Moving to Montana

The state name for Montana has several meanings. The name is derived from the Spanish word for mountain, or Montaña. Some popular nicknames for Montana include Big Sky Country and the Treasure State. There are also some great slogans attached to the state, with one being “Land of the Shining Mountains”. Another is “The Last Best Place.”

On November 8, 1889, Montana became the 41st state in the United States, with its capital being Helena. Montana is the only state in the country that borders three Canadian provinces. Montana has the third lowest population density in the country, but the residents are known to be very kind and welcoming.

Thing to Know Before Moving to Montana

Renowned for its natural beauty, Montana’s landscape has been the set for various movies. A River Runs Through It and The Horse Whisperer were just a couple ones that were filmed there. The gorgeous, open land draws thousands of visitors each year, as well as new residents!

While in Montana, it’s likely you will run into some wildlife. Common species are deer, elk, rattlesnakes, sandal cranes and even wolverines. You will definitely want to be cautious of the wildlife and observe them from afar when spotted.

Hunting and fishing are very popular in Montana and gun ownership is actually part of the cultural values here. If you’re planning a move to Montana, consider getting your hunting and fishing licenses so you can enjoy like the locals.

When it comes to climate, the weather can get very cold in Montana. In fact, the temperature has been known to drop to 70 degrees below zero! When planning your move, be sure to pack very warm clothes! Locals suggest keeping a “cold survival” kit in your car just in case of emergency.

Largest Cities

The city of Billings is by far the largest city in Montana. With an estimated population of 110,000, the city refers to itself as “Montana’s Trailhead.” It is known for its energetic nightlife, as well as biking, rafting and skiing.

The second largest city in the state is Missoula, which has an estimated population of 66,788. Known as the “Garden City, this is where the University of Montana is located.

Great Falls is the third largest city in Montana. It is home to around 58,500 residents, and is the home of the Montana State Fair and the Pro Rodeo Circuit Finals.

Montana Weather & Climate

The winters in Montana are extremely cold. Temperatures tend to fluctuate and can sometimes be very unpredictable. Between the months of November and March, temperatures have been recorded as high as 50 degrees, and as low as –50 degrees!

In the summers, the daytime temperature is usually around 85 degrees with cool, breezy nights. The hottest temperature ever recorded in the summer was 117 degrees in 1893 and 1937.

Even though it’s expected that the winters are cold and the summers are hot, that isn’t always true for Montana. Snowfall has actually been recorded in all twelve months, but it is pretty rare to see snow between July and August.


Since Montana is such a vast state, having your own vehicle here will be ideal. On average, it takes Montana residents 18 minutes to get to work, which is 29 percent shorter than the average commute time.

The price of gas here is also pretty manageable, so you won’t have to worry about breaking the bank to fund your commute. The fuel taxes (27 cents) in Montana are already included in the price of gas.

Public transportation can be a bit challenging to navigate at first, but you will soon get the hang of it. If you are low on cash, the Mountain Line bus in Missoula is free, as well as Montana’s Streamline in Bozeman. In Great Falls, you can hop on the bus for just $1. From there, you can usually buy ticket packages for daily, monthly and yearly passes.

Housing Market in Montana

If you plan on moving to Montana, it’s best to have a home or apartment lined up before you go. Housing options can be a little scarce here, which can make it a struggle to find available homes or apartments.

According to Big Sky Chamber of Commerce, about 83% of people commute to Big Sky each day due to limited housing options in the city itself.

Home Ownership

Like most states, the price for a home will depend on the city or county where it’s located. According to Trulia, the highest average home listing price in Montana is Wilbur County. The average price here is $652,500.

Blaine County is much more affordable with an average listing of $59,500. The average price of a home in the state is $99,500.


Montana is a very affordable place to live. Any rental property in Montana will likely cost less to rent than most states in the country.

Studio apartments in Montana go for about $834 a month and one-bedrooms are around $850. If you are looking for something larger, a three bedroom apartment will only cost around $1,200 a month.

Crime Rates

While every state has both safe and dangerous areas, Montana is ranked pretty high on the safety list. The rates for violent and personal crime are lower here than other areas in the country.

Located in the southeast of Montana, Miles City has about 8,000 residents. It is sometimes referred to as the “safest city in the state”. There are only about 12 violent crimes and 23 property crimes that take place here each year.

Sidney is also considered to be a safe city in Montana. Home to about 7,000 residents, Sidney only experienced about 37 violent crimes and 105 property crimes last year.

Another city with low crime rates is Laurel, MT. Known as a train town, they only had about 13 violent crimes and 170 property crimes last year.

Financial Living

Average Income

In 2015, the average income in Montana was $49,509. This is slightly less than the national average. However, things like housing and food are less expensive here, so your income can go a longer way.

The average income for the lower-middle class was around $31,315. As for the upper-middle class, the average yearly salary was around $93,944 in Montana.

Montana Job Market

The job market in Montana is a little different from other states. With lower average salaries, it is fairly common for someone to move here for a couple of years, and then relocate somewhere else where the salary is higher.

Some areas of Montana have a higher unemployment rate because mining and foresting jobs have decreased. However, the prime tourist areas in the state have plenty of jobs, and lower rates of unemployment.


With seven income tax brackets, the taxes in Montana can range from 1% to 6.9%. Also, household goods are exempt from property taxes.

