12 Best Places to Live in Montana, According to Living Standards Index

by Jem
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Montana is not just a state; it’s an experience. From its majestic mountains to its sweeping plains and vibrant small towns, the Treasure State offers a variety of settings and ways of life. But given its expansive nature, finding the ideal place to settle down can be a challenge. That’s why I’ve crafted this guide to help you discover the best places to live in Montana.

I’ve roamed Montana from corner to corner, and I can vouch for its incredible diversity and beauty. From the towering peaks of Glacier National Park to the tranquil waters of Flathead Lake, and from the artsy vibe of Missoula to the cowboy culture of Billings, Montana has something for everyone. Whether you’re drawn to outdoor adventures, the charm of small-town living, or the rich history of places like Butte, there’s a slice of Montana that’s perfect for you.

So, where to begin? The perfect spot varies for each person. Some may prioritize proximity to nature, others may seek excellent schools, and for many, the cost of living is a key factor.

Join me as I delve into what are the best places to live in Montana, based on what matters most to you. Having explored Montana’s diverse landscapes and communities, I’m here to guide you through the best living options. I’ve pored over research, analyzed data, and talked to locals to create a list that suits every lifestyle and budget. Let’s get started!

The top places to live in Montana right now

The Best Places to Live in Montana      

Eager to explore the most scenic spots to call home in Montana? Situated in the Northwestern region of the U.S., Montana has a place for everyone. Continue reading to uncover the best living options in the Treasure State.

Searching for your dream location in Montana? No matter what you have in mind, this expansive state has got you covered.

  • Best for urban amenities: Billings
  • Best for outdoor adventure: Bozeman
  • Best for a historic mining town experience: Butte
  • Best for suburban living: Four Corners
  • Best for scenic beauty: Hamilton
  • Best for history and culture: Helena
  • Best for proximity to Glacier National Park: Kalispell
  • Best for outdoor leisure and relaxation: King Arthur Park
  • Best for a mix of city and nature: Missoula
  • Best for a tranquil riverside living: Orchard Homes
  • Best for resort living: Whitefish

Here are the top places in Montana you’ll want to consider:

1. Billings

Imagine a city where the Old West meets modern living. Welcome to Billings, a place where you can enjoy the best of both worlds. With a thriving downtown and a rich history, this city offers a unique blend of experiences. From the Yellowstone Art Museum to the scenic Rimrocks, there’s no shortage of activities to keep you engaged.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to love here. The nearby Yellowstone River is a haven for fishing and kayaking, while the Beartooth Mountains offer some of the best hiking trails in the state. Billings is a great place to live in Montana if you’re an adventurer at heart.

The city also boasts excellent schools and healthcare facilities, making it a top choice for families. The job market is robust, particularly in the healthcare and energy sectors. With a mix of urban amenities and natural beauty, Billings offers a lifestyle that’s hard to beat.

Affordability is another strong suit. Compared to other best cities to live in Montana, the cost of living here is relatively moderate. Whether you’re a young professional or looking to retire, Billings has something to offer for every stage of life.

Billings offers the finest of both worlds in one location.
Billings offers the finest of both worlds in one location.

2. Bozeman

Step into Bozeman, and you’ll feel the energy of a town that’s buzzing with life. Known for its outdoor activities, this is the gateway to Yellowstone National Park and Big Sky Resort. Skiing, hiking, or mountain biking—pick your adventure, and you’ll find it here. There are tons of cool things to do in Yellowstone, specifically, that are within driving distance of Bozeman.

The town is also a hub for education and culture, thanks to Montana State University. Bozeman is one of the coolest places to live in Montana, especially if you’re into the arts or sciences. The Museum of the Rockies and the Bozeman Symphony Orchestra add layers of sophistication to this rugged paradise.

If you are still not convinced that Bozeman could be the answer to your question of where is the best place to live in Montana, you have to know this. Local businesses thrive here, and there’s a palpable sense of neighborly love. The Farmer’s Market is a weekly event you won’t want to miss, offering everything from fresh produce to handmade crafts.

Economically, the town is on the rise. Tech startups are finding a home in Bozeman, making it a good place to live in Montana for young professionals. The blend of outdoor activities and career opportunities makes this town a well-rounded choice for anyone looking to relocate.

As soon as you arrive in Bozeman, you will sense the vitality of a bustling community.
As soon as you arrive in Bozeman, you will sense the vitality of a bustling community.

