Article Overview: Best Places to Live in Montana
Ah, Montana. The Treasure State, where vast skies seem to stretch on forever, adorned by majestic clouds that mirror the grandeur of the land below. I’ve been blessed to call this place home for many years, living a life immersed in its diverse landscapes and vibrant communities. There’s nothing quite like the blend of tranquility, adventure, and hearty camaraderie that Montana offers.
Living here is like being part of a never-ending story, one that’s brimming with breathtaking natural scenes, warm-hearted folk, and a pace of life that’s refreshingly serene. Montana is this amazing blend of untouched wilderness and bustling civilization. It’s the kind of place where you can wake up to the breathtaking view of Glacier National Park, spend your day exploring the trails, and then come home to a scrumptious meal in one of the trendy downtown restaurants.
Now remember, this is Montana through my eyes. Not everyone might see it the same way, and that’s okay. That’s the magic of this place – it’s so vast and diverse that it offers a little something for everyone. Whether you’re drawn to the bustling energy of Billings, the historic charm of Butte, or the vibrant art scene in Missoula, Montana has a spot that will feel like home to you.
So, hold on to your hats, folks! Let’s take a journey through some of the best places in Montana, a beautiful state that I’ve had the privilege of calling home.
Best Places to Live in Montana
Table of Contents: Best Places to Live in Montana
Table of Contents: Best Places to Live in Montana
- 5 Best Large Cities to Live in Montana
- 5 Best Mid-Sized Cities to Live in Montana
- 5 Best Small Cities in Montana
- FAQ – Best Places to Live in Montana
- Map of the Best Places to Live in Montana
- Summary of the Best Places to Live in Montana
5 Best Large Cities to Live in Montana
- Population: 117,445
- Median Home Price: $371,299
- Average Age: 37.3
Billings is the most populous city in the state, so it’s definitely where you want to head if you’re looking for a bigger city feel. It’s nicknamed “The Magic City” and experienced its first growth boom in 1882 as a founding railroad hub.
There are plenty of things to do and several cultural amenities in the area. Locals love making regular trips to the high-quality restaurants, quirky music venues, and local breweries found in town.
Nature lovers head out on the weekends to the Rimrocks, a towering sandstone formation with several surrounding hiking trails that families and fitness enthusiasts enjoy.
The average home price is $371,299 with rent averaging $1,417, making the region accessible and affordable to younger professionals and families. Locals enjoy spending time in the city parks, attending annual festivals, or enjoying a quiet evening home with their families away from the hustle and bustle. That’s what makes Billings one of the best places to live in Montana – you can alternate between diving into urban activities or enjoying the quieter side of life.
The Yellowstone Art Museum is a great locale for those looking for a bit of culture, and the Alberta Bair Theater hosts several performances year-round.
This unique blend of outdoor recreation and urban amenities allows for laid-back living at an affordable price.
- Population: 74,822
- Median Home Price: $517,660
- Average Age: 33.1
One of the reasons Missoula makes our list of the best cities in Montana is because of its reputation as a thriving hub for creatives. It’s no wonder artists call this city home, with so many inspiring national forests and mountain ranges right outside the city. The Lolo National Forest is nearby and a favorite for hikers to head to on weekends or days off, making it one of the best places to live in Montana for those who want to get lost in nature.
Missoula’s prominently featured in the novel “A River Runs Through It” and is known as an excellent location for fly fishing.
This city is home to the University of Montana, which is well known for its wildlife and creative writing programs. Non-students enjoy attending local Grizzly football games, rotating lecture series, and bringing their young ones on campus for seasonal family-friendly programming.
The city skews younger due to the university, and there are plenty of opportunities to socialize and meet others as a result. Artists, students, and adventurous families alike enjoy the First Friday celebration, a monthly gathering of local businesses and creatives in the heart of downtown.
On quieter days in town, locals enjoy shops and culinary delicacies on the Hip Strip, a central road in the city.
- Population: 54,539
- Median Home Price: $647,146
- Average Age: 27.8
Bozeman’s culture is greatly influenced by Montana State University, the largest and most sprawling college campus in the state.
This is another great location for young adults since there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy clubs, bars, restaurants, and music every night of the week.
The Museum of the Rockies is one of the most celebrated museums in town and is affiliated with the prestigious Smithsonian Institute, attracting locals and tourists alike.
