Bozeman, Montana is a beautiful place that is known for amazing scenery and amazing opportunities outside in nature. It is also becoming a melting pot of good and bad things. Here are 17 reasons why you should not move to Bozeman, Montana.
1. Incredibly Fast-Growing City
This is probably the biggest complaint of locals of the area. Many of the native people in the area grew up there and enjoyed the small-town vibe that was present there. Everybody knew everybody, and people had similar ideologies and habits. People knew they could rely on others nearby. Bozeman used to be the kind of town that had people who wouldn’t lock their doors or even lock up their vehicles. It was a safe, little place.
Now, there is a huge draw due to its proximity to many naturally beautiful places, a National Park, and incredible opportunities for outdoor adventures all year long. This has drawn people from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, California, and from many other places as well. Montana State University is also a huge draw for people as well.
The locals strongly dislike how people come in and seem to unknowingly be causing massive expansion. Many locals are kicked out of their homes because landlords can jack up the prices of homes and other products due to the large demand for property.
2. Not Built for Expansion
This was the second most common complaint about Bozeman I noticed. Locals to the area are being pushed out and there aren’t a ton of options for people to move in anyways. There was a running joke in one forum that explained that people trying to move to Bozeman most likely won’t be able to find any place to live and will just end up in Belgrade. Belgrade is a nearby town that isn’t yet considered part of Bozeman.
Another local expressed how people are getting shifted around and pushed out incredibly quickly due to the demand to live there increasing, but the town refusing to build more housing properties in town. One local talked about how he was kicked out of his home and ended up going to a rental company. When he went to the rental company, he ended up having to compete with four other groups of people. The whole experience was stressful and hard on them.
3. Traffic is Terrible
Many locals brought up how the entire town struggles with traffic issues. Some of the problems arise from bad road planning, as it was built prior to the recent expansion. The population, they argue, is not big enough for the problems that are happening. Other people who moved into Bozeman later in life disagree and feel that it is really not as bad as they say.
4. Winter Driving is Dangerous
However, probably the biggest concern when it comes to driving is the intense weather that happens in Bozeman. It is naturally extremely cold and windy for most of the year. The snow levels can be intense and incredibly detrimental to drivers who are unfamiliar with how to drive in the snow.
The main recommendations are to drive a four-wheel drive vehicle and have winter tires that are high quality. Locals say it is incredibly easy to slide, fishtail, and/or fall into a ditch. If a person isn’t willing or able to make that much of a financial and time commitment for proper vehicle attire, they probably shouldn’t move to Bozeman.
5. Housing is Costly
It could be argued anywhere is an expensive place to live nowadays. However, this area really is becoming a high-end place to live. One person mentioned that homes in the area can sell for over $700,000.
Other people mention that the pricing of homes is not due to the quality of the home. It’s due to nationwide inflation and the values people are willing to pay for them. Since people from California and Jackson Hole are coming from areas where the cost was high but so were the paychecks, they can and will be able to afford homes and raise their offers to outbid locals. One person mentioned how they bought a house for a little around $200,000. Only a year later, houses in the same neighborhood and built identically sold for around a hundred grand more.
6. Big Gap Between Pay and Living Cost
This becomes an even more serious issue when considering how much it costs to find a place to live. The pay is poor and not competitive with other places. Even professors at Montana State University are not paid very well. If you enjoy getting paid well for the work you do, don’t move to Bozeman, Montana.
7. Tons of College Kids Around
As with most college towns, it is likely that there is a large number of them all over the place. The population of Montana State University is around 16,218 people. When the town is not much bigger than the population of the local university, it can be overwhelming. With these young people from all over the country living in one place, there surely will be some clashes in ideologies and in lifestyles. The said clashes often happen in popular places like bars and stores, so if you want to avoid other people’s conflicts, don’t move to Bozeman.
8. Lack of Universal Brands for Shopping
This town is still considered a smaller area. Something the locals love is the fact that there are a ton of locally-owned stores. They love being able to support people they know and love. Thus, up to this point, they have had a good local economy and culture.
However, there are people coming in who want the more common, bigger stores like Lululemon or Athletica. These bigger chains are having to outbid local stores for spots. The locals hate it and are pushing back. It is unlikely that big stores will become more prevalent closer to home. Expect to have to drive to get a chain store.
