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May 17, 2023

10 Things to Consider Before Moving to Montana

Reviewed By: Kelly Cruse, VP Human Resources & Chief Diversity Officer, Atlas World Group - 20+ Years in HR, Recruitment Trends, and DE&I

Montana, also known as "The Treasure State", is the fourth-largest state in the country and is known for its vast, untouched wilderness areas, including Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. With its stunning natural beauty, Montana is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hiking, fishing, skiing, and other outdoor activities.

Montana's history is rich and varied, with a mix of Native American culture and the influence of European settlers. The state was also a major hub for cattle ranching and has a strong cowboy culture that can still be seen today. With all its beauty in mind, there are several things to consider when moving to Montana.

  1. Cost of Living

    Montana is known for its wide-open spaces, stunning natural beauty, and low population density. As a result, the cost of living in Montana is generally lower than in other states. However, the cost of living can vary significantly depending on where you choose to live within the state. The state does not have a sales tax, which can be a significant savings for residents. Property taxes in Montana are also lower than the national average but can vary by county. Housing costs in Montana can range, with the largest cities like Billings and Missoula having higher housing costs than more rural areas.

    Healthcare costs in Montana are generally lower than the national average. Transportation costs can be higher in Montana due to its rural nature, with residents often needing to travel longer distances to reach amenities. Food costs in Montana can also be higher than in other states due to the distance to major cities and the cost of shipping.

    Overall, the cost of living in Montana can be lower than other states, but it's important to research the specific area you're considering moving to and factor in all costs of living. Additionally, the relatively low cost of living in Montana is often offset by a lower average salary, so it's important to consider job opportunities and salaries when making the decision to move to Montana.

  2. Job Market

    Montana's job market is heavily reliant on natural resource industries, such as agriculture, mining, and timber. These industries have historically been the backbone of Montana's economy, but the state has also seen growth in other sectors such as healthcare, technology, and tourism.

    However, the job market can vary significantly depending on the region of the state. The largest cities in Montana, such as Billings and Missoula, have a more diverse job market and a higher demand for skilled workers. In more rural areas, jobs may be more limited and seasonal. Montana's healthcare industry has seen significant growth in recent years, with a demand for healthcare workers in both urban and rural areas.

    Tourism is also a major industry in Montana, with visitors coming to explore the state's natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities. The construction industry has seen growth in recent years due to an increase in new home construction and infrastructure projects. Overall, the job market in Montana can be competitive, particularly in skilled positions. It's important to research the specific job market in your field and in the region, you're considering moving to before making the decision to move to Montana.

  3. Climate

    Montana's climate is varied and can range from dry and arid to cold and snowy. The state is known for its long, cold winters and warm summers. Montana's geography, with its varied elevations and proximity to the Rocky Mountains, can also create microclimates within the state.

    Winters can be harsh, with cold temperatures and heavy snowfall. Average winter temperatures in Montana range from the 20s to 30s Fahrenheit. The mountain regions can see even colder temperatures, and snow can fall as early as September and as late as May. Summers in Montana can be extremely warm, with average temperatures ranging from the 70s to 80s Fahrenheit.

    Spring and fall in Montana are transitional seasons, with unpredictable weather. These seasons can bring a mix of rain, snow, and sunshine. Montana is also known for its strong winds, particularly in the spring. Montana's weather can have a significant impact on daily life. Winters can be harsh and require residents to take extra precautions when traveling or participating in outdoor activities.

    Montana's climate can be challenging for some, but also offers opportunities for outdoor recreation throughout the year. It's important to research the climate of the specific region you're considering moving to and plan accordingly to ensure these weather conditions fit with your lifestyle.

  4. Outdoor Recreation

    Montana is known for its stunning natural beauty and abundance of outdoor recreational activities. The state boasts a diverse landscape, from rugged mountain ranges to rolling plains and expansive forests, providing endless opportunities for exploration and adventure. One of Montana's most popular outdoor activities is hiking, with hundreds of trails throughout the state that offer a range of difficulty levels and scenic views.

    Montana's numerous rivers and lakes also provide opportunities for water-based activities such as fishing, boating, and rafting. The state is home to some of the best fly fishing in the world, with world-class rivers like the Madison, Yellowstone, and Missouri. The Missouri River is also a popular spot for floating and rafting. Winter sports are also a major draw in Montana, with some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the country.

    In addition to these activities, Montana's wide-open spaces provide opportunities for camping, wildlife viewing, and scenic drives. While these conditions provide excellent opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts, it may leave much to desire for those who prefer indoor activities.

  5. Distance to Amenities

    The distance to amenities in Montana can vary depending on the location. Montana is a large state with a relatively small population, and many areas are rural and sparsely populated. This can mean that amenities such as grocery stores, restaurants, and medical facilities may be farther away than in more urban areas.

