The 10 Best Places To Live In Montana For 2024

The best places to live in Montana for 2024 are Whitefish, Glasgow, and Bozeman. Find out where your city or town ranks.

If you’re not flying down The Big Mountain in Whitefish, hiking Glacier National Park, or jaunting through Custer National Forest in Billings than you’re not taking advantage of the best things that Montana has to offer.

The best places to live in Montana are all a stone’s throw from these attractions.

How’d we determine the best places to live? We used Saturday Night Science to consult the numbers from the Census, FBI, and Zillow. In total, we analyzed the 31 cities for important factors like incomes, crime, rent, and median home values for every place with over 2,000 residents.

We discovered fantastic places in Montana to live for every stage of life and every budget. Take a look.

Table Of Contents: Top Ten | Table | Map | Methodology | Summary

The 10 Best Places To Live In Montana For 2024

  1. Whitefish
  2. Glasgow
  3. Bozeman
  4. Colstrip
  5. Deer Lodge
  6. Belgrade
  7. Glendive
  8. Helena
  9. Laurel
  10. Red Lodge

What is the best place to live in Montana for 2024? The best places to live in Montana is Whitefish ccording to the US Census, Zillow, and FBI data

If you live in the greater Helena area, consider yourself one lucky Montanan.

For more reading, check out:

The 10 Best Places To Live In Montana For 2024

Best Places To Live In Montana Map

Whitefish, MT

Source: Wikipedia User Elkman | GFDL
Stat Whitefish Montana
Population 8,098 1,091,840
Rank Last Year 1
Median Home Value $817,427 $447,821
Median Income $69,919 $66,341
Unemployment Rate 2.5% 3.9%
Crime Per Capita 0.0243 0.0256

More on Whitefish: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

We probably don’t have to try very hard to convince nature-enthusiasts that Whitefish is among the best places to live in Montana. Not when it’s surrounded by Flathead National Forest, Kootenai National Forest, and Glacier National Park. It would take a lifetime to fully explore each of these national treasures, so if you’re bored in Whitefish, you’re doing it wrong. We haven’t even touched on the Whitefish Ski Resort, the city beach, the local farmer’s market, or any of the various annual events that Whitefish puts on.

There’s a catch to all this, unfortunately. Whitefish is quite an expensive place to settle, with a cost of living around 15% higher than the national average and home prices at around $817,427, the 1st costliest in Montana. The good news is that you get to live in a hyper-educated community where about 20% of residents have a master’s degree or higher. And since smart, moneyed individuals don’t have much reason to go out committing felonies, Whitefish also had the 7th lowest rate of violent crime in Montana.

Glasgow, MT

Source: Wikipedia User Mcheath | GFDL
Stat Glasgow Montana
Population 3,208 1,091,840
Rank Last Year 4
Median Home Value $167,389 $447,821
Median Income $65,850 $66,341
Unemployment Rate 0.8% 3.9%
Crime Per Capita 0.0193 0.0256

More on Glasgow: Data | Crime | Real Estate

Glasgow is a small city of 3,208, yet it is still a key economic hub for northeastern Montana. Glasgow residents enjoy the 6th highest median household income in the state at $65,850/year. Like Colstrip, Glasgow’s combination of high pay and low home prices make it an attractive choice for someone looking to save money. And it’s not just like the 1% can succeed in Glasgow, seeing as the poverty level here is 9.2%, the 7th lowest in Montana.

As a nice bonus, Glasgow residents also have the 2nd shortest commute time in the state at just 10 minutes. Anyone who’s had a hellish commute in their life will appreciate just how much a short drive to and from work can improve one’s quality of life. Glasgow also has a crime rate roughly 30% lower than the national average, so your chances of getting car-jacked on your commute are basically nil.

If you’ve made the move to Glasgow, we recommend rewarding yourself for your smart planning with a pint from the local Busted Knuckle Brewery.

Bozeman, MT

Source: Public domain
Stat Bozeman Montana
Population 53,500 1,091,840
Rank Last Year 2
Median Home Value $712,076 $447,821
Median Income $74,113 $66,341
Unemployment Rate 2.8% 3.9%
Crime Per Capita 0.0217 0.0256

More on Bozeman: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

Bozeman is an up-and-coming city with plenty to love. Evidently, people agree, because Bozeman’s population has grown by about 25% since 2010. Bozeman appears especially attractive for young people because, at 28, the city has the lowest median age of any place we’re covering here. That’s part of the reason we named Bozeman as one of the best cities for singles in Montana. The other is the abundance of fun things to do in Bozeman. Date ideas include a day out at the Museum of the Rockies, attending a MSU football game, shopping ’til you drop in Downtown Bozeman, and hiking at nearby Palisade Falls. You could even probably squeeze all that into one day if you’re extra ambitious.

