Montana is a western state with a diversified landscape that includes the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains. Glacier National Park, a large wilderness preserve that borders Canada, is one of the state’s open regions. If you are thinking of moving to Montana from California, you can choose from a number of counties.
Montana is the fourth largest state. With nearly 110 thousand residents, Billings in Yellowstone County is the most populated city in the state of Montana. In contrast, Los Angeles, the most highly populated city in California, has almost 4 million citizens. As you can see, being spread out and having more acreage in Montana is much easier.
The national relocation rate every year is approximately 35 million Americans. Montana is one of the most preferred spots. The number of people moving to Montana outnumbers those who depart.
In recent times, there has been an increase in the number of Californians moving to Montana to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. If you are considering moving from California to Montana, here is everything you need to know.
The Benefits of Living in Montana
You should consider the benefits for you and your family that accompany moving to Montana from the state of California.
1. A Better Cost of Living
In comparison to other states, Montana is a relatively inexpensive place to live. Even though the cost-of-living index in this state is 2.8 percent higher than the national average, it is generally cheaper to live here than in the rest of the country.
The cost of living in Montana is 6.29 percent lower than the cost of living in California, which makes it much more cost-effective to live in this state rather than California. The key element driving up this index is the price of houses, which are 23 percent more than the country’s median home price, and grocery prices, which are 8 percent higher.
All other components of the cost-of-living index, such as medical expenses, travel costs, and utilities, are less expensive than they are in the United States on average. There is also no sales tax in the state of Montana, which further contributes to lower living expenses.
You can therefore expect to spend more of your income on the things you love if you intend on moving interstate.
2. Sparse Population
As the fourth largest state, Montana has the third lowest population in the country. Just over one million people live in this state, which ranks 4th largest in terms of land. 6.86 people per square mile is the nationwide average. This means that if you live in Montana, you are more likely to have a larger plot of land; several more miles than you would have in California.
While it is thought that places with a low population density have harsh weather conditions, or are generally inhabitable, nothing can be farther from the truth regarding the state of Montana.
3. The Labor or Job Market
Many jobs or occupations are concentrated in large cities, due to the low population density in the state. Of course, if you are ready to work in agriculture or construction, you can live in rural areas. However, many individuals still prefer to live and work in the city or towns.
In general, the unemployment rate in Montana is at 4.1 percent, which is lower than the average unemployment rate in the United States. Employees in the state of Montana earn an hourly income of 8.30 dollars. This is 1.05 dollars higher than the minimum income across the country, so it does pay to live and work in Montana.
4. The Climate
California is recognized for being sunny and pleasant almost all year, with a few showers thrown in for good measure. If you are looking for a place to live where you can experience all four seasons, Montana is the place to be.
Because of the state’s large size and differences in elevation, the climate is quite diverse. It is semi-arid continental in general, but at 13,000 feet, the mountain summits can be snowy, even in the summer. If you choose to live in an eastern county, which is mostly covered in plains and hills, you can enjoy four distinct seasons throughout the year.
The average temperature in the winter is 28 degrees Fahrenheit, and in the summer, it reaches an average temperature of 85 degrees. The frigid winds from Canada might be felt on occasion, and the average annual precipitation is barely 15 inches. Due to the wet Pacific air, this quantity can increase in western valleys obstructed by mountains.
5. The Cost of Homes
Renting an apartment in Montana is rather inexpensive. A one-bedroom apartment should cost approximately $850 dollars, and utilities are affordable too.
There are numerous houses for sale that are within a reasonable budget. The typical price of a home in the city is around 230 thousand dollars. However, you can find many homes in the countryside that are significantly cheaper.
You, therefore, spend less of your income on residential expenses.
6. Lush Natural Environment
Mountains, valleys, lakes, rivers, plains, and hills are just a few of the outdoor attractions in Montana. Given the favorable weather, it is no wonder tourists enjoy visiting this wonderful area. If you enjoy spending time in nature with a big sky, and fresh air, you should feel right at home in Montana.
7. Outdoor Recreational Activities
Many people factor in recreational activities when moving or relocating. Thanks to the beautiful outdoor environment, Montana provides local residents and tourists with many outdoor recreational activities.
