Moving to Montana
Oh, Montana! With Big Sky Country stretching above your head and the spirit of unbridled adventure calling, it's no surprise that moving to Montana is in your thoughts. Whether it's the pristine lakes framed by stunning mountain peaks or the charming small towns oozing western hospitality, Montana paints an alluring picture that's hard to resist. But don't pack your bags just yet! In this comprehensive Montana relocation guide, we'll cover everything you need to know before making that life-changing move, ensuring that you and Montana will be a perfect match!
What to Know Before Moving to Montana
1. Big Sky Country isn't just a nickname.
Montana is called "Big Sky Country" for good reason – its massive, untamed landscapes create seemingly never-ending horizons, and the state boasts some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring scenery in the US. From Glacier National Park in the northwest to Yellowstone National Park in the south, Montana truly lives up to its nickname. That means when you move to Montana, epic hikes, outdoor adventures, and jaw-dropping sunset views will be regular parts of your life. Grab your hiking boots, mountain bike, or fishing gear, and get ready to bask under that big, beautiful sky.
2. Montana is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts.
If you're an animal lover, Montana is the place for you. The state is home to a wide array of wildlife, including 14 different species of mammals, such as moose, elk, bison, and both black and grizzly bears. The bird watching opportunities are equally impressive, with Montana hosting both resident and migratory species like bald eagles, ospreys, and swans. Plus, let's not forget Montana's unique roadside attraction: omnipresent herds of ungulates, such as deer and antelope! Just remember to treat all wildlife with respect – observe from a safe distance and leave no trace behind.
3. Breathtaking national parks and outdoor playgrounds await.
As previously mentioned, Montana is home to both Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks. However, it's not just these two gems that make Montana an outdoor paradise. The state offers approximately 55 state parks, spanning over 35 million acres of public land. Some of the notable parks include Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake found west of the Mississippi, and Bighorn Canyon, a breathtaking canyon that offers a wide range of recreational opportunities. The list goes on, proving that you'll never run out of outdoor activities to enjoy in Big Sky Country.
4. Ghost towns and quirky roadside attractions are aplenty.
For the history buffs and lovers of the unusual, Montana's numerous ghost towns and quirky roadside attractions should satisfy your appetite for exploration. During the height of the mining era, hundreds of towns popped up across the state. Today, many of these towns are well-preserved ghost towns where you can take a trip back in time. A few must-visit ghost towns include Bannack, Garnet, and Elkhorn. And for the lovers of the bizarre, you can't miss the World Museum of Mining, the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas, and the Montana Vortex and House of Mystery. There's no end to the eccentric adventures you'll find in Montana!
5. Get ready for some extreme temperature swings.
Montana has what is known as a continental climate, which essentially means that the state experiences some seriously extreme temperature swings. It's not uncommon for the temperature to shift by as much as 30-40 degrees in a single day, so it's essential to prepare accordingly. Take note of the saying, "If you don't like the weather in Montana, wait five minutes," and make sure you pack layers and invest in some good outerwear. Trust us; you'll thank yourself later.
6. Escape the rat race: Montana's small-town lifestyle.
Many people who move to Montana are seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle of more urban environments. Montana only has a handful of cities with populations above 50,000, and its rural communities exude a slower, more laid-back pace of life. When you move here, expect to delve into the charms of small-town living, from attending rodeos and county fairs to embracing the sense of community that comes with knowing your neighbors. So leave behind the traffic jams and honking horns, and instead, breathe in the fresh mountain air and bask in the serenity that an unhurried life in Montana offers.
Pros and Cons of Living in Montana
Pros of Living in Montana
Low Population Density
In Montana, you'll find plenty of wide-open spaces to explore and enjoy. With vast landscapes and a low population density, it's easier to find solitude and moments of peace away from the hustle and bustle of urban living. Many people appreciate this aspect of life in Montana and enjoy the room to roam.