3. Butte

Unearth the layers of American history in Butte, a town that’s as rich in culture as it is in minerals. Once a booming mining town, Butte has transformed into a living museum with its well-preserved architecture and historic landmarks. The World Museum of Mining is a must-visit, offering a glimpse into the town’s storied past.

Don’t let the history fool you; Butte is also a modern hub with a growing tech industry and excellent educational facilities. Montana Tech University contributes to the town’s youthful energy, making it the best place to live in Montana for students and young professionals alike.

Outdoor activities? You bet. From hiking in the surrounding mountains to fishing in the nearby Big Hole River, nature is always within reach. Butte is a nice city to live in Montana for those who crave a balance of urban and outdoor life.

One of the main reasons why Butte is among the best places to move in Montana is the town’s affordability, especially when compared to other Montana hotspots. With a cost of living that won’t break the bank, Butte offers a lifestyle that’s both enriching and economical.

Discover the facets of American history in Butte, a town renowned for its abundant natural resources and rich cultural heritage.
Discover the facets of American history in Butte, a town renowned for its abundant natural resources and rich cultural heritage.

4. Four Corners

Picture a place where suburban comfort meets outdoor adventure. Four Corners is that dream come true. Located just outside of Bozeman, this community offers a quieter, more relaxed lifestyle while still being close to city amenities. It’s the perfect blend of suburban tranquility and outdoor excitement.

Families will find Four Corners to be a haven. With excellent schools and plenty of parks, it’s one of the good places to live in Montana for those with kids. The community vibe is strong here, with local events and farmers’ markets adding to the charm.

Love to ski or fish? You’re in luck. The nearby Gallatin River is an angler’s paradise, while Big Sky Resort is just a short drive away. Four Corners is a top city in Montana to live if you’re an outdoor enthusiast who also values community spirit.

The real estate market is diverse, offering everything from cozy apartments to sprawling homes. And let’s not forget the stunning mountain views that serve as your daily backdrop. It’s a place that offers a quality of life that’s hard to match.

A place that combines outdoor adventure with suburban ease.
A place that combines outdoor adventure with suburban ease.

5. Hamilton

Discover the allure of small-town living in Hamilton. Nestled in the Bitterroot Valley, this charming town is a gateway to some of Montana’s most stunning natural landscapes. The Bitterroot River flows right through town, offering ample opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and simply soaking in the views.

Culture and community are at the heart of Hamilton. The town hosts a variety of events throughout the year, from art walks to farmers’ markets, making it one of Montana’s best places to live if you value a tight-knit community. The local theater and art galleries add a touch of sophistication to this rustic paradise.

Outdoor enthusiasts will feel right at home with various Montana cabin rentals. The Bitterroot National Forest is practically your backyard, offering endless trails for hiking, mountain biking, and wildlife spotting. Hamilton is a nice part of Montana where you can live an active lifestyle while still enjoying the perks of small-town living.

Affordability is another strong point. The cost of living is reasonable, and there’s a range of housing options to suit various budgets. Whether you’re a retiree looking to slow down or a young family seeking a safe and friendly environment, Hamilton has got you covered.

Discover the allure of small-town living in Hamilton.
Discover the allure of small-town living in Hamilton.

6. Helena

Step into Montana’s capital, and you’ll find a city that’s both historic and progressive. Helena is a blend of old and new, where 19th-century architecture coexists with a burgeoning tech scene. The Montana State Capitol building and the Cathedral of St. Helena are must-see landmarks that offer a glimpse into the city’s rich history.

Helena is also a hub for outdoor activities. With the Helena National Forest right at its doorstep, the city offers a plethora of hiking, biking, and camping options. Helena is the best city to live in Montana for those who want a mix of urban amenities and natural beauty.

Education is a strong suit here. The city is home to Carroll College, and the public schools are highly rated. Helena is one of Montana’s best cities to live if you’re raising a family or planning to further your education.

The city’s economy is diverse, with strong sectors in government, healthcare, and technology. The job market is robust, and the cost of living is reasonable, making Helena an attractive option for young professionals and retirees alike.

With its mix of 19th-century architecture and a thriving tech culture, Helena is a city that embraces the past and present.
With its mix of 19th-century architecture and a thriving tech culture, Helena is a city that embraces the past and present.

7. Kalispell

Find yourself at the doorstep of Glacier National Park in Kalispell. This vibrant city serves as the perfect base for exploring one of America’s most stunning natural wonders. With lakes, mountains, and forests surrounding you, the call of the wild is impossible to ignore.

