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Best Places to Live in Montana

Pondering a move to Big Sky Country? Check out the best cities in the state to hang your (cowboy) hat.

By Kevin Litwin on May 1, 2018

Outdoor recreation, nature wildlife, a good economy and multiple higher education choices are among the livability advantages in Montana, and here are 10 top communities in The Big Sky State:


Great Falls

Taking its name from five waterfalls, Great Falls is near the Missouri River. Malmstrom Air Force Base serves the community, and education options include the University of Providence and Great Falls College Montana State University. Four Seasons Arena books hundreds of music and sports events each year.

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Butte-Silver Bow / Courtesy of the Midland CVB

Butte-Silver Bow

In 1977, the city of Butte and the county of Silver Bow consolidated and formed the sole community of Butte-Silver Bow. Today’s conveniences include Bert Mooney Airport and a Montana Tech engineering school, and the community hosts an annual St. Patrick’s Day Festival (since 1882) and a Montana Folk Festival.


The commercial hub for northwest Montana is Kalispell, a city known as the gateway to Glacier National Park. Luxuries include Buffalo Hill Golf Club and Glacier Park International Airport, and tourism is the key economic industry. Hockaday Museum of Art and an interesting downtown district are among many attractions.


Rated an All-America City, Bozeman is home to Montana State University and many college-related entertainment destinations. The city is a tourism venue for skiing and other outdoor activities, and visitors can utilize Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport. Livability amenities for residents include Bozeman-Deaconess Hospital and Gallatin Valley Mall.


Along the Clark Fork River and near five mountain ranges is Missoula, home to the University of Montana. The downtown district has many buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, and the city has several microbreweries and hosts an annual River City Roots Festival and a Missoula Marathon.

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The only city in Montana with more than 100,000 residents is Billings, a community with a strong economy based largely on a massive regional Bakken oil development. Billings is also the retail and healthcare hub for much of Northern Wyoming and western portions of North Dakota and South Dakota.


Polson is poised on the shores of Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake in the western United States. Flathead Lake State Park has boating, sailing, fishing and snowmobiling opportunities, and Polson Bay Golf Course is rated four stars. Polson farmers harvest Flathead cherries in July and August.

Whitefish / Courtesy of Brian Schott


Whitefish is a tourism destination thanks mainly to a ski resort on Big Mountain called Whitefish Mountain Resort, and the city hosts cultural attractions such as Whitefish Theatre Company and an annual Huckleberry Days Arts Festival. Taste of Whitefish is an annual culinary event that has thrived for 25 years.

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Livingston / Courtesy of Edwin & Kelly Tofslie under a CC 2.0 license.


Just north of Yellowstone National Park and along the Yellowstone River is Livingston, a city that relies heavily on tourism. The Federation of Fly Fishers is based in Livingston, and the community bills itself as having some of the best trout fishing in the world.


Hamilton is a small-town rural community along Bitterroot River, and residents and tourists can enjoy livability attractions like parks, mountain biking trails, forestland and a growing downtown district. Students have access to Bitterroot College University of Montana, and the economy is strong with research and manufacturing companies.

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