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Old 08-03-2017, 08:57 PM
4 posts, read 3,395 times
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Me and my wife are originally from NC and currently reside in a very small town out in the country. We have just started our long term relocation plan to Montana. I am a cnc machinist and have seen quite a few jobs across the state and my wife is a medical billing coder who works remotely from home. We have 2 young children. We are very independent people looking at houses outside the city of billings because it has the most machinist jobs. We have a nice spot of land now but we are looking for something with 20+ acres for our girls to be able to raise horses and do whatever they may desire to do to. We are no strangers to winter though from what I have seen montana winters are a breed of there own. Overall the state seems to be a great place to raise a hard working, tight not, respectable family and that's all we want for our daughters. That all being said what are some tips, recommendations, does and donts, areas to avoid?? Any other useless information. As I said this is the start of long term process so before the locals who frequent this start throwing out scary stories about how tuff it is, k ow this isn't something we are taking lightly and we won't be just hopping in the RV and heading out on our cross country trip without multiple contingencies and and enough $$ to start and maintain our new life, like some of the other people's stories I've read on here. Thanks for any input. It's greatly appreciate and taking into consideration.
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Old 08-04-2017, 08:45 AM
Location: Where the mountains touch the sky
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There are lots of small towns within commuting distance of Billings that are good places to have a family. One thing to remember is the weather can be pretty vicious, so a commute that normally takes 1/2 hour 45 minutes on good roads may take 2 hours or more in a blizzard.
If you are in a town just off I-90 you stand a better chance of getting to work because they rarely close that, while secondary highways can and do get closed with weather.
Billings is good simply for the fact it's big and there are a lot of jobs there, but that also means more traffic, and in poor weather conditions, gridlock.

Land in Montana is stupid expensive, and the closer you are to Billings, the more expensive the land is, but it's a trade off you'll have to decide for yourselves what you can afford and what you're willing to do to get to work.
I used to be certified in CNC, so I can tell you there are several places around the state that hire good operators. Boeing in Helena for example, where the land can be a little cheaper and the traffic isn't as bad. Don't limit yourself, look all over the state to find your dream home because Montana is so big that just an hours drive and you can feel like you're in another state with water, timber, population density, mountains or prairies, how much water is available, etc.

Just a heads up, 20 acres in Montana is a front yard. For a couple horses you'd need at least 50 - 60 acres if you want the land to be able to carry the horses and not just be a dust pit where you have to feed hay all year around.
Montana is much dryer than North Carolina with very short growing seasons, so it takes a lot more ground to produce enough feed for livestock. Where in NC 1 to 3 acres is needed to carry a cow/calf pair, in Montana you may need 50 to 80 acres.
If you don't have surface water, make sure you have a good well before you lay down your money. There are areas north of Columbus (bedroom community for Billings), for example where it doesn't matter how deep you go, there isn't any water so you have to either haul water yourself or have a service come around and fill your cistern.
Even if there is water, it may not be good so be careful of that when you look to buy.

Montana is much different than NC, but if you're willing to adapt, you should do fine here.

Good Luck.
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Old 08-04-2017, 09:25 AM
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The good grass country around Billings is in the Absarokee area. It gets more snow, otherwise buy something with irrigation water rights.

You might like the area in the Fromberg school district. It has a well respected small public school & is very commutable to Billings.

20 acres for horses is basically a paddock.
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Old 08-04-2017, 09:50 AM
Location: Earth
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Good to have a long term plan and not be in a hurry. Like these folks say, look at everything and get into the details. Weigh the pros and cons of everything ... you'll be giving up one thing to gain another - there is no perfect situation.

It's bone-dry in MT lately. Last thing you want is 20+ acres that you can't irrigate, or otherwise has restrictions on it and/or could be surrounded by a subdivision some day ... so look at the local county zoning regs and comprehensive growth plans.

Access is important ... if you're on a far-out property and you have to deal with maintaining a road and have a long commute, that could get old in a hurry during Winter. Not to mention having to invest in some equipment to maintain a property ... tractors and attachments/implements aren't inexpensive.
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Old 08-04-2017, 11:43 AM
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Thank you for the input guys, one thing I didn't consider was the lack of grass. Feed here is in abundance when it comes to hay. and you cant kill the grass if you try. lol. I live out around some large grazing lands for cows and horses and the land is very fertile. When I say raises I mean 2 horses lol and land to be alittle higher then in NC but not a whole lot. we are most comfortable in the 250-300k range. Theres been a lot of options. the commute is somthign ive been looking into from different areas. The billings area was at the top our list because the job postings along with the education system across the board. Ive seen the that accumulated snow is considerably less for the central Montana then in areas such as Bozeman, Helena and areas in and around the mountains which is completely expected but as you all were saying commute times can becaome extra long if not impossble in the winter time and I would like to be able to make it to work most o the year lol. And I will certainly take a look at future growth plans as you all pointed out. Definitely not interested in becoming close to the edge of a large city. The main reason we live where we live now is to get away from all that but the fast expansion of cities around here are unpredictable.
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Old 08-04-2017, 11:55 AM
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You might look south or west of Laurel and keep going til you like the prices and level of neighbors.
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Old 08-04-2017, 01:38 PM
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For example- we have good bottom land that grows decent protein level pasture grasses from waist to shoulder heighth each year. It is superior grazing land. I know just 20 acres wouldn't raise 2 horses. Superior grazing land is rarely for sale in 20 acre parcels, it is rarely for sale-- period.

You could stable them and feed hay & cake & grain ration and let them out on the remaining 18 or so daily for exercise. But if you leave them on it, the ground will look like top of pool table in no time, and possibly be considered ruined by a range person. It will just be a matter of management to make it work.
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Old 08-04-2017, 04:11 PM
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Definayely some good information to consider historyfan. I guess it will just depend on the property we buy. Stabling is a common practice here with horses. And it's not at the top of our list.

Aside from Yellowstone and big sky what other places do you guys recommend checking out for a vaction trip. We're roading tripping out next may for vacation and to look at some properties and the surrounding areas that we have been interested in.
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Old 08-05-2017, 04:12 PM
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Montana is made for road trips, pack up a cooler full of sandwiches and drinks and enjoy--

To me Glacier Park is the most picturesque, the view of the Mission mountains as you drive north to St Ignatius, and lastly the Beartooth Highway from Red Lodge to Cody.

Museum of Rockies in Bozeman is the preeminent dinosaur museum. There is a dinosaur trail of dino sites Follow The Montana Dinosaur Trail For Adventure
Any and all of Montanan's state parks are worth a trip.
Hit a rodeo & or county fair and you'll get a good glimpse of Montana. The bucking horse sale in Miles City is in May.

The tourism packet you can order is full of suggestions & the Montana highway map is very good. Look for scenic byways.

May might be a week or two early for Glacier or Beartooth due to snow. Here's an idea how much snow.

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Old 08-05-2017, 10:45 PM
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June is sometimes too early for the highest country.
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