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Old 07-01-2011, 02:18 PM
 
3 posts, read 12,231 times
Reputation: 10

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Hello and thank you to all who take the time to respond. My husband will be interviewing for an excellent job opportunity next week. The company is based in Helena but, depending on the projects, he will be commuting gnerally in a 90 mile radius, with housing being paid for by the company and 4-day work weeks, and back home for three day weekend.

I am trying to make a decision as to whether Helena or Great Falls (or somewhere in between) would be a better choice for my 14 year old son and I. We are from a smaller safe town in Washington State and I am nervous about a move. There are no "bad areas" where I live. It is also important to find a good education for my son who is working on building good transcripts for Westpoint after graduation.

We also enjoy open spaces, safe communities, and friendly people. Small towns outside either of these (Helena or Great Falls) are of interest to me as well access to good schools.

We are pretty laid back people. My husband loves to hunt, raises beef cattle, and enjoys outdoors. I am looking forward to continuing my eduation. I have two years left for bachelor's degree. I am really nervous about not knowing anyone and would be grateful for any help and information offered.

This has all happened so fast and I don't know much about the area. We will be visiting together next week so I can learn some but I would love input from those with experience in either or both of these general locations.

Thank you so much.
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Old 07-01-2011, 02:36 PM
 
Location: C-U metro
1,364 posts, read 2,717,327 times
Reputation: 1159
Quote:
Originally Posted by mislaura1 View Post
I am trying to make a decision as to whether Helena or Great Falls (or somewhere in between) would be a better choice for my 14 year old son and I. We are from a smaller safe town in Washington State and I am nervous about a move. There are no "bad areas" where I live. It is also important to find a good education for my son who is working on building good transcripts for West point after graduation.

We also enjoy open spaces, safe communities, and friendly people. Small towns outside either of these (Helena or Great Falls) are of interest to me as well access to good schools.

We are pretty laid back people. My husband loves to hunt, raises beef cattle, and enjoys outdoors. I am looking forward to continuing my eduation. I have two years left for bachelor's degree. I am really nervous about not knowing anyone and would be grateful for any help and information offered.
Depending on what your bachelor's work is in, you may be better off in Helena. There is College of Great Falls and a COT but not much else. Helena has Carroll College and is closer to both UM and MSU if you need to go to those schools for completion. I can't compare high schools, being from Billings, but Montana is a good state to live in if you want to go to the service academies. There aren't a huge number of applicants but your son will likely have to travel for interviews with the member(s) of Congress he wants to have nominate him. If you are in Helena or in Great Falls, you shouldn't have to travel at all.

If your husband's office base is out of Helena, you'll want to stay close to there. The interstate can shut down in winter and I-15 between GF and Helena is in a windy Missouri River canyon. Very cool to drive but not during the winter when there is snow and ice around.
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Old 07-01-2011, 04:44 PM
 
Location: SW Montana
233 posts, read 454,584 times
Reputation: 208
I am not a Montana resident (yet), but we did compare Helena and Great Falls along with a few other cities (Kalispell, Missoula, WHitefish, Townsend etc.).

Once you see the beauty of Helena, you may have a hard time considering Great Falls. Great Falls is beautiful in it's own right, but Helena pulled on our senses a little deeper and the weather will be a big improvement over Great Falls.

I really hope I am not offending anyone from Great Falls. We enjoyed that city as well.
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Old 07-01-2011, 08:43 PM
 
213 posts, read 595,290 times
Reputation: 180
Helena gives the impression of a safe, clean town. There are quite a few neighborhoods of stately, very wll preserved older homes, a charming downtown, Carroll College campus, and the Helena Cathedral, which all add pluses on charm and beauty. Great Falls has some nice areas, and makes great use of the areas along the Missouri River for city parks, but there are also a number of areas that just seem run down and dirty. If you're worried about "bad" areas, you will find more of those in Great Falls than in Helena. I've always felt that Helena has more of a small town feel than Great Falls. As for smaler towns nearby - Montana City and Clancy are small towns just south of Helena and i've heard they have good schools - it's also quite beautiful around there. I'm not very familiar with the smaller towns closer to Great Falls, so I can't help you there.
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Old 07-02-2011, 08:53 AM
 
3 posts, read 12,231 times
Reputation: 10
Thank you all for your replies and information. We are leaving this morning for our visit and my husband's interview. I am nervous but excited.

If anyone else happens to glance back here again, can you tell me about the weather. I don't mind the cold but wondering about the grey. I live in the Pacific Northwest at this time and we only get about 50 (give or take) true sunny days a year. It really gets difficult to have grey 9-10 months out of the year. I love crisp cold sunnier days and, of course, beautiful summer and spring weather. Four seasons would be great instead of our one season plus a very short summer.

Thank you again!
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Old 07-02-2011, 10:45 AM
 
Location: Moscow
2,085 posts, read 3,042,317 times
Reputation: 2551
Neither will compare to the Pacific Northwest in regards to grey. Both are bright and sunny.

Put me down as one who prefers Helena. But I think either would meet your qualifications.
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Old 07-02-2011, 12:54 PM
 
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
1,154 posts, read 3,948,930 times
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Guess I'm the only one here who likes Great Falls more. It's closer to the Rocky Mountain Front (Glacier and the BM Wilderness), which is a lot more scenic than the brown hills around Helena.
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Old 07-04-2011, 07:44 AM
 
Location: Upper Midwest
1,877 posts, read 3,704,209 times
Reputation: 1884
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geo Roam View Post

Once you see the beauty of Helena, you may have a hard time considering Great Falls.
^ This.

In and around. You're into what Montana is known for scenically at that point. Great Falls is the beginning of the plains. Leaving the city of Great Falls to the south or west - that's where the beauty literally begins a few miles later. Leaving Great Falls to the east - you're headed into No Man's Land for several hours. lol


Quote:
Originally Posted by bongo403 View Post
Helena gives the impression of a safe, clean town. There are quite a few neighborhoods of stately, very wll preserved older homes, a charming downtown, Carroll College campus, and the Helena Cathedral, which all add pluses on charm and beauty. Great Falls has some nice areas, and makes great use of the areas along the Missouri River for city parks, but there are also a number of areas that just seem run down and dirty.
Agreed. I lived in Great Falls for too many years. A couple of times, while driving around late at night, people in cars next to me literally gave me the creeps. There are definitely few run-down seedy areas. And also, Helena has an awesome downtown area. Great Falls' downtown doesn't even compare.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Keim View Post
Neither will compare to the Pacific Northwest in regards to grey. Both are bright and sunny.

In all fairness, MT can't beat the triple threat of greenery, water, and mountains out that way either. (That is, unless the OP is from Eastern WA.)


Obviously I vote for Helena. Personal experience of living in GF for longer than I want to admit. I just can't recommend that town to anyone in good conscience. (Not being dramatic, just flat out truthful.)
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Old 07-07-2011, 12:44 PM
 
Location: Bozeman, Montana
1,191 posts, read 2,560,696 times
Reputation: 655
I've lived in both Great Falls and Helena.

I would choose Helena.

Nowhere in Montana is as gray and rainy as the Pacific Northwest.

Welcome to Montana!!
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Old 07-07-2011, 03:09 PM
 
Location: Lost in Montana *recalculating*...
11,813 posts, read 15,392,180 times
Reputation: 12057
I've lived in Helena for over a year now, and our family likes it here. You've got lakes, mountains, places to take the kids, moderate snow..

What's not to like?
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