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Old 06-23-2012, 03:01 PM
 
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Possible job related move to Missoula. I’ve read through some of the information here and I need to know some more specifics about Missoula. We’re both from small farms in the west and have lived with snow, although maybe not as much as Missoula might get. (Eastern Washington, Northern Idaho) Living in a smaller community is not an issue for us. We won’t want change in the area because we wouldn’t like that either.

What is a comfortable salary for Missoula, something you could afford to rent a relatively nice home or buy if you had to? What would it take to live there and say, foot the bill for a new car? (Ours are all over 10 years old now and will probably need to replace at least one in the future)
If one had to buy, is the housing market such that if the job went away in three years, would you be stuck with trying to sell a house in a market where they don’t move? (Okay, I know that’s most of the country right now but is Missoula worse?)

Are there any age-restricted communities, what are they like, and do they have a better likelihood for selling a house in the future if one had to? (It’s not that we don’t like kids, have a college student of our own. We’ve just found that lately, it’s one way to avoid having a neighborhood go from good to so-so and where we are now, the only way to get away from a strip malls surrounding housing developments. I’m also hearing, perhaps not true, that more people are retiring to areas like Montana, rather than the furnace option in the southwest? I’ve never understood why one would opt for heat that keeps you indoors half the year vs. snow that may do the same thing)

Is it prudent to avoid river front property? Does it ever flood badly up in that area? While normally I’d avoid river front like the plague, that’s where it looks like a golf-based community may be or is being built.

Is rent as high as I’ve found via the net? Are landlords all down on pets or will some of them negotiate that with good referrals? We are great renters with cats who have never damaged anything but I’m noticing a distinct lack of properties that will rent to pet owners. This is the only reason I’d consider buying until we’d been in the area a while, the lack of rentals that will allow pets.

Opinions on the University of Montana. I’m seeing the programs our college kid needs but this person would also qualify as having a disability and I’m wondering if anyone has had any experience with the University in that regard. It’s not a physical disability and the kid is quite bight but has some communication issues. Let’s just say where the student attends college now could seem to care less if anyone actually learns anything. That can be applied to a lot of instructors, I know, but the attitude seems rampant where we are. The DRC at UM says it’s staffed with disabled people so that seems a promising start.

There is snow and there is snow. If we could make it before in front-wheel drive, rear wheel drive- do we need an honest 4WD? How far out of town would you need to be before having a real 4WD would become a concern in the winter? Is it prudent to look out of town if you have to commute daily for work?

What is in the “addendum” that some landlords want renters to sign? I have honestly never run into that before.

Lots of long winded questions, I know. I am concerned that the cost of housing coupled with the lack of affordable rentals (Because it’s a college town, I assume) would make the potential job one to ponder. Thanks!

If the option came up for Salt Lake City, a lot of the same questions come up. How does SLC compare if anyone has lived in both places?

Last edited by DueToJob; 06-23-2012 at 03:09 PM.. Reason: Adding Salt Lake and getting rid of formatting program didn't like
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Old 06-24-2012, 01:22 PM
 
Location: C-U metro
1,368 posts, read 2,901,502 times
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I'll try to keep my answers short, having lived in the other university town, Bozeman, but there are a LOT of similarities.

1). To be comfortable and have a normal middle class lifestyle, you'll need to have at least 70k a year coming in. You'll live in less than desirable parts of town, but you'll be in town.

2). There aren't really any age restricted communities in Montana. This isn't Florida or Arizona. If you don't like being around other people's college kids all day, I recommend not moving to a college town.

3). Out of state retirees do move to Montana, last about 2-4 years and then leave due to high taxes, lack of VA facilities in many places, and a shrinking number of docs taking Medicare patients. Many from warmer climates also get tired of the snow and cold.

4). The Clark's Fork is dammed at Missoula. I've never heard of it flooding.

5). Landlords in Missoula and Bozeman have 0 tolerance for pets, again a high proportion of town is college age or just out of college age. They won't negotiate on it as there is always someone else to rent to that won't have one.

