1. Tourism Took Off
If you’ve been in Bozeman long enough, you’ll remember the days when Bozeman became a ghost town in the summer. Once the MSU students cleared out, you could practically hear crickets on Main Street. But now all that has changed. In the past 10 years, the number of direct flights to Bozeman has nearly doubled and non-resident visitation has increased by 22%.*
The LA Times, Powder Magazine, Insider and Forbes are all writing about why you should visit Bozeman and people are listening. Tourists spent $814,070,000 in Gallatin County in 2018, a 36% increase in spending compared to 2009**. This tourist spending is a big piece of our local economy, creating many employment and business opportunities for locals. With the airport adding direct flights to and from major U.S cities faster than we can say “Yellowstone”, Bozeman is on the map whether we like it or not.
*according to The Economic Review of the Travel Industry in Montana, 2018. **according to the 2009 City of Bozeman Economic Development Plan
2. Homes Got A Lot More Expensive
Back in 2009, the median price of a single-family home was $270,000. Fast forward 10 years and the median price of a home in Bozeman is $489,900, an 81% increase. In 2009 the economy was in much different shape than it is today but it’s safe to say home prices in Bozeman have skyrocketed in the last 10 years.
Not only has the cost of a home increased, but the number of homes selling in Bozeman each year has increased as well. 10 years ago there were an estimated 683 homes sold in Bozeman in one year compared to 1,477 homes sold in 2019. To see what homes currently cost in Bozeman, check out this market report.
*Statistics according to the Gallatin Association of Realtors
3. Montana State University Got Really Popular
In 2009 Montana State University was facing tightening state budgets, a poor economy, wage freezes for employees and a retiring president. When Waded Cruzado stepped in for Geoff Gamble as president near the end of the year, the strength of the university’s future was unclear. But in the last 10 years, Montana State has soared. Enrollment has increased by more than 30%, they’ve added more than 400 faculty/staff, the retention rate of students has increased significantly and they became the largest university in Montana – among many other accomplishments.
The universities growing popularity and influx of students have had a major impact on Bozeman’s economy and rental market. Ten years ago the area directly south of the university was mostly empty space, but now there are dozens of apartment buildings to house more than 1,400 students and plans for a major 75-acre development called the South University District.
4. Downtown Development Took Off
10 years ago if you were looking to live directly downtown your choices were limited to the small number of apartment buildings that had been around for the better part of a century. Fast forward to 2020 and there are many high-end townhomes, condos & apartments to choose from, all within a block or two of Main Street. There are new hotels, mixed-use buildings, and commercial buildings all under construction and honestly, it’s hard to keep track of all of them. Click here to find out what’s currently happening with Bozeman's downtown development.
And it’s not just downtown that is seeing major change. There are some big projects in the works throughout Bozeman like the Cottonwood & Ida project, the second phase of Ferguson Farm, the University District on the south side and mixed-use buildings, condos and apartments in Midtown.
5. Big Sky Boomed
What is now one of the most exclusive and desirable ski destinations for the rich and famous was falling hard 10 years ago. In 2009, Moonlight Basin had filed for bankruptcy and the Yellowstone Club was heading towards bankruptcy after the owners defaulted on a $375 million dollar loan.
Since then, the Yellowstone Club has bounced back to become one of the most exclusive ski resorts in the world.* In 2013, Big Sky Resort merged with Moonlight Basin to create one of the biggest ski areas in the U.S with more than 5,750 acres of skiing. In the last five years, Big Sky’s population has increased 5x faster than Jackson Hole, WY**. They’ve added 575 housing units since 2012 and there are more than 5,700 housing units in the works between Moonlight Basin, Spanish Peaks, and the Yellowstone Club.**
*https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/best-private-ski-resorts/index.html **According to the 2019 Big Sky, MT economic profile
6. The Rental Scene Changed
Back in the day if you wanted to rent a place in Bozeman you pulled a copy of the classifieds and got started making phone calls. Aside from a small number of apartment buildings, most rentals were landlord owned homes and condos. In the last 10 years, the development of large-scale rental properties in Bozeman has gone from practically nonexistent to booming.
With MSU’s record enrollment numbers, Bozeman’s population growth and the rising cost of owning a home in Bozeman, developers have worked quickly to answer the need for more rental properties in Bozeman. We’ve seen the completion of the Stadium View Apartments and the Arrow Townhomes & Flats just south of the university. Downtown, some of the new mixed-use buildings like Black Olive and the One 11 offer units for lease rather than for sale. On the west side, the Icon Apartments are currently under construction and will have 348 units available for rent. These larger rental complexes offer amenities like clubhouses, fitness centers, tanning beds, pools and pet spas (yes, you read that right) which makes it harder for small landlords to compete.
7. Lift Ticket Prices Went Up
Let us just say, we are so grateful to have some of the best skiing in the country right out our front door. Increasing costs are just the name of the game, but it is crazy to see how much the cost of a lift ticket has increased in the past 10 years. Back in 2009 lift tickets at Bridger were 40% cheaper and tickets at Big Sky Resort were 80% less than what they are now.
But both mountains have made major changes in the last 10 years. Big Sky Resort merged with Moonlight Basin, increasing the number of skiable acres significantly. Bridger Bowl has added new lifts, a new lodge and has completely redesigned the beginner ski area.
8. Bozeman Got Pretty Hipster
There is no denying that Bozeman has strayed from its cow town roots. People have been complaining that Bozeman isn’t what it used to be for decades, but this past decade seems to have changed Bozeman more than ever. We traded a long-standing fly fishing shop for a Lululemon, there are breweries that serve your beer in what looks more like a flower vase than a pint glass, you can find Carhartt overalls at the downtown boutiques and the northside coffeeshops are teeming with skinny jeans and muscle tanks. There’s even an Instagram account dedicated to Bozeman’s hipster community.
9. The West Side Sprawled
In the early 2000’s Bozeman’s west side was nothing like what it is today. Businesses like The Ridge were considered to be on the edge of town and most of the space between Bozeman & Four Corners was nothing but fields & farmhouses. In the past 10 years, we’ve seen a surge of growth on Bozeman’s west side with countless new subdivisions like Valley West, Flanders Mill, The Crossing and Middle Creek Parklands, along with the construction of the new high school, new middle & elementary schools, the development of commercial areas like Ferguson Farm and Baxter Square and the opening of the 100-acre Gallatin Regional Park.
10. The Mountains Got a Bit More Crowded
If you’ve been in Bozeman long enough, you’ll remember the days when you could go up to Hyalite and snag a campsite on a Saturday night, or when you could easily get a parking spot at the trailhead for the M. In the past 10 years Bozeman has gotten a lot of attention for its outdoor recreation and the trails, rivers, and campgrounds have all felt the impact. Much of this has to do with the increased number of visitors and people who call Bozeman home, but we also think Instagram has something to do with it. Click to find out what we mean.