The 10 Most Expensive Places To Live In Montana For 2021


We used science and data to determine which cities in Montana that will put a big dent in your wallet.

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Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the most expensive places to live in Montana.

Everyone wants a home that mixes affordability with comfort and Montana does this very well. Families love the Treasure State's beaches, midlands, and mountains as tourists before moving here and calling it home.

But before you decide to relocate, you have to do some research into the exact cost of living around the state -- and that's how we're going to help you.

These are the places in Montana that cost a pretty penny -- the most expensive cities in the state.

After we saved up for months and could finally afford it, we landed on this list of the ten most expensive cities in Montana for 2021.

So where is the most expensive place to live in Montana? That would be Whitefish.
the 2015-2019 American Community Survey for the 50 places in Montana with more than 1,000 people.

Here are the 10 most expensive places to live in Montana for 2021:

  1. Whitefish
  2. Bozeman
  3. Manhattan
  4. Missoula
  5. Hamilton
  6. Stevensville
  7. Red Lodge
  8. Eureka
  9. Polson
  10. Livingston

What's the most expensive place to live in Montana? Well, HomeSnacks crunched the numbers and discovered that Whitefish is the most expensive place to live in Montana.

So hopefully Colstrip (the cheapest place to live in Montana) can show these guys how to live on a budget in the coming years. Read on for how these places had costs rise faster than inflation.

And if you already knew these places were expensive, check out some more reading about Montana and the most expensive cities in the country:

The 10 Most Expensive Places To Live In Montana For 2021

1. WhitefishWhitefish, MT

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 7,714
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 7.0x (most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 51.3x (10th most expensive)
More on Whitefish: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Whitefish comes in at $52,037 and the median home value is $364,500 for 2021.

2. BozemanBozeman, MT

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 46,746
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 6.6x (2nd most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 51.5x (11th most expensive)
More on Bozeman: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Bozeman comes in at $55,569 and the median home value is $365,600 for 2021.

3. ManhattanManhattan, MT

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 1,549
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 8)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.2x (14th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 43.3x (2nd most expensive)
More on Manhattan: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Manhattan comes in at $60,324 and the median home value is $253,900 for 2021.

4. MissoulaMissoula, MT

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 73,710
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 5.9x (3rd most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 55.2x (14th most expensive)
More on Missoula: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Missoula comes in at $47,426 and the median home value is $279,700 for 2021.

5. HamiltonHamilton, MT

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 4,723
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 5.5x (4th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 42.4x (most expensive)
More on Hamilton: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Hamilton comes in at $32,006 and the median home value is $177,600 for 2021.

6. StevensvilleStevensville, MT

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 2,182
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 5.5x (5th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 48.8x (6th most expensive)
More on Stevensville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Stevensville comes in at $33,219 and the median home value is $182,400 for 2021.

7. Red LodgeRed Lodge, MT

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 2,212
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 5.1x (7th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 58.5x (17th most expensive)
More on Red Lodge: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Red Lodge comes in at $48,311 and the median home value is $244,700 for 2021.

8. EurekaEureka, MT

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 1,645
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 5.3x (6th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 44.9x (4th most expensive)
More on Eureka: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Eureka comes in at $32,934 and the median home value is $173,400 for 2021.

9. PolsonPolson, MT

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 4,918
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 5.1x (8th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 51.0x (9th most expensive)
More on Polson: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Polson comes in at $37,054 and the median home value is $187,200 for 2021.

10. LivingstonLivingston, MT

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 7,575
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.9x (11th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 56.7x (15th most expensive)
More on Livingston: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Livingston comes in at $46,097 and the median home value is $224,200 for 2021.

How We Determined The Most Expensive Places To Live In The Treasure State For 2021

Map Of The Cheapest Places To Live In Montana
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:

  1. How much do money do I make?
  2. How much do I have spend to live there?

You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.

For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it's actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.

With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2015-2019 around incomes and costs. They are:

  • Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
  • Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
  • Median Home Price

We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).