Montana is home to some of the most stunning natural beauty in the United States. With access to Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, and numerous rivers, lakes, and mountain ranges, there's no shortage of scenic vistas and outdoor activities to enjoy. Residents can experience the best of what nature has to offer and reap the physical and mental health benefits of living in such an environment.
If you love outdoor activities, Montana is the perfect place to live. With world-class fly fishing, skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and other adventure sports, you'll always have something to do. The state's natural resources also support a wide range of hunting, providing opportunities for sustainable harvest and connecting residents with nature in a meaningful way.
Quality Education and Healthcare
Montana is known for its quality public education system and accessible healthcare. Schools consistently rank well nationally, and the state is home to two major universities, the University of Montana and Montana State University. Additionally, Montana's healthcare system provides high-quality care in both rural and urban areas, ensuring residents can receive the medical care they need.
Strong Sense of Community
Montana residents often report a strong sense of community in their towns and neighborhoods. With a friendly atmosphere and plenty of opportunities for social interaction, it's easy to feel welcome and connected in Montana. From local events to community gatherings, there's no shortage of ways to engage and immerse yourself in the state's unique culture.
Cons of Living in Montana
While Montana's low population density provides solitude, this can also mean living in isolated areas with limited resources. Access to amenities like grocery stores, shopping centers, and entertainment venues may require extensive travel. It's essential to weigh the pros and cons of living in a more remote area and understand the potential challenges of being far from certain conveniences.
Harsh Winters and Climate
Montana experiences long, cold winters with heavy snowfall in many parts of the state. This can lead to hazardous driving conditions, power outages, and other challenges, so being prepared for winter weather is crucial. The cold climate can be a drawback for some residents who may prefer a milder or warmer environment.
The economy in Montana primarily depends on sectors like agriculture, mining, and timber, leading to potentially limited employment options. While there are opportunities for growth, job seekers may need to be flexible and open to exploring various industries. It's essential to research the job market in the area of Montana you are considering, especially if your field is more specialized.
Cost of Living
Montana's cost of living is slightly above the national average, which may be a deterrent for some potential residents. Factors like housing, utilities, and fuel costs can differ significantly depending on the area of the state, so it's crucial to research the specific region you're considering before making a decision to move.
Access to Full-Service Airports
Montana has limited access to major, full-service airports, meaning those who need to travel for work or pleasure may find it more challenging and costly to do so. Residents may need to fly out of neighboring states like Washington, Idaho, or Wyoming for international or cross-country flights. This lack of airport access could be a hurdle for those who need frequent or convenient air transportation.
Is Montana a Good State to Live In?
Montana is a great place to live because of its stunning natural beauty, outdoor recreational opportunities, and low population density. Furthermore, the state offers a relatively low cost of living, friendly communities, and a strong sense of connection to nature and the outdoors.
What Is Montana Famous For?
Glacier National Park
One of Montana's most cherished natural wonders is the Glacier National Park. Known for its spectacular landscapes, abundant wildlife, and over 700 miles of hiking trails, the park attracts millions of visitors each year on the hunt for outdoor adventures and breathtaking vistas.
Yellowstone National Park
Montana is also home to a portion of the iconic Yellowstone National Park. Spanning three states, the park boasts stunning geothermal features like the famous Old Faithful geyser, diverse wildlife, and boundless opportunities for hiking, camping, and exploring. This park truly is a nature lover's paradise.
Big Sky Resort
Ski enthusiasts flock to Montana's Big Sky Resort, one of the country's premier destinations for winter sports. Boasting the "Biggest Skiing in America," Big Sky offers an impressive array of ski runs, snowboarding terrain, and other cold-weather activities in a picturesque Rocky Mountain setting.
Montana's Dinosaur Trail
Fascinated by prehistoric creatures? The Montana Dinosaur Trail takes visitors across a series of distinct museums showcasing discoveries of ancient dinosaur fossils and paleontological wonders. Our state has played a significant role in uncovering the mysteries of these magnificent creatures, unearthing extraordinary finds like the world's first discovered T. rex.
