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.

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.

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: 2 (Up 1)
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.

Whitefish, MT

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 7,070
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 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 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.

West Yellowstone, MT

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 1,108
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 7.5x (1st most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 55.1x (9th most expensive)
More on West Yellowstone: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in West Yellowstone comes in at $32,316 and the median home value is $243,200 for 2019.

Missoula, MT

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 70,847
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
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 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, 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 GreatFalls 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: 7 (Up 2)
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.

Red Lodge, MT

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 2,349
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 5)
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.

Polson, MT

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 4,702
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 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.

Livingston, MT

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 7,294
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 5.1x (8th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 56.8x (14th most expensive)
More on Livingston: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Livingston is a city and the county seat of Park County, Montana, United States. Livingston is located in southwestern Montana, on the Yellowstone River, north of Yellowstone National Park. The population was 7,044 at the 2010 census.

The median income in Livingston comes in at $38,807 and the median home value is $196,800 for 2019.

Stevensville, MT

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 2,020
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.7x (10th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 49.8x (6th most expensive)
More on Stevensville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Stevensville comes in at $34,282 and the median home value is $160,800 for 2019.

Eureka, MT

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 1,317
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 5.1x (7th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 39.2x (1st most expensive)
More on Eureka: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Eureka comes in at $27,042 and the median home value is $138,000 for 2019.

How 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. Scobey
  3. Wolf Point

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 4.33 43,132 6.3x 51.5x
2 Whitefish 4.67 7,070 6.5x 55.5x
3 West Yellowstone 4.67 1,108 7.5x 55.1x
4 Missoula 6.33 70,847 5.8x 55.5x
5 Hamilton 8.0 4,570 5.7x 39.5x
6 Red Lodge 8.33 2,349 4.8x 55.2x
7 Polson 9.33 4,702 5.3x 51.3x
8 Livingston 11.33 7,294 5.1x 56.8x
9 Stevensville 13.0 2,020 4.7x 49.8x
10 Eureka 13.33 1,317 5.1x 39.2x
11 Kalispell 14.0 21,992 4.6x 59.8x
12 Thompson Falls 17.33 1,130 4.3x 44.7x
13 Columbia Falls 18.0 5,054 4.1x 63.8x
14 Manhattan 18.0 1,342 3.7x 63.8x
15 Helena 18.33 30,345 4.1x 67.6x
16 Dillon 18.67 4,224 4.3x 58.7x
17 Billings 20.0 109,082 3.7x 67.3x
18 Three Forks 20.67 2,046 3.5x 61.4x
19 Big Timber 21.0 1,498 4.0x 67.0x
20 Belgrade 22.0 8,026 3.7x 68.1x
21 Libby 23.33 2,664 4.0x 45.1x
22 Great Falls 23.5 59,144 3.7x 67.5x
23 Sidney 24.33 6,491 3.5x 71.0x
24 East Helena 25.33 2,265 3.3x 61.6x
25 Ronan 25.67 1,887 3.5x 57.1x
26 Forsyth 28.33 1,793 3.8x 74.2x
27 Laurel 28.83 6,885 3.3x 68.9x
28 Plentywood 29.33 1,846 3.3x 69.9x
29 Fort Benton 30.67 1,381 3.7x 72.1x
30 Cut Bank 31.0 3,009 3.2x 60.1x
31 Choteau 31.0 1,676 3.1x 58.0x
32 Roundup 31.67 1,813 3.0x 46.6x
33 Boulder 32.0 1,001 3.1x 63.2x
34 Columbus 32.67 2,320 3.0x 74.4x
35 Lewistown 33.0 5,942 2.9x 56.8x
36 Malta 33.33 2,000 3.2x 64.7x
37 Shelby 33.67 3,194 3.4x 72.0x
38 Havre 35.33 9,763 3.0x 67.8x
39 Glendive 36.33 5,285 3.1x 79.7x
40 Miles City 36.33 8,610 2.8x 69.9x
41 Hardin 36.67 3,812 2.6x 57.8x
42 Conrad 36.67 2,841 2.7x 60.8x
43 Baker 38.67 1,860 2.8x 79.5x
44 Deer Lodge 39.0 3,015 3.0x 67.3x
45 Townsend 40.0 2,000 2.9x 94.6x
46 Glasgow 43.67 3,361 2.3x 124.0x
47 Colstrip 44.67 2,253 1.6x 108.2x
48 Wolf Point 45.67 2,792 2.5x 72.0x
49 Scobey 46.67 1,268 2.2x 84.3x
50 Chinook 47.0 1,056 2.7x 75.1x

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.