9. Lack of Restaurant Options
Some locals really love their local independent stores. However, there are some downsides that need to be considered. One local said that although there are quite a few restaurants, they really only have pizza and burgers.
People who want good ethnic foods might have to leave town and drive for a while. There are also no franchises, so say goodbye to your beloved McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Arby’s!
Pets are a difficult expense and locals can be highly critical of how a person decides to care for them. One person warned there are no affordable apartments or houses to rent that will take pets. Most property owners instill a large cost to have a pet while living there, which is nicknamed “Pet Rent”.
Locals are also strongly opinionated and passionate about how animals are cared for here. For example, a few people talked about how if a dog doesn’t instantly respond to being called it should be leashed. This is always a good idea, especially with dogs that are skittish or aggressive with strangers. However, some dogs really just are friendly and choose not to listen the first time. They also strongly criticize people who leave poop bags on the trail, so hopefully, people are smart and begin to choose to throw them away.
The biggest concern with animals in Bozeman is that there is a lot of wildlife in the area. Some of the wildlife includes smaller critters like rabbits and other rodents, and bigger options involve animals like deer and bison. The largest wildlife in the area involves multiple breeds of bears. This is a scary thing for people who are not native to the area. People definitely have to watch out for bears and secure their trash cans to something sturdy.
11. Locals have Strong Opinions
People in the area have begun to grow wary and have some strong feelings against people who are not from the area. They have a strong stigma about people who are more financially secure who come to the area. It really rubs them the wrong way when people complain about the weather, stores, or any other aspect of what they call home.
Their experiences with new people moving in have involved people displacing locals who are poorer and losing touch with some of the values they previously had. There is likely going to be some distaste and coldness towards people who move in, even if they are not similar to the rich and snobby people that have moved in prior.
12. Job Market is Rough
One of the biggest pieces of advice locals gave to people looking to move into Bozeman, except for not to do so, was to look into higher education. The problem with being right next to a good college is nearly everyone has a bachelor’s degree and is highly educated. A bachelor’s degree is worth significantly less and might not get a person more than an entry-level job.
One local suggested considering going to a trade school. People in the area don’t know how to do jobs that require manual labor, like a plumber or a mechanic. These types of jobs are more valuable than others. However, it is not always feasible to go back to school, and it is unwise to move to a place that doesn’t have good, applicable job opportunities for your level of expertise.
13. Not Close to Other Towns
When looking at Google maps and looking for nearby towns, the nearest town was Belgrade. Belgrade sits around 15-30 minutes away from Bozeman. However, Belgrade is smaller than Bozeman and probably has fewer attractions and shops. Locals often complained about having to commute to work or to go to other amenities. For people used to living in a city that has everything a person could want nearby, Bozeman doesn’t satisfy that need.
14. Need More than One Personal Vehicle
The story behind this is actually rather funny. For most people, when winter comes, they can just throw on some snow tires and call it good. That is not the case for people in Bozeman. People in Bozeman sometimes need or choose to retire their normal truck or car for the winter. One might ask: how does someone travel then? The answer is simple: snowmobiles.
Locals often begin to use untraditional forms of transportation because it is safer in the snow and on ice. For people moving to Bozeman, it is imperative that they have two personal vehicles by the time winter comes.
15. Drug Issues on the Rise
Drug abuse is becoming an issue in Bozeman, Montana. In May 2019, the police department had already seized 35,000 grams of illicit drugs. The year before, the entire number of drugs seized was 45,000 grams. This goes to show that drugs of all kinds are being sold in larger amounts than before and that more people are becoming addicted. A concern of authorities is that the drugs are also becoming more potent, making them more addictive and dangerous. All of these factors combined are things to be concerned about.
Bozeman is a small town in the process of becoming a bigger one. Many people dislike how little there is to do in town. Sure, there are winter sports and summer sports like sledding, skiing, or river rafting. However, some people occasionally want to do something else. Some people want to go to a bar or an arcade. Others want to go nightclubbing or maybe go shopping. Unless they are satisfied by what little is offered in town, it is unlikely that a more fast-paced person will want to live there.
17. Crime Rate
The crime rate in Bozeman is also not a great aspect of the area. It is classified to be safer than 33% of cities in the United States. That means 67% of cities in the United States are safer than Bozeman. On top of that, the possibility that someone becomes a victim of a property crime is 1 in 68. That is not great odds!
It is easy to see why moving to Bozeman, Montana may not be the right choice for many people.