You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in Montana to figure out which is the most expensive.

What you are left with is a "Cost of Living Index" by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.

So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 50 places in Montana that have more than 1,000 people.

The place with the highest cost of living in Montana according to the data is Whitefish. You can download the data here.

Taking A Chunk Out Of Your Paycheck In Montana For 2021

Well there you have it, the places in Montana that have the highest cost of living, with Whitefish ranking as the most expensive city in the Treasure State.

Here's a look at the most affordable cities in Montana according to the data:

  1. Colstrip
  2. Scobey
  3. Chester

For more Montana reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Most Expensive Cities In Montana

Rank City ExpensiveScore Population Home/Income Ratio Income/Rent Ratio
1 Whitefish 4.33 7,714 7.0x 51.3x
2 Bozeman 4.67 46,746 6.6x 51.5x
3 Manhattan 6.67 1,549 4.2x 43.3x
4 Missoula 6.67 73,710 5.9x 55.2x
5 Hamilton 7.33 4,723 5.5x 42.4x
6 Stevensville 9.0 2,182 5.5x 48.8x
7 Red Lodge 9.67 2,212 5.1x 58.5x
8 Eureka 10.0 1,645 5.3x 44.9x
9 Polson 10.33 4,918 5.1x 51.0x
10 Livingston 12.0 7,575 4.9x 56.7x
11 Thompson Falls 12.67 1,460 4.9x 46.2x
12 Kalispell 14.33 23,241 4.6x 62.5x
13 Dillon 15.33 4,261 5.0x 52.0x
14 Belgrade 16.67 8,685 4.1x 64.7x
15 Columbia Falls 19.0 5,429 4.2x 66.4x
16 Billings 20.0 109,595 3.7x 66.4x
17 Ronan 20.33 1,955 4.3x 51.7x
18 Three Forks 20.67 1,729 3.2x 60.3x
19 Sidney 20.67 6,416 4.0x 70.4x
20 Great Falls 21.0 58,835 3.8x 64.4x
21 Helena 21.33 32,024 4.0x 74.8x
22 Choteau 23.67 1,829 3.4x 58.4x
23 East Helena 24.67 1,514 3.2x 63.7x
24 Glendive 24.67 5,126 3.3x 61.6x
25 Libby 27.0 2,703 3.5x 59.9x
26 Laurel 28.67 6,834 3.1x 66.7x
27 Big Timber 29.67 1,639 3.4x 75.1x
28 Forsyth 30.67 1,495 3.7x 73.1x
29 Miles City 30.67 8,487 3.1x 66.5x
30 Roundup 32.0 1,790 2.8x 44.7x
31 Fort Benton 32.0 1,523 3.5x 76.1x
32 Lewistown 33.33 5,885 2.8x 49.3x
33 Plentywood 34.0 1,825 3.0x 71.9x
34 Columbus 34.67 2,194 2.9x 87.1x
35 Townsend 35.33 2,104 3.2x 78.9x
36 Havre 36.0 9,786 3.1x 72.6x
37 Shelby 37.33 3,078 3.3x 84.1x
38 Anaconda-Deer Lodge County 38.67 9,106 3.1x 75.1x
39 Conrad 38.67 2,633 2.5x 64.2x
40 Deer Lodge 39.33 2,934 2.5x 61.9x
41 Baker 39.67 1,756 2.7x 75.6x
42 Hardin 42.0 3,808 2.7x 74.3x
43 Glasgow 42.0 3,344 2.8x 95.4x
44 Cut Bank 42.33 3,058 2.7x 67.6x
45 Malta 42.67 2,090 2.9x 76.7x
46 Wolf Point 44.67 2,774 2.4x 69.4x
47 Harlowton 46.33 1,170 2.1x 70.1x
48 Chester 46.33 1,099 2.6x 76.4x
49 Scobey 50.0 1,155 2.2x 107.6x
50 Colstrip 50.0 2,448 1.4x 107.2x

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.