Kalispell isn’t just about natural beauty; it’s also a thriving cultural hub. The Hockaday Museum of Art and the Conrad Mansion Museum offer a dose of culture and history. Kalispell is a top place to live in Montana if you’re an art lover or history buff.

The city is also family-friendly, boasting excellent schools and a variety of community events. From farmers’ markets to music festivals, there’s always something happening. Kalispell is one of the best Montana towns to live in if you appreciate a community that comes together to celebrate life.

Economically, the city is growing. Tourism is a major industry, but healthcare and education are also strong sectors. The job market is promising, and the cost of living is reasonable, making Kalispell a well-rounded choice for anyone considering a move.

This energetic metropolis is the ideal starting point for discovering one of the most breathtaking natural wonders in America.
This energetic metropolis is the ideal starting point for discovering one of the most breathtaking natural wonders in America.

8. King Arthur Park

Ever dreamt of living in a community that feels like a well-kept secret? King Arthur Park is that hidden gem. Tucked away near Bozeman, this residential area offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle. It’s the kind of place where neighbors know each other, and the sense of community is strong.

Outdoor activities are abundant here. From hiking trails to fishing spots, nature is always within arm’s reach. King Arthur Park is a nice place to live in Montana if you’re looking for a quieter, more laid-back lifestyle without sacrificing outdoor adventures.

Education is a priority in this community. The schools are excellent, and there are plenty of extracurricular activities for kids. King Arthur Park is one of the best Montana cities for families who value a high-quality education for their children.

Affordability is another perk. The cost of living is reasonable, and the housing market offers a range of options to suit different budgets. Whether you’re a young couple starting out or a retiree looking for a peaceful haven, King Arthur Park has something for everyone.

This neighborhood provides a tranquil haven from the bustle, truly of the best places to live in Montana.
This neighborhood provides a tranquil haven from the bustle, truly of the best places to live in Montana.

9. Lewistown

Journey to the geographical center of Montana, and you’ll find Lewistown. This charming town is surrounded by five stunning mountain ranges, making it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. From hiking and fishing to hunting and snowmobiling, the options are endless.

Culture thrives in Lewistown. The town is rich in history, with landmarks like the Central Montana Museum and the Lewistown Art Center adding depth to the community. Lewistown is a great place to live in Montana if you appreciate both nature and culture.

The town is also known for its strong sense of community. Local events like the Chokecherry Festival and the Central Montana Fair are annual highlights that bring people together. Lewistown is one of the best towns to live in Montana if you’re looking for a place where community spirit is alive and well.

Economically, Lewistown is stable. Agriculture is the primary industry, but healthcare and education are also significant employers. The cost of living is affordable, and the housing market offers a variety of options, making it a well-rounded choice for anyone considering a move.

Travel to Lewistown, one of the best places to live in Montana.
Travel to Lewistown, one of the best places to live in Montana.

10. Missoula

Imagine a city where the arts flourish, outdoor activities are a way of life, and the community vibe is strong. Welcome to Missoula, a city that effortlessly blends urban sophistication with a love for the great outdoors. The Clark Fork River runs right through the city, offering a unique urban-river lifestyle.

Missoula is a haven for the arts and culture. With a range of theaters, galleries, and music venues, the city is a cultural hotspot. Missoula is one of the best places in Montana to live if you’re an art lover or a culture vulture.

Outdoor activities are abundant, thanks to the surrounding mountains and rivers. From hiking and biking to kayaking and fishing, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy nature. Missoula is a cool place to live in Montana for those who want to balance city life with outdoor adventures.

The city is also home to the University of Montana, adding a youthful energy to the community. The job market is diverse, with opportunities in education, healthcare, and technology. The cost of living is moderate, making it an attractive option for both students and professionals.

The city of Missoula deftly combines a love of the natural outdoors with urban refinement.
The city of Missoula deftly combines a love of the natural outdoors with urban refinement.

11. Orchard Homes

Imagine living just a stone’s throw away from the vibrant city of Missoula, yet surrounded by the tranquility of nature. Welcome to Orchard Homes, a community that offers the best of both worlds. Here, you’re close enough to enjoy city amenities but far enough to escape the hustle and bustle.

The area is a haven for those who love the outdoors. With the Bitterroot River running nearby, fishing and kayaking are popular pastimes. Hiking trails are abundant, offering a chance to reconnect with nature without straying far from home. It’s a great place to live in Montana if you’re an outdoor enthusiast.

