Billings, Montana is known for its spectacular landscapes and gorgeous sunsets, so it comes as no surprise that the city has been experiencing a population boom. Lots of people are taking advantage of the low employment rate and cost of living.
Billings is the biggest city in Montana, with a vibrant, diverse community and a mix of urban and rural areas to fit various lifestyles.Also known as the “Magic City,” there are a number of reasons to move to Billings, and we’re going to get into some of them here.
If you’ve been debating moving to Billings, Montana, you’ve come to the right place.
But first, if you’re planning on moving to Billings from a state outside of Montana, be sure to check out our list of the best interstate movers. You’ll also want to use our moving cost calculator so you can budget accordingly!
Snapshot of Billings
- The population of Billings is 118,849, making it the largest city in Montana and the 244th largest city in the United States.
- The average monthly rent in Billings is around $850, which is lower than the U.S. national average. And if you’re planning on buying, Montana’s average property tax rate is 0.74%, lower than the national average of 0.99%.
- The unemployment rate is only 2.1%, which is also lower than the national average.
How to move to Billings
Once you’ve decided you’re moving to Billings, you’ll have to decide which moving services make the most sense for you.
You can save some cash by renting a moving truck and going the DIY route (best for a local move), or you can hire professional movers so you don’t have to do any heavy lifting (best for long-distance moves). You can also opt for a hybrid move option, wherein you pack and load a moving container by yourself and have the pros transport it for you.
Using our moving cost calculator will help you estimate how much a moving company or container company might cost you. And if you’re moving from out-of-state, be sure to take a look at our state-to-state moving guide for more info and tips.
Parking permits for moving vehicles in Billings, MT
You’ll also need to figure out whether or not you need special permission to park moving vehicles or containers near your house/apartment before moving to Billings. Even suburban areas may have restrictions on what you can park in the street or driveway.
Neighborhoods of Billings
The Billings real estate market is made up of roughly 64% homeowners and 36% renters. Now we know that life in Billings might not be as exciting as in Missoula, Boise, Bozeman, or New York City, but it’s a great option if you enjoy a small-town atmosphere with big-city amenities.
Let’s dig into the six of the most popular areas you should consider moving to in Billings.
What it will cost you:
- If you’re looking for someplace affordable, check out East Downtown, Southside, and South Central for apartments ranging from $600 – $1,750 per month.
- West End, Highland, and North Elevation are going to fall more in the middle of the road, with average rent costs between $869 and $2,195.
- If you’re willing to spend closer to $1,150 – $2,800 for rent, look for places in West Central or Ironwood.
Once you find the perfect neighborhood for you, it’s time to figure out what your commute will be like.
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As the largest city in Montana, it’s no surprise that the majority of Montanans depend on their cars to get around Billings, with 81% of workers driving alone to work. However, they tend to have decently short commute times.
Compared to the national average (~26 minutes), a 16-minute commute isn’t half bad!
Alternatives to driving in Billings
Billings has a relatively low Walk Score and there aren’t many bike paths around the city, a car is still your best bet.
The most walkable Billings neighborhoods are North Elevation, North Park, and Central Terry.
With a bike score of 47, you might want to plan out your cycling routes in advance. Bicycles aren’t permitted in the “business districts,” including downtown, but the city is working to make itself more bike-friendly.
Public transportation operates through the MET Transit System, which has 16 bus routes and 106 bus stops on roughly 265 route miles throughout the city. It’s important to point out that no buses run on Sunday and only a handful run on Saturday.
The schedule basically covers typical commute times, from the morning to just after 5 p.m., so you’ll likely have to depend on another form of transportation if you plan on traveling outside of the work week.
Crime in Billings
Billings has been given a total crime index of 2 out of 100 (100 is the safest). While this might put you off, we should point out that the majority of crimes tend to be property crimes, with motor vehicle theft topping the charts.
As always, if you plan to become a resident in any city, you should stay aware of your surroundings and research any neighborhood thoroughly before making your move. It might be worth checking out this site where the Billings Police Department keeps track of all reported offenses on a monthly basis.
Apartment hunting in Billings
When searching for an apartment in Billings, you should take into consideration the amenities you’ll need. Compared to the rest of Montana, Billings experiences mild winters, while a typical summer day can get above 90º Fahrenheit. On average, Billings has dry, hot summers and dry, cold winters.
With that in mind, you’ll probably want air conditioning and sufficient heating, which you’ll need to factor into your electricity costs.
Where to look for apartments in Billings
Apartment hunting can be time-consuming, so it’s best to use every resource at your disposal to make sure you find the best possible fit for your needs.