Bozeman’s public schools are also quite good, with GreatSchools giving a 7.5/10 average score to the district. And with the 3rd lowest high school dropout rate in Montana, we think that whatever they’re doing is working well.

The catch: Bozeman is also the most expensive city in Montana, with home prices at $712,076, the 2nd priciest in the state, and a cost of living roughly 10% higher than the national average. Folks here also earn the 3rd highest median household income in Montana, though, so if you can lock down a job paying around $74,113/year you should be alright.

4. Colstrip

Colstrip, MT

Source: Public domain
Stat Colstrip Montana
Population 2,327 1,091,840
Rank Last Year 3
Median Home Value $249,251 $447,821
Median Income $87,321 $66,341
Unemployment Rate 5.0% 3.9%
Crime Per Capita 0.0013 0.0256

More on Colstrip: Crime | Real Estate

Colstrip moved up to the top spot for 2024 after finishing a close second last year, so things seem to just keep getting better here. While Colstrip has the highest median household income in Montana, $87,321/year, homes here are quite cheap at around $249,251. In fact, everything is a bit more affordable in Colstrip. The cost of living in Colstrip is about 20% lower than the statewide average, so things like groceries, utilities, and rent won’t put a big dent in your finances here. 94.8% of Colstrip residents also have health insurance, the 6th highest rate in the state, so going to the doctor here won’t bankrupt you either.

Colstrip has the 4th lowest poverty level in Montana at 7.6%, meaning the economy is working for everyone in this city. We also named Colstrip the safest place in Montana, so criminal activity is basically non-existent here.

As a nice bonus for outdoorsy folks, Colstrip’s Castle Rock Lake is one of the premier fishing spots in the region. Even if you’re just coming for a hike or a picnic, the picturesque scenery makes for a delightful day out.

5. Deer Lodge

Deer Lodge, MT

Source: Wikipedia User Sam Beebe | CC BY 2.0
Stat Deer Lodge Montana
Population 3,030 1,091,840
Rank Last Year 14
Median Home Value $265,269 $447,821
Median Income $52,813 $66,341
Unemployment Rate 3.4% 3.9%
Crime Per Capita 0.0155 0.0256

More on Deer Lodge: Crime | Real Estate

Deer Lodge is no stranger to the HomeSnacks spotlight; we ranked it among the best places to raise a family and the most affordable places in Montana.

Deer Lodge is known for being home to the Old Montana Prison, but you’re unlikely to find any residents actually behind bars. That’s because Deer Lodge has the 9th lowest overall crime rate in Montana — about 66% lower than the national average.

Additionally, with a sub-1% unemployment rate, Deer Lodge enjoys the 13th best job numbers in Montana. This may explain why Deer Lodge residents are insured at the 5th highest rate statewide. Homes in Deer Lodge sell for a median price of $265,269, and the median household income is $52,813. That combination of statistics gives the city one of the best home price to income ratios in the state.

Deer Lodge does have a high median age of 49, so expect a more slow-paced community. Locals love their cowboy heritage, on display at the Grant-Kohrs Ranch, and enjoying the finer things in life (like classic cars) at the local Powell County Museum.

Belgrade, MT

Source: Public domain
Stat Belgrade Montana
Population 10,941 1,091,840
Rank Last Year 6
Median Home Value $540,043 $447,821
Median Income $82,769 $66,341
Unemployment Rate 1.2% 3.9%
Crime Per Capita 0.0254 0.0256

More on Belgrade: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

Belgrade is a suburban city of 10,941 located 15 minutes northwest of Bozeman. GreatSchools gave Belgrade’s elementary schools an average rating of 7.5/10, so parents can rest easy knowing that they’re giving their kiddos the best possible start in life. Belgrade’s economy is also cause for considerable envy, considering it has the 14th lowest poverty level and 2nd lowest unemployment rate in Montana, at 12.6% and 1.2% respectively.

