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Why In The World Do We Live In Montana?

22 Mar 2001: Gregory Petrics #36 jumps in the Men’s Downhill Event during the US Alpine Championships at Big Mountain in Whitefish, Montana.Mandatory Credit: Adam Pretty/AUS /Allsport (Getty Images)

Montana. It’s a place where people say, “Wow,” if they hear you are going there for some reason. No one says that if you tell them you’re going to Iowa. Montana has a certain romance. It’s Big Sky country. The old west, gold rush, outlaws, the Oregon Trail, and Custer’s Last Stand. Majestic mountains, great fly fishing, hiking, skiing and hunting. Grizzly Bears and Buffalo, Montana has it all. What’s not to like?

Yes, It’s a Pretty Place to Visit But Why Stay?

Montana is the fourth largest state but has less than a million people in population. You’d think with all the great things here that people would be flocking here. So why aren’t they?

Weather: We blame a lot of our low population on our weather. It gets cold here, as we’ve all witnessed this past winter. It’s not a good idea to walk your dog in -30 degree temps. Many people don’t find the snow and cold quite as romantic as they look in the brochures.

Business: Although we are business friendly most of the time, Montana is not the most attractive place for big business. Low population means low numbers of skilled and experienced workers. Not exactly a magnet for big businesses. We are also a large agricultural area so a lot of area is taken up with farms and a lot more is owned by the American people as in public forestland.

Cost of Living In Montana

Having lived in Montana for the past 20 years there is one inescapable fact I’ve learned. It’s not a cheap place to live. You are going to be paying about a 4.10 percent higher cost of living in Montana compared to the US average.

Montana’s current unemployment rate is a very healthy 5.2 percent, however many of those jobs are service related for relatively low pay. Many people work more than one job to make ends meet.

Population Stats

Montana has a whopping 7 people per square mile. Montanans are a little older than the national average with a median age of 39.8 years. Forty nine percent of Montanans are married while only 11.9 percent are divorced.

Average household size in Montana is 2.35 percent. Twenty eight percent are married with children and 12.87 percent are single parents with children.

Some Final Thoughts

The movie theatre was my second home growing up in Southern Illinois so I saw lots of cowboy movies. Most of those were set in the Dakota’s, Montana and Wyoming. I grew up playing cowboys and Indians with the other kids in the neighborhood. That was in the days before it was politically incorrect to do that.

But I never really lost the mystique of the old west. I didn’t expect to see dirt streets and hitching posts outside the Rockin R Bar when I came to town so I wasn’t disappointed with the paved streets and lack of horses. But the mountains and the great people of Montana wasted no time in letting me know that this was home. The past 20 years seem to have flown by but I still get butterflies driving down Main Street and seeing those mountains rising up before me. I doubt that view will ever get old. They say you can’t go home again and if that’s true you just find a new home like I did. And that’s why I live in Montana.

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