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MOVING TO MONTANA

Many people prefer moving to Montana because it is one of the least densely-populated states. In fact, according to the data provided by American Moving and Storage Association, Montana takes fifth place among the states where the number of inbound moves is more than twice higher than the number of outbound ones. However, there are several things to know before moving to Montana.

What is the population of montana

Taking the 48th place among the most populous states, the number of people living here is constantly growing. In 2000, the local population was less than 990 thousand people and now it exceeds 1.08 million residents – an increase of over 9.2%. Mostly, this population arrived in Montana from other states. Only in 2017, 11,857 people relocated to this state and most often, these are young people between the age group of 18 and 25. Another age group that chooses Montana for a living is elderly people who are seeking recreation-friendly areas. No wonder they choose the city of Bozeman for proof that it is the fastest-growing micropolitan area in the US. Within the time window between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021, the population in Montana grew by 18,087 people. About 19,791 people moved here during the same time.
In search of a quiet, cozy place to live with a large selection of jobs, many choose the state of Montana, although many find reasons not to move to Montana, even though it is sparsely populated compared to many other states.
Montana is one of the least densely populated states, so for people who are guided by the question “how many people live in Montana” in choosing a place to live, this state will be a good solution.

Cost of living index Montana

The cost of living index in Montana is 94. California, on the other hand, has a cost-of-living index of 149.9. In terms of the median home prices, California can be a whopping 135% more expensive than Montana. Considering the cost of living, taxes, housing, and transport among many other factors, the overall cost of living in Montana can be 37% cheaper than living in California.
If you are still have a question is Montana expensive to live in, you need to know that the prices for services and goods here are an order of magnitude lower than in many popular states like California or New York.
Why do people think about moving to MT? Of course, like any other state, Montana has its benefits and drawbacks that must be considered before you make a final decision about the relocation. Married couples with children, pensioners and spouses who are waiting for the birth of an heir are deciding on moving to Montana, as this is an economically profitable place to live. Look through the facts provided below and it will be much easier to decide.

Is Montana a good place to live

It is natural that the state that attracts so many people should have many benefits. Undoubtedly, Montana is a unique unspoiled state that differs from other US continental areas. It has always been known for its nickname ‘The Treasure State’ thanks to the huge reserves of different precious mineral resources including gold, sapphire, and silver. Another name of this state is Big Sky Country because beautiful plains open a breath-taking view of the endless sky. Both of these names display the main benefits of the state; however, the benefits are not limited to only these two aspects.
Americans who decide to move to Montana need to decide where to live in Montana, so as not to worry about the safety of their children, quickly get a job, be able to save on utility bills, and find high-quality and affordable housing at the same time.

1. Cost of living

Living in Montana is rather affordable in comparison with other states. Despite the fact that the cost-of-living index is 2.8% higher than the average national index, in most cases, it is cheaper to live in this state than around the rest of the US. The main factor that has increased this index include the prices for houses that are 23% higher than the median home cost in the country and for groceries that are more expensive by 8%. All the other constituent parts of the cost of a living index such as healthcare, transportation, utilities are cheaper than the average in the US. In addition, there is no sales tax here. As of 2021, Montana ranked 30th in terms of the cost of living throughout the country. The average cost of living here, during the same year, was estimated to be $42,310 per year.

2. Home prices

Despite the fact that the median home price in Montana is 23% higher than the average national one, there are many affordable homes for sale. The median housing cost is about $230,000 but you can find many homes in rural areas that are much cheaper. For example, Trulia reports that the most expensive house in Montana cost $652,500 while the average price for homes in Blaine County is only $59,500.
It is also rather affordable to rent an apartment when moving to Montana. You should pay about $850 for a 1-bedroom apartment and a bit more than $900 for a 2-bedroom flat. The cost of utilities is one of the lowest in the US too. As of 2022, the housing cost of Montana can range anywhere between $590 to $1,429 per month.

