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Old 06-09-2015, 01:24 AM
186 posts, read 250,044 times
Reputation: 249


So I'm not exactly sure what this post is going to be about, other than being a general warning to those who want to move to Montana, from out-of-state, to achieve some sort of idyllic dream they have. First, a disclaimer: I do not know this family which died, other than what is mentioned in the article, and I myself, WAS an out-of-stater as well. I say was, because I have lived and worked (very hard) here for over ten years now. I live in Bozeman, where the livin' ain't easy.

Here is the article for you folks to read before my post: Police say Montana man killed family, self in log cabin | National | bozemandailychronicle.com

I feel like I know this type of person very well. I do a lot of work in the mountains, in cabins like this man's, and have met families like them. I can't say that many of them are very happy, as much as I would like to. Many of these people are escapees from crowded, less conservative states (not going to bother naming names), and think that their ideologies will mesh well with the backcountry of Montana, and seek to isolate themselves in the mountains, with their families, for whatever reason, be it the coming apocalypse, or the Gov'ment, or to live the most granola life possible. I have seen some posts on this forum in the past along those lines as well...

As for me, I moved here because I love the mountains, and the lack of people, but in my short ten years here, I have seen many people come and go, with more coming than going. I now have a family, and a comfortable life here, but it has been a CONSTANT effort, and for many years, we wondered if we could make it out here with no roots, no support, no family, and shady job situations. We wanted that cabin in the mountains, far from the rest of humanity. We wanted to have our own ideas guide us down a path which we deemed as righteous. But the more and more we got to know our home, the more unrealistic it became. Let me explain a little more, and perhaps this can help those asking "Should I move here?"

As I mentioned, I live in Bozeman. I am not of the yuppie crowd. I have had to work very hard, sometimes two jobs, and suffered through a downturn in the economy here, which saw 1 out of 2 of my co-workers vanish off to greener pastures. It is very expensive to live here. Very expensive. We have the 49th highest paying wages in the US, or the 2nd lowest, depending on how you look at it. On top of that, land prices are insane. Not inaccessible land, or desert, or scrub land, I mean land you can farm, near a water source. Something you can do something with. Unless you're rich, forget about that dream, and buy a condo, or small home like the rest of us.

I have lived elsewhere in Montana. Without naming names once again, I will say that many communities are not open to outsiders, and rightly so! Bozeman is a good example. Here, we fit in well, but are getting sick of what this town has become. We didn't move here to change anything, but saw an opportunity to live and work in a beautiful place. But the people moving into town lately... Really getting us "locals" down. Ask yourself if you think you can fit into the stereotypical Montana farming/ranching community or not. If not, then you probably won't be able to afford a decent house like you have back where you live now, in a larger Montana city. You get what you pay for here, just like everywhere else.

Coming from a fellow transplant, Montana is pretty full. You will not find a rental for under a $1000 in Bozeman, that has enough room for a small family, a dog, and a yard. Forget it, look elsewhere if that's what you're thinking. If you can live side-by-side with hard working traditional Montanans, in a small rural setting, you will do MUCH better here. There will be many options for you. Don't talk about religion, politics, and wolves here unless you are ready to agree with the old timers on the issues. The trails around the Gallatin Valley are PACKED. Don't expect solitude, as the word has been out for longer than I have been here, and we're all late to the game. The mountains are literally crawling with people. Not as bad as Colorado, but getting there fast. I'm seeing trash everywhere in the hills.

Now back to the meat of my post: THE Montana Dream. Who doesn't want a cabin in the mountains, on some land? Of course we all do. You need to realize a few things. The growing season is short here. It gets COLD. The road to your cabin may be accessible with snowmobiles in the winter, and no access during the wet season. You will not have a job, unless you are ok with traversing down a bumpy mountain road for a 1 hour commute into town. Oh, but you have an internet job you say? Yea good luck with that, we have some of the slowest internet in the developed world according to recent studies. And internet in the mountains... You'll be paying an arm and a leg for spotty service, with capped data plans. It is just not feasible.