We’ve gathered a few solid sites we think serve as good jumping-off points for finding an apartments in Billings. They include the following:
Note: Although Craigslist can be a very useful site for finding apartments, this DOES NOT mean you should trust Craigslist implicitly. Here’s their own guide on how to recognize potential scammers.
The Billings rental market
The rental market in Billings is pretty good and has lots of options for various budgets. Two-bedroom rentals have tended to fluctuate slightly in price over the past year, but studios and one-bedroom rentals have remained steady at around $812 for a studio and $1,350 for a one-bedroom.
The suburbs of Billings
The average Billings home value is $374,334, up 5.1% over the past year.
And for families looking to put down roots, Billings has some of the best public schools in the state, with 33 public schools rated good and higher by GreatSchools.
Billings has many great suburban areas to check out including Columbus, Laurel, and Lockwood, among others.
Just 43 minutes from Billings with a population of around 2,000, Columbus is close to both the mountains and the city. A great option for retirees and young families, the housing market in Columbus has seen home prices creep up in the last few years, but it could be a great option for those looking to build on a parcel of land.
Slightly larger than Columbus with more than 7,000 residents (and more affordable), Laurel has a small-town community feel yet is only 23 minutes from the city of Billings. It also has the largest, busiest railroad yard in the state.
An easy 11-minute drive from the city, Lockwood is also slightly more affordable than other suburban areas near Billings. Known for its friendly people (population: ~7,000) and for being more walkable than other areas, Lockwood boasts plenty of coffee shops and bars as well as above-average schools.
Things to do in Billings, Montana
Billings is “Montana’s Trailhead” and sits where the plains meet the mountains, so you’re in for a treat if you love outdoor activities. A few minutes from the city you’ll find the Yellowstone River and the breathtaking Rimrocks (aka the “Rims”), where you can walk, run, or bike along the many trails to take in all the gorgeous scenery of “Big Sky Country.”
History buffs can enjoy the Yellowstone County Museum, the Western Heritage Center, and the Yellowstone Art Museum, all of which allow visitors a deep dive into the history and culture of the area. You can also visit Moss Mansion in East Billings, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Just five miles outside Billings, you can go exploring at Pictograph Cave State Park, which encompasses 23 acres and three caves filled with archaeological finds. Fun fact: More than 100 cave paintings have been discovered there.
The nightlife in Billings, Montana can be pretty exciting. Gambling is legal in the state of Montana, and Billings itself has 95 casinos with more than 1,528 slots and gaming machines. There are also plenty of lounges and sports and karaoke bars to check out.
If you’re a foodie, you certainly won’t be disappointed. Big on farm-to-table restaurants and craft breweries, there are plenty of drinking and dining options to be found here.
Billings also has a thriving arts and culture scene and there are no shortages of museums, art galleries, festivals, and shows to enjoy.
Your post-move checklist
There are just a few things left to take care of once you’ve done the heavy lifting to make sure you’re a full-fledged resident of Billings.
- Register to vote: Make your voice heard and register to vote in Montana.
- Get your driver’s license: It’s important to always have an up-to-date ID, so be sure to get a Montana driver’s license as soon as you move.
- Register your vehicle: If you’re bringing your car with you, you should probably update your plates at some point too. Get started here.
- Set up your utilities: Make sure you have a plan to cancel, transfer, and/or set up all your new utilities quickly and efficiently.
- Make friends and find your community: One of the hardest parts about moving is not knowing anyone. There are tons of great resources for building a network though, like Meetup, which connects you with people who share interests, and r/Billings, which is a great way to keep up with events happening around town.
10 Reasons Why People Are Moving To Billings, Montana
1. Close to outdoor attractions
Arguably, one of the most significant reasons people choose to move to Montana is the many available outdoor activities. Montana has it all, from beautiful hiking trails and scenic drives to crystalline rivers and lakes perfect for a fun-filled day out on the water or fishing expeditions.
Although Billings itself is not an outdoor oasis, it is close to many outdoor attractions that people love to visit. If you’re interested in outdoor activities and want to live in a state and city that has access to multiple beautiful outdoor attractions, Billings is ideal.
For example, whenever you want to explore the outdoors, all you need to do is take a short drive three hours out of the city, and you can visit the famous Yellowstone National Park for a hike or sightseeing trip. If this is a little too far away, fear not, as in the winter months, you can travel one hour and reach Red Lodge Mountain skiing for some fun out on the slopes.
2. Sunny weather
You have likely heard that Billings, Montana, is a frigid wasteland year-round with no sign of a sunny day in sight. Well, we want to set the record straight once and for all. Although this city does experience its fair share of cold weather, it has many beautiful sunny days in the summer and spring.
Additionally, compared to the rest of Montana, Billings experiences mild winters, and a typical summer’s day can go above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. So, upon moving here, be prepared to bust out those sunglasses, sunscreen, and bathing suits, and be prepared to enjoy your days swimming and taking advantage of outdoor activities in the sunny weather.
