River cruise on the Missouri River in Helena, Montana

River cruise on the Missouri River in Helena, Montana. (Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash)

As the home of eight national parks and 55 state parks, Montana is a nature lover’s playground. Its cities rest in the shadows of gorgeous mountain peaks, and enjoy unfettered access to the most the wild wilderness and lively cities have to offer. The best places to live in Montana make for an amazing spot to call home.

Of course, while there are plenty of great things to say about major cities, there’s just something about the mountains. One 2018 survey of people residing in a city with a population of one million people or more found that city dwellers last an average of just 18 days before needing a break from the hustle and bustle. Where do they prefer to take that break? Aside from the beach, city-slickers most desire an escape to the mountains or a cabin in the woods. 

It’s no surprise, crowded cities prompt a desire for nature’s wide-open spaces. Research shows that even the sounds of nature prompt a decrease in stress and pain and an increase in mood and cognitive performance. And for children, playing outside has been shown to lead to increased mental health. A recent survey suggests that this is a priority for parents in Montana, with 97 percent of respondents agreeing that spending time outdoors is important for their children. 

Why live in Montana?

Montana, the “Treasure State,” is more than just stunning scenery and abundant natural beauty. It’s a way of life that attracts those seeking wide-open spaces, a strong sense of community, and a vibrant outdoor culture. Nestled between the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains, Montana offers a unique blend of rugged wilderness, charming towns, and endless opportunities for adventure.

  • Unspoiled Nature: Montana boasts majestic mountains, pristine lakes, sprawling grasslands, and diverse wildlife. Glacier National Park’s snow-capped peaks, Yellowstone National Park’s geothermal wonders, and countless wild rivers and forests provide endless playgrounds for outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Small-Town Charm: Montana’s towns and communities exude a unique charm. Main Streets lined with historic buildings, friendly locals, and a strong sense of community create a welcoming atmosphere. Residents enjoy a slower pace of life, far removed from the hustle and bustle of big cities.
  • Thriving Arts and Culture: Despite its rural character, Montana boasts a vibrant arts and culture scene. Art galleries, museums, live music venues, and theaters thrive in many communities, showcasing local talent and offering diverse entertainment options.
  • Abundant Job Opportunities: Montana’s economy is on the rise, driven by sectors like tourism, healthcare, technology, and agriculture. Job opportunities are plentiful, attracting young professionals and entrepreneurs seeking a fulfilling career amidst stunning scenery.
  • Affordable Living: While the cost of living in Montana has been rising in popular areas, it remains generally lower than many other parts of the country. Housing costs are more manageable, and taxes are relatively low, making Montana an attractive option for budget-conscious individuals and families.

If you’re ready to make fresh air and mountain views part of your everyday routine, Montana may be the place for you. But if finding a new city to call home feels overwhelming, StudyFinds is here to help. We rounded up local expert opinions to find the best places to live in Montana for anyone looking for a new home base. Take a look at our list and let us know if we missed your favorite in the comments below!

➡️How Our “Best Of The Best” Lists Are Created

StudyFinds’ “Best of the Best” articles are put together with the idea of taking the work out of common consumer research. Ever find yourself searching for a product or service on Google and reading multiple reviews to find items listed across many of them? Our Best of the Best lists are created with that process in mind, with each item ranked by how frequently it appears on expert reviews or lists. With Best of the Best, you are getting consensus picks — making them truly the best of the best!

1. Helena

capital building in Helena, Montana
The Capital building in Helena (Photo by Steven Cordes on Unsplash)

As Montana’s state capital, Helena is an ode to many of the things residents love most about their home state. NewHomeSource describes it as a “robust and buzzy city,” but also notes it’s natural beauty and diversity. The city boasts over 60 natural and 15 commercial hot springs

Nature lovers rejoice in Helena, thanks to its central location to many of Montana’s most beautiful outdoor attractions. It’s perfect for those who like outdoor activities like fishing, hiking, and kayaking with its close proximity to both Yellowstone and Glacier national parks.

But beyond the natural wonders surrounding Helena, the city also is home to its own thriving community. Zumper likes the city’s small-town feel and recommends it for anyone from singles to families wanting a peaceful place to call home. 

2. Bozeman

goat, mountain, Montana
A goat on the Bridger Mountains in Bozeman (Photo by Lee Peters on Unsplash)

Situated in the gorgeous shadows of the Rocky Mountains, Bozeman is beloved by its roughly 50,000 residents. As the home of Montana State University, the city has an energetic college town feel with a family-friendly atmosphere. According to Zumper, this is a great place to live for singles, couples, and families. 

Of course, Bozeman offers more than enough to entice outdoor enthusiasts. “Easy access to Yellowstone is a major draw. The park contains 3,500 miles of scenic trails, rushing waterfalls, hot springs, dramatic geysers and wildlife viewing opportunities,” Apartment Guide says.

All in all, there’s something for everyone in Bozeman, which is why it’s one of the best places to live in Montana. UpNest commends its scenery, skiing, and impressive lineup of restaurants despite its small size. 

3. Missoula

a field and mountains in Missoula Montana
Views in Missoula (Photo by Yohan Marion on Unsplash)

As the home of the University of Montana, Missoula is another rapidly growing college town and one of the best places to live in the state. And though it is the second largest city in the state, it remains a cozy and safe place to call home. Discovering Montana recommends it for anyone looking for a quieter lifestyle.

The small-town feel takes nothing away from the social scene in Missoula. Apartment Guide says this is the places to be for all things “live music, eclectic shops busy restaurants and bustling breweries.’

The stunning landscape of Montana is certainly another inviting factor for would-be Missoula transplants. UpNest notes its 400 acres of parkland, three mountain regions, great skiing, and hiking trails. 

4. Billings

sunset and clouds
Sunset in Billings (Photo by mark ager on Unsplash)

Montana’s largest city packs in lots to offer for its citizens. The college town – home of Montana State University Billings – is among the most exciting places for tourists and residents alike. 

 Zumper says living in Billings has plenty of live music, concert venues, kayaking, and a bustling downtown with walkable streets.

Billings is one of the best places to live in Montana because it draws interest from folks of all ages, thanks to its many opportunities for entertainment, work, and nature access. Movingist says the senior community is prevalent, with young families as well. Plus, the cost of living is relatively low.

5. Whitefish

snowy trees and lake and mountains
Winter in Whitefish (Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash)

Located near Glacier National Park, Whitefish is an undeniable delight for nature enthusiasts of all kinds. With the Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort, Zumper recommends snow sports and mountain biking, zip-lining, and hiking.

But Whitefish is certainly more than just a resort town. Extensive restaurants, art galleries, breweries, and more can be found lining downtown. Nomad Lawyer says you can’t miss the shows at Whitefish Theatre Company and the Huckleberry Days Arts Festival held annually.

With such a popular resort in town, you may wonder if you’d find yourself battling tourists in traffic during peak season. In Whitefish, that’s not too big of a concern. “Panic not, Whitefish is seldom overrun with tourists,” says The Crazy Tourist. “But having that influx of people keeps the place fresh and means there is plenty going on in an evening.”

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About Anna Landry

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