Moving to Missoula

Picture wide-open spaces peppered with towering mountains, rushing rivers, and friendly locals - welcome to Missoula, Montana! If you're considering making the Big Sky Country your next dwelling, this comprehensive guide to relocating to Missoula will become your personal GPS. Although you won't exactly lose yourself amongst skyscrapers here, this city is beloved for its vibrant culture, lush landscapes, and abundance of outdoor activities inviting you to step outside and breathe in that crisp mountain air. Let's embark on a journey to unveil why Missoula should be your next grand adventure.

Moving to Missoula, MT landscape image

What to Know Before Moving to Missoula

1. Nature is your neighbor

Don't let the size of Missoula fool you. This city is nestled right in the heart of Montana's stunning natural beauty. You will be just a stone's throw away from several national parks including Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Plus, the breathtaking Bitterroot and Sapphire Mountains are right on your doorstep. Moving to Missoula means you'll be trading crowded city streets for hiking trails, fishing spots, and ski slopes.

2. Missoula is packed with culture

Want to live somewhere with plenty of museums, art galleries, live music, and educational opportunities? Then Missoula is the place for you! The city hosts the Montana Book Festival, International Wildlife Film Festival and the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival annually. Plus, Missoula is home to Montana's first and only member-supported independent public radio station.

3. A hidden culinary gem

Missoula might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of culinary prestige, but you might be surprised. The city is chock-full of top-notch restaurants that serve everything from farm-to-table fare to international cuisine. One of the city's best-kept secrets is the Pearl Cafe, an elegant yet unpretentious eatery known for its innovative French cuisine. Be sure to try their duck leg confit or trout almondine.

4. The housing market is competitive, but rewarding

With its picturesque views and high quality of life, Missoula's housing market can get pretty heated. But don't fret! With some patience and due diligence, you can find the perfect place to call home, whether that's a mountain-view apartment, a charming older home in a quiet neighborhood, or a modern townhouse in the bustling downtown area. You can check the latest house listings to start your quest for a new home.

5. Try Dragonboat racing, Missoula's unique sport

Yes, you read that right - Dragonboat racing. Every year, teams of 20 paddlers race on the Clark Fork River in elaborately decorated boats, cheered on by hundreds of spectators. The annual Dragon Hollow Dragonboat Festival is a sight to behold and participate in, combining physical fitness, teambuilding, and a grand dose of fun!

6. Missoulians are some of the friendliest people you'll meet

One of the most attractive aspects of moving to Montana is the warm and friendly nature of its residents. Missoulians are known for their inviting and helpful attitude, and there's a very real sense of community here. Whether you're lost and looking for directions or just need a recommendation for the best local brew, don't hesitate to ask a local!

So, there you have it. If you adore natural beauty, crave cultural events, fancy yourself a foodie, can't wait to navigate the housing market, feel the need to try your hand at Dragonboat racing, or simply wish to encounter some genuinely friendly folk, then Missoula, Montana is calling out to you. Wait no longer, and make this mountain town your new home.

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Pros and Cons of Living in Missoula

Pros of Living in Missoula

Natural Beauty

Missoula is surrounded by lush forests, scenic mountains, and clear rivers, making it a great place for nature lovers. Going for a hike, fishing, camping, and biking are popular activities for locals during the summer months.


Missoula enjoys a moderate climate with plenty of sunny days. The summers are warm while the spring and fall seasons are usually mild. Despite having a snowy winter, the beauty of the landscape during this season is unmatched.

Vibrant Art & Music Scene

Missoula has a thriving art and music scene with frequent live music performances, art festivals, theatre shows, and film screenings. Whether you're an artist, musician, or simply an art enthusiast, you'll feel right at home here.

Outdoor Activities

Due to the abundance of rivers, mountains, and parks, outdoor enthusiasts have a lot to choose from: skiing, white-water rafting, mountain biking, and more. Plus, you're never more than a few minutes away from a great trailhead or river access point.

University Town

Home to the University of Montana, Missoula provides a youthful energy and plenty of opportunities for learning and personal development. Plus, the university brings many cultural and sporting events to town.

Cons of Living in Missoula

Cost of Living

Unfortunately, the cost of living in Missoula is higher than the national average. Specifically, the housing costs can make living in Missoula slightly more challenging, especially for families and those on a tight budget.


Although the cost of living is quite high, the wages in Missoula are relatively low compared to other similar-sized cities. This wage disparity can make it difficult for some residents to meet their financial needs.

