If you love The University of Montana, want to live among the breathtaking green landscapes that earn the name Garden City, and you don’t mind keeping an eye out for bears you will absolutely love moving to Missoula.
Photo redit: Justin Brockie
Being so close to the University of Montana, it’s not surprising that Missoula attracts a lot of college students and young families.
As the second-largest city in Montana, there’s a lot to consider when planning a move to Missoula.
Luckily, we’ve put together this guide to give you all the info you need to feel at home in Missoula.
Now, let’s dive in.
- Which Missoula neighborhoods are most affordable?
- Which neighborhood in Missoula is the best fit for me?
- How long is the commute in Missoula?
- How’s the walkability, bikeability, and public transportation in Missoula?
- How dangerous is Missoula?
- Where can I find apartments and houses in Missoula?
- How much will it cost to move to Missoula?
- Don’t forget, all of these things need updating!
- What’s fun to do in Missoula?
- Missoula has a population of 73,710, making it both Montana’s second-largest city after Billings, and the 491st largest US city.
- Missoula has an average monthly rent of $1,095 which is substantially below the national average rent.
- The cost of living in Missoula is substantially lower than the national average.
Check out this drone video of one of Missoula’s beautiful parks.
Before you make your move to western Montana, you’ll have to do some research into where you’ll be living.
The city of Missoula is comprised of roughly ten neighborhoods and historic districts which include Downtown, East Pine Street, Fort Missoula, Lower Rattlesnake, Northside, Southside, University Area, and the University of Montana.
Throughout each area, you’ll find a wide range of home prices, styles, and amenities.
It’s important to get a general idea of how much your new home is going to run you in a particular neighborhood before you get too attached to the idea of living there.
The Missoula apartment rental map from Trulia shows the median rental prices throughout the city. Generally, rent is going to be more expensive the closer you get to Downtown, but prices tend to vary from neighborhood to neighborhood.
- If you’re operating on a tight budget you’ll find that places like Westside, Southgate Triangle, and Lewis and Clark all have affordable rents ranging from $650 to $895
- For moderately priced rentals, areas such as Franklin to the Fort, Lower Rattlesnake, and Rose Park all fall between $910 to $1,100 average rent prices.
- And if you don’t mind spending $1,100 up to $1,495 on rent, look at places like Riverfront Emma Dickinson Orchard Homes, Grant Creek, Heart of Missoula, and University District for pricier rentals.
And now that you know what you can afford, let’s make sure you’ll actually like living there.
Affordability is important but it’s also vital not to hate the area you’re living in. The Zip Tapestry tool from Esri does a pretty solid job displaying the demographics of different neighborhoods.
Basically, all you have to do is plug in the zip code for an area you’re looking at, such as downtown Missoula (59801), and Esri will display the three largest sections of that neighborhoods’ demographics along with tons of other useful info.
Of course, you also need to make sure you can get to work on time.
An unreasonable commute to work can pretty much ruin a great neighborhood. Fortunately, commuting in Missoula is a pretty easy task no matter where you’re living.
Missoula’s average commute tends to only take between 10 – 15 minutes, which doesn’t account for any sort of weather or traffic factors, but it’s still well below the national average.
The good news is, Missoulians aren’t solely dependent on cars. Unlike most car-dominated cities, only 69.2% of residents drive alone to work, some of them coming from neighboring small towns.
This is great news for people who would prefer not to drive everywhere!
Walkability in Missoula is decent, there’s some public transportation, and the city is very bikeable.
With a walkscore of 45, the Missoula area is more walkable than a lot of cities.
The decent walkability in the area is probably due in no small part to the fact that the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board meets once a month to keep the city safe and accessible for non-drivers.
Missoula in Motion is also a good place to find resources for alternative transportation methods throughout the city.
Things start to get a little rocky when you start looking at public transportation.
Public transportation in Missoula isn’t spectacular
Missoula doesn’t have amazing bus coverage, as evidenced by their low transit score.
While Mountain Line strives to offer riders a high degree of flexibility, the majority of the routes are limited to centralized areas of the city and the University of Missouri, often not extending out to nearby suburbs and neighborhoods.
Fortunately, people looking to get around on two wheels fare much better.
Missoula has solid bikeability
Missoula’s high bike score is very good, connecting a lot of people far and wide throughout the city.
First of all, the bike routes in Missoula are pretty expansive and versatile, with plenty of options for getting around both within and beyond Downtown.
Still, if you’re going to be traveling throughout the city, you’ll probably want to have some idea about its crime rate.
Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat, Missoula has a pretty high crime rate…
According to NeighborhoodScout, Missoula has a crime score of 6 out of 100. It’s definitely not ideal, but it’s actually been improving.
It’s possible to live in a high-crime area and not experience any personal harm. Overall, violent crime only accounts for 9% of total incidents in Missoula.
And generally, as long as you stay aware of your surroundings, avoid actively courting trouble, and know when and what areas to steer clear of, you’ll be able to avoid most incidents.
And now that we’ve taken care of the broader details, let’s find a place to live!
First things first, you’ll want to think about which amenities you can’t live without.
Living in Big Sky Country, you should prepare to experience the full force of all seasons.
Because of this, you’ll be in for hot summers along with freezing winters, meaning you probably want an apartment with both heat and air conditioning.
And, although walkability is decent, you’ll probably want a washer/dryer instead of having to make regular treks to the laundromat.
Places to find an apartment in Missoula
Searching for apartments can be exhausting, so you’ll want to use every resource at your disposal to make the process easier.
Below are some of our favorite sites for apartment hunting that let you search by all sorts of different parameters to make sure you find exactly what you need.
Missoula rental market
The average rent price in Missoula has decreased by 3% within the last year.
Unfortunately, Missoula apartment vacancy rates were at 5.44% as of their most recent recording, which is lower than the national average
Montana rental law
No matter what state the rental market is in, you always want to be somewhat cautious when signing a lease. Below are some links we’ve found useful for helping you avoid getting scammed by a shady landlord.
- Required Landlord Disclosures
- Security Deposit Limits and Deadlines
- Tenant Rights to Withhold Rent
- Montana Landlord-Tenant Laws
And if you’re looking for something a bit more permanent, there are plenty of options.
Whether you’re wanting to settle down in an area that’s quieter than the city’s center or if you’re just looking to find a stable living situation, Missoula has a few great options.
The median home value is currently sitting at $557,452 with an expected 37% increase within the next year. Obviously, things are moving fast for first-time homeowners!
In order to give you a better understanding of what the housing market around Missoula has to offer, here are a couple of neighborhoods to start your search.
Rose Park is largely defined by its abundance of trees, sidewalks, and(obviously) easy park access. As one of the first neighborhoods developed for the area, Rose Park was initially conceived as its own city which was to be known as South Missoula. Primarily featuring craftsman homes, Rose Park is a great choice for individuals who enjoy the outdoors but don’t want to stray too far from the convenience of the city.
Southgate Triangle is a very popular neighborhood for families to settle down in. With Sentinel High School and access to plenty of outdoor recreational activities, Southgate Triangle serves as a great commuter neighborhood.
But these are just a couple of real estate options among the many Missoula suburbs.
Also, if you are coming from out of state, be sure to have a look at our out-of-state moving guide for more info and tips.
Parking permits for moving vehicles in Missoula
When setting up a move that involves a moving truck, you’ll want to be absolutely certain that you actually have permission to park it near your new residence.
It might be a good idea to check with the Missoula Parking Commission. Particularly if you’re moving Downtown.
Now that you’ve gotten all the laborious parts of your move taken care of, there are just a few final tasks left to complete before you can call yourself a full Missoulian.
- Voter registration: Look, you’ve probably been told how important voting is so much that you’re sick of it. We don’t care, it’s that important. Just register to vote.
- Driver’s license: Since you’re already registering to vote, you might as well get a new driver’s license with your updated address on it.
- Out-of-state vehicle registration: If you’re coming to Missoula with a car that has out-of-state plates, you should probably register your car in Montana.
- Trash & recycling: Garbage collection throughout Missoula is handled by Republic Services. You’ll want to set up collection with them as soon as you can to avoid trash piling up outside your home.
- Meet new people: Arguably the hardest part of relocating, the internet has made meeting new people a bit easier through websites like Meetup and r/missoula to help you find people with similar interests and keep up with events around town.
It’s always hard to know exactly where to start when it comes to finding entertainment in a new city.
As we discussed before, Missoula is absolutely full of parks to keep nature-lovers and outdoor recreation enthusiasts occupied from the spring through the fall. Nearby Bitterroot and Clark Fork rivers will do more than enough to keep you entertained!
Remember, Missoula is very much still a college town in many ways, meaning great bars and decent happy hours. Check out The Rhino, Kettlehouse Brewing Co., James Bar, or any of Missoula’s other great bars and breweries.
Not what you were looking for?
Check out other categories that can help you find the information you need!