THE 10 BEST Places To Live In Montana For 2020


These are the cream of the crop in Big Sky Country.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the best places to live in Montana.

If you're not flying down The Big Mountain in Whitefish going mach speed, hiking Glacier National Park, or visiting the best places in Montana for 2020, than you're not taking advantage of the best things that Montana has to offer.

Whether you're taking advantage of long summer nights by Flathead Lake, idyllic winter jaunts through Custer National Forest in Billings, or just hangin' with the good 'ol people of Big Sky Country, Montana is the best. Needless to say, it was very difficult to narrow down the top ten best places to live in this Northwest state.

But, HomeSnacks did it. How'd we do it? We consulted the numbers. In total, we analyzed 32 cities. We looked at important factors like cost of living, crime, unemployment rates, rent and median home values for every place with over 2,000 residents.

We discovered that there are awesome places in Montana to live for every stage of life and every budget. Glasgow is the best for families just starting out, Dillon is great for people looking to retire, and make sure to give Sidney a second look if you don't have to worry about a budget.

Have we piqued your interest? Want to know more about our methodology and where the best places in Montana are located? Keep reading.

Montana has so many great cities, that you could literally throw a dart at the state and live happily wherever it landed. But, what city is the best place to live in Montana for 2020? Well according to the US Census and FBI data we crunched, Colstrip is the best place to live in The Treasure State if you care about home values, low crime, and a high quality of life.

Read below to see how your hometown ranked and how other amazing Montana cities ranked. Hint: if you live in the greater Helena area consider yourself one lucky Montanan!

If you're looking for something more national, check out the best states in America or the best places to live in America.

For more Montana reading, check out:

The 10 Best Places To Live In Montana For 2020

Colstrip, MT

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 2,446
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $118,400 (28th best)
Unemployment Rate: 5.4% (24th best)
More on Colstrip: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Colstrip has it made. In fact, according to science, it's one of the best places to live in the state of Montana.

The unemployment rate is the 24th lowest in the state at 5.4%, and residents make a pretty penny. Median incomes are $87,188, and the average cost of a home is $118,400. Which is an indication that lots of people want to live here.

We wouldn't be surprised if more and more publications call Colstrip one of America's gems.

Glasgow, MT

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 3,348
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $138,800 (23rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 6.2% (25th best)
More on Glasgow: Real Estate | Data | Photos

At an unemployment rate of 6.2%, everyone who wants a job can get one in Glasgow. And the residents command high salaries ($62,300 a year combined income), and live in big fancy homes ($138,800 each).

We're not saying money is why these cities are the 'best' in Montana. What we're implying is that money means safety and peace of mind. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Glendive, MT

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 5,232
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 4)
Median Home Value: $161,800 (18th best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.9% (6th best)
More on Glendive: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Well, I guess technically 1.9% of Glendive residents who want to have a job can't find one, so not everyone has a job, but it's the 6th closest of any city in Montana.

You can tell they take business seriously as they have by far the coolest Chamber of Commerce website we came across in our research.

In addition to its incredibly low unemployment rate, Glendive also ranked well for crime (3rd) and median income ($50,681).

Whitefish, MT

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 7,309
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $348,600 (1st best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.9% (19th best)
More on Whitefish: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Crime is something that doesn't happen very often in Whitefish. Statistically the 9th safest place in the state, there were only 9 violent crimes in the entire city last year.

It's really beautiful in Whitefish, and new homes continue to replace older homes. Resident earn $51,059 a year, and homes are valued at more than $348,600.

What else could you possibly want if you're someone who likes the good things in life?

Belgrade, MT

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 8,345
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $222,100 (6th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.5% (8th best)
More on Belgrade: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Belgrade has a long and illustrious history and its ranking in the top ten of our best places to live is just another notch in its belt.\n\Belgrade had the 5th highest household median income adjusted for cost of living at $58,146.

Not to mention that its residents have plenty to do on the weekends.

Columbia Falls, MT

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 5,225
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $192,800 (11th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.6% (9th best)
More on Columbia Falls: Real Estate | Data | Photos

In Columbia Falls, everyone loves to call Columbia Falls home! The median home value is the 11th highest in Montana.

Additionally, the unemployment rate is the 9th lowest in the state and the crime rates are some of the lowest in Treasure State.

Laurel, MT

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 6,849
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 3)
Median Home Value: $168,400 (17th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.3% (16th best)
More on Laurel: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The Laurel has the 16th lowest unemployment rate in Montana. The population growth here has been 8% over the last 15 years, meaning a lot of people want to live here. If they can afford it; the cost of living in Laurel is higher than the national average and households make $50,541 per year.

We'd move to Laurel if we could in a heart beat.