Children’s summer camps are sponsored and hosted by the museum, creating educational opportunities for children residing in Bozeman when school’s out. It’s one of the best cities in Montana for summer activities for young ones, making it a great location for families.
If you’re keen on skiing, head to the Bozeman Big Sky Resort in the winter months, located just an hour out of town.
With the average cost of a home totaling $647,146 and the average rent costing $2,900, it’s one of the most expensive cities to live in. But there’s a diversity of housing options ranging from townhouses to duplexes, and rent is reasonable in many areas of the city.
4. Great Falls
- Population: 60,403
- Median Home Price: $292,324
- Average Age: 38.3
Great Falls is all about enjoying the sweeping sights while sharing relaxing nights with friends and family members. The pace of life is a bit slower here, but it’s still one of the best cities in Montana for small boutiques and a diverse restaurant scene.
There’s a nearby air force base that adds to the diversity of the community and makes for interesting conversations when you’re chatting with residents at the Sip and Dip lounge, a favorite local pub.
Families are particularly fond of this city and enjoy easy access to the 50+ parks in the area, as well as the popular River’s Edge Trail that meanders along the Missouri River.
Gibson Park is a well-known outdoor gathering space with regular programming ranging from classical music to folk, to theatrical performances.
Residents love taking their families to The Lewis and Clark National Interpretive Center. Their well-curated exhibits educate visitors on local natural attractions such as Giant Spring State Park or the mighty Missouri River.
Housing is a bit more affordable here than in other major Montana cities, costing an average of $292,324 for each property. Rent is also lower, averaging $1,500 a month. Those who like a bigger city feel but don’t want to break the bank may find Great Falls to be one of the best places to live in Montana.
5. Butte-Silver Bow
- Population: 34,768
- Median Home Price: $259,515
- Average Age: 40.1
The historic town of Butte-Silver Bow was founded as a mining camp in the 1860s and became one of the largest copper mines in America. It’s nestled between two jaw-droppingly beautiful landmarks, Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park.
But this town is more than a pitstop for tourists between two major attractions, or a town trapped in history. It has an exceptionally modern school system and unique museums such as the Montana Mining Museum. It also has a fair selection of nightlife options for those looking to let their hair down on the weekends.
There are fun festivals held year-round in Butte-Silver Bow, including the Irish festival, the Montana folk festival, and the holiday-themed winter festival, Snoflinga.
It costs an average of $259,515 to invest in property in the city and is a great place to enjoy fishing, access to trails, and plenty of open spaces. You can also rent in the area at an average of $1,200 a month.
The population is a bit older and several of the residents have lived in the area for several generations.
When festivals or local events are on pause, it’s a relatively quiet city to live in, which may not be ideal for those looking for a more robust nightlife.
5 Best Mid-Sized Cities to Live in Montana
- Population: 33,120
- Median Home Price: $436,644
- Average Age: 41
Helena is Montana’s State Capitol and is a popular destination for visitors, but also offers great opportunities to residents. You’ll find plenty of 19th-century architecture around town that’s been well-maintained and adds a sophisticated edge to the city.
Locals enjoy spending time in the small, yet vibrant downtown district. The urban section of the town was built around Last Chance Gulch, a gold strike mining territory that developed into a gathering space for locals.
They also enjoy adventuring on the 80+ miles of trails that can be found in the South Hills region or enjoying a laid-back picnic with their families in Mt. Helena City Park.
Helena is one of the best places to live in Montana for those who want to feel immersed in Montana’s culture and natural beauty.
- Population: 26,110
- Median Home Price: $511,013
- Average Age: 35.3
Kalispell is a beloved Montana city that’s bordered by the Whitefish Mountains and Flathead Lake. So there’s plenty to do for those looking to get out of the city boundaries from time to time.
When it comes to the city center, Kalispell is all about family-friendly activities. Culture lovers enjoy frequenting the Glacier Symphony as well as the Hockaday Museum of Art to learn about the local creative talent.
When it comes to housing, Kalispell is on the more expensive side with an average home price of $511,013 and rentals around $1,250 per month. However, this cost gives you access to local amenities such as a great school district and plenty of retail and restaurant options for those who make Kalispell a home.
