For anyone considering raising a family in Montana, the news is good. By that, we mean that there is no shortage of family-friendly towns in Montana.
The vast expanse of the landscape and terrain alone makes Montana a fantastic place in which to grow up, and the different towns and regions offer various degrees of diversity on top of the great outdoors.
The best places to raise a family anywhere depend on factors such as the cost of living, the local crime rates, the various local amenities, and of course the quality and availability of schools. Fortunately, Montana has a great range of good schools, especially in city areas like Helena and Missoula, but not everyone wants to live in a big city.
Montana also has oodles of small-town charm as well though, so finding the right balance of an affordable cost of living low crime rates, and the right surrounding environment is not too difficult for anyone looking to find the best places to raise a family in Montana.
If you want an area with beautiful parks, Montana surely has it. A good public school system and a reasonable cost of living are there as well, although some areas tend to be a lot more expensive than others.
So let’s have a deeper delve into some of the best places to raise a family in Montana, and see just what joys this state has to offer.
The Best Places for Families in Montana
Whitefish is a town in Flathead County that is ideal for those who love outdoor activities. With a population of almost 8,000, this Montana town is certainly one of the best places to live. What you get here in terms of living is a kind of sparse feel with a suburban edge to it, with plenty of restaurants, coffee shops, bars, theaters, and other amenities.
Many families live in Whitefish, as do young professionals, along with a few retirees. This town is renowned for skiing, it is close to lakes and mountains, and the public schools in the area are highly-rated.
Glacier National Park is not too far away from here either, so for those families who like getting out and about and exploring some of the fantastic landscapes that Montana has, this could be the ideal place.
Bozeman, a town in Gallatin County, is often said to be one of the most liveable places in Montana, and not without good reason. With a population close to 50,000, Bozeman residents live in a reasonably dense, suburban environment, with a surrounding mountainous backdrop.
Bozeman has much to offer by way of outdoor activities like hiking, biking, skiing, and wildlife, not to mention parks — and the schools here are highly rated. Along with the large variety of restaurants, coffee shops, and bars, the town also has a thriving arts community, galleries, museums, and cultural centers.
Many young professionals and families live in Bozeman, and the community has a lot going on by way of street festivals, local activities, and farmers’ markets.
The only downside to raising a family here, if any, is that the town has become quite a bit more popular in recent years tourism-wise, which has made it a bit more of an expensive place to live.
Libby is a small town in Lincoln County, in Montana’s northwest. It has a population of less than 3,000 and is in a valley on the Kootenai River near the Cabinet Mountains.
Life in the town has a fairly dense and suburban feel, even though the surrounding areas consist of scenic trails, lakes, and drives.
Although the town is small the schools are still well-rated, and the largely conservative population consists of families, young professionals, and a few retirees.
Lewistown is a largely agricultural region in Fergus County in the middle of Montana. With a modest population of less than 6,000, life in the town has a sparse suburban feel to it, with a touch of the historic, which can be seen from some of the homes and businesses.
The surrounding area is all about prairies, ranches, and farms, as well as five different mountain ranges. Needless to say, this is a somewhat picturesque place to live.
That said, there is no shortage of bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and parks, and plenty of families, as well as young professionals, live in Lewistown and its surrounding scenery.
The schools are also rated above the national average in this Montana town.
Helena is the Montana town that became the state’s capital around the time of the gold rush era of the 1800s as it developed throughout the Last Chance Gulch.
It is located in Lewis and Clark County, and you can still see the historical elements of the city in the architecture, as well as the various historic sites and museums.
These days it has a population of over 30,000 and is certainly one of the best places to live in Montana. The Helena lifestyle offers residents a suburban feel although there are lots of parks and above-average schools.
There are also plenty of restaurants, bars, and coffee shops, which attract many young professionals to live in Helena. The Montana capital also exhibits a vibrant culture that encompasses diverse shopping, art galleries, and of course an impressive trail system.
Kalispell is a Montana town in the Flathead Valley in Glacier National Park country. It has a population of over 23,000 and has all the charm typical of a small Montana town on the western side of the national park.
The town’s residents benefit from the suburban feel of the place, with its multitude of restaurants, coffee shops, arts and culture, and various other amenities, and there are a good few parks.
