you ask us, that is truly a luxury for city dwellers.
To put things in perspective:
This shows that Montana isn’t far behind from its
neighboring states. Do note that the state also has a huge concentration of the
population flocking to its 7 big cities, causing a housing crunch for
newcomers. In addition to that, the cost of living may come across as cheaper
than most states in the US. Montana is known to have lower wages than the
national average which is why the cost of living starts to look contradictory.
See also: Lowest Cost of Living States in America
The average median rent of houses in Montana is $1,295.
According to reports by HomeSnacks, there’s a 21% difference in the rent of
Georgia, when compared with the national average. If we had to put a number on
it, this means it is possible to get a standard 1 bedroom apartment for $641,
while the average national rent for the 1 bedroom would be $930. Now that you
have a rough number to compare the rent prices, we’d recommend comparing it
with the town you’d like to live in to understand if you would considerably be
saving way more by moving to Montana.
To give you even more of a context, let’s do a comparative
analysis with the tentative rent costs in the other mountainous states so you
can see things from a price point:
So, if living in the mountains is your version of a dream home, chances are, it is most affordable to rent a space in Montana, in comparison to states like Colorado and Idaho. We’ve taken the average median rent to highlight that annually things start to look more affordable in Montana. However, do note that the town you choose will make a huge difference to the housing budget. In Montana like any other state, there are certain areas like Manhattan, Bozeman, Whitefish, Three Forks, Red Lodge, Sidney and Colstrip where the cost of rent is way higher than the state’s average median rent.
1. Montana State University, Bozeman2. Montana Technological University, Butte3. Carroll College, Helena4. Rocky Mountain College, Billings5. University of Montana - Western, Dillon6. Salish Kootenai College, Pablo7. University of Montana, Missoula8. Montana State University, Billings9. Montana State University - Northern, Havre10. University of Providence, Great Falls
1. Hobson Public Schools, Hobson2. Highwood K-12, Highwood3. Big Sky School District, Gallatin Gateway4. Plains High School District, Plains5. Geraldine Public Schools, Geraldine6. Sunburst Public Schools, Sunburst7. Philipsburg Public Schools, Philipsburg8. Missoula High School District, Missoula9. Hamilton Public Schools, Hamilton10. Lavina Public Schools, Lavina
The beauty of Bozeman is
that the stunning nature trails of the state are just 15 mins away from
residential areas and it's possible to reach a ski resort in roughly 30
minutes. Having hiking trails and ski resorts in close proximity is one of the
main priorities for people moving into the state and this town caters to that
specific need pretty well. Unlike smaller countryside towns, Bozeman is not a
sleepy town. Rather, it is one that is vibrant with events, great universities,
young professionals and some of the top rated schools in the state. With a mere
population of 50,000, community life is given a lot of importance in this town.
Median price of homes sold: $462,794Median rent: $927
Kalispell is the commercial center of
Northwestern Montana and is also home to one of the largest employer of the
state (i.e Kalispell Regional Medical Center). The town is just 40 minutes away
from Glacier National Park, which is why it does get a lot of tourists.
However, the town is extremely vast and you would still have the advantage of
having your own space away from the crowd. In comparison to other towns,
Kalispell is definitely on the higher end when it comes to housing costs. The
town also has a wonderful majestic view of the mountains and chances are you
wake up to some of the most beautiful sunsets from here.
Median price of homes sold: $356,396Median rent: $1264
is the largest and fastest growing city in the state, the city has a strong
steady economy because of the booming oil industry and it being one of the
largest trade areas of the United States. The city attracts a good deal of
young professionals in search for a city lifestyle in Montana. Billings is one
of the cities that remind residents of the city life but is still rural enough
to enjoy the mountains and the natural beauty of the state.
Median price of homes sold: $270,202Median rent: $808
Billings, Missoula is the second largest city of the state of Montana. This
small little town has developed its own character over the years, because of
the number of breweries, cafe shops, art galleries and the live music bars.
Missoula is also known to be a college town, as it is home to the University of
Montana. It is easy to bike or walk around the town considering how everything
is pretty compact. The Clark Fork River and five mountain ranges surrounding
the town provides an aesthetically pleasing scenery for residents and visitors.
Median price of homes sold: $367,298Median rent: $930
is the state capital and although it is a metropolitan area, it still manages
to hold onto the community atmosphere where everyone knows everyone. The town
also has plenty of historical districts and beautiful Victorian buildings. So
it’s understandable why Helena is arguably the prettiest looking small town in
the state. Although the state of Montana doesn’t have huge chain hotels or
shopping centers, the town of Helena does have some of the best shopping
centers and markets. The atmosphere in Helena is extremely family friendly and
the town is filled with close-knit communities.
