It’s no surprise that people are still making the move to Bozeman, Montana. People come here for a variety of reasons including lifestyle change, work or education opportunities, and of course our beautiful scenery. We are not the only mountain/ski/college/small town in the west that has seen big increases in population over the years. It’s been a trend that was amplified by the pandemic. It's interesting to see how Bozeman compares with the other towns getting mentioned. According to the US Census, the population of Bozeman is 54,539 with a median household income of $55,569, and a median sales price $747,500. The Bozeman Community Plan predicts our population will grow by nearly 55,000 people from 2017 through 2045 so there's no slowing down in Bozeman. Let's see how that compares to other mountain towns. (Click here for the most up-to-date market stats)
The town Bozeman gets compared to often is Bend, Oregon. With a population of over 100,000 in 2022 (World Population Review) and projected growth to 382,900 by 2060, Bend is growing at a remarkable rate. This isn’t the first time Bend saw a boom in growth. Back in the 90’s Bend more than doubled its population (The Oregonian). Similar to Bozeman, affordable housing has been an issue with both home sales and rent increasing at a rate making it hard for the city’s middle and low-income residents. The median home sales price continues to rise and break records at $679,450 (redfin.com) and the median household income is $74,253 (U.S. Census Bureau). Like Bozeman, Bend is seeing a lack of supply and affordable housing. This is making it difficult for businesses to find workers.
Outdoor recreation and a thriving brewery scene make Bend and Bozeman incredibly similar! Snowboarding, rock climbing, mountain biking, and of course whitewater rafting (the Deschutes River runs through the city center) are huge activities. Bend is surrounded by both deserts and mountains, creating some differences in how people play outside compared to here. Bend is a college town home to an Oregon State University branch campus which, like Bozeman keeps a community vibrant. Bend has over 30 breweries so they have Bozeman beat there, but we aren’t far behind! It’s said Bend is full of friendly, laid-back people, the scenery is beautiful and the community is thriving. That sounds an awful lot like Bozeman!
People moved from Fort Collins to Montana in droves as that city exploded in growth over the past few decades. It’s what a lot of Bozemanites are afraid we are heading towards. Fort Collins was once a small, agricultural city and now has a population of 170,243. While their population is much higher than Bozeman the median home price is lower, with Fort Collins around $520,000 (redfin.com).
The similarities - both are college towns, near national forests, surrounded by mountains and rivers. Both have moved from agricultural towns to high-tech sectors. The biggest similarity is the number of people wanting to move there. They make it on every best-of list and this has people moving there for a different quality of life. While Bozeman has a long way to go before we reach Fort Collins level, it’s an important place to keep an eye on and see how they have handled the growth.
Boise is the biggest city Bozeman has been compared to. Much of this spurred from the Redfin CEO predicting a big shift to smaller cities like Boise or Bozeman when remote work took hold. With their accessibility, people leaving places like Seattle or San Francisco were drawn to towns like Bozeman and Boise. Time will tell if this continues as people return to the office, but in Bozeman, we continue to see a dramatic increase in out-of-state interest. Boise is much larger than Bozeman with a population of 237,446. Their median home listing price is $478,450 (redfin.com). Boise is surrounded by mountains with a river flowing through the heart of the city. They have an abundance of outdoor recreation and a thriving downtown scene with restaurants, live music, and events. For people fleeing large cities, Boise feels like the perfect size. Smaller compared to where they are coming from, but offering city amenities!
Corvallis is home to Oregon State University and is surrounded by outdoor activities just like Bozeman. Hiking and biking trails are right in town, and outdoor activities are abundant. However, you do have to drive further to get to the nearest ski hill in Corvallis, which is different than the quick drive to Bridger Bowl in Bozeman. The upside to that is you are also close to the coast in Corvallis so you get a bigger variety of recreation. The population of Corvallis is growing and is currently at 59,922 (U.S. Census). They have seen an increase in median home prices, now around $490,000 (redfin.com). More people are moving to Corvallis and inventory is having a hard time keeping up, something we know all about!
Corvallis is not just for beer drinkers, although there are enough breweries to compete with Bozeman, they also have wineries thanks to the nearby Willamette Valley. The college keeps a creative vibe and there are plenty of cafes and small shops. One big similarity between Bozeman and Corvallis-locals love their respective towns! You can see the pride in both communities with people active in volunteering, city politics, and events.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Coeur d’Alene is one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in Idaho with a current population of around 55,904 and is projected to reach 81,000 people by 2035. Like Bozeman, they are seeing people migrating from California and other west coast states looking for an outdoor lifestyle and a lower cost of living. With a median home price of $549,000 (redfin.com) the housing market is currently more affordable than Bozeman. Coeur d’Alene is a beautiful mountain town like Bozeman that attracts a lot of visitors. They have lake Coeur d'Alene for outdoor recreation along with mountains for hiking, camping, biking, hunting, and more. It’s close to Spokane so there are city amenities nearby. As a resort town, the cost of living is higher than in other parts of Idaho but still less than Bozeman.
Because Coeur d’Alene is tucked between the lake and mountains, there isn’t much space for the town to expand. This means taller buildings and a variety of housing will be taken into consideration as they prepare for the growth. We’ve seen this happen in Bozeman as people debate growing up or growing out. Either way, it seems Coeur d’Alene will be facing similar growing pains.
Provo, Utah is a college town like Bozeman. Home of Brigham Young University, Provo has a picturesque backdrop of the Wasatch Front and a population of around 114,084 (U.S. Census). With Utah Lake on the edge of the city, it's hard to beat the beauty of this Utah city. Like Bozeman, they have a vibrant downtown filled with local cafes and restaurants. The median home sales price in Provo is much more affordable than Bozeman at $409,000. However, they are facing similar inventory shortages and out-of-state buyers driving up demand. With its proximity to Salt Lake City, Provo definitely has more of an urban vibe than Bozeman.
Notable mentions - these are towns that Bozeman has similarities to, but when you look at the numbers they don't actually compare beyond outdoor recreation and thriving communities. These towns would be more comparable to Big Sky, Montana.
JACKSON HOLE, WYOMING
Median single-family home price $3,825,000
PARK CITY, UTAH
Median single-family home price $3,472,500
Median single-family home price $3,200,000
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