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Old 07-26-2012, 09:46 PM
 
Location: Lopatcong, NJ
8 posts, read 11,774 times
Reputation: 17

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Okay here goes. I live in NJ, in the most unlikely and overlooked part of NJ you can think of, the hills/countryside. I'm nearly a stones throw from the PA border, very close to Easton, PA. The scenery here is much different from what people picture NJ being. People from the NYC area consider this the country. We've got dairy farms, horse farms, agricultural farms and a very green rolling topography with some decent hills that pass for "mountains" around here. Of course all the major towns and cities are developed and heavily populated but on the outskirts there's farms, trees and hills as far as the eye can see. Ever since I can remember I've been obsessed with mountains and the outdoors. I've only ever gotten intimate with the mountains on the east coast though, mostly Virginia when I was younger and now mostly the Delaware Water Gap area close to home. You can almost count Vermont cause I went skiing for the first time there last December. My point is I don't have much experience in the Rocky Mountains, and all my life I've wanted to feel that "rocky mountain high", bask in the big sky country, experience high elevations, snow capped peaks, pine tree forested valleys and vast meadows, walk out my back door an hunt elk, mule deer and grizzly bears. This past June I took a trip to visit an old friend in California and made it out to South Lake Tahoe. That really got my blood flowing, I know its not Montana, but just seeing those snow capped peaks and the alpine wilderness that surrounds the lake. It was amazing. The Sierra Nevada's are definitely beautiful.

I guess I could consider myself an avid outdoors men "in training". I used to hunt a lot with my Uncle in Virginia when I was younger, mostly just small game tho and turkey hunting. At a very early age he took me under his wing and showed me how to safely handle a firearm and from then on I was hooked. Love firearms, target shooting, and hunting. Within the past 2 years I've gotten back into it heavily. Took a black bear last year here NJ, have yet to ever take a deer though, although I went opening day of deer season this past December and saw a handful of deer, couldn't get a clear shot. This November I've got a trip planned up to Maine for deer with a group of friends from the gun shop I frequent. I love hiking, canoeing, and now skiing (still very much a beginner tho). I've toyed around the idea of moving to Montana for years but never really gotten advice (especially from Montanans) on what area's would be best for me and what I should avoid. Here's my questions/info.

1) I've worked in the Automotive field since I graduated tech school in 2003, tried my hand at being a technician but it wasn't for me. For about 2 years after that I was a service writer at a pretty busy privately owned shop. The past 2.5-3 yrs I've been a parts salesman and I enjoy it. Are there any area's in Montana that have a call for parts salesman or have a larger number of dealerships where I could acquire a job in my field?

2) I've also toyed around with the idea of going to school for welding and getting my commercial/industrial certifications. I did quite a bit of welding in tech school but unfortunately received no certifications. Is there any call for experienced or certified welders in any of the mountainous regions of Montana? If so what kind of welding jobs are they? Industrial, Commercial, Residential, Automotive related fab work, etc?

3) I know the economy is rough everywhere and some places are effected worse than others. With that in mind, where would be the best location for someone like myself in their late 20's/early 30's without a college degree but with a set of trade skills? I've heard Bozeman is expensive compared to most other places. I've checked into Missoula briefly and it seems to be a lil less expensive to live but not sure how the jobs are. I know both places are home to Montana State University. Would the jobs be easier to come by in Bozeman which would offset the extra living expense or is that not the case? I know there are many other areas/towns/cities in Montana but these are the two I had the time to research quickly. Other cities I'm somewhat familiar with (i.e. I know roughly where they're located) are Helena, Kalispell, Deer Lodge, Livingston, Big Sky, Thompson Falls, Belgrade, Billings and Great Falls. Would prefer to stay away from Billings and Great Falls cause they seem very flat and too far away from the mountains.