Median price of homes sold: $300,433Median rent: $795
is the eight least populous state. This makes it a refreshing change of scenery
for those seeking a slow paced lifestyle and an escape into the lap of natural
surroundings. The landscape here is dominated by massive mountains instead of
skyscrapers. People are especially drawn to Montana because it is sparsely
populated and lacks the ‘urban sprawl’. This makes Montana an ideal location
for those looking to live a lifestyle in contrast to metropolitan cities.
It can be
expensive to live in Montana. Even though thousands have a preconceived notion
that it is less expensive because it is less populous and lacks an extensive
network of metropolitan amenities, it’s not the case. Then again, average
housing and utilities costs in Montana are almost on par with prices followed
in the rest of the nation. Moreover, prices are constantly rising in a handful
of popular cities (like Billings, Missoula, Bozeman). The farther you move away
from them, the more inexpensive it gets. In big cities of Montana, 55k is an
ideal annual salary for a single person.
enthusiasm for moving to Montana is tied to its majestic mountains and the
charm of living in the warmth of a small town. The word Montana itself is
synonymous with mountains and delights those who love spending time outdoors.
It is the antithesis of big cities that are congested with corporate buildings
and chain stores. The little towns and developing cities make Montana a simple
yet interesting place to move to.
With a population of just under 49,000, the city of Bozeman
ranks on the top and is presently the best city to live in Montana. It is a
high-spirited small town that has a good variety of things to do outdoors,
albeit it is not cheap. Other noteworthy cities of the state are Billings,
Missoula, Helena, Kalispell, Great Falls and Butte.
Montana jobs are linked to the service industry. In addition to that, the
healthcare industry is also growing in leaps and bounds. Jobs aren’t easy to
come by in Montana because it is largely a rural state, with the exception of
few of modern cities. Most of the top employers target cities like Billings, Missoula,
Bozeman, Kalispell to set up their companies.
The average median rent in Montana is $1,295. But do keep in
mind that in certain areas like Manhattan, Bozeman, Whitefish, Three Forks, Red
Lodge, Sidney and Colstrip, the cost of rent is way higher than the state’s
average median rent.
that falls anywhere from 45k to 55k is a good salary to earn in Montana. This
price bracket is ideal for a single person without kids. Do note this figure
varies from city to city. In major towns like Bozeman and Missoula, the higher
average of 55k is more suitable.
To have a
decent cost of living to wage ratio, you would need to earn roughly between 45k
to 55k annually in Montana. This annual salary figure doesn’t apply to couples
with kids, but rather for a single adult. If you choose to live in an expensive
hotspot and to an extent lavishly, figures beyond 65k is considered ideal.
would be your best bet if you’re looking for a relatively affordable place to
live in Montana. Unlike other big cities of
Montana, you don’t have to worry about relocating here with a big
budget. It also isn’t a typical small town but has various offerings, so you
would be getting value for the buck you shell out.
is a state that has a ton of scenery and off the grid towns. Most of its towns
are sparsely populated so you’re bound to run into familiar faces. It’s easy to
find small breweries and locally owned bussineses instead of chain stores here.
The communities in Montana are friendly and tight-knit, which is in contrast to
the atmosphere of big cities.
and service related fields are good areas to dive into for lucrative job
opportunities. People in Montana also love the outdoors. Fishing, skiing,
hiking, camping bicycling and even hunting are favourite pastimes. Lastly, as a
transplant, you have to be prepared for the long winters that come with
occasional snowstorms and blizzards.
Manhattan and Bozeman are the towns where the rich flock to. These are some of
the most top-notch neighborhoods that get the attention, mainly because of the
location they occupy in the state. The average median value of homes in these
top tier cities are between 460,200 to $508,702.
of California is among the most expensive places to live in the nation. From
taxes to gasoline prices to real estate, California and Montana stand far apart
from each other. Overall, there’s roughly 50-60% difference in costs. Here’s
permits one to open carry firearms. Open carry is legal, but isn’t the case at
a public assembly, school, publicly owned building or park, under the
jurisdiction for public safety purposes.
The south central portion of the state is the warmest place
to live in Montana. Billings and Bozeman are the two popular cities that lie in
the South. It’s an ideal choice for those seeking temperatures which for the
most part of the year fall in the range of 60F (15.6°C). The warm climate and
more than state average sunny days is probably why these two towns are also the
most populated ones in Montana.
Going by stats the cities of Joliet, West Yellowstone and Cut Bank have the highest crime rate in the state. On the other hand the most safest cities are Stanford, Clyde Park and Elliston.
Our Take On Montana
The state of Montana is naturally blessed with some of the most unreal sceneries that you get to call home. The Glacier National Park, the huge alpine lakes, the picturesque winding mountain roads and the wildlife make up the state’s profile. If you’re seeking quiet pastures to call home, where the WiFi signal in the true sense gets weak, and there’s hardly any honking since the next vehicle could be miles away, then Montana can be the place for you. Despite not being the popular kid on the block with fancy toys or gadgets, if you find yourself getting attracted to this state and think of moving to Montana, we totally get why.
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