Air Quality

Missoula is situated in a valley, which tends to trap smoke during wildfire season, leading to poor air quality. Those with respiratory health issues need to consider this factor before moving to Missoula.

Long Winter

While the winters are beautiful in Missoula, they can also be long and harsh. Snowfall can last well into spring, and temperatures can drop very low, which may not appeal to everyone.

Limited Public Transportation

Public transportation in Missoula is limited and may not be as reliable or extensive as in larger cities. This can make getting around challenging, particularly for those who don't own a vehicle or prefer not to drive.

Modern day picture of Missoula, MT highlighting pros and cons of living in Missoula, MT

Is Missoula a Good Place to Live?

Missoula, MT is a great place to live because it boasts incredible outdoor activities including hiking, fishing, and skiing thanks to its picturesque surroundings. The city is also known for its friendly locals, vibrant arts and music scene, and top-notch educational institutions; it also enjoys a low crime rate which makes it safe and ideal for families. Lastly, with its numerous farmers markets and eateries, food enthusiasts will find living in Missoula gratifying.

What Is Missoula Famous For?

Avid Outdoor Adventure Hub

If you're an outdoor enthusiast, Missoula is an absolute playground. Its wilderness setting positions it perfectly for fishing, hiking, rafting, or skiing trips. Missoula is surrounded by a chain of mind-blowing mountains and has three nearby rivers - perfect for those seeking thrills.

University of Montana

Missoula is home to the prestigious University of Montana (UM), a public research university. Known for its well-regarded wildlife biology program and prominent college sports presence, UM also adds dynamic student energy to the city. Its campus includes the lovely Oval, the Mansfield Library, the Montana Museum of Art and Culture, and the impressive Washington Grizzly Stadium.

Hip Music and Cultural Scene

As a vibrant city brimming with creativity and youthful energy, Missoula's music and cultural scene is not to be missed. The city attracts famous musicians and performers, hosts annual film festivals, and supports a thriving local craft brewery scene. Downtown Missoula becomes an epicenter of music, art, and food during the popular 'First Friday Art Walk'.

A&M Logos and Missoula Iron Works

Emblematic of industrial heritage, both A&M Logos and Missoula Iron Works are famous historical sites in Missoula. A&M Logos, a timber company, embodies the vital role of the logging industry in the city's past. Missoula Iron Works, on the other hand, brings recognition to the city for its significant contributions to the ironwork industry. The buildings now double as a testament to the city's history and as spaces for modern businesses.

Capital building of Missoula, MT in artistic rendering

Overview of Tax Rates

Property Tax

In Missoula, MT as of 2023, the property tax rate is approximately 0.87% of assessed home value, slightly lower than the US average of 1.07%. This means that a house valued at $250,000 in Missoula would be assessed approximately $2,175 in property taxes annually.

Sales Tax

Missoula, Montana, unsurprisingly, continues to not have a sales tax rate in 2023, sticking to Montana's state-wide policy. This contrasts starkly to the average general sales tax rate across the US, currently at around 7.12%.

Income Tax

As of 2023, Missoula adheres to Montana's state income tax rate which ranges from 1% to 6.9% based on income level. This top rate is slightly lower than the US average top marginal rate of around 7% at the state level.

Housing Market

The housing market in Missoula, MT showcases a steady growth compared to other U.S. regions. The median home price is $307,500 which is higher than the U.S. median but lower than several West Coast cities. The 1-year price growth hits 6.4%, reflecting a stronger appreciation than the national average. Meanwhile, rentals cost around $850 per month for a single-bedroom unit. As a homeowner, be prepared for a property tax of approximately 0.83% of the home's assessed value, which is slightly below the national median. For investors and residents alike, these numbers posit Missoula as an appealing choice.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Missoula, MT is moderately high compared to other urban centers. Missoula is approximately 6% higher than the national average, predominantly driven by housing and transportation costs. However, when compared to bustling cities on the East or West Coast, Missoula is far more affordable. Notably, healthcare and goods & services cost are approximately the same as the national average. Despite the higher cost compared to many cities, Missoula offers a unique blend of natural beauty, outdoor recreation, and city amenities, making it a desirable place to live.

