Best place in Montana for teens, etc (Billings, Missoula: houses, neighborhood)
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My family and I are planning a move to Montana this next year. My father is originally from there, my sister lived there for awhile and the both love it...I haven't been! However, we're very closely knit and want to leave Houston Texas for safer, healthier living for our children as things here are starting to get out of hand.
I am trained as a medical assistant and am currently doing some work in the psychological field. My husband is a graphic designer/magazine editor. My kids are between the ages of 13 and 18. We're a little on the liberal side..not super liberal, but we have tendencies. We would like a place that is open to people with differences- my son has a piercing on his lip, I don't want judgemental stares or anything. I do like the idea of living near a college so my children can go while still living at home to both save on expenses but also because, my older two have expressed specifically that they want to go to college at home to stay with mom and dad. My entire family enjoys music, we love doing stuff together both indoors and outdoors. We want these things in a place thats scenic too...I've had enough concrete jungle to last me a lifetime I think! =)
We were considering Missoula or maybe Bozeman because from what I read that might be our best bet...but I figure going directly to the source is our best option. Plus I see they are a bit pricey.
Some about the rest of the family..My dad is a single man, retured but active (currently he has been getting involved with search and rescues which he enjoys and gives him purpose - he even bought a big ATV and got his concealed weapon permit so he could be as much help as he could in that regard) He has a best friend who is hearing impaired that would join him. She would need a place where she could find a purpose as well despite her disability..and she loves to work.
My sister is a single mom with 3 kids, studying to be a fire fighter but currently works as a personal care attendant with the elderly and disabled...the boys' father was killed(one of the reasons we want to move away) so we would need a place where she would be alright living as the sole provider.
Any information pointing us in the direction of towns to look towards would be very much appreciated.
I looked at your criteria, and feel you should probably be looking at Helena or Billings.
Bozeman and Missoula have the largest colleges, but are very pricey.
There are several small colleges around the state, but most are in towns that are pretty conservative.
Both Helena and Billings are less expensive to live in and have colleges, (Carroll in Helena and Eastern Montana in Billings).
There are also Technical colleges in each of those towns.
Carroll is a Catholic College, but has some very good fields of study.
Both probably have more opportunity in your fields than some of the smaller towns in Montana with colleges like Dawson at Miles City.
Helena probably would be a better fit as it is a government town and so pretty liberal, also it is in the mountains so more scenic in that respect than Billings.
Home prices are lower than in Missoula or Bozeman, but Helena is only 90 Miles from either one of those, and Butte and Great Falls so you could visit all of those easily if your kids want to go to school there.
Several towns around Montana have very good small community or junior colleges, Dillion, Havre, Libby, but most are small towns with fewer job opportunities and are pretty conservative.
Butte has the college of Mining and Montana Tech, but those are pretty narrowly defined fields of study.
Great Falls has a small Catholic college. Most of the larger towns also have a Technical School.
MTSilvertip..you rock. Thank you for giving me some direction. =) Honestly it's been very hard while trying to do my research all the way from Texas, especially in regards to finding a good fit for the kiddos.
I hope to be making a road trip towards the end of this summer and I'll definitely have Helena as one of my top priority stops.
I'll go in reverse, and recommend a place NOT to live: Great Falls.
I grew up in Great Falls, and it is likely the world's largest small town. Even though it is around 50,000 people, it is pretty dead for entertainment for a teen outside of high school sports. There is a small university (less than 1000 students the last I heard), which is affectionately dubbed UBT (University Behind Target). The "University" has no real impact on the town. It could get wiped off the earth and no one would notice besides the increased parking behind Target. The town is pretty dead.
Missoula and Bozeman house the two major universities in Montana (UM and MSU, respectively), and have a much more of a pulse to them which could cater to the youth. However, because they are college towns, price of housing is more expensive than other parts of the state. Missoula, Helena, Butte, and Bozeman are nestled right against mountains, so there is easy access to outdoor activities. But if one of your kids wants to attend post-secondary school in Montana, I'd recommend Missoula or Bozeman. Both universities are decently priced (4 year degree at MSU costs around what one year at MIT would cost).
Billings is the largest city in Montana, and likely has the most to offer in some respects. However, it is not as close to the mountains as some of the other cities might be.
Even though Montana is a Red state, I didn't notice any excessive conservative demonstrations when I lived in the cities. So, if you are a little more liberal, you will likely want to live in one of the cities (or what Montana terms a city!)
I live in Bozeman and was born in Great Falls, lived in Havre, Helena, and used to own land up by Thompson Falls in the NW corner of the state. I have worked in Butte, Anaconda, Billings, and other smaller towns in the state.
I recommend you go back to your first two choices to raise your teens... either Bozeman or Missoula.
Bozeman actually has come down in housing prices since the recession. It had gained a "pricey" reputation when Big Sky ski area was developed and lots of high end housing was built, but those days are gone right now and prices are lower.
I have a 1951 four bedroom, two bath home with 2 fireplaces, a deck, garage, located half a block from an elementary school, walking distance to the high school and downtown, quiet neighborhood.
The price in 1987 was $60,000. It definitely has GONE UP IN VALUE since then, but I can tell you there are still good homes to find in Bozeman if you look enough.
Send me a personal message if you want more info from Bozeman.
Another note... I found a good deal on my house because I heard of it word of mouth and it was being sold by the person who built it. They were retiring and it was paid for, they were not trying to gouge on the price. I had looked for a long time with a realtor, and this house was better and lower priced than the many other houses I viewed. Some friends of mine found a large double lot "backyard" and just asked the homeowners if they wanted to sell their big back yard... they did, and my friends built their own house there. If you take time to really research, you can find good deals.
Another recommendation... drive around the older parts of Bozeman and look for houses that seem unoccupied. Go to the courthouse and look up the ownership in the Clerk & Recorder's office. Sometimes you can find a house that is in an estate, and if you contact the heirs, they may be happy to just sell rather than try to maintain it from a distance.
wow! Thank you for that information. Very good ideas that I hadn't ever thought of =D
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