3. Job market

Montana is the 4th largest state, but the population of a bit over 1 million is spread around all this territory. Consequently, most of the jobs are concentrated in big cities. Of course, if you are ready to work in agriculture or construction, you can live in rural areas. But many people still prefer to live in cities and towns and work in such popular industries as government, education, healthcare etc. In general, the unemployment rate in Montana is about 4.1% and the minimum hourly wage is $8.30. As of 2022, Montana’s unemployment rate fell to 3.1%, meaning it is the second state throughout the country with the lowest jobless rates.
According to Zillow, the highest salaries in Montana are received by healthcare specialists, architects, and engineers.

4. Climate: 4 seasons

Montana’s climate is quite varied because of the large area of the state and the difference in elevation. In general, it is semi-arid continental, but when you appear at the altitude of 13,000 feet, the mountain peaks can remain snowy even in summer.
People living in the eastern part of the state that is predominantly covered with plains and hills can experience four different seasons throughout the year. In winter, the average temperature is 28°F, and in summer – 84.5°F. You can sometimes feel cold winds coming from Canada, while the average yearly precipitation is rather low – only 15 inches. However, this number can double in the western valleys blocked by mountains thanks to the moist Pacific air.

5. Low population density

Montana is the third least populated state in the US. Being the 4th largest state by area, there are only 1.08 million people living there. The average number of people per one square mile is just 7.09. The state has 2.4 people per house compared to the U.S. average of about 2.6. Consequently, there is much pure untouched land and most of the population is cantered in the county seats.

6. Much unspoiled land and beautiful nature

Montana is located in the western part of the US, so its geography is varied and includes mountains and valleys, plains and hills, lakes and rivers etc. Such diversity creates a splendid landscape not spoilt by people, especially in the north and east of the state. The weather and clear skies make all this beauty much more striking and spectacular, so it is not surprising why many tourists want to this state.

7. Low taxes

What makes moving to MT more exciting? Of course, there are rather low tax rates. The first good news is the absence of a sales tax. When it comes to income tax, the state system is progressive so there is a tax rate range between 1% and 6.9%. The property tax depends on the county you live in, but the average rate is 0.87% – lower than the national average one.

8. Little traffic

Undoubtedly, most of the local population owns a car, as it is not easy to get from one place to another in this big wide-open area. Moreover, if you decide to go anywhere, you may feel lonely on the road as the traffic is almost absent on the highways. Of course, there is public transport and many other vehicles in cities and towns, but still, that traffic cannot be called heavy. In winter, the number of drivers decreases greatly too as roads get slippery and commuting turns out to be an inconvenient experience here.

9. Recreation and outdoor activities

Such a diverse nature opens a variety of possibilities for rest, both active and peaceful one. In addition to several federally recognized sites, the state can boast to be home to “The Crown of the Continent” – Glacier National Park and part of Yellowstone National Park. The flora and fauna are incredibly varied here, while numerous lakes and rivers offer great water recreation opportunities. You can enjoy walking, hiking, climbing, hunting, fishing here. There are several great ski resorts too. It is worth mentioning that there is also a popular attraction called the Garnet Ghost Town as well.

10. Excellent education and healthcare

If you analyse the biggest employers of the three largest cities in Montana, you will see that the bigger number of specialists work in healthcare and education. Both these spheres are developed at a very high level.
With over 144 thousand students studying in the state, there is a rather high graduation rate of 86%. Moreover, there are 16 higher education institutions that offer students one of the lowest tuition fees in the US – it makes Montana a perfect place for studying, especially if to add a rather affordable cost of living to that. No wonder that the biggest percentage of in-migrants in Montana are young people of 18-25 years.

11. Delicious beer

Brewing is one of the most popular spheres in the western states and Montana is not an exception. In general, there are 53 licensed breweries here, but you should not forget that many families take up home brewing as well. According to the Montana Brewers Association (MBA), the annual economic impact of these breweries exceeds $60 million.

12. Unique culture and traditions

Montana is one of the biggest holders of the National American Heritage, especially this is due to American Indians living here. Montana is a source of inspiration for artists, photographers, filmmakers who create their masterpieces in this state.
Being an agricultural state, there are many fairs and holidays connected with a crop as well as rodeos. Many local people prefer to go hunting, fishing, while winter sports are an indispensable part of every local resident’s life.