Glacier National Park, and a portion of Yellowstone National Park, are both located in Montana. The plants and animals are quite diverse here, and several lakes and rivers provide excellent chances for water sports and fishing.
Hiking, climbing, walking, and hunting are all activities you can enjoy here. Several excellent ski resorts allow you to practice skiing on one of the snowcapped mountaintops in Montana.
8. Low Taxes
Another advantage of relocating to Montana is the relatively low tax rates. You do not need to pay sales tax, and property taxes are reasonable. The amount of property tax you pay varies by county, but the average rate in Montana is 0.87 percent, which is lower than the nationwide average.
9. Healthcare and Education
When you look at the top companies in three of the largest cities in this state, you should notice that most of the local specialists earn their income in healthcare and education. Many local kids graduate, and the graduation rate is high, at 86 percent.
The excellent college and university facilities in this state make it a worthwhile place moving to. In total, there are 16 university and college facilities in Montana, and they have some of the lowest tuition prices in the country, making it an ideal place to study, especially when you consider the relatively low education costs.
10. Heritage and Traditions
When moving to Montana, you can get to know the culture and heritage of the local people that live there. It is very different from what you would normally find in California. The culture has inspired many filmmakers to produce award-winning films in the area. Because of the large number of American Indians that live in Montana, it is one of the states with the most National American Heritage.
11. Eased Traffic
Nobody enjoys spending time in traffic. The best part about living in Montana is that there is little traffic. This is due to the low local population density in every county. Although almost all residents own a vehicle (they must own one to get around in Montana), you may find yourself feeling lonely while traveling in this state.
While in this state, you can expect to taste some of the most delicious beers in the country. Montana is home to more than 53 licensed breweries, but many residents take up home brewing of beer as a hobby. Beer has a huge impact on Montana’s economy, and it brings in 60 million dollars worth of revenue for this state.
What You Should Know Before Moving to Montana
After reading the many benefits that a move to Montana can bring, you may be ready to pack up and get moving. However, before you do so, there are some things you need to know.
1. The Winters are Cold
Montana is no exception to the rule that mountainous locations are colder than other regions. Temperatures can drop to a bone-chilling minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit, so be prepared for a cold winter if you are moving to Montana from California.
2. Troubles with Housing
Finding an abode in the city may be difficult, as there are not many houses there. The houses that do appear in the city belong to local residents, so in-migrants may have a tough time finding a home there and may need to resort to traveling long distances to reach work destinations.
In addition, the state is experiencing a housing credit crisis due to a lack of funds for this project. Many people can only afford low-cost options, which are very limited.
3. You Need a Vehicle
Since cities are far away from housing facilities, and houses are far away from shopping complexes, you need a car when traveling in a chosen county. Although there are local taxi services in the town city, you may still need a car to get around the more rural areas.
4. A Wealth of Tourists
While this may sound like a good thing, locals are often unpleased with the many tourists that come to visit their beautiful home. At times, the number of tourists is greater than the number of residents, so asking a person for help while in Montana may be a tad difficult.
5. Reduced Facilities
If you are moving from the busy cities in California to Montana, it may take time for you to adjust to the reduced facilities that are found in abundance in large cities. You may find yourself in more of a village set up than a modern suburb.
6. An Abundance of Wildlife
In Montana, you can expect to see a lot more plants and wildlife than you normally would in California.
Large areas of undeveloped land provide the ideal habitat for a diverse range of plants and animals. There are about 100 mammalian species alone, not to mention other creatures and birds. Of course, if you live in a city or town, you are unlikely to see many, but those living on ranches and farms must often fend off predators and protect livestock.
7. The Cowboy Lifestyle
If you decide to move to Montana, be prepared for its many ranches and farms. There are three times more cows in the state than there are people. Montana is an agricultural state and makes more than four billion dollars in revenue from agriculture.
8. You Must Prepare for the Unexpected
Rural areas in Montana are usually far away from the cities and towns. Many spend a number of hours traveling to and from them. With unpredictable weather, you may be out of power supply for hours, so you must prepare in advance for these events. Survival kits are a must for every resident in Montana, so ensure that you are prepared.
