These Are The 10 Most Expensive Places To Live In Montana For 2019


We used science and data to determine which cities in Montana that will put a big dent in your wallet.

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Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2019. This is our fourth time ranking the most expensive places to live in Montana.

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Everyone wants a home that mixes affordability with comfort and Montana does this very well. Families love the Treasure State’s beaches, midlands, and mountains as tourists before moving here and calling it home.

But before you decide to relocate, you have to do some research into the exact cost of living around the state — and that’s how we’re going to help you.

These are the places in Montana that cost a pretty penny — the most expensive cities in the state.

After we saved up for months and could finally afford it, we landed on this list of the ten most expensive cities in Montana for 2019.

So where is the most expensive place to live in Montana? That would be Bozeman.

Here are the 10 most expensive places to live in Montana for 2019:

  1. Bozeman (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  2. Red Lodge (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  3. Whitefish (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  4. Manhattan (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  5. Missoula (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  6. Hamilton (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  7. Three Forks (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  8. Billings (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  9. Kalispell (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  10. Polson (Photos | Homes For Sale)

So hopefully Chinook (the cheapest place to live in Montana) can show these guys how to live on a budget in the coming years. Read on for how these places had costs rise faster than inflation.

And if you already knew these places were expensive, check out some more reading about Montana and the most expensive cities in the country:

The 10 Most Expensive Places To Live In Montana For 2019

Bozeman, MT

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 43,132
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 6.3x (3rd most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 51.5x (8th most expensive)
More on Bozeman: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Bozeman is a city in and the seat of Gallatin County, Montana, United States. Located in southwest Montana, the 2010 census put Bozeman’s population at 37,280 and by 2016 the population rose to 45,250, making it the fourth largest city in Montana. It is the principal city of the Bozeman, MT Micropolitan Statistical Area, consisting of all of Gallatin County with a population of 97,304. It is the largest Micropolitan Statistical Area in Montana and is the third largest of all of Montana’s statistical areas.

The median income in Bozeman comes in at $49,217 and the median home value is $310,800 for 2019.

Red Lodge, MT

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 2,349
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.8x (9th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 55.2x (10th most expensive)
More on Red Lodge: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Red Lodge comes in at $46,786 and the median home value is $224,700 for 2019.

Whitefish, MT

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 7,070
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 6.5x (2nd most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 55.5x (11th most expensive)
More on Whitefish: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Whitefish (Salish: epxyu, “has whitefish”) is a city in Flathead County, Montana, United States. The population was 6,357 at the 2010 census. It is home to a ski resort on Big Mountain called Whitefish Mountain Resort.

The median income in Whitefish comes in at $49,870 and the median home value is $326,100 for 2019.

Manhattan, MT

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 1,342
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.7x (22nd most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 63.8x (27th most expensive)
More on Manhattan: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Manhattan comes in at $61,400 and the median home value is $224,800 for 2019.

Missoula, MT

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 70,847
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 7)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 5.8x (4th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 55.5x (12th most expensive)
More on Missoula: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Missoula /mzul/ ( listen) is a city in the U.S. state of Montana and is the county seat of Missoula County. It is located along the Clark Fork River near its confluences with the Bitterroot and Blackfoot Rivers in western Montana and at the convergence of five mountain ranges, thus is often described as the “hub of five valleys”. In 2016[update], the United States Census Bureau estimated the city’s population at 72,364 and the population of the Missoula Metropolitan Area at 116,130. In the 1990s, Missoula overtook Great Falls as Montana’s secondlargest city, behind Billings. Missoula is home to the University of Montana, a public research university.

The median income in Missoula comes in at $43,602 and the median home value is $253,100 for 2019.

Hamilton, MT

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 4,570
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 7)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 5.7x (5th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 39.5x (2nd most expensive)
More on Hamilton: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Hamilton comes in at $29,799 and the median home value is $171,200 for 2019.

Three Forks, MT

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 2,046
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 4)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.5x (26th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 61.4x (23rd most expensive)
More on Three Forks: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Three Forks comes in at $53,750 and the median home value is $186,000 for 2019.

Billings, MT

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 109,082
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.7x (20th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 67.3x (30th most expensive)
More on Billings: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Billings is the largest city in the state of Montana, and the principal city of the Billings Metropolitan Area with a population of 166,855. It has a trade area of over half a million people.

The median income in Billings comes in at $55,585 and the median home value is $206,100 for 2019.

Kalispell, MT

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 21,992
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.6x (11th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 59.8x (20th most expensive)
More on Kalispell: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Kalispell (kæl spl, kæl spl) is a city in, and the county seat of Flathead County, Montana, United States. The 2015 Census estimates put Kalispell’s population at 22,052. The Kalispell Micropolitan Statistical Area has a population of 93,068 and it is the largest city and commercial center of northwest Montana. The name Kalispell is a Salish word meaning “flat land above the lake”. Kalispell is also the gateway to Glacier National Park.