Take my advice, as I have been here for a decade, working hard on my own Montana dream. It is not easier living than where you are from. We just hit 1 million people in Montana. Ask yourself why that is, not the people here on this forum. To me, the answer is painfully obvious. Once the oil field heyday in the Bakken is over, I am guessing we will see a leveling off of the population, and a decrease in our crime. But we don't have what you are looking for.

Is this a great place to raise a family? As we are learning, this is one of the best places to raise a family, if you are willing to make certain sacrifices. But don't try to raise them up in the mountains, isolated, with your ideals as this man did. This is obviously an extreme example, or worst case scenario, but the fact is, I have seen many families like this one try to make it up in the mountains, because they found a deal on some cheap land they saw on the internet. It's cheap for a reason, and unless it is a hunting cabin or seasonal hangout, it will be far different than what reality will deliver to you. Good luck!
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Old 06-09-2015, 05:59 AM
Location: Fort Benton, MT
882 posts, read 874,354 times
Reputation: 2545
Great post, however I would like to point a couple of things out. The first thing that I noticed was the extreme age difference between the husband and wife. I think he was 59, and she was 38. In the real world, that is too much of a gap. Forget what fantasy hollywood trys to shove down our throats, a person with one foot in retirement has no business trying to start a family. It works when you a rich and your nanny raises your kids, but in real life having a child at 58 is a disservice to your child. Great, they get to push their 80 year old dad around in a wheel chair when they graduate college. Good for them

Most relationships like this end in divorce. What this man did was beyond words, but I can guarantee that he just didn't wake up and decide to murder his family because life was too hard.

My father was 40 when he decided to finally get married and start a family, and I had to endure the constant comments in high school about my dad really being my granddad. It isn't fun.

Living a rural lifestyle isn't easy, no matter what state you live in. MT has been ravaged by well off people buying up land and building houses no one can afford locally. It has driven the price up in the bigger towns. However the lack of amenities has kept the smaller towns more affordable, and you can still find land for decent prices. There is plenty of work, you just have to look. And jobs in the Medical field here are plentiful. What has hurt MT however is the swarm of retirees building dream homes with their 401k's, and then passing away and leaving a property so expensive it just sits there.
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Old 06-09-2015, 02:34 PM
186 posts, read 250,044 times
Reputation: 249
I think the main problem with living here now, after the land rushes, is that wages here are stagnant. There is just no way that a family can live off of one wage, unless they are out in the sticks, without any form of childcare and growing some of their food, or raising/hunting their meat. I don't think there should be a minimum wage hike, but there needs to be some investment by the state in attracting some higher paying jobs. Although I like Gianforte's idea, I would never vote for him. But basically, I think for most of these younger folk to survive out here, especially the kids who were raised here, and want to move back, there will need to be some sort of higher paying tech jobs.

I have a degree in microbiology for example, and work in the trades. There is no way in hell I am working for $10-$15 an hour in a lab, when I know I can move to San Diego, or Boston and start out making $50k for the same position. Such is life here.

The retirees are definitely a part of the problem, but so are the ranchers cashing out. They go hand in hand. There are ways to avoid breaking up a big ranch in this state and keep it in the family. It's like the chicken or the egg argument. Would you sell your thousand acres if you saw your hometown being over run by developers for big bucks? It would be extremely hard to say no, and would require a large amount of integrity.
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Old 06-09-2015, 06:05 PM
Location: Kingman - Anaconda
1,552 posts, read 5,995,500 times
Reputation: 732
Hey now pickin on us retired folks..
we have had our piece of paradise for 10 years now and cant be happier. Course we are being snowbirds because you posted a very true statment about access its not happening unless we have a snow cat.
prices in Butte are pretty high and half time i end up in Deer Lodge or make 90 trip to Missoula for items.
radio said other day we are like 18 days straight with rain then heatwave hit last couple days. Tonight is a humdinger of a storm been hailing raining thunder the whole bit for over a hour already.
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Old 06-10-2015, 09:05 AM
Location: Where the mountains touch the sky
6,369 posts, read 7,385,191 times
Reputation: 13199
People do crazy stuff all the time, like the German pilot that flew his passenger jet into the side of a mountain killing all of the innocent passengers and crew.