Tips to Remember When Moving to Montana
Now that you have a realistic understanding of what it is like moving to Montana, you can plan, to ensure that moving is seamless and that you are prepared for any situation that may come your way.
1. Plan Your Journey Well
Montana’s infrastructure is limited, and so are facilities; so, running out of petrol while traveling would be a huge disappointment. That is why it is important to properly prepare for a trip. Be sure to let movers know your schedule too, so you can stay on track with your moving activities.
Be sure to charge your phone, and have a power bank on hand in case your battery runs out. Fill your car with gas before leaving California, as gas stations are further apart in Montana. Research vital stop information, and carefully plan your route from California to Montana to prevent any hiccups.
2. Moving in Summer, Spring, or Fall
As we have already seen, winter can be cold in Montana, with temperatures reaching 50 degrees below zero. It is therefore a wise decision to move to this state in the spring, summer, or fall to make the journey is a lot easier.
3. Make Use of Movers
Movers can help make the relocation process a lot easier. It is also safer, as movers (or self movers such as U-Haul alternatives),understand how to transport delicate items a lot better than you may. Hiring an external company to take care of moving relieves considerable pressure and stress, and helps you focus more on adapting to your new environment.
Five of the Best Cities Worth Moving to in Montana
• Great Falls in Cascade County
Great falls get its name from its location. It is located near several waterfalls on the Missouri River and can be found near Missoula. Great falls is known for its many dams and power plants. It is often referred to as “the Electric City”.
It is a terrific area to visit if you want to engage in a variety of outdoor activities. From hiking to skiing, you can get a taste of Montana’s rich natural landscape.
• Billings in Yellowstone County
Billings in Yellowstone County, Montana is the largest city in the state. It is located on the Yellowstone River in southern Montana. Trails wind through the rimrocks, which are sandstone cliffs, in the north.
There are so many things to do in this beautiful city. The Montana Brewery Trail, a 1.5-mile stretch of breweries, distilleries, and a cider house in downtown Billings, is Montana’s only walking brewery trail. Pictograph Cave State Park, for example, has numerous hiking and biking trails.
• Helena in Lewis and Clark County
Helena is the state capital of Montana and the county seat of Lewis and Clark. At the eastern side of the Continental Divide, the city is located beside the Missouri River. The history of this city is extensive.
At places like Carroll College and the Montana State Capitol building, there is a lot to learn about Montana’s history. Broadwater Hot Springs & Fitness has more than 75 miles of surrounding trails to explore, as well as a natural geothermal hot spring.
• Butte in Silver Bow County
Butte, a city found in the county seat of Silver Bow, is Montana’s first significant city, and once was the largest city west of the Mississippi River between Chicago and San Francisco. It can therefore rightfully claim the title of the most historic city in Montana.
You may get a first hand look at the preservation of history in this city thanks to its Victorian uptown commercial center and trolley tours.
• Bozeman in Gallatin County
Bozeman is a city found in Gallatin County in the Rocky Mountains in southern Montana. Montana State University’s Museum of the Rockies, located downtown, chronicles the region’s history and hosts special exhibitions.
Bozeman is known as one of the most livable cities. Enjoy world-class fly fishing in Bozeman, and travel to its magnificent mountain range for hiking, cycling, rock climbing, hunting, skiing, and exploration. You can also visit Yellowstone National Park and see the diverse wildlife population Bozeman has to offer.
The American Computer and Robotics Museum features displays spanning 4,000 years, while the Museum of the Rockies has a collection of dinosaur bones.
Nearby, in West Yellowstone, you can visit the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center to get a glimpse into the world of gray wolves and grizzly bears.
Montana is a beautiful state that boasts many natural aesthetic qualities. If you are looking to escape the city, it may be a good idea to move from California to Montana. (also check our article on moving from California to Texas). The population in Montana is much smaller than the population in California, so you can expect to find larger plots of land for sale.
You can get to experience all that nature has to offer, including the clear, big sky, a higher income with lower costs and taxes, and experience a new culture. However, you must prepare for change when moving to Montana, so keep in mind that moving to the country may not be all that you hoped it would be.
Be sure to plan your moving activities correctly, or else you may face moving in harsh winters. Employ the help of movers to make the relocation process seamless.