Local farmers markets and community events add a touch of charm to this quaint neighborhood. The sense of community is strong, making it one of the best areas to live in Montana for families and retirees alike. Schools are excellent, and the crime rate is low, adding to the area’s appeal.

So why wait? Orchard Homes is calling your name, offering a lifestyle that’s hard to beat. It’s the perfect blend of city convenience and natural beauty, making it a top pick for those looking to relocate to the Treasure State. Does this section meet your requirements?

The finest of both worlds is provided by Orchard Homes.
The finest of both worlds is provided by Orchard Homes. | Image Credit: discoveringmontana

12. Whitefish

Picture a town where the mountains meet the sky, and you’ve got Whitefish. This resort town is a dream come true for those who love winter sports. The Whitefish Mountain Resort is a hotspot for skiing, snowboarding, and even zip-lining over snow-covered landscapes.

Whitefish isn’t just a winter wonderland; it’s a year-round destination. When the snow melts, the town transforms into a haven for hikers, mountain bikers, and water sports enthusiasts. Whitefish is one of the top cities in Montana to live if you’re an adrenaline junkie or simply love being outdoors.

The town also offers a vibrant arts scene. From galleries to theaters, there’s always something creative happening. Whitefish is a good place to live in Montana for those who appreciate a touch of culture with their outdoor adventures.

Economically, the town thrives on tourism but also has a growing tech industry. The job market is promising, and the schools are excellent, making it a well-rounded choice for families and young professionals alike.

Imagine Whitefish as a town situated at the meeting point of the mountains and the sky.
Imagine Whitefish as a town situated at the meeting point of the mountains and the sky.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Best Places to Live in Montana                      

Want to know more about where to live in Montana and other prime living locations? Here are some questions that come up often regarding the best neighborhoods.

What part of Montana is the best place to live?

Determining the “best” place to live in Montana can vary depending on individual preferences, lifestyle, and needs. However, based on the listicles I’ve been writing, Bozeman often ranks highly due to its proximity to outdoor activities, strong educational system, and burgeoning tech industry. It offers a blend of adventure and modern amenities, making it a well-rounded choice for many people. Would you like to proceed with the next listicle?

Where do most people live in Montana?

Most people in Montana live in the larger cities and their surrounding areas. The most livable cities in Montana include Billings, the largest city in the state, followed by Missoula, Bozeman, and Helena. These cities offer a range of amenities, job opportunities, and recreational activities, making them popular choices for residents. Would you like to continue with the next listicle?

Is Montana a good place to live 2023?

As of my last update in January 2022, Montana has been considered a good place to live for various reasons, such as its natural beauty, outdoor recreational opportunities, and lower cost of living compared to many other states. However, the suitability of living in Montana in 2023 would depend on your lifestyle preferences and needs. Cities like Bozeman and Missoula offer a mix of urban amenities and outdoor activities, making them popular choices. The state is also known for its strong sense of community and generally lower crime rates. However, it’s essential to consider factors like job opportunities and weather conditions, which can vary significantly across the state. Would you like to proceed with the next listicle?

What part of Montana is affordable to live?

In Montana, affordability can vary widely depending on the specific region and local economy. Generally, smaller towns and rural areas tend to be more affordable than larger cities or popular tourist destinations. Here are some areas in Montana that are often considered more affordable:

  1. Great Falls: Known for its reasonable cost of living, Great Falls offers affordable housing compared to other parts of Montana. It’s a mid-sized city with a strong sense of community and access to outdoor activities.
  2. Billings: As the largest city in Montana, Billings provides a balance of urban amenities and affordable living. It has a diverse economy and a range of housing options.
  3. Kalispell: While the cost of living in Kalispell has been rising due to its popularity, it still remains more affordable than some other tourist-centric areas in Montana. It’s close to Glacier National Park and offers a good quality of life.
  4. Butte: Known for its rich mining history, Butte offers a lower cost of living with affordable housing options. It’s a smaller city with a unique cultural heritage.
  5. Havre: A small town in north-central Montana, Havre is known for its low cost of living, particularly in terms of housing.
  6. Helena: As the state capital, Helena offers a mix of government and private sector jobs. While not the cheapest, it’s more affordable than some of the state’s more tourist-heavy areas.
  7. Lewistown: Located in the center of the state, Lewistown is a small town with a lower cost of living, offering a quiet, rural lifestyle.
For a number of reasons, Montana has been regarded as a desirable place to reside.
For a number of reasons, Montana has been regarded as a desirable place to reside.

What are the nicest cities in Montana?

