Is Bozeman Really “The Last Best Place on Earth?”
For the past 20 years I’ve called Bozeman, Montana home. My wife and I moved here in 1993 from San Diego, California. Until we changed over to Montana plates on the car, some of the local residents felt the need to leave little love notes suggesting, and I’m paraphrasing, “get the hell out of Dodge.” But we stayed anyway.
There was no North 19th when we moved here. Downtown ended at Rouse. No Wal-Mart, Costco, Target, Petsmart, Lowe’s, Home Depot or Staples. K-Mart was our lone “big box” store at the time. As the old Virginia Slims cigarette commercial used to say, “You’ve come a long way baby.”
Besides world class skiing, hunting and trout fishing, Bozeman has a lot more to offer those who wish to set up housekeeping here. Bozeman has unemployment commonly below the national average, great schools and sports programs, a world-class university, a great hospital, low crime rate, no sales tax, and a great city road system.
Bozeman Outside of Bozeman
The reason for bringing this topic up is my recent trip to Texas for my college reunion. I reconnected with a lot of old friends and most of them had come to this part of the world on vacation to Yellowstone or Glacier Park. Many remembered Bozeman as being a “clean, beautiful” city. For most Bozeman stood out in their memories because it was not like many of the towns that all looked alike. They commented on our mountains of course but also on the landscaping and layout of the city. Many remembered visits to the Museum of the Rockies and Pioneer Museum.
I would have to confess that I was not enamored with every city commission decision made over the years but in hindsight the good they did overshadowed the bad.
Some Final Thoughts
People are always excited when you tell them you’re from Montana. Most places don’t carry that kind of clout. Iowa, nice as it may be, just doesn’t inspire the envy people experience about the thought of living in Montana. So if you live here I hope you will not just gloss over all the things that make Bozeman, “the last best place on earth.”