4) Outdoorsmen, Hunters, Hikers, Backpackers, lend me your ears! How easy and accessible is it for someone who lives in or around one of the larger cities to "get out there"? Are there trails to the mountains from the major cities? What are the rules and regulations for camping out in the wilderness? How much of the land is public and what sections do you need permits for etc? How expensive are the resident hunting licenses and when do the hunting seasons start and end for mule deer, elk, coyote's, grizzly bear, etc? How bad are the winters here, really? Are they on par with Alaskan winters or not so much?

5) Any transplants that now live in Montana that were originally from the east coast, please tell me what you're experience has been like! How was the move? How have you adjusted? Do you regret the move, or do you like it there? Have you been met with a warm welcome? Have you found it relatively easy to adapt and fit in with the crowd?

I know all the locals and natives are probably tired of answering questions like mine but I did a lot of browsing on here before I decided to post. No one I found had the same interests or job background as I did and I felt it'd be better to get answers more specific to my situation. Thank you all in advance and I look forward to hearing from everyone.
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Old 07-26-2012, 10:14 PM
 
18,852 posts, read 31,703,820 times
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I really think that the areas you mentioned are more expensive...I do think Havre is often overlooked as a place to live..smaller town...there is MSU Northern there...and it is pretty. You can easily be in the mountains in an hour drive...same with Great Falls or Helena. As for getting a deer...if you are a decent shot..no problem.
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Old 07-26-2012, 10:44 PM
 
Location: North Dakota
7,724 posts, read 9,021,232 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTDreamerNJLeaver View Post
Okay here goes. I live in NJ, in the most unlikely and overlooked part of NJ you can think of, the hills/countryside. I'm nearly a stones throw from the PA border, very close to Easton, PA. The scenery here is much different from what people picture NJ being. People from the NYC area consider this the country. We've got dairy farms, horse farms, agricultural farms and a very green rolling topography with some decent hills that pass for "mountains" around here. Of course all the major towns and cities are developed and heavily populated but on the outskirts there's farms, trees and hills as far as the eye can see. Ever since I can remember I've been obsessed with mountains and the outdoors. I've only ever gotten intimate with the mountains on the east coast though, mostly Virginia when I was younger and now mostly the Delaware Water Gap area close to home. You can almost count Vermont cause I went skiing for the first time there last December. My point is I don't have much experience in the Rocky Mountains, and all my life I've wanted to feel that "rocky mountain high", bask in the big sky country, experience high elevations, snow capped peaks, pine tree forested valleys and vast meadows, walk out my back door an hunt elk, mule deer and grizzly bears. This past June I took a trip to visit an old friend in California and made it out to South Lake Tahoe. That really got my blood flowing, I know its not Montana, but just seeing those snow capped peaks and the alpine wilderness that surrounds the lake. It was amazing. The Sierra Nevada's are definitely beautiful.

I guess I could consider myself an avid outdoors men "in training". I used to hunt a lot with my Uncle in Virginia when I was younger, mostly just small game tho and turkey hunting. At a very early age he took me under his wing and showed me how to safely handle a firearm and from then on I was hooked. Love firearms, target shooting, and hunting. Within the past 2 years I've gotten back into it heavily. Took a black bear last year here NJ, have yet to ever take a deer though, although I went opening day of deer season this past December and saw a handful of deer, couldn't get a clear shot. This November I've got a trip planned up to Maine for deer with a group of friends from the gun shop I frequent. I love hiking, canoeing, and now skiing (still very much a beginner tho). I've toyed around the idea of moving to Montana for years but never really gotten advice (especially from Montanans) on what area's would be best for me and what I should avoid. Here's my questions/info.

1) I've worked in the Automotive field since I graduated tech school in 2003, tried my hand at being a technician but it wasn't for me. For about 2 years after that I was a service writer at a pretty busy privately owned shop. The past 2.5-3 yrs I've been a parts salesman and I enjoy it. Are there any area's in Montana that have a call for parts salesman or have a larger number of dealerships where I could acquire a job in my field?