3. Mouth-Watering food
Forget everything you have heard about Billings, Montana having a lackluster food scene. This big city indeed has as many fast-food restaurants as the next, but quite a few fancy fine dining and quaint restaurants are available. With how many diverse restaurants there are, you won’t have any problem sating your cravings.
Additionally, if you’re a burger fan, in particular, Billings is sure to not disappoint. This city is home to The Burger Drive, a quirky yet reputable burger joint that is well known throughout the state as making some of the best burgers anyone has ever had the privilege of tasting.
In fact, this restaurant won the 2016 title of “world Burger Champion.” After moving to this city, don’t forget to visit them and try one of the local favorites; the huckleberry burger with goat cheese.
4. Craft breweries
If there is one city that takes pride in brewing its own beer, it’s Billings. Lots of people in the city of Billings have tried their hand at brewing their own beer. That’s likely why nine noteworthy breweries produce some of the best beer you are ever going to taste.
One of the breweries in particular that you should consider visiting is Carter’s. This family-owned and operated local gem is well known in the city for its Porters and IPAs. There is also a walkable self-guided brewery tour in Billings, the only one of its kind in Montana.
In addition to the many craft breweries, there are also two local distilleries and a local winery. Moreover, you will also find numerous bars with a casual and laid-back atmosphere to enjoy a beer or two by your lonesome or with friends after a productive day at work.
5. Many career opportunities
Despite what you might have heard about Billings, this city has many career opportunities, which is why many are choosing to move here. Billings is notably the trade and distribution capital for South and North Dakota and Northern Wyoming in Montana.
Since Billings is home to two state-of-the-art modern hospitals, numerous factories, and other industrial buildings, many jobs are available in energy, healthcare, and manufacturing. Additionally, this city also has an unemployment rate lower than the national average. So if you choose to move here, you are unlikely to have an issue finding a job.
6. Affordable housing
For many people, it’s incredibly important to move to a city or town where they can buy a home for an affordable price. As the biggest city in Montana, it’s unsurprising that Billings has an affordable housing market. When combining affordable housing with the many job opportunities, moving to this city becomes incredibly attractive for families and young people wanting to begin their lives.
According to data, the median home cost in Billings is $331,000. This is incredibly cost-effective when considering how much it actually costs to build or buy a home in other cities in the United States. For example, in Los Angeles, the average home value is $649,570, and in Orange, the average cost for a house is $826,000.
7. Good schools
For many families, it’s crucial to move to a city that has an excellent schooling system comprising reputable schools that are trustworthy. Numerous schools are well known in Billings for their academic and sporting programs.
Additionally, many of the primary and high schools in Billings are recognized as being some of the best in the state of Montana. Some of the best schools in this city include Canyon Creek Junior High School, Central Heights School, Riverstone International School, and Meadowlark School.
8. Cyclist friendly
If you’re someone who enjoys cycling, then you will want to consider moving to Billings. Unlike other cities in the US that are not very cyclist-friendly, Billings is one of the best places for cyclists to participate in cycling activities. In fact, Billings was ranked as one of the top 50 cities for cycling.
One of the most popular places that cyclists enjoy frequenting in this city is the Beartooth Highway. This 68-mile long byway is the perfect spot for avid cyclists to enjoy a challenging ride. In addition to it being good exercise, this byway has been labeled one of the most beautiful in America, so it’s sure to be a spectacular cycling experience.
9. Lots of activities to participate in
Arguably, for many people, one of the biggest deciding factors of whether you move to a certain city or not is if the city has lots to do. Billings might not be as big as other cities in the country, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t much to do in this city.
There is a thriving arts and culture scene in Billings with many different galleries, theaters, museums, and even a few historical sites worth visiting. Additionally, there are frequent comedy shows that feature touring comedians, and there is an independent movie theater with local brews on tap.
Moreover, this city also has many recreational opportunities for a family fun day and vibrant nightlife. Family-friendly activities include an indoor and outdoor waterpark, an indoor trampoline park, roller skating, a skate park, an ice skating rink, and many local sports leagues.
10. Low real estate taxes
Billings is also an incredibly popular city to move to because of its low property taxes. A new study conducted by Roofstcok.com, which is a national real estate investment firm, demonstrated that the property taxes in Billings are lower than the national average.
This study stated that the national property tax rate was 1.03%, while the property tax rate in billings was $0.92%. During the study, Billings was compared to other cities in the US that had a population of between 100,000 and 150,000.
Additionally, according to the study, the median property tax paid by US homeowners was $2,578 in 2019, but in Billings, the average property paid was $2,322, which is $257 less.
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