The “nicest” cities in Montana can vary depending on what you’re looking for, but here are some commonly cited options:

  • Bozeman – Known for its outdoor activities and vibrant cultural scene.
  • Whitefish – A resort town that’s popular for skiing and other winter sports.
  • Missoula – Offers a mix of urban and outdoor activities and is home to the University of Montana.
  • Helena – The state capital with a rich history and a variety of outdoor activities.
  • Billings – The largest city in Montana, offering a range of amenities and job opportunities.
  • Kalispell – Close to Glacier National Park and Flathead Lake, offering plenty of outdoor activities.
  • Hamilton – Known for its scenic beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities.
  • Butte – Rich in history and offers a range of outdoor activities.

Where do the rich live in Montana?

The affluent in Montana often gravitate towards areas that offer a mix of luxury, privacy, and natural beauty. Some of the areas known for their wealthy residents or upscale amenities include:

  • Whitefish – Known for its luxury homes and proximity to Whitefish Mountain Resort.
  • Bozeman – Particularly the areas around Bridger Canyon and Triple Tree, which offer large estates and mountain views.
  • Big Sky – Home to some of the most expensive real estate in the state, largely due to its world-class ski resorts.
  • Flathead Lake – Lakeside communities like Polson and Bigfork offer waterfront properties and are popular among the wealthy.
  • Missoula – Certain neighborhoods in Missoula are known for their upscale homes, especially those near the University of Montana.
  • Livingston – Attracts a number of wealthy individuals due to its scenic beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities.

What is the most common job in Montana?

As of my last update in January 2022, the most common jobs in Montana are often related to the healthcare, retail, and agriculture sectors. Registered nurses, retail salespersons, and truck drivers are among the most frequently reported occupations. The state also has a significant number of jobs in education, construction, and natural resources, reflecting its diverse economy and abundant outdoor opportunities.

It’s worth noting that the job landscape can vary by region. For example, tourism-related jobs might be more prevalent in areas near national parks or ski resorts, while agricultural jobs could be more common in rural areas.

Is Montana a rich or poor state?

Montana’s economic status is complex and can’t be simply classified as entirely “rich” or “poor.” Like many states, it has areas of wealth and areas that struggle economically. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Economic Diversity: Montana’s economy is diverse, with significant contributions from agriculture, mining, tourism, and a growing technology sector. The state is rich in natural resources, including coal, gold, and copper.
  2. Income Levels: Median household income in Montana is typically lower than the national average in the United States. However, this can vary significantly across different regions within the state.
  3. Cost of Living: In general, the cost of living in Montana is slightly lower than the national average, but this can vary by location. Some popular areas, especially those near tourist attractions or with high demand for housing, can be quite expensive.
  4. Poverty Rates: Montana has areas with higher poverty rates, particularly in rural regions and on Native American reservations. Access to services and economic opportunities can be limited in these areas.
  5. Wealth Distribution: Like many places, wealth in Montana is not evenly distributed. There are areas of affluence, particularly in cities with more economic activity and in regions popular with tourists or wealthy transplants.
  6. Quality of Life: Despite income levels, many residents enjoy a high quality of life due to Montana’s natural beauty, outdoor recreational opportunities, and strong sense of community in many towns and cities.

Final Thoughts on the Best Places to Live in Montana         

Montana, often dubbed the “Last Best Place,” offers a unique blend of natural beauty, outdoor adventure, and community spirit that’s hard to find elsewhere. From the bustling energy of Billings to the serene landscapes of Whitefish, each city and town brings its own flavor to the Montana experience.

In conclusion, Montana offers a diverse array of communities, each presenting a unique tapestry of lifestyle and opportunities. Whether you’re drawn to the thriving urban scene of Billings, the outdoor haven of Whitefish, or the hidden gem of Orchard Homes near Missoula, deciding where to live in MT is an exciting journey. Your ideal Montana destination awaits, promising not just a place to reside but a lifestyle to embrace.

While the state offers a range of lifestyles to suit different tastes, one thing remains constant: the sense of belonging and freedom that comes with living under the Big Sky. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a history buff, or someone looking for a quieter pace of life, Montana has something for everyone.

In this guide, we’ve explored various facets of life in the Treasure State, from job opportunities to recreational activities, to help you find your perfect Montana haven. Remember, the best places in Montana are not just about amenities and job prospects; they’re also about finding a community where you feel at home.

So pack your bags, book a ticket, and set your sights on the Montana horizon. Your next adventure awaits, and it promises to be a fulfilling one.

The top places to live in Montana for all
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