Weather & Natural Disasters

Missoula, MT enjoys a unique climate often described as a modified northern Pacific coastal climate. The weather consists of moderate seasons -- mildly warm summers with average highs around 83degF and cold, but not harsh, winters where temperatures can drop to around 24degF. Rainfall is well-distributed throughout the year, with the wettest season observed in late spring and early summer. Snowfall is also a common feature, especially from November to March. Missoula, due to its geographical location, is vulnerable to several natural disasters. The city has contended historically with issues related to wildfires in the warm seasons, and snowstorms and extreme cold during winter. While it's somewhat rare, the area is also susceptible to earthquakes, given Montana's location within the Intermountain Seismic Belt. Overall, for those who don't mind cooler climates, Missoula's weather conditions present a balance of all four seasons.

Typical weather in Missoula, MT

Economy & Job Market

* Healthcare Services

* Education Services

* Retail Trade and Hospitality

* Construction and Real Estate

* Professional and Business Services

Missoula's economy has a rich history steeped in timber and lumber industries, but today it has transitioned into a diverse marketplace buzzing with innovation and growth. The healthcare sector, for instance, has emerged as a vital cog in the economic machine, offering a plethora of job opportunities for the local populace. Education is another sphere that holds sway over the economy, with the University of Montana serving as one of the largest employers in town. Retail trade and hospitality, as well as construction and real estate, keep the city's economy buoyant by infusing a substantial number of jobs. Businesses are also thriving, adding to the steady flow of economic vitality. Missoula, MT has continually evolved, proving its ability to adapt and grow, making it a compelling place for those looking to thrive in a dynamic economy.

If you're contemplating a move to Missoula, MT, rest assured there are ample job opportunities waiting for you. The city's employment rate is fairly robust, thanks in part to the diversification of its economy. Digging deeper, healthcare and education sectors leap out as the most promising for job seekers, replete with numerous opportunities. The construction and real estate sector also present a healthy job market, especially with the ongoing urban development plans. And of course, businesses set up in this vibrant city are always on the lookout for fresh talent. Missoula's job market is welcoming, positioning the city as a great location for anyone eager to jump-start or advance their career. So pack your bags and unlock a world of possibilities in Missoula, MT!

Traffic and Transportation

Greetings from 'Zootown', better-known as Missoula, Montana! Sporting an average one-way commute time of just 14.4 minutes, ticking through traffic here feels more like a leisurely jaunt than a grind. That's right, we crush the national average of about 26 minutes. Whoosh! Our local public transportation system, Mountain Line, provides free rides across 12 routes, so you can ditch your car keys and embrace the joyride without fretting about parking spots or fuel costs.

Looking to reach sky-high? Missoula International Airport has you covered. Offering both daily and seasonal non-stop flights to major American cities, you are just one flight away from your next adventure. Missoula's transit makes commuting a breeze rather than a chore. So hop on, buckle up, and enjoy the ride!

What is the traffic like in Missoula, MT?

Best Neighborhoods in Missoula


1. Heart of Missoula

If you\'re seeking an active, vibrant neighborhood with a dash of history, the Heart of Missoula should be at the top of your list. This neighborhood lives up to its name, pulsing with energy and activities year-round. Home to Caras Park and The Wilma Theater, there\'s always something happening downtown. Not to mention, it\'s pedestrian-friendly, allowing you to appreciate the beautiful murals, charming cafes, and locally-owned boutiques at a leisurely pace. Plus, a riverfront trail awaits for those who love to jog or cycle with a scenic view.

2. University District

Thanks to the University of Montana, the University District buzzes with intellectual energy and youthful vibe. Stunning historical homes line its streets while Mt. Sentinel serves as a distinctive backdrop. College sports games, cultural events, and academic discussions can be a regular part of your schedule for an enriching living experience. You\'ll also love the Fact and Fiction bookstore, Grizzly Grocery, and The Iron Griz - an American Bistro offering memorable dining experiences.

3. Rattlesnake

The Rattlesnake neighborhood gives you a unique opportunity to connect with nature while offering quick access to downtown amenities. Nestled in the lower Rattlesnake Valley, this area is popular with hikers, bike riders, and nature lovers due to its many trails and breathtaking vistas. Rattlesnake National Recreation Area & Wilderness is just up the road, promising wildlife sightings and exploration adventures. Unique community events, like the Rattlesnake Garden Tour, make this a friendly and engaging place to live.

