Where are the best places in the state of Montana?
To the untrained eye they are the places that have awesome economies. They’re the places in Treasure State where people have the best jobs, residents are all above average, and the sun shines the most.
However, here at HomeSnacks, we don’t trust the untrained eye and instead look to data to understand the best places to call home in Montana.
There might be some surprises on this list, but when you look at the unbiased data, it’s hard to argue against.
After analyzing 32 places in Montana, we came up with this list of the best places:
- East Helena
- Laurel (Photos)
- Sidney (Photos)
- Whitefish (Photos)
- Helena (Photos)
- Bozeman (Photos)
- Columbia Falls
- Belgrade (Photos)
Follow along as we provide more insight into how we reached our overall best 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 30,102 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, 63 towns, and 278 small towns.
We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best places have more of everything and therefore you need to have over 2,000 people to truly be ‘the best’.
You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.
How We Calculated The Best Place 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
- Education Levels
- Health Insurance Coverage
- Poverty rates
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 Glasgow at the end of the cul-de-sac.
Population: 3,363Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 3)
Home Values: $151,600 (21st best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.6% (11th best)
When you look at the numbers, Glasgow is far and away, the best place in Montana. The crime rate is very low, and so are the unemployment numbers. Only 11th of Glasgow residents are without a job, which is very low.
Plus, the children in Glasgow schools receive a ton of support, financially. And when you feel so cosy in your backyard, you’re never out of things to do. It’s basically a little gem tucked away in Montana.
Population: 2,288Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Home Values: $126,500 (25th best)
Unemployment Rate: 7.3% (25th best)
Colstrip is known for having a great education system and has the 5th shortest commute time.
Additionally, the unemployment rate in Colstrip is the 25th lowest in Montana and the median income is the 1st highest in the state.
3. East Helena
Population: 2,286 Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Home Values: $165,500 (14th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.8% (16th best)
The crime is the 3rd lowest in the state in East Helena, and there were only 2 violent crimes in the entire city last year. We think it’s even safer here than the numbers indicate.
The schools are some of the best in Montana, and residents live in very expensive homes. They also earn more than most every other city in the state. Residents in East Helena earn $52,639 a year.
Population: 6,931Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Home Values: $161,000 (18th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.8% (13th best)
With the unemployment rate being the 14th lowest in Montana and very stable household median incomes, it’s easy to see why someone would want to live in Laurel.
Plus, the crime rate is the 11th lowest in the state!
Population: 6,407Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 4)
Home Values: $180,400 (11th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.3% (5th best)
Taking its place as the 5th best place in Montana is Sidney. Residents here earn a really high salary each year, and crime is fairly low, in comparison to the rest of Montana.
It’s considered a cultural community, as it boasts an arts scene, and many ethnic restaurants, too. Which means you can’t be bored here.
An unemployment rate of only 2.3% helps thing too.
Population: 6,859Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 2)
Home Values: $311,900 (1st best)
Unemployment Rate: 5.7% (20th best)
Well, I guess technically 5.7% of Whitefish residents who want to have a job can’t find one, so not everyone has a job, but it’s the 20th 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, Whitefish also ranked well for crime (15th) and median income ($51,250).
Population: 30,102Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 3)
Home Values: $209,500 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.6% (11th best)
Helena ranks 7th on our list of best places to live in Montana thanks to its low unemployment and high adjusted median income.
Additionally, its crime rate ranks in the lowest 10% of all places in Montana that we examined.
People have been flocking to Helena over the past years. Goes to show that everyone wants in on this great community.
Population: 41,761Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 6)
Home Values: $278,700 (2nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 6.1% (21st best)
Who doesn’t want to live inBozeman? Because, according to the data, most everyone should want to.
Crime is lower than the state average, and the unemployment rate sits at only 6.1%. The school systems are generally well funded, meaning lots of personal attention for area kids.
Expect to see more of Bozeman in the news in the coming months.
9. Columbia Falls
Population: 4,960 Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 4)
Home Values: $174,400 (12th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.8% (16th best)
Say what you want about cheap living. The fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s A LOT of demand to live in Columbia Falls.
Columbia Falls ranked impressively high for its crime rate (12th overall) and its short commute times (23rd).
We think that’s worth the price of admission.
Population: 7,874Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 1)
Home Values: $196,300 (7th best)
Unemployment Rate: 5.2% (19th best)
Belgrade is a short drive from everything, but who would want to leave the 10th best place in Montana?
Homes are priced around $196,300 and residents have the 27th shortest commute in Montana.
Wrapping Up The Best Of The Best 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.
Glasgow made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for 2018.
Best Towns To Live In Montana
- King Arthur Park (Pop. 1,137)
- Scobey (Pop. 1,175)
- Montana City (Pop. 2,878)
- Malmstrom AFB (Pop. 3,933)
- Four Corners (Pop. 4,003)
- Glasgow (Pop. 3,363)
- Colstrip (Pop. 2,288)
- Helena Valley Northwest (Pop. 3,967)
- Plentywood (Pop. 1,881)
- Baker (Pop. 1,866)
Best Small Towns To Live In Montana
- Boyd (Pop. 52)
- Belknap (Pop. 291)
- Turah (Pop. 426)
- Kerr (Pop. 115)
- Happys Inn (Pop. 86)
- South Hills (Pop. 529)
- Park City (Pop. 944)
- Huntley (Pop. 478)
- Huson (Pop. 12)
- Indian Springs (Pop. 41)
If you’re curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Montana:
- Hardin (Pop. 3,803)
- Polson (Pop. 4,674)
- Libby (Pop. 2,674)
For more Montana reading , check out:
- These Are The 10 Most Redneck Cities In Montana
- These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Montana
- These Are The 10 Drunkest Cities In Montana
Detailed List Of The Best Cities In Montana