Bozeman, MT

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 45,121
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 4)
Median Home Value: $343,000 (2nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.8% (18th best)
More on Bozeman: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Bozeman takes 8th place on our list of best places in Montana for 2020 thanks to a strong showing in unemployment rate (18th overall) and things to do.

Bozeman is no stranger to top ten lists, being named one of the best places to live in the country by multiple outlets over the past ten years. And that tends to happen when home prices hit $343,000 at the median.

Sidney, MT

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 6,475
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $213,000 (9th best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.6% (5th best)
More on Sidney: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Sidney is just about as close to a perfect area as you can get. Residents here are gainfully employed, and the schools are some of the best in the state. It's safe, and residents get to enjoy the benefits of quality at home living.

It's quite a gem tucked away in Montana.

Red Lodge, MT

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 2,277
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $235,700 (4th best)
Unemployment Rate: 0.0% (1st best)
More on Red Lodge: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Who wouldn't want to live in a place where there's low crime and everyone is rich? That's the case with Red Lodge.

Things are looking peachy keen here. The unemployment rate is the lowest in Montana and the median income comes in at $49,450.

This is the kind of place you brag to your friends on Facebook about.

Mapping The Best And Worst Places To Live in Montana

The Pressing Question: Size

Before we even started to collect data, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit Helena with a population of 31,212 against places with a population of 18?

We firmly decided no, that just isn't fair.

So to create our ranking, we broke places to live into three tiers:

  • Cities -- Populations over 2,000
  • Towns -- Populations between 1,000 and 2,000
  • Small Towns -- Populations below 1,000

This left us with 32 cities, 62 towns, and 215 small towns.

We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best cities to live in Montana have more of everything and therefore you need to have over 2,000 people to truly be 'the best'.

Now we also realize that city living might not be your cup of tea, so we ran the following analysis on towns and then again for small towns.

You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.

How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In Montana

Now that we had our set of cities, it was time to rank them.

We ranked each place in Montana across a number of criteria from one to 32, with one being the best.

We then took the average rank across all criteria, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title "Best Place To Live In Montana".

The criteria we looked at were:

  • Median Home Values
  • Median Income
  • Population Density (Higher better)
  • Unemployment Rate
  • Commute Time
  • Crime
  • Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty rates

Sources of criteria include the New Census Data and FBI Crime Data. You can download the data here.

After the dust settled, what was the best place to live in Montana? That would be Colstrip.

If your city or town isn't among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart of the best places in Montana.

Otherwise, buckle up for a ride down good living lane with Colstrip at the end of the cul-de-sac.

Wrapping Up The Best Places When It Comes To Living In Montana

If you're looking at areas in Montana with the best economic situations, where there's lower than average crime, and a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

Colstrip made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in Montana for 2020.

Best Towns To Live In Montana

  1. King Arthur Park (Pop. 1,137)
  2. Scobey (Pop. 1,175)
  3. Montana City (Pop. 2,878)
  4. Four Corners (Pop. 4,003)
  5. Glasgow (Pop. 3,363)
  6. Colstrip (Pop. 2,288)
  7. Helena Valley Northwest (Pop. 3,967)
  8. Plentywood (Pop. 1,881)
  9. Baker (Pop. 1,866)
  10. West Glendive (Pop. 1,922)

Best Small Towns To Live In Montana

  1. Belknap (Pop. 291)
  2. Kerr (Pop. 115)
  3. Turah (Pop. 426)
  4. South Hills (Pop. 529)
  5. Park City (Pop. 944)
  6. Sweet Grass (Pop. 95)
  7. Saddle Butte (Pop. 175)
  8. Huntley (Pop. 478)
  9. Gibson Flats (Pop. 253)
  10. Rader Creek (Pop. 234)

If you're curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Montana according to the data:

  1. Polson (Pop. 4,843)
  2. Cut Bank (Pop. 3,007)
  3. Hardin (Pop. 3,842)

For more Montana reading, check out:

Where Are The Best Places To Live In Montana?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Colstrip 2,446 5.4% $118,400
2 Glasgow 3,348 6.2% $138,800
3 Glendive 5,232 1.9% $161,800
4 Whitefish 7,309 3.9% $348,600
5 Belgrade 8,345 2.5% $222,100
6 Columbia Falls 5,225 2.6% $192,800
7 Laurel 6,849 3.3% $168,400
8 Bozeman 45,121 3.8% $343,000
9 Sidney 6,475 1.6% $213,000
10 Red Lodge 2,277 0.0% $235,700

How Is Your Town In ?

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.

2 thoughts on “THE 10 BEST Places To Live In Montana For 2020

  1. Are you friggin serious????? Oh my God I’m sorry for being rude but you have Sidney, MT the #1 spot to live in Montana? Are you kidding me? Please tell me this is a joke. Please cause if not I have zero faith in Ppl anymore cause that’s just straight up silly

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