    In larger cities like Billings and Missoula, residents have access to a variety of amenities within a short drive. However, in more rural areas, amenities may be more limited and require a longer drive. Access to healthcare can also be a concern in more remote areas of Montana, where medical facilities may be scarce.

    This can be particularly challenging for those with chronic health conditions or in the event of a medical emergency. It's essential to research the specific region and community you're considering moving to and consider the distance to necessary amenities. For those who prioritize access to amenities, living in larger cities or suburban areas may be a better fit. However, for those who value a quieter, more rural lifestyle, living farther away from amenities may be worth the tradeoff.

    sunset over Montana lake and mountains

  6. Wildlife

    Living near Montana's wildlife can be both exciting and challenging. Montana is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including grizzly bears, wolves, bison, elk, and deer. While encountering these animals in their natural habitat can be an incredible experience, it's important to take precautions to ensure your safety and the safety of the animals.

    For example, if you're living in an area where bears are known to roam, it's important to be aware of bear safety practices. Similarly, if you're living in an area where wolves are present, it's important to be aware of their behavior and to avoid leaving pets unattended outside. Living near wildlife also means that you may have to adapt your lifestyle to accommodate their needs.

    It's important to be aware of any regulations or restrictions related to wildlife in your area, as these can vary depending on the species and location. In some areas, hunting and fishing may be restricted or require a permit. Living near Montana's wildlife can be an incredible experience, but it's important to be aware of the potential risks and to take precautions to ensure your safety and the safety of the animals.

  7. Culture

    Montana's culture and diversity are shaped by its history and geography. The state has a rich Native American heritage, with 12 tribal nations calling Montana home. The state also has a strong ranching and agricultural tradition, as well as a legacy of mining and natural resource extraction. Montana's culture is also influenced by its geography, with the state's vast wilderness and stunning natural beauty inspiring a love of outdoor recreation and a deep respect for the environment.

    The state's western frontier history has also contributed to a culture of independence and self-reliance. Montana's culture and diversity are also reflected in its arts and entertainment scene. The state has a vibrant music scene, with genres ranging from country and bluegrass to indie and alternative.

    The state is also home to several museums and cultural institutions, including the Montana Museum of Art and Culture and the Museum of the Rockies. Montana's culture and diversity are shaped by a rich history, stunning natural beauty, and a growing diversity of communities. When deciding if you want to move to Montana, it’s important to evaluate if your lifestyle fits in with this deep-rooted culture.

  8. Education

    Montana's schools and education system vary depending on the region and community. Montana schools are generally considered to have lower student-to-teacher ratios than many other states, with an average ratio of about 14 students per teacher. The state also has a growing number of charter schools and alternative education options, such as homeschooling and online learning programs.

    However, Montana's education system has faced challenges related to funding and teacher shortages in some areas. Many rural communities struggle to attract and retain qualified teachers, and funding for education has been a point of contention in state politics in recent years.

    Despite these challenges, the state has strongly focused on early childhood education and has implemented several initiatives to improve student achievement and support teacher development. In the end, Montana's schools and education system offer a range of options and opportunities for students, though challenges related to funding and teacher shortages remain. If school ratings and education are a crucial factor for you, it is best to research the schools in the area you’re looking to move to in Montana.

  9. Ease of Travel

    Montana's public transportation options are limited compared to other states, largely due to the state's rural and sparsely populated nature. However, there are still some options available for those looking to get around without a car. In larger cities like Billings and Missoula, there are public transit systems that offer bus routes throughout the city and surrounding areas.

    Montana also has a few intercity bus services that connect major cities, such as Greyhound and Jefferson Lines. These services can be a good option for those looking to travel between cities without a car, though they may not be as frequent or convenient as other modes of transportation. Montana also has a growing bike and pedestrian infrastructure, with many cities and towns implementing bike lanes and pedestrian pathways to encourage alternative forms of transportation.

    While Montana's public transportation options may be limited, there are still some options available for those looking to get around without a car. However, owning a car may still be the most practical and convenient option for many residents, particularly in more remote areas.

  10. Community

    Montana is known for its strong sense of community, fostered by the state's rural and close-knit nature. In many communities, residents know their neighbors and are invested in the well-being of their local area. The state has a history of self-reliance and independence, with many communities coming together to support each other in times of need.

    Montana's sense of community is also reflected in its many festivals and events, which bring residents together to celebrate their local traditions and culture. These events may include rodeos, county fairs, and community gatherings, where residents can come together to enjoy food, music, and each other's company.

    Despite Montana's rural nature, the state also has a growing urban population, particularly in cities like Billings and Missoula. Even in these urban areas, there is a strong sense of community.


Move to Montana with Atlas

If you are looking to move to Montana, Atlas can assist with the entire relocation process. Our team of professional movers are expertly trained to assist in cross-country moves or fast, small moves. With Atlas, customers can have peace of mind knowing that their move will be seamless and stress-free. Request Your Quote or contact us at 800-638-9797.