THE PROS AND CONS OF MOVING TO MONTANA

Reasons not to move to Montana

1. Cold winters

Being one of the north-western states, Montana can experience unpredictable swings of temperature. It is especially noticeable in winter when it can go down reaching 50 degrees below zero. It is the reason why you should always be equipped with a surviving kit in winter, especially if you are in the mountains. In addition, cold northern winds can cause freezing, so it is important to dress well.

2. Many tourists

It is natural that the incredible beauty of the landscape, as well as top-notch ski resorts, attracts thousands of tourists annually. However, local people are not pleased with this fact as they think that crowds of tourists may spoil their ‘last truly wild state’. Sometimes it may seem that the number of tourists exceeds the number of local populations, so it is useless to ask for help outdoors if you plan to move to Montana.

3. Predators and wildlife

Vast uninhabited areas create a perfect environment for various flora and fauna. There are over 100 species of mammals only, let alone other animals and birds. Of course, if you live in the city or town, you will probably not see many of them. But, Montana has over 30 thousand farms scattered around the whole territory, so local residents have to defend themselves from the regular attacks of predators.

4. Many ranches and farms

It may sound like a joke but the number of cows is thrice higher than the number of people in Montana. With thirty thousand farms and ranches, it is a truly agricultural state. The annual revenue from this business is over $4 billion, but it is not that easy to have a cowboy-style life and earn money this way. Valleys also serve as a perfect place for growing fruit and vegetables, but still, they are rather expensive here.

5. Lack of housing

While cities and towns are not big and filled with the local population, in-migrants can have problems with finding a dwelling for living there. Many people report that they have to commute for work because it was impossible to find an affordable home inside the city. Also, there is a crisis with housing credits in the state as there is not enough funding for this project. People can afford only low-cost homes while the number of low-income homes is rather scarce.

6. Minimum of amenities

People who arrive in Montana from metropolitan areas of other states may feel astonished with the picture they see. Even bigger cities of the state have no such various facilities characteristic of other big cities of America. You will more likely feel like being in the village rather than in the city and the entertainment diversity is minimal as well.

7. A necessity to be self-sufficient

Many homes in Montana are located in rural areas. These are hours of driving from the closest cities. However, local unpredictable weather can take you by surprise and deprive you of the power supply or anything else. It means that you should be prepared for such situations and always have a plan-B. Basic survival supplies are a necessity of every home in Montana, so think of self-sufficiency in advance.

Montana

best places to live in montana

Having evaluated all the pros and cons of moving to Montana, it is time to find out what cities and towns are the best for living there. In recent years, more and more Americans have chosen destinations such as Montana California to move to, as each option has its own unique advantages and disadvantages.

Billings

Being the largest and the most populous city in Montana, Billings is known as the “Magic City” because of its fast growth for over one century only. The city has a strong economy and was not once called one of the best for starting a small business. It can boast companies and firms working in a variety of industries as well as many interesting events worth visiting.

Bozeman

It is the 4th largest city in the state that is chosen number 1 among the best cities for living by Livability. Montana State University is located in this city, so it is constantly growing in terms of population. It is famous for numerous recreational activities and soon may become another metropolitan in this state.

Missoula

The ‘hub of five valleys’ is another name for Missoula where a convergence of 5 mountain ranges is located. The city has a metropolitan area and is home to the University of Montana. The most developed industries are healthcare, retail, transportation, education, government etc. It is a cultural centre of the state as well.

Kalispell

This gateway to Glacier National Park has such a name because it is translated as “flat land above the lake”. The city is considered to be a secondary trade centre as well as features a highly developed healthcare industry.

Helena

Founded once as a gold camp and being one of the wealthiest cities, today it is a beautiful destination with unique Victorian architecture. Most of the people are employed in government and state jobs as well as education. The city offers many recreational activities too.

