Missoula, Montana

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What's it like to live in Missoula

What is it like living in Missoula?

Ive lived in Missoula for 10 years. I love it here, but it has its costs.

The job market, outside of a few major industries (the university, healthcare, and government), is pretty shitty. This causes a lot of cool people to move away.

Yes, there’s tons of outdoor recreation, but if youre not into that there’s not much else to do besides nightlife. Almost everyone i know is an alcoholic and smokes weed probably a little too much. Alcohol is at the center of most non-work activities.

There is a fair amount of crime, mostly related to meth, the homeless population, and sexual assaults related to having a university & a busy bar scene. I dont worry for my safety… usually. But crime is definitely present.

Housing is terrible. Its expensive relative to what most jobs pay and how run down most of the stock is. Yeah, its cheaper if you live 2+ miles from downtown.

Its a big small town or small city. You run into acquaintances and friends (and old sexual partners) regularly, but you also always meet new people.

The winters suck is an odd way. Not too much snow nor stupid cold, but theyre just kind of icy and erratic. The city doesnt plow much, so the roads of sheets of ice. Some years theres no winter, others its brutal. Summers are really smokey. So theres kind of like “windows” of awesome weather, with many seasons having major limitations about what you can do outside due to ice/snow, water levels, smoke, muddy roads, etc.

You pretty much need to own a truck or Subaru, which is expensive.

It can get old. The downtown scene, the outdoor rec, everyone moving away, making less money than people on the coasts… but other times it’s laughably awesome.

What is it like living in Missoula?

I really like living here. I am a fairly new Missoulan however as I've only been here about a year.

I work for the forest service so I get to work out in the woods most days. The outdoor recreation is wonderful, and even the city itself is surrounded by foothills.

Restaurants are a bit limited, but most are fairly high quality. Shitty mexican and indian food tho, and no chicken finger place dispite being a college town lol (no chicfila or canes!). The people are quite kind as well (which freaks me out since I grew up in a large city).

People are complaining about cost of living but it is all relative. I have a 2 bedroom house and pay the same as I did for a 1 bed basement duplex apartment I had in northern Colorado with much less sq ft, so I don't think its that bad here.

Overall, I'm super glad I got my permanent assignment out here. I wish I knew more people, I literally have no friends in Missoula haha, but the city is great.

What is it like living in Missoula?

I’m a Missoulian living not too far from Denmark right now, it’s honestly a lot like Norway where I’m at. Mountains, water, lots of people doing stuff outside all the time, runners, cyclists, skiing, skating, hunting, dogs running around, etc etc. We have a river running through our downtown, people surf on it, fish, kayak all year and inner tube it and more in the summer. Lots of trails to hike and okay bike routes as far as US cities go, though of course not like Scandinavia. More cars and lots of pick up trucks but plenty of people who drive trucks actually have a use for them because it’s Montana. Our public transit isn’t great but you can get around easy enough on a just a bike. People are working towards improving most of the things at least. We’re a pretty savvy little place overall. We also hunker down and get cozy in the winter, drink a bit too much. College town, brewery culture is like our form of the pub and a common neighborhood spot to drink together. Chill with weed also, though still not legalized in Montana. We have an arty vibe and supportive scene, good venues for events for our size and place, wages aren’t great, housing costs rising, gentrification of course happening the more people discover us. It’s still a small town in America though and still America. There’s a corny phrase that Missoula’s only 30min from Montana which kinda just means you can get deep in the woods and our vibe is an anomaly for the state. Which is pretty true, but every town in Montana has it’s own flair. Montana is roughly the size of Germany but our population is around 1 million, 80k or so in Missoula. We have scarier bears, more wildlife and deeper wilderness than I’ve seen in EU. I’ve only briefly been to Denmark but it’s honestly a bit like some Christiania vibe wise hahaha but mixed with horses, ranchers, the “West”. It’s hard to explain, it’s a good spot. You should go there if you ever can once things return to normal. People are friendly and kind overall and plenty would be happy to share a beer or three and listen to someone from somewhere else talk about their place.

What is it like to live in Missoula, MT?

My perspective is from moving here nearly four years ago. I agree with the mostly positive spin others have provided. There is a small-town, friendly vibe from shopkeepers etc. But, as a newcomer, I can’t say it’s been easy to make close friends. The problem is that almost everyone knows each other. Their friendship groups are set. Dating is difficult, not just in mid-life, but in younger age groups as well, from what I hear. There seem to be an awful lot of interesting, fit women with a lot going on, real movers and shakers, and not just on the numerous hiking trails. But very few men. It’s weird. Maybe they’re all off fly-fishing, hunting, or at home playing video games? Beer drinking is also a very popular past-time. I am in school and will likely stay to finish that, but will probably move on to a town with a larger population, and maybe an older median age. I have never been so lonely in my life, while surrounded by breathtaking scenary, wildlife, recreational opportunities, and hot springs, all of which I partake of alone. It is one of those places that can make a newcomer feel invisible, but I’m not sure exactly why. Another positive, though, is that Missoula has a well-kept secret - it’s the best town for live music that I’ve ever lived in. I mean, you can go out three or four nights a week to hear a stellar band, usually for free. Covers, when they exist, are minimal. The historic, restored art-deco Wilma carries top name bands, and they just built a new outdoor amphitheater for summer concerts on the nearby Blackfoot River. Even the food scene is stepping up to the standards of larger cities, and the Farmer’s Market is spectacular! I mean, it is all FAN-FRIGGIN’ TASTIC - if only I could find someone to enjoy it with. Winter, especially, can be really isolating. (I’m really, really, really lucky that I have a dog, so I have someone to talk to.)

Should you move to Missoula Montana?