Best Places To Buy A House In Montana For 2020

Using science and data, we can tell you which places in Montana have seen home prices rising and people flocking over the past year.

Editor’s note: This is not investment advice and we are not financial advisers. Article updated for 2020.

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There's a the age old question everyone thinks about when they decide to move to a city in Montana:

Should I buy a place or rent? Well, we aren't here today to solve that problem for you exactly. We are just assuming you'll do the right thing and a buy a place. And while we are happy to tell you the best place to live in Montana, this analysis is going to tackle the question of the best place to buy a house as an investor. That is we are going to try and determine the up and coming cities in the Treasure State.

To do that we are going to look at places in Montana that are growing faster than average, but where home prices are below average. In every day terms, the "deals". The best deal in Montana at the moment? That would be Columbia Falls according to our analysis.

Here's a look at the top ten places to buy a home in montana for 2020:

  1. Columbia Falls (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  2. Glendive (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  3. Lewistown (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  4. Sidney (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  5. Laurel (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  6. Whitefish (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  7. Livingston (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  8. Belgrade (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  9. Miles City (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  10. Havre (Photos | Homes For Sale)

What's the best place to buy a home in Montana for 2020? According to our analysis, would the the ideal place to buy a home looking into the future.

The methodology that wen't into this can be a bit complicated, so we'll break it down for you in as much detail as we can below. If you're not worried about finding a deal on good places to live, check out the most expensive places to live in montana and, for those of you on a budget, the cheapest places to live in montana.

For more Montana reading, check out:

The 10 Best Cities To Buy A House In Montana For 2020

Columbia Falls, MT

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,225
Median Home Price: $192,800
Population Change: 3.4%
Home Price Change: 5.2%
More on Columbia Falls: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data


Glendive, MT

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,232
Median Home Price: $161,800
Population Change: -1.0%
Home Price Change: 3.9%
More on Glendive: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Lewistown, MT

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,895
Median Home Price: $111,700
Population Change: -0.8%
Home Price Change: -4.0%
More on Lewistown: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

The area that is now Lewistown was once the territory of the Blackfoot Native Americans. In 1874, Fort Lewis was established there by Company "F" of the 7th U.S. Infantry to provide military protection for people traveling on the Carroll Trail, then the shortest route between Carroll, Montana and Helena. Lewistown is named after this fort.

Sidney, MT

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,475
Median Home Price: $213,000
Population Change: -0.2%
Home Price Change: 1.9%
More on Sidney: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Settlers began arriving in the area in the 1870s, and a post office was established in 1888. Six-year-old Sidney Walters and his parents were staying with Hiram Otis, the local justice of the peace, and Otis decided that Sidney was a good name for the town. The following year, Montana became a state and Sidney was incorporated in 1911.

Laurel, MT

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,849
Median Home Price: $168,400
Population Change: -0.5%
Home Price Change: 1.5%
More on Laurel: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Before Laurel became a city or a community, people passed through the site during the gold rush period, when gold was discovered at the Clarks Fork headwaters. They came by team and wagon, and by small steamer vessels up the Yellowstone River. The government was in the process of planning a railroad to the west coast, and had surveying crews out to map the country on the most direct route. Many of the prospectors that went west in search of gold, felt that gold might be found in other parts of the state, so some returned to the Yellowstone Valley, and others came from the East to settle here. However, this did not take place until after the Custer Massacre in 1876. It was not until 1877 that the white man felt safe in the Yellowstone Valley, after the power of the Sioux was broken. So it was that while the memory of the Massacre of General Custer and his Command on the Little Big Horn River was still fresh in the minds of settlers of Montana, that a little community was established in the Yellowstone Valley.

Whitefish, MT

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,309
Median Home Price: $348,600
Population Change: 3.4%
Home Price Change: 6.9%
More on Whitefish: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

The Great Northern Railway was built through what is now Whitefish in 1904, which sparked development of the town. The area was originally known as Stumptown due to the abundant amount of timber that had to be cleared to build the town and railroad. Early residents of the town worked for the railroad and nearby logging industries. By the late 1940s, with the successful construction of a ski resort on Big Mountain the tourism sector was becoming increasingly important. The community was named for its location near Whitefish Lake.