Great falls

Named after 5 waterfalls located in this area, the city is the 2nd largest city in Montana. Known to people as “the Electric City” due to the power station located there, now it is home to Malmstrom Air Force Base and two other military bases. However, arts and culture are at the highest level here too.
To settle in a new place and ensure a good life for your family, you need to focus on the best place to live in Montana, including Billings, Bozeman, Kalispell, Helena, Missoula and Great Falls.
If you do not plan to develop a zero business or achieve high success in the professional field, get rich, then the question, is Montana a good place to live, can be answered in the affirmative, because this is a staff of people who are looking for comfort, tranquility, high quality family and cultural life.

worst places to live in montana

While Montana boasts some great neighbourhoods to live in, there are certain neighbourhoods you might want to avoid. Considering factors like crime rates, unemployment rates, home values, median household incomes and more, here are some places to avoid in Montana.

Hardin

The unemployment rate in Hardin is 10.1%, the third-highest in Montana. For this reason, residents here have a considerably lower median house income. This place also has a median home value of $127,600 despite a low-income rate.

Polson

In Polson, about 7.7 percent of the residents face unemployment. Additionally, Polson also has the fourth highest crime rate in the state.

Cut Bank

Cut Bank has the highest crime rate in Montana. It also has a comparatively high unemployment rate and the residents usually don’t have many options to enjoy outdoor activities.

Shelby

With one of the lowest house incomes and the worst medium home value, Shelby is also not the safest place in the state.

cost of living in montana

Fortunately, the cost of living in Montana is considerably lower compared to the rest of the country. For instance, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the cost of goods and services is 6.7% less in Montana than they are across the U.S. Overall, Montana takes the 25th lowest position in terms of the cost of living. The Missoula metro area is the most expensive area in Montana. However, Missoula still has a 5% lower cost of living than the national average. Let’s take a quick look at the cost-of-living breakdown in Montana.

Housing Costs

In Montana, a regular house costs $219,600 as compared to the national median home value of $204, 900. The rent in the state, however, is $783 per month which is about $240 lower when compared to the national median rent. Interestingly, only 32.3% of the occupied houses in the state are rented when compared to the national average of 36.2%.

Health and Child Care

The cost of insurance coverage is relatively higher in Montana. On average, an individual pays about $5,270 yearly for health care. The national average is $4,266.
The average cost of child care for a 4-year-old toddler is $7,509 annually in Montana. This cost is a lot lower in comparison to the national average of $8,903.

Transportation

It comes as no surprise that about 85.3% of the population commute to work in Montana. This percentage directly affects the cost of living in the state. The average motorist in Montana spends about $1,119 on gas each year. If you’re looking at the car insurance premiums, the average cost is usually about $1,570. According to the EPI data, a single adult spends an average cost of over $10,500 yearly on transportation alone.

Food

The cost of food varies from state to state in Montana. However, a single adult spends an average cost of $3,178 on food per year. For a family of four, the cost can go up to $9,179.

Taxes

You don’t have to worry too much about paying taxes when moving to Montana. Here is a quick breakdown of the state’s tax rates:

  • Sales tax – 0%
  • Income tax – 1% - 6.9%
  • Average property tax – 0.83%
  • Gas tax – 32.00 cents per gallon of gas

The cost of living in Montana differs from state to state. That said, the Golden Valley has the highest cost of living (about $93, 962) in the state. Glacier County, on the other, has the lowest cost of living at just $85,957 per year.
Some say that the cost of living in Montana is quite high and not suitable for people on a limited budget, others argue that this is an affordable state for living, but with confidence we can talk about lower prices for living than in California, New York or Florida

Moving to Montana

work in montana

The rate of unemployment in Montana is 2.7% less when compared to the national average of 3.7%. While the state has seen only 0.1% job growth during the last year, it is a positive sign for the potential future increase in the state’s job market. Here are the top ten fastest-growing job options in Montana:

  • Foreman – $62,790 average yearly wage
  • Physical therapist - $77,110 average yearly wage
  • Electrician - $61,580 average yearly wage
  • Plumber - $58,440 average yearly wage
  • Registered Nurse - $64,300 average yearly wage

Here are the top industries that are currently booming in Montana. When moving here, it would be a good idea to either work or invest in one of these industries.

