Thinking of making the move to Montana? We don't blame you - open spaces, a slower pace of life, and endless outdoor activities are what you will find in this beautiful state. If you want all that, but still need the urban amenities the bigger cities of Montana like Bozeman, Missoula or Billings would be the first places to look. However, if you are looking for a small Montana town here is a good place to start.
Ennis is a small town with some of the best access to blue-ribbon trout fishing in Montana. Although it is just an hour’s drive from bustling Bozeman, Ennis feels like a whole different world. Ennis is located on the edge of the Madison River, with the Tobacco Root Mountains to the northwest, the Gravelly Range to the southwest, and the Madison Range to the east. It is 70 miles from Yellowstone National Park, making it the perfect home base for outdoor enthusiasts. Ennis has roots as a ranching community and there are still several active ranches nearby but now its economy thrives on recreation, tourism, and construction.
With a population of just over 1,000 people, Ennis is still a small town, yet it has become a popular place for people who are moving to Montana. The real estate in Ennis is diverse. You can find log cabins, horse properties, luxury homes, recreational properties, new construction, and even homes on a golf course. Click here to find out more about Ennis.
If a ski town is what you are looking for then Red Lodge should be on the list! This small community is nestled in the mountains near the Beartooths. It's a little over two hours from Bozeman and one hour from Billings. During the summer months, it is bustling with tourists driving the scenic Beartooth Highway to Yellowstone National Park. Life in Red Lodge quiets down in the winter, but not completely because of the local ski hill Red Lodge Mountain. This means the restaurants and shops in their quaint downtown stay open year-round.
The population of Red Lodge is around 2,125. There are some newer subdivisions on the outskirts of town, historic homes near downtown, and cabins in the surrounding areas. The Island at Rock Creek is a newer living option in Red Lodge which is three blocks from downtown. This creekside resort living has luxury townhomes and single-family homes.
Situated in a beautiful valley with the Ruby, Big Hole and Beaverhead rivers surrounding it is Dillon, Montana. With a population of 4,100 along with 1,500 students at the University of Montana Western, Dillon is a small college town. They have a vibrant downtown with restaurants, shops, museums, and of course, the Patagonia outlet! There is plenty of outdoor activity with blue-ribbon trout fishing nearby, hiking, and even a small ski hill (Maverick Mountain) less than an hour away.
Real estate in the area ranges from million-dollar ranches outside of town to older homes in the downtown area. Being a college town there are rentals throughout town and a few newer subdivisions. Butte is the closest city one hour away and Bozeman is about two hours. Not that you need to go somewhere else for things, Dillon is a small town but still has all the amenities.
Nestled at the base of the Absaroka Mountains and on the edge of the Yellowstone River sits Livingston. It is 30 minutes from Bozeman and just 85 miles from Yellowstone National Park. Livingston is a beautiful town, with great restaurants, bars, breweries, and music venues. While the Livingston area has long been a popular place for celebrities to call home, it still has a small-town feel. The Paradise Valley is right in Livingston's backyard and is a spectacular playground for outdoor enthusiasts with the Yellowstone River, campgrounds, and hiking trails.
Livingston has a population of nearly 8,000 residents. Many residents of Livingston commute to Bozeman for work, however, there are a few major employees in the area like Livingston HealthCare, Printing for Less, as well as Chico Hot Springs and Sage Lodge in the Paradise Valley. Livingston remains one of the more affordable towns in the area that is a commutable distance to Bozeman. Nearby, but not quite as affordable is Paradise Valley, which offers some of the most spectacular mountain views and homes in Montana. Click here for more information on Livingston. Click here for properties for sale in Livingston.
The small town of White Sulphur Hot Springs is probably best known as a starting point for Smith River floats and the annual Red Ants Pants Music Festival. Those, and the mineralized hot springs that sit in the center of town! With a population of just over 1,000 the town has a lot to offer on its little Main Street. A few old bars, restaurants, and a castle at the top of the hill. Aside from fishing on the Smith River, Showdown Ski area (only 30 minutes away) attracts locals and tourists to the area.
White Sulphur Springs is located about 80 miles from Bozeman. For real estate, you will mainly find small, older homes in town with larger properties and ranches in the surrounding areas.
This small town in the Bitterroot Valley south of Missoula has a population of just over 2,000. Surrounded by the Bitterroot and Saphire Mountains, this historic town has beautiful views and tons of outdoor recreation. Fishing, hunting, and camping are big activities in the area that draws both locals and tourists. The historic preservation of Fort Owens Ranch, one of Montana's first missions and trading posts is a strong part of the community. Stevensville is also home to the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge which is 2,800 acres along the Bitterroot River.
There is a vibrant Main Street with well-preserved buildings, shops, restaurants, and businesses. In the heart of Stevensville, there is a mix of historic homes with some new construction. As you head out of town you'll find larger properties with acreage and ranches. Missoula is the nearest city just under 30 miles away.
You don't even realize you are coming upon a town as you drive towards Fort Benton! This small town is tucked down along the Missouri River and is the oldest continuously occupied settlement in Montana. There is a lot of history in Fort Benton - it is located along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, the Nez Perce National Historic Trail, and was a link between Missouri and Washington along the Columbia River via steamboats on the Missouri River. The town has been named one of the prettiest towns in America by Forbes and it's easy to see why. Main Street follows the river on one side and historic buildings on the other. The Grand Union Hotel is the jewel of town with a patio that overlooks the bridge and river.
Great Falls is the nearest city just over 40 miles away. other than that Fort Benton is surrounded by wheat fields and small towns. As a rural community, the types of properties you will find are mostly farm and ranch. In town are neighborhood homes but with a population of under 1,500 you will not find sprawling subdivisions.
Right in the middle of Montana sits the lovely town of Lewistown. With a population of around 6,000 this town is bigger than some of the others on the list, therefore it provides more amenities. There are a couple of grocery stores, more restaurants, shops, and even a brewery! They have a thriving downtown and community with events held throughout the year. The Chokecherry Festival is one of the largest that fills the town. With a small stream that flows through town and access to the Snowies, Judiths and Highwoods nearby there is plenty to do outside.
Billings is about a two-hour drive away and Bozeman is around three. With the growth in those cities, we have heard more people talk about Lewistown as an affordable option. There are many historic homes in the downtown area and larger properties as you get out of town.
This is another small town in the Bitterroot Valley with a population of around 4,300. The downtown is exactly what you think of when you picture small-town Main Street. It is lined with historic buildings, including the famous Daly Mansion, breweries, restaurants, and cafes. The surrounding community has small farms, ranches, and orchards. Missoula is the closest city about one hour away. With the rising housing costs in Missoula, more people are moving out this way and Hamilton is experiencing growth and increased home prices. However, it still remains a more affordable option.
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