It’s no surprise that people are making the move to Bozeman. People come here for a variety of reasons including lifestyle change and the beautiful scenery. With the current global pandemic, people are looking to leave urban areas, and that's creating even more buzz about Bozeman. 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 in the west making it interesting to see how Bozeman compares with the other towns getting mentioned. According to the United Census Bureau, Bozeman currently has a population of over 49,000 people, a median household income of $51,860, and a median home cost of around $650,000 for a single-family home. Let's see how that compares. (Click here for the most up to date market stats)
The town Bozeman gets compared to often is Bend, Oregon. With a population of 100,420 (U.S. Census Bureau) and an increase of 4.9% within a year Bend, like Bozeman, 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 price rose 32.2% in 2020 to $597,500 (bendpremierealestate.com) and the median household income is $63,468 (U.S. Census Bureau). Like Bozeman, Bend is seeing a lack of housing supply and affordable housing. This is making it difficult for businesses to 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, making some differences in how people play outside compared to here. Bend is a college town home to an Oregon State University branch campuses which, like Bozeman keeps a community vibrant. Bend has around 22 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. Sounds an awful lot like Bozeman!
FORT COLLINS, COLORADO
People are moving from Fort Collins to Montana in droves as that city has 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 172,000. While their population is much higher than Bozeman the average home price is lower, with Fort Collins around $511,000 (Greeleytribune.com).
The similarities - both are college towns, near national forests, surrounded by mountains and rivers. Both have moved from an agricultural town to a high-tech sector. The biggest thing they have in common 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. A lot of this spurred from the Redfin CEO recently predicting a big shift to smaller cities like Boise or Bozeman as remote work takes hold. With their accessibility, people looking to leave places like Seattle or San Francisco might be drawn to towns like Bozeman or Boise. Time will tell if this urban flight due to Covid continues, but we've definitely seen an increase in out-of-state interest. Boise is much larger than Bozeman with a population of 220,000 and a median home price much lower at $467,000. 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 the large cities, Boise feels like the perfect size. Smaller compared to where they are coming from, but still with 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 around 51,027 (worldpopulationreview.com) and it has been steadily increasing over the past five years. They have seen an increase in average home prices and it is currently over $436,000 (bestplaces.net) as more people are moving and inventory is limited (we know all about that!)
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.
COEUR D'ALENE, IDAHO
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Coeur d’Alene is the fastest-growing metropolitan area in Idaho with a current population of around 52,414 and is projected to reach 81,000 people by 2035. Like Bozeman, they are seeing a lot of people migrating from California and other western cities looking for an outdoor lifestyle and a lower cost of living. With the average home price of around $496,000 (redfin.com) the housing market is more affordable than Bozeman right now. Coeur d’Alene is a beautiful mountain town like Bozeman and that attracts a lot of visitors. They have the lake 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 110,000. 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 sale price in Provo is much more affordable than Bozeman at $380,000. 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 two towns that Bozeman has similarities to, but when you look at the numbers they don't actually compare beyond outdoor recreation and thriving communities.
JACKSON HOLE, WYOMING
Median single-family home price $2,500,000
PARK CITY, UTAH
Median single-family home price $2,700,000