Livingston, MT

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,478
Median Home Price: $215,400
Population Change: 2.5%
Home Price Change: 9.5%
More on Livingston: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

The founding of the small historical railroad and ranching town of Livingston, Montana is a direct result of the Northern Pacific Railway. This site became a centralized point in the Rockies and the NPR's location for railroad shops to service NPR steam trains before their ascent over the Bozeman Pass, the highest point on the line. Livingston also became the first gateway town to America's first national park, Yellowstone National Park. This is to where the NPR began promoting heavily to visitors from the East. The NPR operated a branch line running some fifty miles south through Paradise Valley to, first the Cinnabar station and later to Gardiner, Montana.

Belgrade, MT

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,345
Median Home Price: $222,100
Population Change: 4.0%
Home Price Change: 5.9%
More on Belgrade: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Miles City, MT

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,576
Median Home Price: $150,500
Population Change: -0.4%
Home Price Change: 4.1%
More on Miles City: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

After the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, the U.S. Army created forts in eastern Montana, including one where the north-flowing Tongue River flowed into the east-flowing Yellowstone River. The first fort was known as the Tongue River Cantonment or the Tongue River Barracks and was founded on August 27, 1876. A second, permanent fort was constructed on higher ground two miles to the west of the mouth of the Tongue and this became Fort Keogh.

Havre, MT

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 9,762
Median Home Price: $143,900
Population Change: -0.0%
Home Price Change: 6.8%
More on Havre: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Havre was incorporated in north central Montana in 1893. It was founded primarily to serve as a major railroad service center for the Great Northern Railway with its location midway between Seattle and Minneapolis-St. Paul. A statue of Hill stands near the Havre Amtrak station to commemorate the key contributions his railroad has made to Havre's and Montana's history.

How do you determine the best places to buy a home in montana for 2020?

We were in real estate for almost five years and have been working on this site for another three. Suffice is to say, we've put a lot of thought into what goes into finding a good place to buy a home.

So all that thinking has come to this moment where we get to spell out how we'd approach finding an up-and-coming place to live in Montana. Put differently, the analysis will try to find places in Montana with undervalued homes relative to pent up demand.

To do that we looked at the most recent American Community Survey Census data for 2014-2018 and compared it to the previous vintage (2012-2016). Specifically, we used the following criteria:

  • Y-o-Y Change In Population (People want to live here)
  • Y-o-Y Change In Median Home Prices (People are willing to pay for it)
  • Home Prices Relative To The State Average (It's still kinda cheap)

We want places that are growing, have seen home prices increase in recent years, and are still "cheap" for Montana with the following caveats:

So of the 0 cities and towns in Montana, only 16 places made it through our initial filters to even be considered.

We then ranked each place from 1 to 16 for the criteria mentioned above with 1 being the best for that criteria. We averaged the rankings to create a "best place to buy" index with the place having the lowest index being the best. You can download the data here.

Turns out that Columbia Falls is the best potential gem in the not-so-rough in the Treasure State.

Read on for more on these places.

There You Have It - The Best Places To Purchase A House In montana for 2020

There's our analysis of the best places to buy a house in Montana. And, to be clear, we aren't necessarily saying these places are the best places to live, just that it looks like they might be in a couple of years based on the data.

In fact, every place in the following table meets our criteria, so even though it may not look super long, remember we started off with all 0 places in the state.

So if we'd could rent or buy in these cities, we'd definitely buy.

For more montana reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Places To Buy A Home In Montana

City Rank Median Home Price Population Change Home Price Increase
Columbia Falls 1 $192,800 3.4% 5.2%
Glendive 2 $161,800 -1.0% 3.9%
Lewistown 3 $111,700 -0.8% -4.0%
Sidney 4 $213,000 -0.2% 1.9%
Laurel 5 $168,400 -0.5% 1.5%
Whitefish 6 $348,600 3.4% 6.9%
Livingston 7 $215,400 2.5% 9.5%
Belgrade 8 $222,100 4.0% 5.9%
Miles City 9 $150,500 -0.4% 4.1%
Havre 10 $143,900 -0.0% 6.8%
Kalispell 11 $214,100 2.9% 4.2%
Helena 12 $232,000 2.9% 5.4%
Bozeman 13 $343,000 4.6% 10.4%
Great Falls 14 $168,900 -0.3% 1.8%
Missoula 15 $262,500 1.8% 3.7%
Billings 16 $212,700 0.3% 3.2%

How Is The Area 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.

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