If you decide to settle down in Belgrade, homes go for a median price of $540,043. The median household income in Belgrade is $82,769/year, so you may want to make sure you can bring in about that much if you want to live comfortably here. Besides the obvious advantage of having such a vibrant city of Bozeman just down the road, Belgrade also has plenty of goodies for outdoorsmen and women who’d rather escape the big crowds.

Glendive, MT

Source: Wikipedia User Larry D. Moore | CC BY-SA 3.0
Stat Glendive Montana
Population 4,861 1,091,840
Rank Last Year 23
Median Home Value $218,024 $447,821
Median Income $65,663 $66,341
Unemployment Rate 4.1% 3.9%
Crime Per Capita 0.0105 0.0256

More on Glendive: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

Located in east-central Montana about 40 minutes from the North Dakota border, Glendive ranks as the 7th best place to call home in Montana. We already named Glendive the best city for families in Montana and a lot of those same factors come into play here. Like having an 11:1 student-teacher ratio, about 25% better than your average Montana school district. Or having the 5th lowest crime rate in the state. Not to mention Makoshika State Park, where you can walk a real dinosaur trail and see T-Rex fossils, all in the company of spectacular badland formations.

If you’re not a parent, you can still appreciate Glendive’s super-low unemployment rate of 4.1%, the 16th lowest in Montana. If you’re part of the mega-majority of employed residents, you can expect a household income of around $65,663/year in Glendive.

Helena, MT

Source: Wikipedia User RTC at English Wikipedia | GFDL
Stat Helena Montana
Population 32,529 1,091,840
Rank Last Year 9
Median Home Value $445,702 $447,821
Median Income $64,798 $66,341
Unemployment Rate 3.2% 3.9%
Crime Per Capita 0.0413 0.0256

More on Helena: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

Helena is one of the best places to live in Montana for more reasons than we can count.

The town embodies the essence of the Western spirit, creating the perfect setting for adventure. You can explore 75 miles of trails in the South Hills or spend a day walking through Carroll College and the Mansion District.

Home to the Montana State Capitol building, home prices are 445,702 and rents are $969 per month.

Laurel, MT

Source: Wikipedia User Forest Service Northern Region | CC BY 2.0
Stat Laurel Montana
Population 7,181 1,091,840
Rank Last Year 8
Median Home Value $376,373 $447,821
Median Income $62,250 $66,341
Unemployment Rate 1.4% 3.9%
Crime Per Capita 0.0372 0.0256

More on Laurel: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

Next up on our tour of the best places to live in Montana is Laurel, a suburb of Billings. If you like being in the center of the action, Laurel might be your best bet, because it’s the most densely populated city in Montana. And with Billings fifteen minutes down the road, you’ve got your pick of the state’s best zoo and museum, while still having excellent natural beauty around at The Rimrocks.

The median household income in Laurel is $62,250/year and the poverty level is the 13th lowest in Montana, so you don’t have to worry about economic struggles here. Neither will you have any worries about crime, because Laurel had the 14th lowest violent crime rate in the state. If you do get banged up in Laurel somehow, it shouldn’t be a big problem, because 92.9% of residents have health insurance, the 17th highest rate in Montana.

10. Red Lodge

Red Lodge, MT

Source: Public domain
Stat Red Lodge Montana
Population 2,321 1,091,840
Rank Last Year 11
Median Home Value $480,258 $447,821
Median Income $39,472 $66,341
Unemployment Rate 4.2% 3.9%
Crime Per Capita 0.0086 0.0256

More on Red Lodge: Crime | Real Estate

Known as the Gateway to Yellowstone, Red Lodge is a quaint mountain town nestled in Montana’s highest peaks. For outdoor recreation, it’s hard to top Red Lodge; between the snowsports at Red Lodge Mountain, the animals at the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary, and the countless hiking and fishing spots in the area, you’re unlikely to grow bored here.

Red Lodge is the oldest city to make this list, with a median age of 52. So if you’re looking for a more relaxed and mature vibe, Red Lodge might be just the place for you. And if you’ve got kids, Red Lodge’s public schools got an average score of 9.5/10 from GreatSchools. The student-teacher ratio is lower and the per-student expenditure is slightly higher than the statewide average, meaning students get all the resources they need in Red Lodge.

Homes in Red Lodge go for the 11th most expensive price in Montana at $480,258 and residents have a median household income of $39,472/year.

