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Old 09-16-2015, 02:33 PM
32 posts, read 92,093 times
Reputation: 54


Hi all,

I'm currently living in western Washington state, outside of Seattle, and am considering a move to Missoula. I've visited, and plan to do so again soon, and have learned much on the forums here. But I still have a few unanswered questions, and would appreciate any answers you all may have.

1. Safety: As I live with a disabled person, safely is of the utmost concern. WA has the highest property crime in America, and while I could care less about my lawn mover or my car, home break-ins are unfortunately a big thing here. Nearly everyone I know in the Seattle area has at least had someone try to break into their place. I have a security system (and a firearm), but frankly, I'm tired of having to look over my shoulder all the time. Missoula's crime stats look about average, thought a bit on the higher side (on-par with the nicer suburbs of Seattle). But what's the word among people you know? Any anecdotes about break-ins and the like?

2. Wildfires: Living in Washington, we're accustomed to enduring smoky days from Eastern Washington's fires (especially this year), but not evacuations and such. Does Missoula and environs ever get the point of evacuation?

3. Utility costs: How bad are we talking in the winter?

4. Noise: I'm most definitely seeking quiet, so has anyone had any experience around the Missoula area with: fireworks, hunting on/near your property, bass-thumping from car stereos, big festivals? I suppose one could get a noisy neighbor anywhere, but are any of these things commonplace?

5. Bitterroot Valley: seems safer based on statistics. I understand it's a bit different (perhaps an understatement) from Missoula politically, but that's not an issue for me. Is Missoula commutable from, say, Stevensville?

Many thanks to everyone.
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Old 09-17-2015, 06:54 AM
Location: Western North Carolina
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I lived in the Bitteroot Valley, in Stevensville, for a couple of years and commuted to Missoula for work, maybe I can help somewhat:

1. I have never felt so personally safe anywhere than I did in Montana. In the Missoula area, and in the Bitterroot Valley, the police spend most of their time issuing traffic tickets and citations. Most crime is pretty petty.

2. There are wildfires, and it can get pretty smoky at times, but I never had to evacuate, that's rare I would say. They do a good job of keeping tabs on the wildfires.

3. Utility costs are high because the winter/cold season is so long. Lots of people use wood stoves to supplement their heat. In the summer, air conditioning is rarely needed because the humidity is pretty low and the nights cool down, so the utility bills aren't bad then, but the summer season is short. There is heating assistance available if you are a low-income person.

4. Very rare to hear those bass-thumping cars very often - the demographics are different there. Missoula would have more noise though, than the valley. That's where the college is, and most all of the stores, etc. The Bitterroot Valley is VERY quiet and serene. I decided TOO quiet for me at this stage of life, but many enjoy it for that reason. Just know that all that quiet and serenity comes with a high housing cost, and just about everything, including work, involves about a 30 - 45 minute commute into Missoula. The commute is not really bad time wise, and it's scenic, but can be trying in the wintertime. Have a good vehicle equipped for snowy weather.

5. I found both Missoula and Stevensville to be surprisingly liberal, with strong Democratic leanings politically; I was there during the thick of the 2008 election. It may be that the University, and a lot of transplants from California and other Blue States, has had an influence on that. It was not uncommon to see pick-up trucks with gun racks sporting "Obama" bumper stickers.

Hope some of this helps, perhaps others will chime in!
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Old 09-21-2015, 12:50 AM
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Seems you covered things well....
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Old 09-24-2015, 01:28 PM
32 posts, read 92,093 times
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Thank you kindly, RogueMom, for your thorough answers. That definitely puts my mind at ease a bit.

Looking forward to visiting Missoula next month!
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Old 09-26-2015, 11:55 AM
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I disagree with the assessment of Stevensville's political leanings. As a whole, the Bitterroot valley is very conservative, including Stevensville. It becomes ultra-conservative from Hamilton south through Darby and Sula. Missoula is ultra-liberal downtown and near the university. Political leanings moderate heading away from the areas mentioned above.

Lots of people commute from Stevensville (Stevi) to Missoula. It takes about 40 minutes and is a straight shot into town. Traffic can actually be a problem going home in the afternoon (trying to head south to get out of Missoula).

The Bitterroot valley is very quiet. Missoula is fairly quiet. Noise is not a problem here, nor is crime for the most part. (There are the occasional murders and kidnappings, but those are very infrequent.) The police here seem to be very helpful and supportive.

The only significant knock against living here is the salary/wage to cost of living ratio. Wages here are typically abysmally low compared to the cost of living. For example, I have heard that the average income for an individual is somewhere around $35k (or less) per year. Average family income is around $50k/year. For a cheap house you will pay $227k. The math does not work no matter how you spin it. Unless you work for the government, or are a doctor, lawyer, are independantly wealthy or a retiree, you have no real chance of making it here. People come and stay for 1-3 years only to realize that it is impossible to make ends meet and leave. The city and state government, while helpful in many other ways continues to fail in dramatic fashion in bringing good paying jobs to the state.
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