2) I've also toyed around with the idea of going to school for welding and getting my commercial/industrial certifications. I did quite a bit of welding in tech school but unfortunately received no certifications. Is there any call for experienced or certified welders in any of the mountainous regions of Montana? If so what kind of welding jobs are they? Industrial, Commercial, Residential, Automotive related fab work, etc?

3) I know the economy is rough everywhere and some places are effected worse than others. With that in mind, where would be the best location for someone like myself in their late 20's/early 30's without a college degree but with a set of trade skills? I've heard Bozeman is expensive compared to most other places. I've checked into Missoula briefly and it seems to be a lil less expensive to live but not sure how the jobs are. I know both places are home to Montana State University. Would the jobs be easier to come by in Bozeman which would offset the extra living expense or is that not the case? I know there are many other areas/towns/cities in Montana but these are the two I had the time to research quickly. Other cities I'm somewhat familiar with (i.e. I know roughly where they're located) are Helena, Kalispell, Deer Lodge, Livingston, Big Sky, Thompson Falls, Belgrade, Billings and Great Falls. Would prefer to stay away from Billings and Great Falls cause they seem very flat and too far away from the mountains.

4) Outdoorsmen, Hunters, Hikers, Backpackers, lend me your ears! How easy and accessible is it for someone who lives in or around one of the larger cities to "get out there"? Are there trails to the mountains from the major cities? What are the rules and regulations for camping out in the wilderness? How much of the land is public and what sections do you need permits for etc? How expensive are the resident hunting licenses and when do the hunting seasons start and end for mule deer, elk, coyote's, grizzly bear, etc? How bad are the winters here, really? Are they on par with Alaskan winters or not so much?

5) Any transplants that now live in Montana that were originally from the east coast, please tell me what you're experience has been like! How was the move? How have you adjusted? Do you regret the move, or do you like it there? Have you been met with a warm welcome? Have you found it relatively easy to adapt and fit in with the crowd?

I know all the locals and natives are probably tired of answering questions like mine but I did a lot of browsing on here before I decided to post. No one I found had the same interests or job background as I did and I felt it'd be better to get answers more specific to my situation. Thank you all in advance and I look forward to hearing from everyone.
1-2) Those I can't really answer any questions on. You might look into Facilities Services at Montana State University (I'm sure UM has some sort of equivilant to this department.) Otherwise I'm not sure.

3) Bozeman and Missoula (and almost any scenic area near the mountains) are expensive. The wages in Montana are lower than the national average in most fields and in many cases do not keep up with the cost of living. Also, Missoula is home to University of Montana. You may want to be careful about referring to that as MSU, especially around us Bobcat fans. As far as some of the other towns you mentioned, Big Sky is more expensive than Bozeman, Kalispell is expensive, and Thompson Falls is isolated. Livingston is niceas are Helena and Belgrade. You can still get to mountains quickly in Great Falls and Billings and they may be cheaper to live in than the mountainous towns.

4) Pretty much anywhere in Montana lends itself to "getting out there." As far as camping in wilderness no motorized vehicles are allowed. Much of the land is private, but there are plenty of public places available. Here is information about hunting. http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/ Keep in mind there is no grizzly season and I think coyotes can be shot year round. Winters can be severe but probably not like Alaska.

5) I will mention that Montana is not always welcome of outsiders, especially from "back east." Make sure you blend in and don't come across as trying to change things.
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Old 07-27-2012, 12:24 AM
 
Location: Lopatcong, NJ
8 posts, read 11,774 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WyoEagle View Post
1-2) Those I can't really answer any questions on. You might look into Facilities Services at Montana State University (I'm sure UM has some sort of equivilant to this department.) Otherwise I'm not sure.

