Moving to Montana

cofen380

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Feb 24, 2021
Messages
106
Over the course of the past couple years my wife and I have talked about moving from NC to MT. We just got back from a trip there and we've solidified our decision to move there during the summer of 2025. I could go on and on about why we want to move, but I'm sure anyone can guess at least several of the reasons; we're not much different than anyone else. I will add that we certainly don't have rose colored glasses when it comes to how we view the state. We know MT has it's own issues, and talking with her family that have been there for several generations has given us a lot of insight.

For reference, my wife and her whole family are originally from Lewistown and Conrad, and her and her parents moved to NC when she was in 5th grade. At this point we've visited Kalispell/Whitefish, Lewistown, Conrad, Missoula, Bozeman, Helena, Boulder and a couple other small towns. I'm 26 years old and currently teaching K-8 PE and am about to start pursuing my masters in K-12 Health and Phys Ed. My wife is 25 and is practicing speech therapy for a private company and contracts through our local schools.

Being from NC, we're limited on how often we can go and visit areas that we're interested in. Fortunately, she still has family in Lewistown and Helena, so we at least have some connections there. So far Helena and the surrounding area check off the most boxes in terms of job availability, housing prices, distance to groceries, gyms, churches, etc, and the landscape we want (really not interested in Eastern MT). We're open to other areas, but probably not Missoula or right in Bozeman due to housing.

I would love to hear from anyone that has experience living in or around these areas and what they liked/didn't like. Since we weren't able to visit Butte, I'm really interested in hearing about that area as well. Mixed reviews from what I've read. I hope I gave enough info about us to give an idea of what we're wanting to do, but please feel free to ask clarifying questions. Thank you to everyone who takes the time to read and reply, it means the world.
 

todd238

FNG
Joined
Aug 2, 2023
Messages
17
Over the course of the past couple years my wife and I have talked about moving from NC to MT. We just got back from a trip there and we've solidified our decision to move there during the summer of 2025. I could go on and on about why we want to move, but I'm sure anyone can guess at least several of the reasons; we're not much different than anyone else. I will add that we certainly don't have rose colored glasses when it comes to how we view the state. We know MT has it's own issues, and talking with her family that have been there for several generations has given us a lot of insight.

For reference, my wife and her whole family are originally from Lewistown and Conrad, and her and her parents moved to NC when she was in 5th grade. At this point we've visited Kalispell/Whitefish, Lewistown, Conrad, Missoula, Bozeman, Helena, Boulder and a couple other small towns. I'm 26 years old and currently teaching K-8 PE and am about to start pursuing my masters in K-12 Health and Phys Ed. My wife is 25 and is practicing speech therapy for a private company and contracts through our local schools.

Being from NC, we're limited on how often we can go and visit areas that we're interested in. Fortunately, she still has family in Lewistown and Helena, so we at least have some connections there. So far Helena and the surrounding area check off the most boxes in terms of job availability, housing prices, distance to groceries, gyms, churches, etc, and the landscape we want (really not interested in Eastern MT). We're open to other areas, but probably not Missoula or right in Bozeman due to housing.

I would love to hear from anyone that has experience living in or around these areas and what they liked/didn't like. Since we weren't able to visit Butte, I'm really interested in hearing about that area as well. Mixed reviews from what I've read. I hope I gave enough info about us to give an idea of what we're wanting to do, but please feel free to ask clarifying questions. Thank you to everyone who takes the time to read and reply, it means the world.
I live in NW Montana and so my opinion may be biased.

Housing prices and availability are huge issues here right now along with property taxes.
I think Butte is a little more affordable along with the Dillon area. Best of luck!
 
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cofen380

cofen380

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Feb 24, 2021
Messages
106
I live in NW Montana and so my opinion may be biased.

Housing prices and availability are huge issues here right now along with property taxes.
I think Butte is a little more affordable along with the Dillon area. Best of luck!
Butte is definitely more affordable, which catches my attention but also raises the question of why it's so much more affordable. Where in NW MT are you at and how long have you been there?

Thanks man!
 
