10 Best Places to Live in Montana

Montana is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Known as “Big Sky Country,” Montana is the fourth largest state in the United States, but with a population of just over a million, there is a lot of space to spread out.

While most of Montana is quite rural, there are several cities and towns that offer visitors and residents the best of both city living and access to outdoor activities. There are some common factors you should consider before moving to Montana.  All of the communities described below have certain characteristics in common.

  1. 1. Taxes. Montana’s state income tax ranges from 1.0% to 6.75%, compared to the national average state income tax of 4.6%. There is no general sales tax in Montana, whereas the national average is 6.2%. Montana has one of the lower average effective property tax rates in the U.S. at 0.83%.
  2. 2. Climate. Most of Montana is brutally cold in the winter, but warm and pleasant in the summer. We will mention any specific climatic anomalies for specific areas if they exist.

Here are top 10 best places to live in Montana in 2022.

  • Population: 117,116 | Rank Last Year: #1
  • Cost of Living: 7% below the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $221,100/$59,656 = 3.71 (buying homes is affordable)
  • Income to rent ratio: $59,656/$10,788 = 5.53 (renting homes is very affordable)

Billings, the largest city in the state, is located in southern Montana where Interstate 90 meets Interstate 94. Billings Logan International Airport offers direct flights to hubs like Denver, Salt Lake City, MinneapolisSeattle, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Dallas.

a. Size and Population

Billings has a population of 117,116 (2020) spread over a 44.72-square-mile area. The population density is 2,619 per square mile.

The population in Billings grew by 12.4% from April 2010 through April 2020, above both the overall U.S. rate of 7.4% and the Montana rate of 9.6%.

b. Median Income, Cost of Living and Housing Market Characteristics

The numbers below show the median income, cost of living and the annual spending on housing for owned and rented properties in Billings.

BILLINGS MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME (2019): $59,656

Billings Cost of Living

  • 7% Lower than the U.S. National Average
  • 25% Lower than Bozeman, Montana
  • 50% Lower than New York City, New York
  • 13% Lower than Chicago, Illinois

Billings Housing Costs

Median Home Value Annual Spend for Homeowners Annual Spend for Renters
(Rent & Utilities)
$221,100 $17,088 $10,788

Billings shows a home P/E (home price to income) ratio of 3.71, based on a median home value of $221,100 and a median household income of $59,656. The U.S. average is 3.46. Therefore, it is affordable to buy homes in the Billings area.

Billings shows an income to rent ratio of 5.53, based on a median household income of $59,656 and an annual spend of $10,788. Therefore, it is very affordable to rent properties in Billings.

In Billings, 63.0% of residents own their homes.

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