3) Bozeman and Missoula (and almost any scenic area near the mountains) are expensive. The wages in Montana are lower than the national average in most fields and in many cases do not keep up with the cost of living. Also, Missoula is home to University of Montana. You may want to be careful about referring to that as MSU, especially around us Bobcat fans. As far as some of the other towns you mentioned, Big Sky is more expensive than Bozeman, Kalispell is expensive, and Thompson Falls is isolated. Livingston is niceas are Helena and Belgrade. You can still get to mountains quickly in Great Falls and Billings and they may be cheaper to live in than the mountainous towns.

4) Pretty much anywhere in Montana lends itself to "getting out there." As far as camping in wilderness no motorized vehicles are allowed. Much of the land is private, but there are plenty of public places available. Here is information about hunting. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks :: Hunting Keep in mind there is no grizzly season and I think coyotes can be shot year round. Winters can be severe but probably not like Alaska.

5) I will mention that Montana is not always welcome of outsiders, especially from "back east." Make sure you blend in and don't come across as trying to change things.
Thank you for your timely response WyoEagle. Very sorry about the MSU mix up, had no idea, won't happen again If what you say is true and the wages everywhere can't keep up with the cost of living, then how do people survive anywhere in Montana? Are 2 or 3 jobs per person the norm? I looked at Great Falls and Billings' proximity to the mountains and both are atleast an hour and a half drive or more away from the closest mountain ranges. If i'm going to move 1,000's of miles away from where i grew up to live in a place named after Mountains, to be in the mountains, not trying to sound smart, but I'm definitely not going to like driving that far just to get to where I wanted to be in the first place. It certainly might be the most cost effective, but given my ultimate goal of walking out my back door and going hunting in the rocky's it just wouldn't work. Helena does seem like a good location, basically in the middle of a couple different mountain ranges but being so far away from Missoula and Bozeman the jobs available probably aren't as many.

I guess another thing I should consider is in such a big state as MT, i'm sure you guys are more accustomed to driving long distances (i.e. 2 or 3 hrs) to get to where you wanna go or need to be to purchase food, pickup supplies, jobs, etc. Here in Jersey, atleast where I am 2 or 3 hours south will get you to the southern most part of the state or into Deleware, 2 hours north puts you in NY state.

I had no idea there was no Grizzly season in MT. Don't you guys have a healthy population of brown bears or am I incorrect? Also I am aware that outsiders tend to not receive a warm welcome, also aware that back east people such as myself have even harder of a time. I'm not one of those hippie liberals that's out to change every spec of ground I touch. I would do nothing to change the way of life there, only adapt to live and make my own life without burning bridges or stepping on anybodies toes along the way. That would be the utmost form of disrespect in my opinion, and frankly was just not how I was raised. If I were to move to MT, I would do so solely to start a fresh new life, devoid of all the stress, BS and drama that plagues me over here in Jersey and try to slow down and just adapt to my surroundings. If it really is as beautiful as I think it is out there, I'd do everything in my power to help the community and to keep my "backeast" self in the big sky state of MT.
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Old 07-27-2012, 07:48 AM
 
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There's always going to be a need for good welders, but right now most of that need is over in the eastern part of the state where the oil boom is going on. There's still a need for welders in any of the cities in Montana, but finding the job will be more hit or miss. Same thing with your work in the auto sector, you probably have more people within two hours drive of where you live now than the whole state of MT has so there's a much smaller need for that out here. Again, not to say those jobs don't exist, they do, but there's just a smaller number of them so you may happen upon one or you may go months and months without finding something.

As mentioned, no grizzly hunting.

Prices in the mountains tend to be higher than average, and the wages tend to be lower than average, just the way it works with a 'desirable' area that draws vacationers or second homeowners.

You're young (I presume single with no kids?) so now is as good of a time as any for you to take a chance and see if you can make it happen. Save up 9 months of living expenses, come out here and see if you can get yourself a job and get situated in 6 months. If it works, great, if not you've still got a 3 month cushion to decide if you should head back or try and stick it out. Pick a spot near the mtns that will give you the option of both work and school (to potentially get the welding cert) so you can go either way depending on what you find. Bozeman, Butte, Missoula, Kalispell. All in the mtns with at least a community college (though no idea if they offer welding so check that first).
Keep your expenses very low when you first arrive,
- rent a room in someone's house if you can rather than renting an apt. or house,
- don't bring a ton of stuff with you (i.e. keep it to clothes and essentials, sell or leave the mattress and everything else behind)
- hit the pavement everyday looking for something until you find it.