- Population: 11,608
- Median Home Price: $526,568
- Average Age: 33.5
Belgrade is located 8 miles out of the major settlement of Bozeman, and it’s a great place to live if you want to be near Bozeman’s action at a fraction of the cost. The average cost of a home in Belgrade is $526,568 with housing costing more near the vibrant downtown strip. Rent costs average out to $2,000 a month.
A local may start their day with a cup of joe at the Mint and Cafe Bar, and end the day at the Madison River Brewing Co. It’s one of the best places to live in Montana for those looking for these kinds of laidback outings around town.
On weekends, you can find residents picking up bait and gear at the Montana Troutwranglers store in hopes of a prize catch from one of Belgrade’s many nearby rivers or lakes.
Lewis and Clark Park is a great area for enjoying a casual lunch and letting the kids blow off steam right in the center of town.
The open spaces and relaxed atmosphere of Belgrade make it a great place to enjoy nature without feeling overwhelmed by the city’s buzz.
- Population: 8,492
- Median Home Price: $585,626
- Average Age: 41.5
Whitefish is a popular tourist destination since it’s seated in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, which keeps the culture and energy of the city fresh. Luckily, it isn’t too overwhelmed by crowds or high prices, especially outside of the summer season.
The cost of housing averages $585,626 and rent averages $3,250. Whitefish is most affordable and enjoyable for mid-career professionals and families. Those looking for a job in Whitefish can find local opportunities in hospitality, ranging from tour guides programming to hotel and restaurant work.
With quick access to the Rocky Mountains, there’s no shortage of nature activities. The Flathead National Forest is a great escape for locals craving nature yet wanting to avoid the Rocky Mountain crowds.
Water activities are popular in Whitefish as well. You can parasail on Whitefish Lake, or relax on the beach between leisurely kayaking trips.
This is one of the best places to live for those who want to soak up all of the natural beauty that Montana has to offer.
10. Miles City
- Population: 8,397
- Median Home Price: $263,104
- Average Age: 41.7
Miles City was founded after the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. Traders, soldiers, and other migratory communities helped to create a bustling hub for commerce and culture, making it one of the best cities in Montana for a quaint, laid back lifestyle with plenty of history to explore.
You can explore the local history at the Range Riders Museum or shop for vintage gems at Vintage and Rustics.
The nearby Pirogue Island State Park is great for camping and fishing, and the quaint classic Montana Theater makes for an excellent date night for those looking for a relaxing night out.
While there aren’t the same number of cultural activities that you’ll find in more urban parts of Montana, Miles City has a little bit of everything for its residents to enjoy, from adventure activities to theater.
5 Best Small Cities in Montana
- Population: 8,386
- Median Home Price: $489,485
- Average Age: 40.5
This southwestern town is one of the best cities in Montana for those who want easy access to Yellowstone National Park. In addition to stunning landscapes, Livingston features a charming downtown strip that’s full of restaurants, breweries, and nightlife options.
Residents may take their little ones to Sacajawea Park during the day and enjoy a live performance at the Blue Slipper Theatre in the evening. Murray Bar is a local favorite and a great spot to meet other members of the Livingston community.
The median home price of $489,485 and rent averages to $913 per month. Considering the town’s proximity to Yellowstone. This is one of the best cities to settle down and raise a family, as there are plenty of nearby recreational activities including hiking, fishing, and enjoying local museums and community events sponsored by the Livingston Area Chamber of Commerce.
- Population: 6,048
- Median Home Price: $243,750
- Average Age: 35.1
Lewistown is called the City of Stone because its original settlers were skilled Croatian stone masons. The rich architectural history of this small town gives it a unique charm and can be seen all around the downtown area.
Lewistown is an affordable city to live in with a median home price of $243,750 and rental prices averaging to $728 per month. While there isn’t much of a nightlife scene in the area, there are a few chill activities to enjoy in the evenings and the weekends, such as bowling at Snowy Lanes or catching a movie at Judith Theater on the main street.
The Lewistown Art Center features regular programming that keeps things interesting, with a specific focus on Montana artists. Art classes and other organized events are also available at the center.
Lewistown is ideal for young professionals, families, and retirees because of its low cost of housing.
The town is filled with hardworking and hospitable people that are passionate about their city’s inhabitants. So, if you’re looking for one of the best places to live in Montana for getting involved with a tight-knit community, Lewistown might be the perfect fit.