6). My friends who went to UM said the profs really didn't care about students or what is going on in their studies. Depending on the disability, I doubt they will give a modicum of support unless they are a minority student, and in which case, they will bend over backwards out of hippie guilt.

7). You'll need to know how to drive in snow but as long as you stay on paved roads, 4WD is not absolutely necessary. A rear wheel drive car is useless in Montana winters so I would get a different car if that is what you have.

8). Missoula's economy has been reduced to UM, breweries, tourism and retail. The medical sector is decent but is an also ran compared to Billings, Hamilton and CDA/Spokane. The town is going backwards economically. If you move there for a job, if you lose the job, expect to be moving from Missoula. SLC has a growing economy and is much more diverse in the sectors it has. It is a much more stable town and has better transport links than Missoula. If you want to actually bank money away for retirement, I would recommend SLC.
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Old 06-24-2012, 01:33 PM
 
297 posts, read 715,255 times
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flyingcat2k, have you actually lived in Missoula? When was the last time you were here?

4) The Clark Fork River is no longer dammed just upstream from Missoula. They took out the dam several years ago and are remediating the area where the Blackfoot joins the Clark Fork. So floods are a possibility. West of town there was spring flooding not this past spring but the one before.

8) To say that Missoula's medical sector is an also-ran to Hamilton's is unbelievable as far as I'm concerned, having lived both places, although of course you're entitled to your opinion. Missoula has excellent medical facilities.

Housing -- renting or buying -- is ridiculously expensive here in Missoula. If my husband and I (retired) did not already own our little place free and clear there is no way we could afford to live here. Many parts of the rest of the country have seen prices go down over the last few years since the housing bubble burst but that hasn't happened here. I know many younger people who have left because they can't afford to live in anything more than a studio apartment or a crappy trailer.
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Old 06-24-2012, 02:53 PM
 
Location: Spots Wyoming
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You need to be making $35 an hour to be middle class and still be in a bad home? Unblievable.
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Old 06-24-2012, 03:59 PM
 
34 posts, read 81,664 times
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2). There aren't really any age restricted communities in Montana. This isn't Florida or Arizona. If you don't like being around other people's college kids all day, I recommend not moving to a college town.

Since we have one of our own, it's not about not liking college kids. It's just that where we are now, the age-restricted communities seem to keep their housing value a bit better. Now, I'll admit that when I was a poor college student living in a dorm next to greek row, I didn't appreciate one bit the students that partied all night while I got up at 3:30am to go to work. But that can be avoided if you know the areas of town that are not exactly crammed with students. It's about maintaining housing value and from what has been said, doesn't look like that idea is going to fly. I found one site about a community on a golf course but I could not find out if that had gone any further than someone's plans.

What I'm trying to determine, is if an offer is made, what range that offer would have to be in to make Missoula viable. It has some attractions but the housing issue is scary. We aren't retirees but we can qualify to live in age restricted. The the attitude about pets and cost of housing is going to factor into a decision.

I'm disappointed to hear that about UM, but I've read on other threads that some people think highly it. Maybe its just par for the course that education isn't about teaching any more.

All of our cars are front wheel drive.

The big issue seems to be salaray vs. housing. Would not want to buy right away unless that becomes the less expensive option- and looking at some of the rents, it might be. But in the long run, what is the market like for selling a house if it came to that?

Thanks for the replies so far.
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Old 06-24-2012, 04:43 PM
 
Location: North Dakota
8,619 posts, read 10,480,432 times
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[quote=flyingcat2k;24882978]I'll try to keep my answers short, having lived in the other university town, Bozeman, but there are a LOT of similarities.

1). To be comfortable and have a normal middle class lifestyle, you'll need to have at least 70k a year coming in. You'll live in less than desirable parts of town, but you'll be in town.

2). There aren't really any age restricted communities in Montana. This isn't Florida or Arizona. If you don't like being around other people's college kids all day, I recommend not moving to a college town.