Joined
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1,659
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Montana
As a rural resident, I can't recommend any cities. You are a victim of the masses and what they desire in town. I'm going to guess that taxes will be lower in Jefferson county but considering the assessment has just gone nuts, we will see the depth of the insanity this fall with the tax bill.

Between Helena and Boulder, make sure you check the water before you buy. The area is heavily mineralized and there can be surprises. Butte has great people without the out of state dillution like Bozeman. The city government has a history but given where you choose to live it can be mimimized.

I shop in Helena and find it can meet all of my needs. The north valley is potentially running up against water availability - look carefully.

Townsend seems to be the target of fugitives from Bozeman's endless projects and taxes so be careful. Broadwater co. has had some problems over the years with county government and practical administration. Shop carefully.

If you go rural you will likely be on your own so plan on being capable of taking care of yourself.

I prefer the independence so having city folks tell me what is good for me doesn't sit well. Decide what your desires and tolerances are and select what fits.

Summers are short and winters are long. I suggest looking for a home area in February. It might best give you an idea of what you will be living with.
 

todd238

FNG
Joined
Aug 2, 2023
Messages
17
Butte is definitely more affordable, which catches my attention but also raises the question of why it's so much more affordable. Where in NW MT are you at and how long have you been there?

Thanks man!
I live in Columbia Falls.

Butte of course has a long history of mining and I believe is a Super Fund site. I think the mining concerns have turned people off.

It’s also a college town known for partying. I think the outlying areas is where I would look. Maybe Whitehall, Anaconda Dillon
 
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cofen380

cofen380

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Messages
106
I live in Columbia Falls.

Butte of course has a long history of mining and I believe is a Super Fund site. I think the mining concerns have turned people off.

It’s also a college town known for partying. I think the outlying areas is where I would look. Maybe Whitehall, Anaconda Dillon
Cool, I've heard good things about those other towns as well. Really appreciate your help.
 
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cofen380

cofen380

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Feb 24, 2021
Messages
106
As a rural resident, I can't recommend any cities. You are a victim of the masses and what they desire in town. I'm going to guess that taxes will be lower in Jefferson county but considering the assessment has just gone nuts, we will see the depth of the insanity this fall with the tax bill.

Between Helena and Boulder, make sure you check the water before you buy. The area is heavily mineralized and there can be surprises. Butte has great people without the out of state dillution like Bozeman. The city government has a history but given where you choose to live it can be mimimized.

I shop in Helena and find it can meet all of my needs. The north valley is potentially running up against water availability - look carefully.

Townsend seems to be the target of fugitives from Bozeman's endless projects and taxes so be careful. Broadwater co. has had some problems over the years with county government and practical administration. Shop carefully.

If you go rural you will likely be on your own so plan on being capable of taking care of yourself.

I prefer the independence so having city folks tell me what is good for me doesn't sit well. Decide what your desires and tolerances are and select what fits.

Summers are short and winters are long. I suggest looking for a home area in February. It might best give you an idea of what you will be living with.
That's super helpful, thank you. I wasn't aware of any water issues so that's good to know. That stretch between Helena and Boulder is gorgeous and would probably be my pick if the stars aligned.

That's what I hear about Butte as well. I'm hoping it's not going to be on the heels of Bozeman and Missoula in terms of culture shifts and housing prices.

In terms of rural living, what are the biggest challenges you've faced yourself? We don't have a lot of interest in night life or needing lots of diverse restaurants, bars (we don't drink), or entertainment other than what we're able to do outside. However, we're somewhat tied to commuting distance since we probably won't work remotely.
 
Joined
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1,659
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The superfund issue in Butte is largely resolved and now it is a contractor funding program with no end in site.

I work hard at telling people driving through Butte that the air and water are poisoness and they shouldn't slow down till they get to Missoula.

The reality is that both are better than Missoula or Bozeman. If the rumors keep Butte from turning into a mess like Missoula and especially Bozeman, then we have accomplished a goal.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Location
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The single biggest issue I have found in rural living is having adequate machinery to handle the drifting snow in winter and road maintenance in the spring. They aren't huge but the county will handle their roads with exception to the really big storms. You will need to handle your end. Also look at power availability or be willing to go off grid. My neighbors are about 1.5 miles past me and seem to do well with solar.