Overview of Tax Rates
As of 2023, Montana residents face an average effective property tax rate of 0.83%, which is slightly below the national average. While there is variation in rates across the state, Montana generally has lower property taxes compared to other states.
Montana is one of the few states that do not have a statewide sales tax, making it an attractive destination for consumers. However, some localities may have resort or local option taxes, which apply narrowly to specific goods or services within a designated area.
Montana has a progressive income tax system, with rates ranging from 1% to 6.9% depending on one's income level. While the overall income tax burden may be moderate, the top rate is slightly higher than that of some neighboring states, which offer flat or lower progressive income tax rates.
The Montana housing market offers an affordable option for both renters and buyers compared to other states. With a median home value of $308,194, prices are lower than the national average. Rental prices are also quite reasonable, with a median rent of $927. The homeownership rate in Montana is above the national average at 71.9%, offering opportunities for investment or settling down. However, while Montana’s market remains moderately priced, it has experienced a recent boom with a 14.3% increase in home values within the past year.
Cost of Living
Montana's cost of living is slightly lower than the national average, ranking 34th among all states. The lower cost of housing significantly contributes to its affordability. However, healthcare and transportation costs tend to be slightly higher. Overall, Montana offers a balance of affordable living, beautiful landscapes, and a growing economy, making it an attractive option when compared to other states in the U.S.
Weather & Natural Disasters
Montana's climate is characterized by cold winters and mild summers, with a diverse range of weather patterns due to its varying topography, continental location, and large size. The western region, nestled in the Northern Rocky Mountains, experiences a modified Pacific maritime climate, while the eastern region is influenced by a semi-arid continental climate. Temperatures across the state may range from sub-zero winter lows to summer highs up to 90°F, with varying precipitation levels contributing to a mix of grasslands, thriving forests, and mountainous terrain.Weather in Montana can be unpredictable, with sudden temperature shifts and localized severe weather events such as hailstorms, thunderstorms, and heavy snowfall. Chinook winds, which may produce rapid warming, are also common during the winter months. Montana is relatively less prone to natural disasters compared to other US states. However, wildfires, droughts, and flash floods can occur, with the occasional tornado or earthquake presenting additional risks.
Economy & Job Market
Travel and tourism
Healthcare and social assistance
Real estate and rental/leasing
Montana’s economy has traditionally been centered around its rich natural resources and breathtaking landscape, making the agricultural, mining, and logging industries popular in the past. However, in recent years, the Treasure State has seen a shift towards a more modern, diversified, and service-driven economy, with the travel and tourism, healthcare and social assistance, and retail trade sectors becoming the economic pacesetters. Known for its majestic mountains, mesmerizing national parks, and crystal-clear rivers, Montana's vibrant tourism industry has sky-rocketed, driven by the many visitors clamoring for a taste of its untamed beauty and outdoor adventures.
If you're considering moving to Montana and looking for a job, there's good news: Montana's unemployment rate is lower than the national average (4.4% vs. 5.2% as of August 2021). However, it is important to note that job prospects tend to be better in urban areas where the economy is more diversified, such as Missoula, Bozeman, and Billings. These cities boast a lively panorama of job opportunities, particularly in healthcare, retail trade, and education. The flourishing construction, real estate, and rental/leasing sectors also offer employment potential. So, pack your bags and giddy-up to the Big Sky Country, where vast possibilities and a lively job market await you under its azure canopy!
Traffic and Transportation
Oh, darling Montana, the "Big Sky Country"! With its wide-open spaces, majestic landscapes, and cozy cities, this Treasure State is truly an epitome of relaxed living. When it comes to traffic and transportation, Montanans enjoy breezy commute times. In big cities like Billings and Missoula, the average commute time is just around 18 minutes, which is far better than the national average. Who's ready for stress-free drives to work?
There's more to smile about in Montana's lively big cities, where public transportation options abound. Billings MET Transit takes care of business with timely bus rides, while in Missoula, folks enjoy fare-free rides on the Mountain Line buses. Thanks, Zero-Fare program!