3). Out of state retirees do move to Montana, last about 2-4 years and then leave due to high taxes, lack of VA facilities in many places, and a shrinking number of docs taking Medicare patients. Many from warmer climates also get tired of the snow and cold.

4). The Clark's Fork is dammed at Missoula. I've never heard of it flooding.

5). Landlords in Missoula and Bozeman have 0 tolerance for pets, again a high proportion of town is college age or just out of college age. They won't negotiate on it as there is always someone else to rent to that won't have one.

6). My friends who went to UM said the profs really didn't care about students or what is going on in their studies. Depending on the disability, I doubt they will give a modicum of support unless they are a minority student, and in which case, they will bend over backwards out of hippie guilt.

7). You'll need to know how to drive in snow but as long as you stay on paved roads, 4WD is not absolutely necessary. A rear wheel drive car is useless in Montana winters so I would get a different car if that is what you have.

8). Missoula's economy has been reduced to UM, breweries, tourism and retail. The medical sector is decent but is an also ran compared to Billings, Hamilton and CDA/Spokane. The town is going backwards economically. If you move there for a job, if you lose the job, expect to be moving from Missoula. SLC has a growing economy and is much more diverse in the sectors it has. It is a much more stable town and has better transport links than Missoula. If you want to actually bank money away for retirement, I would recommend SLC.[/quote]

I lived in that part of Montana for a year and I can agree with the points I have bolded. Having never gone to college at UM I can't comment on that aspect.

1) $70K is a minimum. I scraped by on less than $25K and ended up having to take out a loan just to be able to move out of the area.

3) People move to Montana in droves because they often have this very romanticized and unrealistic view of the state. The see movies like A River Runs Through It, Legends of the Fall, and Horse Whisperer and get this view of paradise from the state. I think even nicknames like Big Sky Country and the Last Best Place encourage this. They don't realize that the cost of living in the pretty areas is sky-high and the wages are bottom of the barrel. Many locals have a very romanticized view as well.

5) Some of the worst landlords I had were out of Missoula. They were the very definition of slumlord. They also didn't understand that people relocate from out of the area.

7) Missoula will have most of what you need so if driving is an issue just stay in town.

8) Missoula and western Montana really do not have much of an economy.
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Old 06-24-2012, 06:36 PM
 
297 posts, read 715,255 times
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I really don't know of any age-restricted communities in Missoula except for some trailer parks and modular home parks that are for those 55+. I wouldn't live in them even if I was old enough. If you don't want to live right in Mizzou you can find some better real estate deals in outlying areas like Lolo or Frenchtown, I think.
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Old 06-24-2012, 07:17 PM
 
34 posts, read 81,664 times
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Believe me, this is not about a romanticized view of Montana. I've lived in Western Washington and can take the rain and gray skies but it would drive me nuts when people would come up in the summer and decide the place was paradise- then yeah, 2-4 years of 6 months out of the year of rain and gray skies and they would be gone.

This is about a potential job and what kind of salary offer would make it viable to live in Missoula- not extravagant, but comfortable. Sometimes you have to go where the job is. One of the potentials in this case is Missoula and Missoula doesn't sound like a bad place to be. One might be SLC, but that one is just a maybe at this point.

But- I'm leary of the housing/salary disparity in Missoula. If housing prices have not come down like they have in the rest of the country, then can you sell a house there? Or is it going to be on the market for a long time? Because at this point, we likely could buy and have less to pay monthly and get a lot more for it, than some of the rentals I'm seeing. I'd just like to avoid as much as possible getting stuck with a house and no job down the road- because in this economy, there just about is no such thing as a long-term job any more.

If 70k is the minimum, what's comfortable? (Not extravagant- just not scraping by every dang second. Been there, done that, don't want to set ourselves up for it if we can avoid it)
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Old 06-25-2012, 12:24 AM
 
Location: North Dakota
8,619 posts, read 10,480,432 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DueToJob View Post
Believe me, this is not about a romanticized view of Montana. I've lived in Western Washington and can take the rain and gray skies but it would drive me nuts when people would come up in the summer and decide the place was paradise- then yeah, 2-4 years of 6 months out of the year of rain and gray skies and they would be gone.