The median income in Kalispell comes in at $44,800 and the median home value is $205,500 for 2019.

Polson, MT

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 4,702
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 5.3x (6th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 51.3x (7th most expensive)
More on Polson: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Polson comes in at $33,023 and the median home value is $174,600 for 2019.

HHow We Determined The Most Expensive Places To Live In The Treasure State For 2019

Map Of The Cheapest Places To Live In Montana
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:

  1. How much do money do I make?
  2. How much do I have spend to live there?

You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.

For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it’s actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.

With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2013-2017 around incomes and costs. They are:

  • Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
  • Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
  • Median Home Price

We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).

You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in Montana to figure out which is the most expensive.

What you are left with is a “Cost of Living Index” by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.

So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 50 places in Montana that have more than 1,000 people.

The place with the highest cost of living in Montana according to the data is Bozeman.

Taking A Chunk Out Of Your Paycheck In Montana For 2019

Well there you have it, the places in Montana that have the highest cost of living, with Bozeman ranking as the most expensive city in the Treasure State.

Here’s a look at the most affordable cities in Montana according to the data:

  1. Chinook
  2. Wolf Point
  3. Deer Lodge

For more Montana reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Most Expensive Cities In Montana

Rank City ExpensiveScore Population Home/Income Ratio Income/Rent Ratio
1 Bozeman 13.67 43,132 6.3x 51.5x
2 Red Lodge 14.0 2,349 4.8x 55.2x
3 Whitefish 14.67 7,070 6.5x 55.5x
4 Manhattan 17.33 1,342 3.7x 63.8x
5 Missoula 18.33 70,847 5.8x 55.5x
6 Hamilton 18.33 4,570 5.7x 39.5x
7 Three Forks 19.33 2,046 3.5x 61.4x
8 Billings 19.33 109,082 3.7x 67.3x
9 Kalispell 19.33 21,992 4.6x 59.8x
10 Polson 19.33 4,702 5.3x 51.3x
11 Eureka 19.67 1,317 5.1x 39.2x
12 West Yellowstone 20.0 1,108 7.5x 55.1x
13 Stevensville 20.0 2,020 4.7x 49.8x
14 Helena 20.33 30,345 4.1x 67.6x
15 Livingston 20.67 7,294 5.1x 56.8x
16 Thompson Falls 21.0 1,130 4.3x 44.7x
17 Columbia Falls 21.67 5,054 4.1x 63.8x
18 Belgrade 21.67 8,026 3.7x 68.1x
19 Sidney 22.67 6,491 3.5x 71.0x
20 Libby 23.33 2,664 4.0x 45.1x
21 East Helena 23.67 2,265 3.3x 61.6x
22 Great Falls 24.33 59,144 3.7x 67.5x
23 Big Timber 24.33 1,498 4.0x 67.0x
24 Dillon 24.67 4,224 4.3x 58.7x
25 Ronan 26.67 1,887 3.5x 57.1x
26 Laurel 27.0 6,885 3.3x 68.9x
27 Lewistown 27.0 5,942 2.9x 56.8x
28 Hardin 27.33 3,812 2.6x 57.8x
29 Boulder 27.67 1,001 3.1x 63.2x
30 Plentywood 27.67 1,846 3.3x 69.9x
31 Choteau 28.33 1,676 3.1x 58.0x
32 Columbus 29.0 2,320 3.0x 74.4x
33 Conrad 29.33 2,841 2.7x 60.8x
34 Cut Bank 30.0 3,009 3.2x 60.1x
35 Roundup 30.0 1,813 3.0x 46.6x
36 Havre 30.33 9,763 3.0x 67.8x
37 Miles City 30.67 8,610 2.8x 69.9x
38 Forsyth 31.0 1,793 3.8x 74.2x
39 Glendive 31.67 5,285 3.1x 79.7x
40 Malta 32.33 2,000 3.2x 64.7x
41 Baker 33.0 1,860 2.8x 79.5x
42 Fort Benton 33.67 1,381 3.7x 72.1x
43 Shelby 33.67 3,194 3.4x 72.0x
44 Glasgow 34.0 3,361 2.3x 124.0x
45 Colstrip 34.0 2,253 1.6x 108.2x
46 Scobey 34.67 1,268 2.2x 84.3x
47 Townsend 35.0 2,000 2.9x 94.6x
48 Deer Lodge 35.33 3,015 3.0x 67.3x
49 Wolf Point 35.67 2,792 2.5x 72.0x
50 Chinook 40.0 1,056 2.7x 75.1x

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