We do well on grid but someimes go 1-2 days without power following a big wind storm and falling trees. In our last modification I put in propane for a cook stove so we don't starve. I have hooks in rooms for gas or oil lights when things get ugly. I have wood heat with two stoves. I only light both when we get -35 for a few days. Don't skimp on the insulation. I try to keep three years supply of wood on hand in case of things. Wood and hay are stored in doors because of the weather.

In my world snow can start in late August but don't count on it going away until the third week in May. It can occur at any time. Plan on a couple layers of Carhardts clothing for a lot of the year. We have spent the last two weeks burning wood to keep the house warm. It's approaching noon and it's up to 50 so far. Microclimates are common. Pay Attention!
 
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cofen380

cofen380

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
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Messages
106
The single biggest issue I have found in rural living is having adequate machinery to handle the drifting snow in winter and road maintenance in the spring. They aren't huge but the county will handle their roads with exception to the really big storms. You will need to handle your end. Also look at power availability or be willing to go off grid. My neighbors are about 1.5 miles past me and seem to do well with solar.

We do well on grid but someimes go 1-2 days without power following a big wind storm and falling trees. In our last modification I put in propane for a cook stove so we don't starve. I have hooks in rooms for gas or oil lights when things get ugly. I have wood heat with two stoves. I only light both when we get -35 for a few days. Don't skimp on the insulation. I try to keep three years supply of wood on hand in case of things. Wood and hay are stored in doors because of the weather.

In my world snow can start in late August but don't count on it going away until the third week in May. It can occur at any time. Plan on a couple layers of Carhardts clothing for a lot of the year. We have spent the last two weeks burning wood to keep the house warm. It's approaching noon and it's up to 50 so far. Microclimates are common. Pay Attention!
Can't thank you enough man. The road maintenance issue has been one that's been on my mind considering we won't be moving with any equipment for that. It's good to be aware of. Are power outages an excepted yearly evil for where you're at?
 
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cofen380

cofen380

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106
I live right between Kalispell and Whitefish.

People buying in Butte right now are going to be seen as geniuses in 20 years.

If you need help purchasing I've got contacts in most markets you've named who are rockstars at their craft.
What makes you say that? Do you feel like Butte is being "discovered"? That's really generous of you to offer that. I certainly wouldn't turn down a contact from Helena, Butte or the surrounding areas. Even whitefish and Kalispell even though they're probably not our ideal choice.
 

WCB

WKR
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Jun 12, 2019
Messages
3,275
Don't live there but did for 5 years while guiding. Have aunt and uncle along with 3 cousins in Bozeman, mom lives in Townsend (or near I guess). Sister lives 30minutes or so south of Great Falls. IMO Townsend/Helena area is a decent area...a lot of people that got bounced out of Bozeman but it is developing quickly and cost are insane (Townsend area). Missoula and BZN are a no go 100%. Butte is...well Butte. Every time I have been in there I have had a good time friendly people...If you can get over a giant poisonous lake Its really not a bad place and anything to avoid becoming BZN or Missoula is a plus. Easy enough to shoot to Bozeman, Missoula, up to Great Falls etc...kind of the middle of western MT.

To tell you the truth the Lewistown area has grown on me just because it reminds me more of what Bozeman used to be. But you are kind of out in no man lands as far as fishing but still good hunting and open spaces.

If you have the ability to buy something relatively soon do it and think about 2,3,5, 10yrs down the line what it might look like. I would buy as far out on the edge of whatever town as possible with it still making sense for a commute everyday.
 
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cofen380

cofen380

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Messages
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Don't live there but did for 5 years while guiding. Have aunt and uncle along with 3 cousins in Bozeman, mom lives in Townsend (or near I guess). Sister lives 30minutes or so south of Great Falls. IMO Townsend/Helena area is a decent area...a lot of people that got bounced out of Bozeman but it is developing quickly and cost are insane (Townsend area). Missoula and BZN are a no go 100%. Butte is...well Butte. Every time I have been in there I have had a good time friendly people...If you can get over a giant poisonous lake Its really not a bad place and anything to avoid becoming BZN or Missoula is a plus. Easy enough to shoot to Bozeman, Missoula, up to Great Falls etc...kind of the middle of western MT.

