It’s no surprise that more people every day are moving to Bozeman. People move here for a variety of reasons including lifestyle change and the beautiful scenery. Bozeman is 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 here in the west making it interesting to see how Bozeman compares with other towns. According to worldpopulation.com, Bozeman currently has a population of over 45,000 people, median household income of around $48,600 and median home cost of around $400,000. Let's see how that compares.
The town Bozeman gets compared to the most is Bend, Oregon. With a population of 91,122 and an increase of 4.9% within a year it, 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 become 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 9.4% in 2018 to $432,000 (ktvz.com) and the median household income is $52,471 (bestplaces.net).
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 in Bend. They are surrounded by both deserts and mountains, making some differences in exactly how people play outside compared to here. Bend is a college town home to one of Oregon State Universities 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 175,000. While their population is much higher than Bozeman the median home price is similar, with Fort Collins around $415,000 (worldpopulationreview.com). The similarities continue- 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.
Corvallis is home to Oregon State University and is surrounded by outdoor activities just like Bozeman. Hiking and biking trails are right by town, however, you do have to drive a bit to get to the nearest ski hill, making a big difference for Bozeman. The upside to that is you are also close to the coast so you get a bigger variety of recreation. The population of Corvallis is around 57,961 (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 $374,000 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 are passionate about their town. You can see the pride in both communities and people are active with volunteering and being involved in city politics
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 51,000 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 the outdoor lifestyle and a lower cost of living. With the average home price of around $283,000 (bestplaces.net) the housing market is more affordable than Bozeman right now. Coeur d’Alene is a beautiful mountain town like Bozeman and that brings in a lot of visitors. They, of course, 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.
While Truckee is not a college town like Bozeman, it is a beautiful mountain town that has been growing quickly over the past several years. It is a quiet town in California near Lake Tahoe that has a vibrant downtown with restaurants, coffee shops and community parks. Like Bozeman, they have a highly rated public school system so it attracts families and young professionals. The skiing and snowboarding are a big draw to the town, as are other outdoor activities like kayaking, golf, hiking and cross country skiing (sounds familiar!) Also similar to Bozeman, the community has plenty of festivals and events which adds to the appeal. Truckee is still a small mountain town at a population of over 16,500 so it doesn’t compare in that way to Bozeman since we haven’t had a population in that number since the 70’s. The average home price is also lower than Bozeman, around $396,000 (redfin.com).
Notable mentions...these are three more towns that Bozeman has similarities to, but when you look at the numbers they don't actually compare beyond outdoor recreation and thriving communities. (Information from datausa.io)
JACKSON HOLE, WYOMING
Population 10,279 | Median household income $70,517 | Median property value $573,400
CRESTED BUTTE, COLORADO
Population 1,282 | Median household income $58,889 | Median property value $608,300
HOOD RIVER, OREGON
Population 7,476 | Median household income $47,967 | Median property value $324,600