Best of luck to ya, give it a shot now while you can.
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Old 07-27-2012, 08:08 AM
 
Location: Where the mountains touch the sky
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Helena has the Elkhorn Mountains right to the edge of town and there are several trails that take off and climb Mt Helena and Mt Ascension starting right at city limits. The Big Belts are just to the east, and the Continental Divide is just a few miles west of town.

There are several car dealers and parts stores in town, so getting a job shouldn't be a problem, and the Vo-tech is in town with a very good welding program.

It isn't as pretty as Bozeman, so it isn't as expensive, Might be a good fit for you as the city is only around 35-40 thousand people, but there is a rural interface with agriculture in the area.

It is much dryer than Bozeman, (I was raised there, LOTS of snow), but Helena has a ski area just north of town, and 2 or 3 more within a couple hours drive.
The Missouri River, Canyon Ferry, Holter and Hauser reserviors are just north and east of town. Lots of fishing opportunities in some of the smaller streams around too.

If you live within your means you can make it just fine here on the wages you can make, but if you want to get ahead, many of us have a second job.

We can't hunt Grizzly, (YET), we did have a season until the 1970's, and we do have a large population of grizzly, so be careful in your wilderness camping.

Scapegoat wilderness is just north of town.

Montana has about 35 million acres of public land, (roughly 1/3 of the state), and most of it doesn't require a permit. School trust lands have an access permit that is $10.00 per year.

You can camp on the forest or BLM or Reclaimation lands and access some of it by vehicle. The Wilderness designated areas are locked down and difficult to access, and once you are in there, the jackstraw dead timber and overgrown brush make it hard to get off the trail. The Forest Service grounds are much better for hunting and camping.

Hunting seasons vary widely as the Archery season starts in September and runs into October, Antelope season is in October, General rifle season for Deer Elk Bear is in October thru the end of November, backcountry deer and elk starts in September.
Lion Season starts in the fall and runs through the end of November, then Lion chase season runs into February.
Black bear has 2 seasons, spring and fall, Spring starts in April and runs to June 1st, Fall season starts the first part of September and runs to the end of November.
Wolf season runs from September until February if you use both archery and rifle.

Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat and Moose run in the fall from September until the end of November.

Coyotes and Fox don't have a season, you can hunt them and small game like rabbit all year round. We have several small game species you can hunt during the summer.

Wild turkey has a spring season and a fall season as well, and we have good numbers of them.

Upland Birds is open from September through the end of December I believe with Pheasant opening last and closing last.
We also straddle 2 waterfowl flyways, so the waterfowl hunting is spectacular.

As to being accepted, don't sweat it. I have some very good friends from New York and even West Virginia that have moved here and fit right in.
The acceptance depends mor on you and your attitude than where you are from.

Just remember, most Montanan's speak slowly and softly, we don't yell and get in your face just to be heard, so it may take you a little while to slow down and ease back from the east coast style of conversation.
If you want to be a good neighbor, work hard and provide for your family, (if you have one yet), help your neighbors when they need it, be open and friendly, you won't have any trouble at all.

Signed, a 5th generation Montana Native.

