As Bozeman continues to get national attention for being one of the best places to live, you have to wonder, is Bozeman, Montana really such a wonderful place to live, or is it just all hype? We're breaking down the good and the bad when it comes to living in Bozeman.
With the Bridger Mountains as Bozeman’s backdrop, it’s hard not to see the beauty of this mountain town. If you’ve ever caught a sunset from Peets Hill, gone for a paddle at Hyalite Reservoir, stood at the bottom of one of our waterfalls or cast a line on the Gallatin, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about. We feel lucky to live in a place where the natural beauty is respected and preserved.
There’s plenty to do
The trouble here isn’t finding something to do, it’s deciding what to do! Go for a hike? Stroll the main street to the mountains trails? Brunch downtown? Hang out at a brewery? Float the river? Go fishing? Climbing? Mountain biking? The opportunities are endless. Just get outside, Bozeman!
The amount of support for education in our community is incredible. The Bozeman school district has been backed by numerous awards and there are several Blue-Ribbon Schools in the district. School boundaries generally encourage students to attend their neighborhood school which means that often times kids can bike or walk to school and their classmates are often your neighbors. The extra-curricular activities, arts, and sports programs in Bozeman are incredibly diverse, offering students so many opportunities to develop their unique interests.
While Bozeman may be growing, the community is still connected to its small-town roots. Around here, you still get smiles from strangers as you pass on the street, and there is always someone willing to lend a hand when you need some help. The amount of support that our community has rallied for various causes and non-profits in the community is nothing short of amazing. We are so proud to be a part of it.
In the winter, Bozeman becomes a skier’s dream thanks to its close proximity to Bridger Bowl and Big Sky Resort, both less than an hour’s drive away. Around here, the lift lines are short and the powder is deep. Our mountains offer up some of the best skiing you can find in the U.S. The expert only ridge terrain at Bridger Bowl will get your heart racing, while the 5,800 acres of terrain at Big Sky Resort make it the biggest skiing in America.
It’s easy to travel
Recently ranked the #5th best airport in the U.S by Money Magazine, the Bozeman Yellowstone International airport boasts an 87.5% on-time arrival rate, easy parking and relatively short lines. With the stunning Bridger Mountains framed in nearly every window, cozy fireplaces, and natural wood and stone details, it feels more like a mountain lodge than an airport. With more than one million passengers per year, we don’t expect the easy parking and short lines to last forever - but we will enjoy it while it lasts! The airport offers non-stop flights to 16 U.S cities, with even more in the works, which makes traveling to and from Bozeman a breeze.
Bozeman’s growth is a controversial topic these days. With a population growth of 3.6% last year, Bozeman has become the fastest growing area of its size in the U.S. As a result of that growth, the city is struggling to keep up with the demand for affordable housing, the need for more schools, and public service facilities that are no longer equipped to serve a city of our size. The skyline of the city is starting to change as we see a shift towards infill growth, and as multi-story condo buildings are built in mature residential areas, residents and developers are struggling to find middle ground.
Cost of living vs. wages
While the cost of living in Bozeman is 8% higher than the national average, wages in Bozeman have yet to catch up. The median household income in Bozeman is $48,612, 13% lower than the national average. As of spring, 2018 in Bozeman the average price of a single-family home was well over $460,000, which makes purchasing a home in Bozeman extremely difficult for the average family. As a result, many residents look to the areas outside of Bozeman for more affordable housing options. Click here to learn more about what homes cost in Bozeman’s surrounding areas.
While the images of snow-capped mountains on a blue-bird day, waist deep powder skiing and ice climbing in Hyalite Canyon all make a Bozeman winter seem like a dream, we will be honest with you, it’s not. Montana winters can often stretch to nearly 7 months long. Spring and fall often get cut short by an unseasonal blizzard, and it’s not unheard of to have a snowstorm in July. While the average winter temperatures stay relatively bearable, there are generally a few weeks where temperatures will drop well below 0. You have to be tough to live here.
While complaints about traffic in Bozeman would make anyone braving L. A’s 405 laugh out loud, the influx of residents and visitors in Bozeman is causing traffic congestion that this mountain town has never seen before. Not only are cars backing up through the major intersections in town, but areas that have seen significant amounts of residential development in recent years like Bozeman’s Northwest side, are not equipped to handle the thousands of people moving through the neighborhoods at peak times each day. While the city is moving as quickly as it can to bring street lights, roundabouts, and other traffic control methods to these areas, it’s tough to keep up with as the valley continues to grow so quickly.
Finding a rental is tough
Finding a place to rent in Bozeman can be difficult, and expensive. These days it’s hard to find a 1-bedroom apartment in Bozeman for less than $900. And, with demand so much higher than supply, landlords are able to implement more restrictions. Many pet owners are having an extremely difficult time finding rentals that will allow pets, and college students are having a harder time finding housing with a less than a year lease. When looking for a rental in Bozeman, you have to start early and you have to move fast. Many renters decide to look for housing in Bozeman’s surrounding areas like Belgrade, Three Forks, Livingston and Manhattan where the prices are lower and the competition isn’t quite as stiff.