To tell you the truth the Lewistown area has grown on me just because it reminds me more of what Bozeman used to be. But you are kind of out in no man lands as far as fishing but still good hunting and open spaces.

If you have the ability to buy something relatively soon do it and think about 2,3,5, 10yrs down the line what it might look like. I would buy as far out on the edge of whatever town as possible with it still making sense for a commute e
Lewistown definitely had a certain charm that we loved, but unfortunately it's pretty much in the middle of nowhere, which would make jobs hard for us.

Like you said, we want to make sure we're thinking about what the area we move into will look like later on. I certainly don't want to move into an area that's on it's way to becoming another Bozeman. Butte really doesn't sound too bad. We've obviously done a ton of looking on Realtor, Zillow, etc and maybe we could find something outside of Butte or Helena with fairly easy access to town. Butte is certainly more affordable than any of the other "bigger" cities.

If you were to move to MT at this point in your life, where do you think you would go?
 

ianpadron

WKR
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1,738
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Montana
What makes you say that? Do you feel like Butte is being "discovered"? That's really generous of you to offer that. I certainly wouldn't turn down a contact from Helena, Butte or the surrounding areas. Even whitefish and Kalispell even though they're probably not our ideal choice.
Butte still hasn't been discovered, but I'm of the strong opinion it will be shortly.

If the digital nomad/remote work trend continues at even a fraction of what the Rona brought about, outdoor rec. minded young people will continue to flock to largely blue-collar, stigmatized locations like Butte.

Columbia Falls used to be known as "Chlamydia Balls" not joking, now it's got a higher median home price than Kalispell and some of the most impressive str portfolios on the planet.

Butte checks a lot of boxes, and it doesn't have a National Park to turn it into a tourist trap seasonally, so more and more locals getting sick of the hustle and bustle of the Flathead and Gallatin valleys will relocate in-state to have the life they're used to.

I've got contacts in Helena and Butte, our Helena office should actually be up and running in about a month.
 
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cofen380

cofen380

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Messages
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Butte still hasn't been discovered, but I'm of the strong opinion it will be shortly.

If the digital nomad/remote work trend continues at even a fraction of what the Rona brought about, outdoor rec. minded young people will continue to flock to largely blue-collar, stigmatized locations like Butte.

Columbia Falls used to be known as "Chlamydia Balls" not joking, now it's got a higher median home price than Kalispell and some of the most impressive str portfolios on the planet.

Butte checks a lot of boxes, and it doesn't have a National Park to turn it into a tourist trap seasonally, so more and more locals getting sick of the hustle and bustle of the Flathead and Gallatin valleys will relocate in-state to have the life they're used to.

I've got contacts in Helena and Butte, our Helena office should actually be up and running in about a month.
As little knowledge as I have, I would be inclined to agree with you. It seems like what's already happened in Bozeman is happening in a lot of other places. When you say your Helena office, is that an office of a brokerage or agency that you work for? I would PM you but I think I need a few more posts from what I can tell.
 
Joined
Jan 7, 2021
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I have lived in Helena, Butte, Dillon, and Conrad. What would you like to know about any of those or the surrounding areas. Are you looking hunting/fishing/ outdoor things? Each of those areas have different animals/ rivers/ lakes that make them special.
 

ODB

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Lewistown definitely had a certain charm that we loved, but unfortunately it's pretty much in the middle of nowhere, which would make jobs hard for us.

Like you said, we want to make sure we're thinking about what the area we move into will look like later on. I certainly don't want to move into an area that's on it's way to becoming another Bozeman. Butte really doesn't sound too bad. We've obviously done a ton of looking on Realtor, Zillow, etc and maybe we could find something outside of Butte or Helena with fairly easy access to town. Butte is certainly more affordable than any of the other "bigger" cities.

If you were to move to MT at this point in your life, where do you think you would go?

Have a good friend who just moved to Lewistown. Luckily he took his business with him.
 
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