The average property tax in Montana is only .87%, which is well below the national average. More good news: there is no state sales tax in Montana!

Popular Industries

Agriculture is the primary industry in Montana. There is a lot of ranching and cereal grain farming that takes place here.

Other industries include oil, gas, lumber, and rock and coal mining. In addition, the healthcare industry and government are very significant to the state’s economy.

Some people may not know this, but tourism is also a big part of the economy in Montana. Each year, millions of tourists visit Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park.


One drawback to Montana is that it does not have a Trauma I hospital. However, they do have a Trauma II hospital in Missoula, Billings and Great Falls.

In 2013, the Billings Clinic was named one of the safest hospitals in the United States. In addition, Montana has also been labeled as one of the least obese states in the country, with a low obesity rate of 19.6 percent.

Food and Culture

The most popular food in Montana is the Rocky Mountain Oyster. Known as a traditional cowboy meal, this dish can be found at festivals in Clinton and Virginia City. But fair warning to all new Montana visitors: these aren’t actually oysters. The main ingredient in these “Rocky Mountain Oysters” is actually bull, sheep and pig testicles. Yikes!

Montana culture is also big on brewing beer. There are 53 breweries in Montana, which make over $6 million annually. Residents in Montana also enjoy brewing their own beer with home brewing kits.

What’s great about Montana is that even the big cities have a “small town” feel to them. The locals are very friendly and welcoming. The overall culture of Montana is influenced by its Native American heritage, Wild West pioneers and wildlife. Sometimes, it may feel like a grizzly bear is hiding around every corner!


With its breathtaking scenery, the entire state of Montana could be considered one big attraction. Just taking in the gorgeous landscapes and beautiful sites can keep you entertained for hours. However, there are some incredible landmarks and parks that should not be missed.

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is one of the most popular historical landmarks in the country. It boasts mountains, thick forests, waterfalls, lakes, and of course, glaciers. If you love to be outdoors, this is the place for you!

Yellowstone National Park

Another attraction you have to see to believe is Yellowstone National Park. Like most places in Montana, Yellowstone is known for its wildlife and gorgeous sites. The most well known part of the part is the Old Faithful Geyser. Thousands of people travel here each year to explore while hiking, camping, boating and fishing.

Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center

Once in Montana, you will definitely want to visit the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. This is one of the only places where you can safely get up close and personal with wolves.

The sanctuary was opened for animals who were abandoned and couldn’t survive in the wild, but were comfortable around humans. Visitors can learn about the animals’ behavior and understand more about them here.

Recreational Activities

Most recreational activities in Montana take place outdoors. Hiking, biking, camping, boating and fishing are common daily activities. Getting outside to enjoy the great weather and scenery is a must here. There are plenty of hiking trails, rivers to fish and boat in, and campsites around the state.


Montana State University (MSU) is located in Bozeman, Montana. It is the largest research college in the state and enrolls about 16,400 students each year. Located just 90 miles from Yellowstone National Park, the students and faculty love that the school has such a connection to the outdoors.

Carroll College is a private Catholic liberal arts college located in the state’s capital of Helena. There are about 1,500 undergraduates here. The school has earned many awards for their Pre-Med and Nursing programs.

The University of Montana is located in Missoula, and has about 13,000 students. It is recognized as the state’s flagship university, and offers the widest variety of degree programs for students to choose from.

Montana Sports Teams

Unfortunately for any professional sports fans, there are no major sports teams in Montana. However, there are four Minor League Baseball teams. These include:

  • Billings Mustangs
  • Great Falls Voyagers
  • Helena Brewers
  • Missoula Osprey

Politics & Religion

Like many other states, the urban areas of Montana tend to be more liberal, whereas the rural parts are more conservative.

Elections are always competitively close here, but the Democrats usually come out on top. Montana has been labeled a swing state because it had both parties represented in the elected positions.

As for religion, the largest religious affiliation in Montana is Protestant. 47% of its residents identify as Protestant. The Catholic religion is next, with 23% of the population, and the Mormon Church is third at 5%.

Other religions represented here are Jehovah’s Witnesses (2%), Buddhist (1%), Jewish (.5%), Muslim (.5%), Hindu (.5%) and 20% identify as non-religious.

History of Montana

Montana has a very rich history dating back many years. Native Americans inhabited Montana for thousands of years. Today, the state is considered one of the most important regions for the Native American heritage.

Archeologists who have studied the land in Montana refer to these settlers as Paleo-Indians. Tribes such as the Cheyenne, Crow and Blackfeet lived in Montana for 3,000 years before the Europeans arrived in 1743.

Thanks to the Louisiana Purchase, the United States obtained the territory that would eventually become Montana in 1803. Montana was just one of the 13 states that came out of the Louisiana Purchase. Thomas Jefferson paid Napoleon Bonaparte $15 million for the entire 885,000 square mile area. Lewis and Clark also had their first organized expedition in this area.

Gold was first discovered in Montana at Gold Creek in 1852. In addition to gold, miners discovered copper, silver, lead and coal. This attracted tens of thousands of people who were hoping to make it rich in Montana.

So, How Are You Getting to Montana?

Now that you know all about your new home state of Montana, you should start thinking about how you are going to get there. Whether you are traveling by plane, car, or train, you will want to find the most reliable and affordable company to help you with your move.

Moving can certainly be stressful. By hiring the right company to help, you can relax a little more knowing all of the hard work will be done for you.

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20 References
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