Where are the best places in the state of Montana? They are the places that have awesome economies. They’re the places where people have the best jobs, where residents are happily married, and where the sun shines the most.
And certainly, since crime is really low, every one wants to be there. It’s, literally, all sunshine and rainbows. And while many places in Montana are actually really awesome compared to cities throughout the country, these stand out on their own merits.
We looked at the most populated cities in Big Sky Country for this study. The cities at the top are places where things are going swimmingly right now, at least according to data, which measures the good things that people say they want in a city.
There might be some surprises on this list, but when you look at the unbiased data, it’s hard to argue against. We had more than 10 million people read our worst cities in a state series, which was featured in hundreds of media outlets, including an NPR feature.
So we know what we’re talking about.
Here are the 10 best places to live in Montana:
- Helena Valley West Central
- Helena Valley Southeast
- Orchard Homes
- Miles City
We understand there’s a lot of good in every place. However, according to data (which doesn’t measure things like beauty, ‘friendly people’ and community involvement), these are the best options in Montana for making a place home.
The worst city to live in Montana? Kalispell. More on that later.
How do you decide if a place is amazeballs or not?
In order to rank Montana’s best cities, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. It isn’t a stretch to assume that people like low crime, good weather, things to do and a stable economy.
So we scraped the internet for those criteria, and it spit out the answer. Like magic.
How we crunched the numbers for Montana
We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data, the government census, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Sperling’s Best Places, this is the criteria we used:
- Strong schools
- Low unemployment rates
- High incomes
- High home prices
- Lots of sunny days a year
- Low crime
- Low cost of living
If you’d like to see the complete list of cities in Montana, scroll to the bottom of this post to see a link to the entire data set.
Note: We get the crime numbers from the FBI, which gets its crime numbers from the cities themselves. This list is based on data, and is entirely unbiased. In terms of the cost of living numbers listed below, they are based on a national average of 100. So anything under 100 is more affordable.
Crime Index: 53
Cost Of Living Index: 94
Sidney is a small city near the North Dakota border. When you look at the data, it’s the unbiased best place to live in the state of Montana.
2. Helena Valley West Central
Crime Index: 40
Cost Of Living Index: 111
This small area on the northern side of Helena (hence the name) is very safe, but a bit less affordable than other cities on this list.
3. Helena Valley Southeast
Crime Index: 57
Cost Of Living Index: 105
The name says it all. This place is outside of the Helena metro area. You get wide open spaces and friendly neighbors.
Crime Index: 62
Cost Of Living Index: 97
There’s a reason this place in Yellowstone County has had a 57% growth rate over the last 10 years. It’s pretty safe and close to a ton of outdoor activities.
Crime Index: 76
Cost Of Living Index: 106
Laurel is on the south end of Billings.
Crime Index: 95
Cost Of Living Index: 117
It would be hard to find a better ‘big’ city in America, must less in the state of Montana. Frankly put, Bozeman is top notch in a number of categories.
Crime Index: 109
Cost Of Living Index: 107
This is the biggest city in the state of Montana. It’s very rare that a state’s largest city ranks as one of the best places to live. But the data doesn’t lie. There’s not a lot to complain about from residents who live here.
8. Orchard Homes
Crime Index: 80
Cost Of Living Index: 116
Orchard Homes is a small place on the southern fringes of Missoula. It’s relatively safe, but a bit more expensive than other cities on this list.
9. Miles City
Crime Index: 86
Cost Of Living Index: 87
Miles City is the county seat of Custer County. The only downfall – you’re way out in no man’s land. But for lots of people, that’s a good thing.
Crime Index: 76
Cost Of Living Index: 89
Lewistown is another of Montana’s ‘big, small towns.’ It’s relatively safe and affordable in central Montana. The nearest large city is Great Falls.
There You Have It
When considering the local economies, cost of living, and crime numbers, these places in Montana are by far the best. Don’t shoot the messenger.
Other notable cities:
3rd Worst: Anaconda-Deer Lodge County
2nd Worst: Evergreen
We also wrote about the 10 worst places to live in Montana is you want to read that story.
Detailed List Of Best Places To Live In Montana
|Helena Valley West Central||2|
|Helena Valley Southeast||3|
|Anaconda-Deer Lodge County||19|