  • Healthcare
  • Agriculture
  • Real Estate and Construction
  • Agriculture and Forestry
  • Energy
  • Transport and Logistics
  • Manufacturing
  • Travel, Recreation, and Tourism

The average annual pay in the state can be anywhere between $144,105 and $20,184. Montana also houses several large industries and businesses. When moving to Montana, you can either choose to work at one of these companies or even do business with them.

  • Talen Montana with an employee base of 12,256
  • Fringe Benefit Resources with an employee base of 12,000
  • Billings Clinic with an employee base of 4,600
  • Linnie Initiative with an employee base of 3,000
  • St. Patrick Hospital Health Sci Cent with an employee base of 3,000
  • Washington Corporations with an employee base of 2,567
Job options in Montana

things to do in montana

When people select living in Montana, Americans choose a state with beautiful nature, fresh air, a variety of relaxing activities, snowy winters and hot summers, and affordable prices. The Big Sky Country is known for several fascinating things. From national parks to museums, here’s everything to explore when in Montana:

Glacier National Park

The Glacier National Park boasts two mountain ranges and is sprawled over 1,000 miles. The park houses 130 lakes, hundreds of animal species, and over 1,000 different plant species.

Museum of the Rockies

The Museum of Rockies (MOR) is a haven of federal and state fossils. The collection includes several fascinating dinosaur fossils and it one of the best research museums.

Big Sky Resort

Montana is big on skiing and the Big Sky Resort would be the perfect getaway for your favourite ice sports. Spread over 5,800 acres with a vertical drop of 4,350 feet. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you can squeeze all the fun out of skiing at this resort.

The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Centre

If you want to get a taste of wildlife when in Montana, look no further than the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Centre.

The Moss Mansion

This gorgeous red stone mansion in Billings is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1903, this mansion reflects an in-depth development history of Billings.

BEFORE MOVING TO MONTANA

What else should you know before moving to Montana? This state offers many unpredictable things, so there are several important tips to consider before you schedule your moving to MT.

Plan relocation in summer, spring or fall

As it was mentioned before, winters can be harsh in this northern state. Nobody knows what the weather keeps in store, so it is better to choose warmer seasons for moving.

Arrive self-sufficient

Montana facilities are not very developed, so if you run out of gas when in the mountains, it will be a great disappointment. That is the reason to prepare for a trip well: don’t forget to charge your phone, fill your car with fuel, find necessary information about stops, and plan your route thoroughly.

Get a concealed weapon permit

Hunting is very popular in Montana, but even if you don’t plan to do that, it would be safer to have a weapon if you accidentally stop somewhere in the outskirts. To get this permit, it is necessary to be a resident of the state for at least 6 months, have US citizenship, and be over 18 years old.

Get a new driver’s license and car registration

Turn to DMV office within 60 days after your arrival to change your license and register your vehicle.

Register to vote

After 30 days of being a resident of the state, you can register for voting there.

WHAT ARE THE IMPORTANT RESOURCES FOR NEW MONTANA RESIDENTS?

Here are some useful links to the resources that might be important to everyone moving to MT.

MOVE TO MONTANA

Are you moving to Montana? Do you want to save on your relocation? Of course, if you move alone and don’t have many possessions to carry, it is possible to get to this state by plane, train, bus or car. Any of these means of transport can take you to Montana quickly, almost from any US state.
But if you need to carry your own massive world of belongings, the best option is to hire a professional moving company from California to Montana. California Movers is a full-service moving company that will make your relocation to Montana hassle-free and coordinated. Our friendly and strong moving company will take care of your belongings, which can be left in our professionally designed storage units if need be. With us, you can rest assured that all your valuables will be delivered safely and timely.
With us, there are no hidden costs whatsoever and we provide high-quality relocation services at affordable prices. Packing, loading, transporting, and unloading – with us, your move would be a smooth sail! Leave your stress behind and leave the hard work to us. After all, your relocation should be nothing short of a great experience. Ask us for a free quote to get your relocation started right away!

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