Mapping The Best And Worst Places To Live in Montana

Best Places To Live In Montana Size Requirement

Before we even started to collect data on the best places to live in Montana, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit Helena, with a population of 32,529, against places with a population of 18?

We firmly decided no, that just isn’t fair.

So, to create our ranking, we broke the best 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 filter left 31 cities, 62 towns, and 215 small towns.

We then decided no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best cities to live in Montana have more of everything, and therefore, you need over 2,000 people to truly be ‘the best.’

Methodology: How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In Montana

Now that we had our set of the best possible cities, it was time to rank them using Saturday Night Science.

We ranked each place in Montana across a number of criteria from one to 31, with one being the best.

We then took the average rank across all criteria, crowning the city posting the lowest overall score, the “Best Place To Live In Montana.”

The criteria we looked to determine the best places were:

  • Median Home Values
  • Median Income
  • Population Density (Higher is better)
  • Unemployment Rate
  • Commute Time
  • Crime
  • Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty rates

Sources of criteria include the New Census Data, FBI Crime Data, and Zillow. We updated this article for 2024. This report is our tenth time ranking Montana’s best places to live.

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 Whitefish at the end of the cul-de-sac.

Summary: The Best Places 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.

The best places to live in Montana are Whitefish, Glasgow, Bozeman, Colstrip, Deer Lodge, Belgrade, Glendive, Helena, Laurel, and Red Lodge.

Whitefish made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in Montana for 2024.

If you’re curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Montana according to the data:

  1. Lewistown (Pop. 5,988)
  2. Townsend (Pop. 2,176)
  3. Polson (Pop. 5,218)

For more Montana reading, check out:

Best Places To Live In Montana Table

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value Median Income Rent Crime Per Capita
1 Whitefish 8,098 2.5% $817,427 $69,919 $1,254 0.0243
2 Glasgow 3,208 0.8% $167,389 $65,850 $704 0.0193
3 Bozeman 53,500 2.8% $712,076 $74,113 $1,447 0.0217
4 Colstrip 2,327 5.0% $249,251 $87,321 $638 0.0013
5 Deer Lodge 3,030 3.4% $265,269 $52,813 $768 0.0155
6 Belgrade 10,941 1.2% $540,043 $82,769 $1,206 0.0254
7 Glendive 4,861 4.1% $218,024 $65,663 $798 0.0105
8 Helena 32,529 3.2% $445,702 $64,798 $969 0.0413
9 Laurel 7,181 1.4% $376,373 $62,250 $907 0.0372
10 Red Lodge 2,321 4.2% $480,258 $39,472 $886 0.0086
11 Dillon 3,958 3.8% $353,022 $42,037 $919 0.0099
12 Hamilton 4,806 2.4% $485,729 $45,973 $816 0.0158
13 Billings 117,093 3.6% $376,105 $69,692 $1,064 0.0528
14 Kalispell 25,473 4.1% $528,069 $57,123 $952 0.0338
15 Missoula 74,627 4.6% $532,392 $59,783 $1,064 0.0424
16 Sidney 6,257 5.1% $299,126 $56,696 $836 0.0145
17 Havre 9,332 3.2% $253,078 $63,143 $815 0.0492
18 Malta 2,121 4.3% $258,529 $60,735 $549 0.0364
19 Great Falls 60,373 3.4% $305,613 $58,272 $828 0.0498
20 Livingston 8,489 4.2% $526,321 $62,893 $933 0.0258
21 Columbia Falls 5,435 5.8% $569,087 $64,500 $949 0.0248
22 Conrad 2,640 4.6% $225,365 $49,135 $864 0.0155
23 Shelby 3,058 1.2% $169,827 $51,667 $720 0.0364
24 Libby 2,857 2.1% $342,272 $36,373 $614 0.0168
25 Hardin 3,803 11.5% $231,596 $57,266 $731 0.0131
26 Wolf Point 2,634 16.6% $277,061 $46,389 $690 0.0209
27 Cut Bank 3,061 2.6% $171,155 $41,759 $819 0.0340
28 Stevensville 2,038 4.9% $560,086 $39,836 $886 0.0152
29 Lewistown 5,988 5.7% $251,367 $40,705 $818 0.0047
30 Townsend 2,176 12.8% $405,794 $65,522 $862 0.0364
31 Polson 5,218 6.4% $544,825 $48,866 $877 0.0588

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.