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Old 02-22-2010, 01:12 PM
 
8 posts, read 21,211 times
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My wife and I are considering moving away from Denver. There are many things we like about Denver (chiefly, the proximity to mountains and being in "the west"). And there are many things we do not like about Denver (cost of living, fast-pace of life, crowds, intense suburbia).

We're trying to make a list of places that we'd like to consider moving to after my wife completes nursing school. We met in Glacier National Park, so we are a little bit familiar with that part of Montana. We'd love to get some more insight, though.

How do Helena, Missoula, Bozeman, and Kalispell compare with each other? Costs of living? General rhythm of life? As an outsider, is it very easy to "fit in" and find a niche? We enjoy a "slower" pace of life than that of Denver, and we like to become part of a community. But we also enjoy a little bit of culture/history/music, etc. How do these Montana towns fare in these departments?

I work in the non-profit sector. Any promise there?

Any extras you can think of would be appreciated. Thanks in advance to taking the time to respond...
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Old 02-22-2010, 08:42 PM
 
Location: Tulsa, OK
1,081 posts, read 1,402,066 times
Reputation: 819
Default It depends

If you are Colorado natives, you will likely not have issues fitting in culturally. If you are from another state (CA eg.), you might draw the ire of a lot of people if you continue to gripe about a lack of Starbucks and people not caring about who did what on The Hills or Orange County Housewives or protesting hunting. Your niche and culture comments leads me to believe that you will be this way but for the benefit of the doubt....

Missoula, Bozeman and Kalispell are all very expensive by Montana standards but are similar in cost of living to Denver metro. There are fewer crowds in Bozeman but Kalispell and Missoula are in narrow valleys so traffic can get snarled quickly.

Kalispell - Home to many investment bankers and other white collar classes. There are a number of hospitality industries that cater to them so if you want high brow fancy dinners and charity events to attend, this is the place. I haven't set foot in this town for a number of years so I can't speak to medical community but it was second fiddle to Missoula while I was growing up.

Missoula - Home of U of Montana, a sizable medical corridor, and what used to be the timber industry of Montana. I believe nearly all the mills have closed and the last paper mill recently closed last month. The U does provide a large number of jobs in town and many people live here and commute to Hamilton for work or vice-versa. Hamilton is home of a CDC lab that is being expanded. Missoula has some of the worst traffic patterns in the state as it is largely a triangle and platted by the military as a fort.

Bozeman - Home of Montana State but a lack-luster medical hospital (a friend of mine had a very bad experience at the hospital). The tech industry for the state is largely here with Zoot Enterprises, Right Now Technology and some other electronics firms. The town had an oversized construction industry 2 years ago and is overbuilt. Thus, it has the least expensive housing of the three (if you shop around) but the medical industry is a firm second fiddle to Billings and the non-profit sector is related to largely related to YNP and other eco-nonprofits.

Last recommendation, Montanans are conservative but in a mind-your-own-business fashion. Outsiders working in the non-profit sector are not viewed well and can be downright hostile to those in the political non-profits. If you worked at Focus on the Family, you won't be popular.
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Old 02-22-2010, 09:52 PM
 
8 posts, read 21,211 times
Reputation: 11
Thanks for your insight. I can't say I didn't sense a bit of type-casting in your comments, though. For the record, I don't work at or for Focus on the Family, and neither of us are from (or have any relatives in) California. We come from simple, blue collar but educated backgrounds and are looking to move away from Denver for reasons similar to the ones you noted in your accurately critical comments about Starbucks and Orange County. But your point is well received. We champion local business & art, and value non-corporate simplicity. So, if Montana is where we feel we can find this kind of community living, and we move there, then maybe we'll cross paths at the Leaf & Bean in Bozeman or other such place. Again, I appreciate the info...
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Old 02-22-2010, 10:14 PM
 
Location: Tulsa, OK
1,081 posts, read 1,402,066 times
Reputation: 819
Default Good to know

If you are pro-local business and art, Bozeman or Missoula would be the way to go. Both universities tend to promote that. I would go to Leaf and Bean every once in a while. I was more of a Crystal or Cannery person when I went downtown as the SUB could provide my caffeine fix most evenings. Hope you find what you are looking for.
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Old 02-22-2010, 11:26 PM
 
Location: NW Montana
6,259 posts, read 8,715,410 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robjfoley View Post
My wife and I are considering moving away from Denver. There are many things we like about Denver (chiefly, the proximity to mountains and being in "the west"). And there are many things we do not like about Denver (cost of living, fast-pace of life, crowds, intense suburbia).

We're trying to make a list of places that we'd like to consider moving to after my wife completes nursing school. We met in Glacier National Park, so we are a little bit familiar with that part of Montana. We'd love to get some more insight, though.

How do Helena, Missoula, Bozeman, and Kalispell compare with each other? Costs of living? General rhythm of life? As an outsider, is it very easy to "fit in" and find a niche? We enjoy a "slower" pace of life than that of Denver, and we like to become part of a community. But we also enjoy a little bit of culture/history/music, etc. How do these Montana towns fare in these departments?

I work in the non-profit sector. Any promise there?

Any extras you can think of would be appreciated. Thanks in advance to taking the time to respond...
Hi and welcome to the forum
Here is an older thread to get you started, #7 has some things specific to your questions. You can use the search function to put in different cities.
We are a small but friendly bunch here, hang on someone will wander by. Good luck and stop by the Let's visit thread.http://www.city-data.com/forum/monta...questions.html
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:01 AM
 
Location: Arvada, CO
9,307 posts, read 12,485,541 times
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I've lived in Denver for the "better" part of the past three years, and spent more time in Montana than I would have liked to this past year (no offense meant by this).

Nowhere in MT compares to Denver, not even Billings (MT's largest city). You'll be close to the mountains most anywhere in MT, and yes, MT is in the west. COL seems to be better (but not that much better), fast pace is just about nowhere to be found, as are crowds, but suburbia seems to be springing up all over places like Missoula and Bozeman. (What's the point in living in a tract home in Montana?)

I'm not a huge fan of any of the cities you listed (out of the four, I like Missoula the best, but that's a stretch), because with the exception of Helena, they are all trying to become the next Boulder (which IMO is not a good thing). Those three are all becoming destination towns for the "haves", which is diluting the MT culture a bit (IMO). Helena, on the whole just didn't seem all that friendly (IMO).

However, given your wants, Missoula or Bozeman seem to be fairly decent fits.

As for the Colorado-Montana cultural comparison, IMO the two are very little alike. There is a vast difference culturally between a metro-Denverite and a small-town Montanan.
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Old 02-24-2010, 02:54 PM
 
Location: Bozeman, Montana
1,188 posts, read 1,549,405 times
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I have three sisters who live in the Denver area, so I've visited there over the years since the 1960's. No town in Montana compares to Denver, as we just don't have that kind of concentrated
population anywhere here.

I was born in Great Falls, grew up in Helena, and have lived in Bozeman since 1970, where I graduated from Montana State. I've worked over the years in Butte, Billings, Red Lodge, Anaconda, Whitehall, etc., and have traveled widely in North America. I keep coming back to Bozeman as the best place I choose as home.

I didn't expect to stay in Bozeman, but that is how my life went, and I'm glad to be here.
I recommend it.
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