When somebody goes off the deep end, the best you can hope for is that they only hurt themselves, but some manage to kill others on their way out. So many times this stuff happens due to drug abuse or alcoholism, or sometimes mental illness even though most folks with mental illness aren't violent.
I don't care what excuse he used, he committed a heinous crime.

Here is an update:
[UPDATED] Family in murder-suicide identified; shooter blames wife

All people have stress, everybody has problems, some lose contact with reality no matter where they are. Because Montana has such a small population, tragedys like this really stand out, and a lot of people are effected because it's such a relatively small community.

The responsibility for the act lies solely with the perpatrator. Yeah life can be tough here, it can be tough anywhere. If you can't hack it, you go somewhere you can. If you're wife is giving you problems, divorce her, don't kill the kids.

There is no excuse, no justification for crimes like this, no matter who you are or where you're from, or what you're beliefs are.

It was a sensless waste.
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Old 06-11-2015, 08:41 PM
347 posts, read 449,338 times
Reputation: 601
I must that although I enjoy the restaurants and shopping available in bigger Montana towns such as Billings, Missoula, and Bozeman, I'll take my small, isolated Montana town any day over those, but that's just me. The older I get, the more peace and quiet I need. I hate traffic and it's nice to have everything in walking distance. Also, I doubt there's any place cheaper for me to live.
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Old 06-12-2015, 12:58 AM
Location: Lost in Montana *recalculating*...
15,941 posts, read 18,807,400 times
Reputation: 17314
I came to Montana from West Virginia, rural to rural transfer. It was easy for me. I found no problems when I arrived, but I didn't attempt to go 'isolated' either. I could have done that in WV much easier than I could have here.. I live 12 miles north of Helena and couldn't be happier. My job can support my family- I wouldn't have left if it couldn't have.

I see no problem with people trying to live a simpler life- if they have their heads and wits about them. I'm used to a lack of services, being somewhat self reliant. That's how we lived before that's how we live now. I only implore that people moving here from urban areas really understand what it means to live in a smaller community state. It's not easy if you're used to the immediate ammenities.

That being said- I see this murder/suicide as just that- It was a heinous crime commited by someone who was obviously bent to begin with. Whether he was here or in L.A. or wherever is immaterial- he was bent. His lifestyle choice had boo to do with the cause. It may have been his 'end all' escape from whatever demons illed him, but he would have gone to that end regardless.

It has nothing to do with Montana, the rural way of life or anything like that. He was simply bent.
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Old 06-12-2015, 01:01 PM
Location: California → Tennessee → Ohio
1,552 posts, read 2,680,376 times
Reputation: 1167
Originally Posted by MikeyMike11 View Post
Many of these people are escapees from crowded, less conservative states (not going to bother naming names), and think that their ideologies will mesh well with the backcountry of Montana, and seek to isolate themselves in the mountains, with their families, for whatever reason, be it the coming apocalypse, or the Gov'ment, or to live the most granola life possible.
Have you ever heard of this guy?

Unabomber Ted Kaczynski Nabbed in His Montana Hideout
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Old 06-12-2015, 01:40 PM
21 posts, read 32,858 times
Reputation: 26
I have to agree with Threerun. This was just a very messed up twisted man! Unfortunately this kind of thing happens everywhere all the time these days (rural or not). Why should Montana be any different. There is no real explanation for this behavior other than evil. MikeyMike11, you say "I feel like I know this type of person very well". If that's really true then I am scared for you dude!
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Old 06-12-2015, 09:06 PM
Location: Nashville TN
4,922 posts, read 5,751,709 times
Reputation: 4778
Murder suicide is the lamest way to go out in life, if you hate your life just o.ff yourself and move on to the next life.
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