- Population: 4,905
- Median Home Price: $473,289
- Average Age: 41.5
Hamilton is tucked away in the Bitterroot Valley and has the largest community in the region. Orchards, ranches, and farms dominate the area, and the town is very scenic. Locals get to experience full immersion in nature and rural life without forgoing their urban creature comforts.
It’s just under 50 miles from Missoula, which is perfect for those needing easy access to a bigger city.
Hamilton is also home to many outdoor activities, such as the Teller Wildlife Refuge and the Blodgett Overlook Trailhead.
Even though this city is on the small side with 4,905 residents, it’s one of the best places to live in Montana for artists looking for a slower pace of living. The Montana Bliss Artworks Gallery provides opportunities for local creatives to show off their most recent masterpieces to the Hamilton community.
14. Four Corners
- Population: 4,859
- Median Home Price: $820,000
- Average Age: 35.5
Four Corners Montana is located right outside Bozeman and boasts stunning mountain views alongside an ever-growing community of close-knit and friendly locals.
Residents love Four Corners for its easy access to plenty of adventure activities such as skiing, snowboarding, and mountain biking.
While there are a handful of local bars and restaurants such as the Korner Klub Bar and The Buck, many prefer to head into the nearby city of Bozeman for more recreational options.
Homes are expensive relative to the other best places to live in Montana, with the average home costing $820,000 and an average month of rent amounting to $1,988. The city’s residents mainly consist of high-earning professionals. However, the median age is surprisingly low at 35.5 years old.
Four Corners’ downtown area is pedestrian-friendly and features culturally rich stops including the American Computer & Robotics Museum, a space where locals can explore tech innovations from the past.
Although this city’s on the smaller side, Four Corners makes for one of the best cities in Montana for a blend of adventure and culture.
- Population: 4,333
- Median Home Price: $343,586
- Average Age: 30.8
Fishing is the name of the game in Dillon, Montana. This small town is a great destination for anglers and outdoor enthusiasts who want to fish in blue-ribbon trout streams and enjoy hiking or mountain biking through the many local trails.
You’ll be able to walk into the local grocery store and bump into friendly neighbors due to the smaller feel of this suburban-like city.
The average age of the locals is also lower than other cities, due to the University of Montana Western campus that’s situated right in town.
This gives the area a college town feel, and when the university is in session, there are plenty of cultural events for locals to enjoy as a result.
It’s one of the best places to live in Montana if you want to invest in an up-and-coming area, but may be challenging for those who don’t have a remote source of income due to the lack of local job availability.
Teachers, students, and young professionals are the primary demographic in Dillon.
FAQ – Best Places to Live in Montana
If I had to pick a few of the best cities to live in Montana, I’d say Bozeman, Missoula, and Helena top the list. Bozeman, with its vibrant outdoor scene, is a paradise for nature lovers. Missoula, known for its arts and culture, is perfect for those craving a creative community. And Helena, our state capital, blends history, government, and natural beauty to create a fascinating place to call home.
Like anywhere, the cost of living in Montana can vary greatly depending on where you choose to settle down. Cities like Bozeman and Whitefish tend to be on the pricier side, thanks to their popularity and growth. But don’t fret, there are plenty of other towns and cities in Montana that are more affordable, without sacrificing on quality of life.
Ah, the Montana weather – it’s a topic of endless conversation around here! We do experience all four seasons, sometimes all in one day! Winters can be harsh, with plenty of snow for skiing and other winter sports. Spring and fall are usually mild, while summers are glorious, with plenty of sunshine and blue skies. But remember, this is Big Sky Country, so always expect the unexpected when it comes to weather!
Absolutely! Many folks choose to spend their golden years in Montana, and for good reason. The state’s natural beauty, recreational opportunities, and slower pace of life make it an ideal place to retire. But keep in mind, the healthcare facilities and amenities might not be as extensive as in larger cities, so it’s important to consider your personal needs and circumstances.
Job opportunities in Montana can be quite diverse, ranging from healthcare to education, government to technology, agriculture to tourism. Cities like Bozeman and Missoula have seen a growth in tech jobs in recent years. And let’s not forget about farming and ranching – they’ve been the backbone of Montana’s economy for generations. But remember, Montana is a big state, and opportunities can vary greatly depending on location. So it’s always a good idea to do your research before making a move.
Map of the Best Places to Live in Montana
Summary of the Best Places to Live in Montana
- Great Falls
- Butte-Silver Bow
- Miles City
- Four Corners
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