Fancy some air travel to admire Montana's big skies through the airplane window? Worry not! Montana has several airports, including Glacier Park International Airport and Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport. So get ready to buckle up, take off, and marvel at those jaw-dropping snow-capped peaks!
Things to Do
When you think of Montana, you probably imagine vast, open spaces, and snow-capped mountains – and you wouldn't be wrong. But Montana has so much more to offer than just a beautiful landscape. If you're moving to the Treasure State or just passing through, you'll want to make the most of your time there. Montana is teeming with adventure and excitement! So, to help you explore the best of Big Sky Country, we've curated a list of 7 top things to do in Montana:
1. Discover Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is undoubtedly one of Montana's most iconic attractions. Featuring more than 700 miles of hiking trails, breathtaking glacial lakes, and an abundance of wildlife, it's a nature lover's dream come true. Whether you're hiking the Highline Trail, driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road, or exploring Logan Pass, there's something for everyone to enjoy in this stunning park.
2. Journey through the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
For history buffs, the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument is a must-visit site. It stands as a tribute to the Native American tribes and U.S. Army soldiers who fought in the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. Take a guided tour, attend a ranger-led program or stand at the top of Last Stand Hill for a solemn and powerful experience.
3. Have an unforgettable wildlife experience at the American Prairie Reserve
Step back in time and see what the Great Plains once looked like in the American Prairie Reserve. This massive wildlife conservation reserve spans over 3.2 million acres, making it one of the largest in the continental United States. Here, you can spot bison, elk, prairie dogs, pronghorn antelopes, and many other species in their natural habitat. It's an experience like no other, perfect for photographers and wildlife enthusiasts!
4. Take a dip in the Boiling River
For a unique and lesser-known hot springs experience, head to the Boiling River in Yellowstone National Park. This natural phenomenon occurs where a hot spring mixes with the cool waters of the Gardner River. Take a refreshing soak in one of nature's own hot tubs. Just be sure to visit during park hours, as soaking is only allowed from sunrise to sunset!
5. Explore the spooky ghost town of Bannack
Montana is home to several ghost towns, remnants of the mining boom in the late 1800s. One such town is Bannack, now preserved as a state park. Originally a gold rush town, Bannack was once home to more than 3,000 residents but was abandoned as the gold supply dried up. Begin your visit at the Visitor Center, then wander the streets, exploring the historic buildings and imagining the lives of its former residents. Just watch out for ghosts!
6. Mountain bike in the Whitefish Trail System
Located near Whitefish, the Whitefish Trail System boasts over 42 miles of multi-use trails that are perfect for mountain biking. With its varying terrain, from flat lakeside paths to steep mountain ascents, this trail system offers a challenge for riders of all skill levels. Rent a bike in town, and don't forget your helmet!
7. Get your adrenaline pumping at the Our Lady of the Rockies Zipline
If you're looking for a thrilling adventure, try ziplining at the Our Lady of the Rockies Zipline in Butte! This lesser-known attraction lets you soar through the air at speeds of up to 50 mph, while you take in stunning mountain views. With six ziplines and a sky bridge, it's an unforgettable adventure for adrenaline junkies and those looking to conquer their fear of heights.
There you have it – seven top things to do in Montana that really showcase the state's diversity and sense of adventure. From natural wonders to heart-pounding escapades, Montana's beauty and charm are sure to captivate you. Get ready to explore some of the best-kept secrets and iconic sites of Big Sky Country!
Find Movers for Your Montana Relocation
As you embark on your exciting new journey to the picturesque landscapes of Montana, let Great Guys Moving lighten the load by connecting you with the most reputable movers in the industry. Our vast network of licensed and insured moving companies are known for their quality service and affordable pricing, ensuring you a stress-free and smoother transition. Don't delay your Montana adventure – simply provide us with the essentials of your move, and we will promptly connect you with movers tailored to your needs. Take the first step toward a seamless relocation by requesting your free moving quote today.
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