Getting dirty is common if you live in Montana. Here, residents are invited to pull on their cowboy boots, put on their hats and ride in the rodeo. If lassoing isn't for you, take a hike along one of Montana's many nature walks. You can even try your hand at digging for dinosaur fossils, an activity that is not just for paleontologists in this state. Montana is home to public dinosaur digs and some of the world's most spectacular dinosaur discoveries, which are proudly displayed in the state's museums.
For those who can bear the winter, during which annual snowfall can average anywhere from 20 inches in the eastern part of the state to 300 inches in the western region, Montana offers a number of skiing and snowboarding adventures in several pristine areas, including Ashland, Anaconda and Big Sky, MT. The latter boasts the largest area of skiable terrain in the U.S. Or if you prefer ungroomed trails, Cooke City offers several different levels of difficulty. Massive in size, with a 545-mile-long border with Canada, Montana is the 4th largest state in the nation in terms of land area. That makes for plenty of room to stretch considering that the state has one of the lowest populations in the nation – just over a million people – which is smaller than many large cities and the 7th lowest of any state in the U.S. As a result, residents can find privacy no matter which direction they travel.
As you can imagine, life in The Treasure State is much slower-paced than the rest of the nation. Montanans embrace rural living, which can include dusty roads, farming machinery and loud animals, in addition to breathtaking scenery and abundant outdoor recreation opportunities. Moving to Montana means you're ready to accept responsibility and demonstrate self-sufficiency, according to state officials. If you need your road plowed, you’ll likely need to do it yourself. If one of your appliances is broken, know that it may take days before someone can travel to your home to service it in some parts of the state.
As of early 2016, the statewide median home value in Montana was $204,054 – roughly $20,000 higher than the national average - while the median rental price was $842. Notably, the ten-year total appreciation rate between 2006 and 2016 was an impressive 27%, one of the higher rates in the country.
In Helena, Montana's state capital, a city of over 29,000 people, the median home value was $223,077 in early 2016. With more than 108,000 residents, Billings, located in the Yellowstone River Valley on the east slope of the Rockies, is the largest city in the state. Here the median home value was right around the state average at $202,151. Prices jump considerably in Big Sky, a popular vacation area thanks to its premier ski resort and easy access to the famed Yellowstone National Park. In early 2016, the median home value in Big Sky was $484,121.
Montana's unemployment rate was 4.0 percent as of late 2015 - one point lower than the nation's average - while the median household income as of early 2016 was $46,230. The state's top employer by far is the Billings Clinic, along with its related divisions: Billings Hospital, Billings Clinic Labs and Billings Clinic Employee Assistance Programs. Beyond healthcare, other important industries in the state include agriculture, mining, construction, leisure and hospitality, retail, manufacturing and professional services.
Once residents are ready to retire from these varied fields, they will join the growing population of elders in Montana. The US. Census Bureau projects that more than 30% of state residents will be older than 60 by 2030 – a 43% increase from the 2012 numbers. Currently, whites comprise 89% of the population, followed by American Indians at 6% (the 5th highest percentage in the U.S.), Hispanics at 3% and those of two or more races at 2%. As for ethnicities represented, the largest reported heritage is Germans at 19% of the population.