4. Rose Park

For those who value tranquility and a family-friendly atmosphere, Rose Park could be perfect. This safe, quiet corner of Missoula is known for its expansive green spaces, such as the spacious Bonner Park perfect for picnics, frisbee games, and outdoor concerts. You can enjoy an easy stroll to the Montana Natural History Center, enjoy Sunday brunch at Burns Street Bistro, or soak in the relaxed vibe of the Leaf & Bean coffeehouse. Life here moves at a slower, peaceful pace defined by a strong sense of community.

5. Southgate Triangle

Looking for a spot with convenient access to shopping, dining, and entertainment venues? The Southgate Triangle has all you\'d need for a convenient and enjoyable urban lifestyle. Southgate Mall, one of Missoula\'s primary shopping destinations, is just a short drive away. Also, the expansive Playfair Park offers leisure and recreational opportunities, while Spartan Street and the bustling Brooks Street are home to plenty of eateries, coffee shops, and retail outlets. Plus, this neighborhood has a wide variety of housing styles, adding to its diverse and vibrant charm.

Whether you\'re an outdoor enthusiast, a culture lover, or a family seeking a comfortable community, Missoula\'s neighborhoods offer distinctive charm and unique living experiences. Explore these five districts and get a taste of the vivacious spirit and natural beauty that make Missoula a place beloved by its residents.

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Things to Do

Rolling hills, radiant valleys, and bustling city streets, Missoula, MT is teeming with experiences to awaken the explorer in you. With its captivated nature, intriguing history, and emerging culture, we've picked out seven of the best things to do if you're new or moving to this city of endless opportunities. Ready to fall head over hiking boots?

1. Float the Clark Fork River

A must-do for anyone moving to Missoula is to float the Clark Fork River. From sunbathing on your raft to jumping in for a quick dip, this leisurely activity transports you through the city's picturesque landscapes. Downtown Missoula is a popular spot to float, providing easy access to post-float dining and entertainment. You can rent a raft or take your own, just don't forget the sunscreen!

2. Visit the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula

Travel back in time at the Historical Museum, stationed at Fort Missoula, originally built in 1877. Dip your toe into Montana's rich cultural pool by learning about early settlers and indigenous tribes. The museum is also home to 20 historical structures that paint a vivid snapshot of Missoula's journey throughout the years. Double up the fun by attending one of the museum's many events.

3. Explore the Missoula Art Museum

Fancy getting your dose of culture? Step into the Missoula Art Museum, which will captivate you with contemporary artworks that reflect the diverse Montana landscape. Not only does this museum house impressive exhibits, but it also offers classes for those interested in picking up a paintbrush.

4. Indulge in Missoula's Food Scene

Your adventures around Missoula are bound to work up an appetite. Thankfully, Missoula offers a flourishing food scene ripe with variety. From the gourmet burgers of Missoula Club to the vegan heaven at Mustard Seed, your taste buds will embark on a journey of their own. Make sure to try the Huckleberry treats - a Montana specialty!

5. Discover the Garnet Ghost Town

For a slice of history off the beaten track, visit Garnet Ghost Town. This preserved 19th-century mining town offers an eerie yet fascinating glimpse into Montana's past. Follow self-guided trails, spy original artifacts, and even stay overnight at the BLM cabin for a rustic retreat.

6. Visit the University of Montana Campus

Even non-students should make time to walk around the beautiful University of Montana campus. A key landmark, the campus is home to the famous 'M' trail and its forestry school's quaint little tree park.

7. Plunge into Jerry Johnson Hot Springs

A largely unknown gem, Jerry Johnson Hot Springs offers a unique opportunity to relax in naturally heated water amid Idaho's captivating wilderness. Located about 30 miles west of Missoula, it's a bit of a drive but the scenic escapade and tranquil springs are worth every moment.

Whether you're just moving to Missoula or planning a visit, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this unique city. From exploring the rich historical venues, indulging in culinary delights, marveling at the art scene, to immersing yourself in Missoula's great outdoors, we hope you enjoy everything this mountain paradise has to offer!

Things to do in Missoula, MT?

Find Movers for Your Missoula Relocation

Transitioning to life in Missoula, MT has never been easier with the help of Great Guys Moving. This company curates a network of the most reputable movers available, focused not only on quality but affordability. By simply submitting your move details, Great Guys does all the meticulous work of connecting you with the ideal moving provider. Rest assured, these companies are licensed and insured, giving you peace of mind as you pave the next chapter of your life in Missoula, MT. Don't delay your ease-filled move; request your free moving quote from Great Guys Moving now to get started!

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