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Old 09-23-2010, 11:54 PM
3 posts, read 12,767 times
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We currently live in MN so are used to the sub zero temps in the winter. We are thinking and looking at moving to either Montana or Wyoming. Would be buying a house. What we are looking for is this (if it exists):

Mild winters, can handle the sub zero temps but here it's been down to 40 below with the wind. Was hoping for average range in the 20-30's for winter.

Some place that you can see the mountains or small ranges, but not be living "in" them.

Small towns are fine as we live in a town of 300, as long as there is a small store for basics. Driving to a Wal-Mart is a 30 minute drive one way and work is roughly 45-60 minutes.

We have 2 kids in their teens. Would be buying and looking for acreage of 2+ or more for a few horses. Under 200,000.

Can anyone tell me some cities that would be good to look at? Small towns, etc. and if all of the above is something that exists in Montana or Wyoming. Thanks!
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Old 09-24-2010, 07:47 AM
Location: Where the mountains touch the sky
6,210 posts, read 7,154,477 times
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Welcome to the Montana Boards,

Lots of small towns in Montana close to but not in the mountains. Weather is going to vary significantly, especially east and west of the continental divide.
Normally the west side is warmer, but both sides can and do get very cold.
The east side normally gets more wind.

There are a lot of small towns such as Cascade, Clyde Park, Big Timber, Townsend on the east side, and Philipsburg, Anaconda, Ennis, Dillon on the west side, (just a few examples, not all possible towns), that are 30 minutes or so from a larger town, but the house and a few acres of land under $200k is more problematic. 2 horses would need at least 20 acres of ground and that would still mean supplimenting their feed all year round. We don't have the moisture of Minnesota, the grass doesn't grow as much of the summer as you may be used to, so you don't have the amount of feed per acre that Minnesota does. The prices have gone down in the past year, but many are still inflated so you would need to really shop and find a good realtor.
I am not familier enough with the west side to give you good information, but there are several folks here who live there and can give you more than I could.

The biggest thing you need to look at is a job. The pay in Montana is pretty low by comparison to other states, and while our unemployment rate is only about 7%, we also have the highest percentage of people working 2 or more jobs in the country. Your dream house may be 200 miles from the nearest well paying job.

If you haven't been here, take a trip before you move. It isn't that far but what you could drive from Minnesota to Montana and then start looking around.
If you don't have a steady income and need work, look harder. Take some time, do your research, make the most informed choice you can because life isn't easy here.
Long distances between towns, bad roads for commuting much of the year, lots of wildlife on the roads, High prices and low wages.

It is a great place to live, but not for everybody.

Good Luck
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Old 09-24-2010, 08:10 AM
Location: cemetary
363 posts, read 967,606 times
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I just answered you on the Wyoming board. Montana is a much better choice.
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Old 09-25-2010, 12:41 PM
Location: Brendansport, Sagitta IV
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I see you were also looking at Idaho Falls -- if you're seeking milder winters that would definitely be a better choice than just about anywhere in MT or WY (ID Falls is out in the desert, a couple hours drive to various mountains). The real estate is similar for the dollar. But I have no idea what the ID job market is like. As to horse-keeping, it's the same all over the west -- our graze is real thin compared to Minnesota. There you might keep 10 head on an acre; here it might take 10+ acres to feed one animal and you'd still be supplementing during the dry season (and hay has gotten pricey). There are parts of the west where 100 acres feeds just one cow-calf pair!!
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Old 09-26-2010, 10:09 AM
Location: NW Montana
451 posts, read 916,696 times
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NW Montana has milder winters (and summers) than the upper Midwest. The Mission Valley has a terrific irrigation system built by the WPA during the 1930's and you can easily get two good harvests of hay even in a cold year such as 2010 has been (we only had one week in the 90's) and in some years three. But, due to occasional late/early frosts, the vegetable growing season here is about 2 weeks shorter than Southern MN for some years, though not all.
We rarely see much snow here compared to MN and it seldom gets below -20°F this far west of the Continental Divide. When it does, it only lasts a day or two. Kalispell and Missoula are the 'big cities' in this part of Montana. We live between the two and can reach either in an hour's drive - there's no stop lights along the way to speak of - you go 70mph the whole distance with little traffic other than during tourist season.
But 'jobs' are scarce here, as others have said. Best bring a business or high demand skill with you. Other than that, due to no sales taxes and less-than-the-worst-state income taxe, it is a good place for retirees who bring some income along when they move. Otherwise plan to farm, work cheap, beg or starve like the rest of us. (Kidding, that last bit - I hope). But, considering the economy here, land is still pretty spendy due to the wealthy out-of-staters who buy up the beautiful properties at extravagant prices, but only use them as summer retreats, etc. They do bring tax money into the State when they bother to pay their property taxes, but do not pay income taxes here nor support the local economies.
Real Estate: Best example I can give you here is our own. We're on a 5 acre piece, older but nice 3bed/2bath house, new barn, irrigation canal runs right through the property. Land is situated between Polson and Pablo. Polson or Ronan schools.
About 7 miles from the shore of Flathead Lake. Neighbors= Alfafa hay to the North, grain or potatoe field to the East (with terrific mountain views), county road with neighbor on the other side to the South, open fallow ground to the West. You pay me $210K and we're outta here. (Yes really. We don't have kids anymore and could be quite happy in a smaller house - send me a private message if you wish.)
Move the property 10 miles north to 60 miles north and you'll double that price; same goes for anything further than about 30 mile south.
There are a few fixer-uppers around. Some friends just bought a 30+acre place with a small, older house in rough shape for under $250K. But the land is strictly agricultural and they'll drive about 25 miles round trip to the nearest loaf of bread or gallon of gas; and that'll be on roads that can loosen your teeth for ya'.
Having said all that, and being from the Midwest (Wisconsin) in my youth, we wouldn't leave this part of Montana for anything.

Montana = easy on the eyes but sometimes tough on the paycheck/pocketbook.


Last edited by montygarlic; 09-26-2010 at 10:24 AM..
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