This is about a potential job and what kind of salary offer would make it viable to live in Missoula- not extravagant, but comfortable. Sometimes you have to go where the job is. One of the potentials in this case is Missoula and Missoula doesn't sound like a bad place to be. One might be SLC, but that one is just a maybe at this point.

But- I'm leary of the housing/salary disparity in Missoula. If housing prices have not come down like they have in the rest of the country, then can you sell a house there? Or is it going to be on the market for a long time? Because at this point, we likely could buy and have less to pay monthly and get a lot more for it, than some of the rentals I'm seeing. I'd just like to avoid as much as possible getting stuck with a house and no job down the road- because in this economy, there just about is no such thing as a long-term job any more.

If 70k is the minimum, what's comfortable? (Not extravagant- just not scraping by every dang second. Been there, done that, don't want to set ourselves up for it if we can avoid it)
I'm not saying you have a romanticized view, it's just that there are a great deal of people who move there for that reason and who have lived there their whole lives who have it. That was one reason I was glad to get out of there. As far as selling a house I can't say much for certain, but there are always people with money who have that romantic view of Montana who might be willing to buy it. I would say $75k to $80k would be comfortable.
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Old 06-25-2012, 08:49 AM
 
Location: Spots Wyoming
18,696 posts, read 38,326,198 times
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A couple of things.

First, I don't swallow the $70K a year as a bare minimum. The mean wages in Missoula is less than $40K. I'm not convinced that the majority of the population is in poverty. That's the mean, so it includes the $250K a year emploee and the $16K a year employee. There can not be that many uncomfortable people in Missoula.

Secondly, it has been mentioned that rear wheel drive is useless. Less than half the population has 4 wheel drive. When a vehicle says, "AWD" it means that any one of the 4 wheels can have power to it depending on conditiions. Honda Odessy has a AWD and a 4 Wheel Drive, and the 4 wheel drive sells more in snow country, wonder why that is? However, if you google AWD and read up on it, only 1 wheel at a time has power, not all 4. If Missoula is like any other town in Montana, about 30-40% of the people have rear wheel drive. I do. I've never owned a front wheel drive vehicle and wont. If my tires spin on a hill, I can still steer, with front wheel drive, if you spin, you don't have steering. The only advantage of front wheel drive is the added weight of having the engine setting on top of the drive wheels. If you have rear wheel drive, put some sand bags in the trunk or if it's a pickup, put some sand bags in the back. Sand bags are a heck of a lot cheaper than purchasing a new vehicle. Specially if you are living in poverty at say $50k a year. If I had a college student that I was sending off to school in snow country, I might think about a Subaru or some such, just because of their lack of experience. Some people need 4wheel drive to feel comfortable and that's fine. But a good experienced driver doesn't need it. It's like rear window de-icer, it's a convienience for those that are too lazy to scrape the rear window.

Where I live we get as much if not more snow than Missoula. If you have a regular vehicle and not a 4 wheel drive (which, by the way, only has one front and one rear wheel that pulls), be smart. Put sand bags in back, carry an emergency kit, half your speed and double your distances for following or stopping and purchase good snow tires, not all weather, but good snow/ice tires. You'll do just fine. Since I moved back up here from being in the Navy in 1992, I haven't had to be pulled out of snow. Not one single time. I live 21 miles from town and they don't plow out here.

I've got to rib you about having a 10 year old vehicle. Is it running ok? No major work needed? Put a couple grand into it and drive it for another 10 years. My pickup is a 1985 and I only have 320,000 miles on it. Runs like a champ, but every 10 years, I put a couple grand into it just to fix things you normally ignore. Tie rod ends, u-joints, complete brake job (not just shoes), paint if needed, shocks, etc. The vehicles you drive are almost new. hahahaha Now, having said that, should I win the lottery tomorrow, I will be driving a new truck by the end of the week.
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