There’s a the age old question everyone thinks about when they decide to move to a city in Montana:
Should I buy a place or rent?
Well, we aren’t here today to solve that problem for you exactly. We are just assuming you’ll do the right thing and a buy a place 😉
And while we are happy to tell you the best place to live in Montana, this analysis is going to tackle the question of the best place to buy a house as an investor. That is we are going to try and determine the up and coming cities in the Treasure State.
To do that we are going to look at places in Montana that are growing faster than average, but where home prices are below average. In every day terms, the “deals”.
The best deal in Montana at the moment? That would be Lewistown according to our analysis.
Here’s a look at the top ten places to buy a home in Montana for 2019:
- Lewistown (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Sidney (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Bozeman (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Columbia Falls (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Livingston (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Belgrade (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Miles City (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Kalispell (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Whitefish (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Havre (Photos | Homes For Sale)
The methodology that wen’t into this can be a bit complicated, so we’ll break it down for you in as much detail as we can below.
For more Montana reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Counties To Live In Montana
- 10 Best Places To Raise A Family In Montana
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Montana
How do you determine the best places to buy a home in Montana for 2019?
We were in real estate for almost five years and have been working on this site for another three. Suffice is to say, we’ve put a lot of thought into what goes into finding a good place to buy a home.
So all that thinking has come to this moment where we get to spell out how we’d approach finding an up-and-coming place to live in Montana. Put differently, the analysis will try to find places in Montana with undervalued homes relative to pent up demand.
To do that we looked at the most recent American Community Survey Census data for 2013-2017 and compared it to the previous vintage (2012-2016). Specifically, we used the following criteria:
- Y-o-Y Change In Population (People want to live here)
- Y-o-Y Change In Median Home Prices (People are willing to pay for it)
- Home Prices Relative To The State Average (It’s still kinda cheap)
We want places that are growing, have seen home prices increase in recent years, and are still “cheap” for Montana with the following caveats:
- Home prices had to be within 20% of the state average (Much lower than that and you get to some of the more dangerous places)
- Home prices increased in the last year, and
- Above 5,000 people (Bigger cities have more data points)
So of the 362 cities and towns in Montana, only 16 places made it through our initial filters to even be considered.
We then ranked each place from 1 to 16 for the criteria mentioned above with 1 being the best for that criteria. We averaged the rankings to create a “best place to buy” index with the place having the lowest index being the best.
Turns out that Lewistown is the best potential gem in the not-so-rough in the Treasure State.
Read on for more on these places.
The area that is now Lewistown was once the territory of the Blackfoot Native Americans. In 1874, Fort Lewis was established there by Company “F” of the 7th U.S. Infantry to provide military protection for people traveling on the Carroll Trail, then the shortest route between Carroll, Montana and Helena. Lewistown is named after this fort.
Settlers began arriving in the area in the 1870s, and a post office was established in 1888. Six-year-old Sidney Walters and his parents were staying with Hiram Otis, the local justice of the peace, and Otis decided that Sidney was a good name for the town. The following year, Montana became a state and Sidney was incorporated in 1911.
For thousands of years indigenous people of the United States, including the Shoshone, Nez Perce, Blackfeet, Flathead, Crow Nation and Sioux traveled through the area, called the “Valley of the Flowers”, although the Gallatin Valley, in which Bozeman is located, was primarily within the territory of the Crow people.
The founding of the small historical railroad and ranching town of Livingston, Montana is a direct result of the Northern Pacific Railway. This site became a centralized point in the Rockies and the NPR’s location for railroad shops to service NPR steam trains before their ascent over the Bozeman Pass, the highest point on the line. Livingston also became the first gateway town to America’s first national park, Yellowstone National Park. This is to where the NPR began promoting heavily to visitors from the East. The NPR operated a branch line running some fifty miles south through Paradise Valley to, first the Cinnabar station and later to Gardiner, Montana.
After the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, the U.S. Army created forts in eastern Montana, including one where the north-flowing Tongue River flowed into the east-flowing Yellowstone River. The first fort was known as the Tongue River Cantonment or the Tongue River Barracks and was founded on August 27, 1876. A second, permanent fort was constructed on higher ground two miles to the west of the mouth of the Tongue and this became Fort Keogh.
Working using his own capital, Charles Edward Conrad, a businessman and banker from Fort Benton, Montana, formed the Kalispell Townsite Company with three other men. The townsite was quickly platted and lots began selling by the spring of 1891. Conrad built a large mansion in Kalispell in 1895. Kalispell was officially incorporated as a city in 1892. Since that time, the city of Kalispell has continued to grow in population reaching 19,927 in 2010. As the largest city in Northwest Montana, Kalispell serves as the county seat and commercial center of Flathead County. The city is considered a secondary trade center with a trade area of approximately 130,000. The city also is home to Kalispell Regional Medical Center, which boasts a 150-bed facility.
The Great Northern Railway was built through what is now Whitefish in 1904, which sparked development of the town. The area was originally known as Stumptown due to the abundant amount of timber that had to be cleared to build the town and railroad. Early residents of the town worked for the railroad and nearby logging industries. By the late 1940s, with the successful construction of a ski resort on Big Mountain the tourism sector was becoming increasingly important. The community was named for its location near Whitefish Lake.
Havre was incorporated in north central Montana in 1893. It was founded primarily to serve as a major railroad service center for the Great Northern Railway with its location midway between Seattle and Minneapolis-St. Paul. A statue of Hill stands near the Havre Amtrak station to commemorate the key contributions his railroad has made to Havre’s and Montana’s history.
There You Have It – The Best Places To Purchase A House In Montana for 2019
There’s our analysis of the best places to buy a house in Montana. And, to be clear, we aren’t necessarily saying these places are the best places to live, just that it looks like they might be in a couple of years based on the data.
In fact, every place in the following table meets our criteria, so even though it may not look super long, remember we started off with all 362 places in the state.
So if we’d could rent or buy in these cities, we’d definitely buy.
For more Montana reading, check out:
Detailed List Of The Best Places To Buy A Home In Montana