We hate to be the ones to break it to you but living in Montana is not like the show. Yes, there is an actual Dutton Ranch but it is located in Darby, Montana which is over 200 miles away from Bozeman. There are working ranches throughout Montana, but you would be hard-pressed to find one with as much drama as the Dutton family encounters. If you're moving to Montana there's no need to pretend to be a cowboy, just enjoy the show.
Photo credit southernliving.com
A lot of people moving to Montana have some unrealistic ideas of what they want in a property. Mountain views, river frontage, paved road, utilities and water, close to town, amenities but private, and to see wildlife every day. No joke, we have had that exact request. While there may be dream properties like that in Montana that come up once in a while, the reality is they are few and far between, not to mention expensive! The people who live here know it's not necessary to have all those things, just having access to the amazing outdoors is what makes Montana special.
There are a lot of small towns in Montana but there are several sizeable cities as well. Billings is the largest with a population of nearly 110,000. Missoula, Great Falls, and Bozeman are next each with a population of over 50,000. These are by no means large cities but for Montana, that's a lot of people! In the larger cities, you will find plenty of shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Bozeman is even getting a Whole Foods, so things are really changing around here! If a small town is what you prefer, just know you'll have to take a drive to get to some services like doctor's visits, restaurants that aren't bars, and a real grocery store.
Montana is a diverse state when it comes to landscape. Yes, in western and southwestern Montana the mountain ranges are abundant and impressive. However, eastern Montana is a whole different story! This part of the state is relatively flat with grassy plains. North central Montana is rolling wheat fields without a mountain in sight. As the fourth largest state in the nation, you get a wide variety of geography from one end to the other.
Winters can be a challenge in Montana, but as we mentioned above it is a big state which also brings diversity in the weather. Bozeman can get a couple of inches of snow while 80 miles south might get a couple of feet in the same storm. On the west side of the Continental Divide spring might actually show up in April and on the other side, you really can't count on it until May or June. Basically, you never know what you're going to get for weather in Montana so it's best to always be prepared. Winters can be long and cold, but they also bring beautiful views and the opportunity to play in the snow
Montana ranks third in the nation for cattle to person ratio at 2.51 (beef2live.com) so we certainly have our fair share of cows but this doesn't mean you'll have them in your backyard! The rural communities of the state are where you will find the higher cattle-to-person ratio, but in the larger towns not so much. Keep in mind that these towns used to be small Montana towns and if you find yourself on a road behind someone moving cows, be patient. As for cowboys, it seems like lately everyone who moves to Montana buys a cowboy hat, but just take a look at how clean it is and you'll know if they're the real deal or not.
It's no surprise that one of the main reasons people move to Montana is for quality of life. It is true that Montana is a paradise for those looking for adventure, more space, smaller communities, and the great outdoors. However, there are things that make living in Montana tough. Good paying jobs are hard to come by, it's getting expensive, fewer amenities, public transportation is still in early stages, winters are long and it's getting crowded as more people move here. While we couldn't imagine anywhere else to live, it's important to know Montana is not for everyone.
Montana has long been a red state, but there is an urban-rural divide that creates diversity. Like many other states, Montana has more conservative rural communities with the cities leaning more liberal. The three electoral college votes almost always vote Republican, however, our U.S. senator is a Democrat. All of this creates more diversity than you would think in Montana. As for guns, Montana is home to some of the best hunting in the country so this goes hand in hand. Most Montana natives learn the responsibility of gun safety from an early age but it's certainly not every person.
This may have been true five years ago, but it is no longer the case. Wages in Montana have long been below national averages, but so was the cost of living so things balanced out. Fast forward to 2022 and Montana is quickly becoming unattainable for many. Between April 2020 and July 2021 the population of Montana grew by 20,000 with both Kalispel and Bozeman named the fastest-growing micropolitan areas in America! (U.S. Census Bureau) With this growth, housing supply became a big issue and prices skyrocketed. Locals are getting priced out of the cities and are moving to smaller areas, causing the prices in the smaller towns to go up significantly as well.
Oh wait, this one is true! No matter where you are in our vast state you will find beauty. From mountain lakes to rolling fields with big blue skies, Montana is something special. Just make sure if you move here, you understand the Montana way of life and don't go trying to change it. And, reconsider posting it all over Instagram.
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