Good Luck
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Old 07-27-2012, 09:51 AM
 
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I'm 6th gen if that counts for anything.
In Montana the professionals and the trades people do just fine. You should like someone who would love Montana. Welding is your ticket.
Do not be so quick to dismiss Eastern Montana...Billings and everything East. Look at the state sponsored website for jobs. You are employable in coal or oil industry. The biggest trophy mule deer live in Eastern Montana. You are better off to have good paying job and driving bit for recreation. Two or three hours of driving in low/no traffic is nothing like two hours driving in East coast traffic.
Montana has higher percent of public lands than every state save Nevada.
Come on out. You get one life so live it.
You are young. Get a welder job, always live beneath your means- drive used pick-up and buy one used 4wheeler -and sock away the rest of your money. Then you will be in position to buy a cabin some place in mountains when you see one for sale.
Winter is winter. Preparation makes it do-able. In Montana we rely more on ourselves than city residents are used to doing. Hence the independence streak we all have. The anti-outsiders ones are not worth knowing so do not worry about fitting in with them anyway.
How old will you be in 10 years if you don't do it? Live your dream. Good luck.
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Old 07-27-2012, 09:51 AM
 
Location: Bozeman, Montana
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I had a friend from the farm area of New Jersey you describe. I think too many people stereotype New Jersey based on what they have seen on "reality" tv shows ;-)

If this is your dream, move to Bozeman, rent an apartment, check out getting resident status to go to MSU eventually if you desire higher education, and enjoy living here just as people for the last 150 years have moved here and enjoyed it.

Here is the link to the job service listings on the state of Montana job service site. Register and post your employment history with the job service online and just keep checking the list of available jobs in Bozeman/Belgrade.
Bozeman Job Service Home Page

Use the job service to have some leads on jobs before you move. Take a vacation out here and scope it out if you can.

You're young. Now is the time to pursue your dream.

I hope that helps.

H.I.
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Old 07-27-2012, 05:02 PM
 
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The College of Technology here in Missoula has a welding program. But as others have said, living in Missoula is expensive; wages have not kept up with housing prices. Had my hubby and I (now retired) not bought a home over 20 years ago and gotten it paid off, there's no way we could afford to live here.

What FL2MT said about the oil boom area in the far eastern part of the state needing workers is true, but that's such a boom area that people are living in their vehicles because there's not enough housing. No pretty mountains either.

I'd second the idea of taking a vacation out here first if you can. Maybe fly out and rent a car so you can go where you want and see things and towns. I came out here from the east coast for a summer job when I was in college and for the next two years all I thought about (well, other than boys and finishing my degree) was getting back to Montana. I fell in love with it.

Btw, understand the difference between wilderness and Wilderness. A designated Wilderness Area, such as the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and Wilderness (RNRAW) north of Missoula, has certain restrictions such as no motorized vehicles. What some call "wilderness" we just call being out in the woods or prairies or mountains. You'll learn! :-)
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Old 07-27-2012, 06:18 PM
 
Location: Lopatcong, NJ
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Thank you everyone for the very informative and realistic responses you've provided me! I certainly have alot to think about now and obviously more research to do. I'll try to respond to everyone individually, makes it easier I think to ask questions or answer questions without getting everyone mixed up.

FL2MT - I thank you for your response and the insight regarding the eastern side of the states oil boom. In reference to me obtaining my welding certifications, if anything I was planning on acquiring the schooling and certifications here in Jersey before I made the actual move. Although you're idea of saving up 9 months worth of expenses and finding a job sounds like an easier, quicker route, I'd feel much more comfortable having a job lined up beforehand if possible. I am young like you said, and have no kids which makes it easier. My relationship status is the hard part. I've been living with my girlfriend for 6 years now, we've been through a whole hell of a lot together. I've been adamant about moving to MT and she wants no part of it, her families here, her job and her life is here, she has no desire go out west. Totally understandable. So we would have to part ways for me to leave. We just haven't been doing that great, or when we are doing well it only lasts a couple months till the next big argument, been that way since the beginning. Now that she has a good paying job and makes more money then I do, traveling all over the north east for work, you'd think things would get better? Well we still have problems arguing as she seems to ridicule me about every little thing I do or don't do. Not that I am perfect either, we all have our faults. Long story short we share a lot of bills and debt together and even though I'd most likely be happier on my own we need to tie up a lot of loose ends together before that can happen. I'm still paying my student loans from tech school 10 years ago Its frustrating as all get up but it needs to be done regardless, I can't feasibly move nearly cross country and bring all the debt I have with me. Especially if I'll be taking a serious cut in pay. Also another obstacle is if I leave her and try to be single here in NJ before I leave, I'll never be able to afford a vacation out to MT to visit. See if I really honestly would enjoy it out there. Regardless of all these hurdles I still believe its doable, and as you said, I need to take advantage of the fact that I am young and have my whole life ahead of me still. It just may take a couple more years before I'm ready to pack up and head west. I figure if I can get out there by the time I'm 30, maybe 31 I'll be in good shape

