Billings, Montana

Magic City

The Best Thing About Billings?

Mountains & Rimrocks

With two-thirds of the city in the Yellowstone Valley, divided by the Rimrocks, and surrounded by no less than seven mountain ranges, Billings has everything a mountaineer can ask for. Billings is home to some of the best hiking trails in the country, a vibrant off-road biking community, ample sites for skiing and snowshoeing during the winter, and just as many spots for hunting and fishing in the off-season. This is only aided by the large amounts of agriculture in the region, and the plethora of both domestic and wild horses. The call of the wild, such as it is, comes from Billings, and if that appeals to you, then you will find it an excellent home.

Here's a quick review of Billings from a transplant: As far as culture goes, there's a ton of people from out of state living here. Montana locals tend to hate Billings, for being too big, too busy, too cheap, too industrial, and too diverse. It's near the Crow and Northern Cheyenne reservations, which I like. People here are crazy nice but refuse to be direct, and I maintain this town has the nicest panhandlers in the world.

There's great outdoor opportunities everywhere (apart from swimming) and can be enjoyed as short day trips. They're bringing back $40 one way tickets to Denver, too, which is great.

The Worst Thing About Billings?

Those City Slickers

Billings is considered somewhat controversial by the wider state of Montana. It is an urbanized area in a state that prides itself on its reputation for the rugged outdoors. As such, other Montanans have been known to have friction with the people of Billings. This is somewhat exacerbated by its reputation as a high-crime city. While drug addiction is fairly widespread, the reputation it holds as a criminal hive is largely overblown and out-of-staters from bigger metros will find the city pretty tame.

A local notes the issue and the exaggeration: I think the main reason people outside the city complain is that it has the reputation of being a "dirty" town. Higher crime rate than the average town in Montana, the refineries, higher homeless population, etc. A lot of that is exaggerated and Billings has cleaned up in the last decade or so, but a lot of it is still true.

Lifestyle of Billings

Microbreweries and casinos can be found by the dozens in Billings. If beer and poker are your preferred recreational activities, then you’ll have plenty to do. Billings’ historical museums, dedicated to preserving its frontier town past, are also top-notch, as are the myriad local theater houses. In addition, stand-up comedians will often come through town to perform at the local venues. And of course, there are the aforementioned outdoor activities. Be it drink and entertainment, culture and comedy, or the simple pleasures of the great outdoors, Billings has you covered.

If you want to see what kind fun the locals get up to in Billings check out the calendar of events:

Worklife of Billings

Billings is fundamentally an industrial town. Coal, oil, and natural gas all provide opportunities in the energy business; the beet refinery and construction in the city provide factory and building jobs; and large amounts of agriculture and ranching provide work for those in the farming sector. This is in addition to three universities, a strongly centralized medical industry that provides for much of the state, and of course the above-mentioned casinos and breweries. Billings has a diverse and booming economy suited to many different employment needs.

Why You Should Move Here Now?

A City/Town Tweener

If you’re looking for a place with the benefits of both a city and a small town, good schools for your children, and beautiful landscape to surround yourself with, you'll find Billings to your liking. One note of caution, while Billings is a city, and leans less conservative than the rural regions of Montana, it remains conservative relative to other bigger cities. If that ain't your bag then think twice.