Best Places To Live In Montana In 2023: Top 5 Treasure State Cities, According To Experts

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’s 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 that 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. 

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!

The List: Best Places To Live In Montana Most Recommended By Experts

1. Helena

As Montana’s state capital, Helena is an ode to many of the things residents love most about their home state. “Helena is a robust and buzzy city, but it’s also a natural wonder, as it has over 60 natural hot springs and 15 commercial hot springs,” says NewHomeSource. “For outdoor and holistic enthusiasts, it’s the best.”

Nature lovers rejoice in Helena, thanks to its central location to many of Montana’s most beautiful outdoor attractions. “It’s located between Yellowstone and Glacier national parks, so you’ll be surrounded by nature,” UpHomes states. “You’ll have access to Lake Helena as well, which is a great place to fish, hike, and kayak.”

But beyond the natural wonders surrounding Helena, the city also boasts its own thriving community. “With nearly 30,000 residents and a population mixed somewhat equally across every age group, the state capital of Helena has a small-town, suburb feel for families, young singles, and couples looking for a peaceful home and high-quality schools,” Zumper says.

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

2. Bozeman

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, “the city of Bozeman offers one of the fastest-growing college towns in the nation, making it a great, youthful location for singles, couples, and families alike.” 

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. “It has fantastic views, great skiing, and lots of innovative restaurants, which is surprising given its small size,” adds UpNest.

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

3. Missoula

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. “With a population of around 77,000, Missoula maintains its small-town feel, which is one of the main factors that draws in families and those looking for a quieter lifestyle,” says Discovering Montana

The small-town feel takes nothing away from the social scene in Missoula. “This is the place to go for live music, eclectic shops, busy restaurants and bustling breweries,” claims Apartment Guide. “Missoula’s historic downtown is one of the most walkable and inviting neighborhoods in the state.”

The stunning landscape of Montana is certainly another inviting factor for would-be Missoula transplants. “Missoula is near 400 acres of parkland and three mountain ranges, so you’ll have access to lots of great skiing in the winter and hiking trails in the summer,” says UpNest. “Montana’s rugged scenery is never far away. Climb Mount Sentinel and Mount Jumbo, see mountains, woodlands and waterfalls in Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and Wilderness or bike the 50-mile Bitterroot Trail between Missoula and Hamilton,” adds Discovering Montana.

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

4. Billings

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. “Billings is a city in every sense of the word,” says Movingist.

“Billings residents can enjoy live music and entertainment venues, kayaking spots, and downtown destinations. The downtown area includes a highly walkable environment with local restaurants, shops, and experiences,” Zumper adds.

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. “Billings has a diversified population that is especially popular with seniors. Families with small children are drawn to the area because of the excellent schools, while millennials are drawn by the work prospects and simple commute alternatives,” explains Movingist. “A relatively low cost of living and short commute times make Billings an attractive option for renters and home buyers,” adds Apartment Guide.

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

5. Whitefish

Located near Glacier National Park, Whitefish is an undeniable delight for nature enthusiasts of all kinds. “The Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort offers fun in the powdery snow of winter, and summer activities like mountain biking, zip-lining, and hiking,” Zumper says. “Whitefish, Montana is one of the best ski towns in the country,” claims UpNest.

But Whitefish is certainly more than just a resort town. “The downtown area has art galleries, gift shops, breweries, and top-rated restaurants that serve everything from elk carpaccio to fresh sushi,” says UpNest. “Living here means that you can also enjoy the shows at Whitefish Theatre Company and the Huckleberry Days Arts Festival held annually. There’s also an annual culinary event called ‘Taste of Whitefish,’” adds Nomad Lawyer.

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.”

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

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links.