MTSilvertip - Thank you very much for all the information and providing a great description and nod for the Helena area. It certainly does sound like I would enjoy it, as it seems to have all that I am looking for in a MT mountain town. Thank you again for all the pertinent hunting information. Again it seems silly to not have a Grizzly season, given the population, but maybe in the future Fish and Wildlife will decide to open one. Also very good to know there's so much public land available for recreation. I was also under the impression, like you mentioned, that forest service land is the best bet for hunters. I was also looking at pricing for license's and permits for the different seasons you mentioned on the website, and the difference between resident and non resident pricing alone seems worth the move in itself! Thank you also for the confidence booster as to being accepted in MT. I definitely think I have the right attitude and personality to fit in, and like you said, as long as I talk slow and listen carefully I should be alright lol It'll be a nice change from listening to my parts manager all day, his normal tone of voice is probably somebody's cry for help in Montana, he's ungodly loud all of the time. Again thank you for your kind, thoughtful and informative post

historyfan - Thank you for your reply. You present a good argument for the more eastern towns and cities. Having my own cabin in the mountains would be amazing, and regardless where I end up, that will definitely be a goal worth working towards. Also you've given me more confidence in the jobs attainable to someone with a skilled trade. As I said earlier in my response to FL2MT, I'd like to get my weld schooling and certifications before I make the trek out there so it'd be more feasible for me to acquire a job in MT before actually leaving NJ. As you mentioned Montanans rely on themselves and are independent people, something I would certainly strive towards. I'll be 38 in 10 years so I certainly need to get the ball rolling!

happiness is - Thank you for yet another kind and informative response Good to know there's someone from MT that knows the area I live in. You're friend form NJ, did he/she end up moving to MT? I would agree whole heatedly on the stereotypes NJ faces. We're not all Jersey Shore characters or loud Italians living alongside crowded houses and pollution, there's certainly a lot of truth to NJ being the garden state. I like your scenario for moving to Bozeman and possibly attending MSU and thank you for the job service website. Again, I most certainly agree with you that I should take a vacation to see the state before I decide to take the plunge. Get out there and travel from Bozeman, to Helena, to Missoula. Get a feel for the general area, it is certainly on my list of things to do and to save for.

MontanaGyrl - Good to know that Missoula has a welding program, also thank you for the reality of how expensive it is to live there. Also, I certainly wouldn't want to sleep in my truck for lack of housing, no matter how good the wages. Taking a vacation to visit MT I believe is a must, and I said before its on the list of things to do for certain. My girlfriend has points from traveling so much for work we could probably get a hotel and a rental car for a week and not pay for either. Its most likely the flight and other expenses we'll need to pay for. It is without a doubt a great idea and sounds like the perfect vacation. You said you came to MT from the east coast, which state did you come from and how did the move and experience itself go for you? How long ago was it that you moved? I do understand that there are two different meanings to wilderness. Compared to NJ, i'd consider any rural or mountainous area in MT wilderness lol But yes I know there are designated Wilderness area's. I actually hiked in the Desolation Wilderness for a day when I was in South Lake Tahoe, it was beautiful and we had to fill out a day use permit at the trailhead. Still have it hanging on my bulletin board. My first time in a Wilderness Area and hopefully won't be the last
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