An Insider's View into America's Fastest Growing Micropolitan


If you're anything like me, doing a little research before making a big decision is just part of the process.  When I was moving to Bozeman, I wanted to know what it was really like to live here.  Of course, a week of vacation in a hip spot is a TON of fun (winter or summer), but what is the day-to-day like for locals?  Now that I've been here awhile, I'll try and share my experience.

Lifestyle

Chances are if you're considering Bozeman, the lifestyle is what appeals to you.  In the winter, "America's Largest Skiing" (Big Sky) just 45 mins away or kids learning to rip at their weekly Bridger Bowl lesson (6 weeks for $100!) are just a couple of the perks!  Hunting, hiking, fly fishing, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, rafting, and rock climbing are just a few of the mainstays that are easily accessible from Bozeman.  It truly is a sporting paradise.

 

Schools

If this is something that's weighing on your mind, it shouldn't be.  The public schools are excellent, and the experience my kids are having has exceeded my wildest imagination.  As a 5th grader, my oldest going to go on an overnight field trip and learn things like Stream Ecology and Fire Ecology.  What?!  He had a blast and learned things that we couldn't teach him at home.  Day to day, the communication, and depth of knowledge our teachers have about my kid is truly first class.

My kids go to public school, so I can't offer much personal information on the private schools. 

However, I did get acquainted with the private schools through my Leadership Bozeman experience, and their offerings were quite impressive as well.

 

Economy

It is said that 40% of the income in Gallatin County is NOT EARNED in Gallatin County and I see evidence of this every day.  Many people work from home, telecommuting to their jobs elsewhere.  Strong developing sectors are IT and photonics, but still, agriculture and tourism are the primary economic drivers in our whole state.  Wages are low here (they call it the 30% scenery tax), and it's not surprising to dine out and discover that your server has a Ph.D.  State regulations are tight in some industries for granting licensure to those previously licensed elsewhere.  There is a lot of emphasis on helping/supporting local entrepreneurs, but that also means that attracting larger corporations that could bring multiple high-paying jobs is just not done.  In short, it's probably a good idea to have your job prospects secured prior to relocating.

 

Cost of Living

Following up on Economy, Cost of Living seems like a big enough topic to warrant it's own paragraph. Depending on where you are moving from, home prices might seem like a bargain.  Compared to large cities, prices seem normal.  However, for most middle-income families, buying a small 1880s downtown home for $700,000 that has one bathroom and needs a lot of work just isn't practical.  As such, the city is expanding rapidly to the west.  New subdivisions are popping up seemingly every week.  Affordable housing is a hot button topic as housing prices continue to rise and rentals are nearly non-existent.  This matter is being debated at City Hall now.  It will be interesting to see what will happen.

 

The People

Though there is a bit of a "locals only" vibe (my husband has the hat to prove it), I have found Bozeman to be a place that is easy to make friends and get involved.  There is absolutely no shortage of hiking groups, mama groups, gyms, ultimate frisbee, etc etc etc.  The Bozeman Public Library has hundreds of activities going on each week, from free yoga to chess club.  So, if you have something you want to learn or just want to get out and meet people, there are things to do throughout the valley every day.  Another good source of connections when you first move is the Gallatin Valley Newcomers Club.

What else can I help you research?  Let me know what's on your mind and I'll be happy to share what I know about it or at least get you pointed in the right direction to help!

 

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