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Things to Know Before Moving To Montana

Relocate to Big Sky Country without any stress by reading our list of the four things you must know before moving to Montana, and start your new life positively.
Things to Know Before Moving To Montana

In this article

According to Montana Public Radio, in the year 2023, 38,000 people left Montana and 48,000 people settled in Montana from across the US. Whether or not you should be one of them depends on what factors matter more to you and what are the things you can compromise on.

While most people find Montana to be a peaceful, slow-paced state to move in with its stunningly beautiful landscape, others call it a beauty trap. They find it a bit isolated and a bit too costly to live in, making it a difficult settling spot for those who want a more social lifestyle.

So, if you are considering moving to Montana, take a look at your priorities and then weigh your move. To help you reach a rational decision, here is a list of things you may or may not like about Montana.

Pros of Living in Montana

1. Montanans Sit in Nature’s Lap

Montana is distinctively beautiful. It has a landscape that you may not see elsewhere in the world. It lives up to its name Montana i.e. the “mountains”.

Its wilderness of 17 million acres is covered with thick forests and the state of Montana alone houses as many as 11 national forests full of wildlife. From grizzly bears to mountain lions, bighorn sheep, huge bison, and majestic moose, Montana’s forests are teaming with wildlife.

It has some of the world’s most beautiful nature parks. Here are just a few of them;

  • Glacier National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site characterized by its breathtaking scenic beauty. You can go rafting in Lake Waterton, enjoy fishing at Lake McDonald, or test your strength while hiking never-ending trails. Biking, fishing, and horseback riding are other popular outdoor activities here.
  • West Yellowstone is the westernmost entrance to the world’s first national park, the Yellowstone National Park. Here you can visit the Yellowstone Museum and enjoy versatile local food at Faithful Street, before heading deeper into the park itself.
  • Lewis and Clark Caverns Park has one-of-a-kind limestone cavers with very unique limestone columns.

2. Montana is the Center of Outdoor Adventure

This is one of the biggest reasons why people move to Montana. It is the number 1 outdoor recreational state in the US and offers every outdoor activity you can think of.

Whether it be fishing, off-roading, biking, hiking, skiing, or kayaking, Montana has 30 million acres of public land open for recreation. If you love the outdoors, you ought to love Montana.

3. Peaceful, Buzz-Free life

Did you know that most of the people moving into Montana to settle here are coming from busier states like California? This is because Montana is a refuge for those tired of buzzing, crowded markets and honking streets.

Once they move into Montana, people find that the roads are less crowded, the rush hours call for minimal or no waiting in queues, and even the public places allow for more roaming space and more privacy. There are no traffic congestion issues which means shorter commutes, and you can enjoy quality family time away from hustling city centers.

4. Zero Sales Tax- Need We Say More?

Montana is among the 5 US states where you don’t have to pay any sales tax at all. This is of course the top reason for people moving to the state. There is neither a state-imposed sales tax nor any local sales tax in Montana. However, you need to pay income tax and property tax.

Cons of Living in Montana

Montana is among the coldest states in the US. Winter here is marked by furry coats, layers and layers of clothes, and gloves, people shoveling snow every morning from their driveways, numb fingers, and freezing, brutal wind.

Due to heavy snowfall, Montana is among the most challenging states in the US when it comes to driving in winter. The incidents of accidents significantly increase during winter.

1. Isolated Life

Where a peaceful, quiet life is what most people moving to Montana crave, for some, it means a secluded, lonely lifestyle. This can be a bit too depressing, especially as the autumn kicks in. Days get shorter, darkness gets a hold over the entire state. Combined with the brutal cold, residents in Montana don’t see a lot of activity outdoors during the fall and winter.

2. Travel, Travel, and Travel for Everything

Drives are longer no matter where you are heading, thanks to the vastness of Montana and its sparsely distributed population. For most residents, the basic amenities are not available unless you travel a bit of distance whether it is for groceries or visiting an acquaintance.

Although this may not seem very difficult for some due to fewer events of traffic congestion, during harsh weather, traveling long distances can be a challenging task.

Moreover, public transport, especially in smaller cities and rural areas is a rarity. Unless you have your own mode of transport, even traveling becomes a task. You won’t easily find buses or other public transport in the vast majority of the less developed areas.

3. High Cost of Living

Montana indeed has zero sales tax and the economy here is flourishing, but due to several factors, Montana is not among the cheapest states to live in. This is especially true for those who decide to rent instead of buy. Lately, house rent prices, especially in cities like Bozeman and other areas near tourist hotspots have soared, even compared to other similar areas.

Montana, overall, has a cost of living 2.2 % higher than the national average and is 33rd when it comes to average yearly cost of living. So, despite the low competition for space and dead social life, you will still have to pay an above-average cost of living.

4. Lack of Healthcare Facilities

This is one of the serious concerns for the many who are fleeing out of the state. You cannot find immediate medical help in most of Montana’s urban areas without traveling a significant distance. Medical availability is even worse in rural areas, where residents have to drive at least an hour to access medical attention.

Moreover, if you are suffering from a medical condition that isn’t very common, you might even have to travel to another state to receive help from a specialist.

5. Frequent Wildfires

Montana is among the top 5 states in the US facing increased challenges due to frequent wildfires. Summers here are dry and hot and a huge area of the state is covered with forests.

The frequent wildfires bring along serious problems with air quality. This can be even more challenging for people already having breathing problems. Moreover, in many cases, it can lead to temporary migration in some areas.

The smoke rising from these fires can reduce visibility and also halt outdoor activities. It can seriously threaten the property and lives of residents in affected areas.

Montana certainly is one of the most beautiful places to live in the entire US. The peaceful life, no sales tax, and hundreds of outdoor recreational opportunities make it an ideal state for those looking for a more natural way of life.

However, if you are someone who is used to enjoying the amenities of big cities and loves to socialize, Montana may feel like a deserted place for you especially in winter. Besides, the cost of living here may not be affordable for everyone. In the end, it is all about your priorities and what matters the most to you.

Emily Kirschenbaum

Emily Kirschenbaum

Emily is an experienced writer covering a variety of topics. Having moved many times, she has become an expert on all things moving-related, both local and long-distance. When she's not still unpacking boxes from her last move, Emily is sharing her knowledge to help make other people's moves as stress-free as possible.
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