Montana vs South Dakota – A Battle of The States

Rebecca Hanlon
Last Updated: March 4th, 2023

Whether it is the cost of living in a new city, or how much a job pays in a certain metropolis, deciding to move is a tough one. Both Montana and South Dakota are located in western America undamaged by industries and both are considered beautiful states of the United States of America.

Montana is a state known for its natural beauty and picturesque landscapes that you will recognize in many movies and shows. The region is largely covered with mountains, valleys, and glaciers that contribute to its low population.

Similar to that is South Dakota, with its panoramic views and Rushmore Mountains offering a vast expanse of wilds and untouched wilderness, but the localities are scattered all over the state.

While both Montana and South Dakota are great options to consider when moving, they have their fair share of costs and benefits. As someone who might be looking to move or vacation there, here are things that can help you determine which state is best for you.

So, let’s get into it and see if there is a winner.

Montana vs South Dakota

1. Expanding Economy

A state like South Dakota is plentiful with excellent opportunities and potential for growth for any talented individual. The state’s economy is ever-expanding in multiple facets like tourism, agriculture, financial services, manufacturing, etc.

If you’re a professional looking for new opportunities, this might be the perfect fit for you. Not only are living expenses cheap but you can expect a high quality of life with manageable healthcare prices, transportation, and housing.

Montana, on the other hand, struggles with affordable housing, making it a bit harder for workers to settle down. While commuting is a problem with both states as the transportation options are dismal, Montana does not have a strong housing market and chances are it will remain that way. You might find a job in the state, but you’ll have to reconsider moving.

2. Tourism is at its Peak

tourism is at its peak

A quick google search will let you know that both states are widely popular for their natural landscapes, top-notch ski resorts, and the potential for adventure trips.

The states are always teeming with tourists every year. Often, locals find it bothersome to have tourists “ruin” what is left of the countryside and wildlife in the whole country.

Plus, sometimes even the number of visitors exceeds the population in the states. So, if you plan to visit, beware that you’ll be on your own when figuring things out.

3. Politics Determine Where You Live

Politics in Montana is a whole affair where rural and urban voters are divided according to the party they vote for. City people largely choose democrats while people from the rural areas choose to vote for republicans.

If you converse with someone on politics in Montana, be sure to expect a different point of view and sometimes even pushback from those who hold a different opinion. This might make you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around the locals.

While South Dakota isn’t as staunch about their political views, they have weird laws in place that make you question their credibility. One law states that it is illegal to lie down and fall asleep in a cheese factory.

Moreover, if you have more than five Native Americans on your property, you are allowed to shoot them! These are some of the nonsensical laws that you might think are ignored but the locals abide by them and acknowledge their existence!

4. The Weather Will Confuse You

the weather will confuse you

Whether you are deciding to vacation in the states or move there, both South Dakota and Montana experience some of the most extreme weather conditions that are not for the faint-hearted.

Summers are a challenge, with scorching heat, and humidity that can make a simple walk to a convenient store the hardest chore.

Winters are not any better. Both states experience freezing temperatures as early as October sometimes. Montana shares its border with Canada, thus, the nearer you live to the border the colder it is.

There is snowfall, biting cold wind, and thunderstorms that are uncontrollable despite both states having mountain ranges. You will never really be prepared for the temperature change living or visiting both Montana and South Dakota.

Should you stock up on winter clothes or summer clothes? Definitely, because there is no way you’ll be able to wear the same ones in any shape or form!

5. You’re on Your Own

One of the most common misconceptions about Montana and South Dakota is that you will be accommodated in case of an emergency as the states see a lot of tourists every year.

However, that isn’t the case! If you’re in the rural areas of Montana and run into issues of a power outage due to weather conditions, it can take days to fix it.

If your vehicle stops midway, and you have car battery issues, you should keep backups and any possible tools that you might need if you’re thinking about a road trip.

Keep a survival kit with you and food supplies at home that lasts at least longer than 5-6 days. You never know when the need will strike but when it does, you should be well prepared.

Despite the problems that you can potentially encounter in both states, Montana and South Dakota are home to people who are warm and friendly. If you are in trouble, you will have a close-knit neighborhood that will help you as much as possible.

You might enter a diner and someone will come to sit with you for a small chat. This is how people in such small localities build social circles and eventually lasting friendships.

It works the same way for you. If you have a particular skill that can be of use to your neighborhood, expect people to come to you for help. This might seem intrusive to some, but having a general attitude of helping only uplifts the community and you get to make new friends!

Montana vs. South Dakota: The Verdict

Montana and South Dakota are perceived as ideal states for a small vacation with their rugged landscapes and panoramic views. If you want to move to these states, you will have to look out for things more carefully as they are quite similar.

Both have their set of pros and cons, which do you prefer?

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About The Author

Rebecca Hanlon

Rebecca has been a travel blogger and editor for over 5 years, working with some of the biggest brands in industry. She’s taught English as a foreign language in 5 different countries, and her most fulfilling role was as a tour guide around some of Europe’s finest vineyards. She the one behind the social channels here at Discovering Montana, whilst also finding the time to perform an assistant editor role.

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