Kalispell in fact has the best of both worlds when it comes to modern development and outdoor living, with its endless hiking trails along with lakes and streams to satisfy any outdoor enthusiast.
Plenty of families and young professionals live in Kalispell and the public schools in the area are highly rated.
Dillon is a small Montana town in the sweeping valley of Beaverhead County, with a population of just over 4,000.
The schools in Dillon are highly rated and there is a touch of historic Montana in the town by way of the gold rush era. In fact, Bannack State Park is quite nearby, and many of the buildings in Dillon give glimpses into the town’s historical past. There are also several museums in the town.
Residents in Dillon veer towards families and young professionals, and Beaverhead River is a hot spot for fly fishing enthusiasts in search of blue-ribbon trout.
Missoula is one of the largest towns in Montana and in fact has the second-highest population at more than 76,000. This town is in Missoula County and is well-developed, with a somewhat more dense and suburban feel than many of the smaller towns.
Missoula has a plethora of bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and parks, and again the public schools are rated higher than average.
The 200-acre campus of the highly-regarded and picturesque University of Montana is also located here. Set at the base of Mount Sentinel close to the Clark River, the institute is host to a regular 12,000 students or more.
East Missoula is considered one of the best places to live in Montana, being slightly more of a combination of the suburban and the rural. The public schools in East Missoula are highly rated, as they are all over the county, but in this particular region, there is also quite a bit more of a lush green landscape.
The surrounding area of Missoula is a point of attraction for fly fishing enthusiasts and other water sports lovers and explorer-types who love rafting, kayaking, and floating opportunities.
Billings is the most populated place in Montana with over 110,000 residents, and this number is apparently rapidly growing.
Billings is in Yellowstone County and is unsurprisingly one of the most developed places in Montana with a highly suburban feel to it and lots of amenities. Many families and young professionals live in Billings, which has above-average schools and is something of a commercial hub in the region.
The place is actually quite a diverse one in many ways, and you’ll find it just as easy to spot some rodeo action as it is to find a decent shopping opportunity.
With the customary Montana outdoor activities of hiking, fishing, and wildlife spotting also at hand in the surrounding mountain backdrops, you won’t be short on things to do with a family in Billings.
Lolo is a small and scenic Montana town with a population of around 4,000. It is located near the Montana and Idaho border in Missoula County, which has a number of historic spots and some amazing natural surroundings.
Residents in Lolo enjoy a mix of the suburban and the rural, and there are many families and young professionals living in the area.
The public schools are well-rated, and the nearby creek known as Travelers’ Rest Creek is a point of attraction, as are the natural hot water springs.
Four Corners is a small community just west of Bozeman. It is a quaint community that feels suburban thanks to the proximity to Bozeman but is still quite rural and peaceful.
The community sits at the base of the Bridger Mountains and along the Gallatin River. The proximity to both the mountains and the river makes this town a great place for outdoor recreation in both the summer and winter.
Hiking trails turn into snowmobile and cross-country ski trails. In the summer the Gallatin River provides opportunities for fly-fishing, rafting, and other water sports.
Four Corners is also a reasonable one-and-a-half-hour drive to Yellowstone National Park, making it a great base camp for travelers and residents alike, who want to experience the opportunities the Park has to offer.
Only a 20-minute drive from Bozeman, residents in Four Corners have access to Montana State University, the Museum of the Rockies, and high-quality hospitals and health care. Schools in Four Corners are some of the highest-rated in the State.
Butte, Montana started out as a small silver and gold mining camp. But it was the discovery of copper that brought men and women from all over the world to settle on this remote hill. Butte was the first major city in Montana and was once called the “Richest Hill on Earth”.
In the early 1900s, Butte was the largest city between San Francisco and Chicago. Today, the copper mining remains, and the community is smaller, but the City of Butte is still going strong.
Butte is a perfect place for history buffs, outdoor enthusiasts, and families. While one of the larger communities in Montana, Butte has a quaint, small-town feel. It is easy to access from the interstate, but the real charm of the community lies off the highway, in the historic district.
Butte is home to one of the largest historic districts in the United States, with over 4,000 structures listed on the national historic register. In the summer the Butte Trolley tour is a can’t-miss offering.
Families in Butte can enjoy a number of museums that showcase the community’s history and heritage. The city has numerous festivals for families to enjoy throughout the year, and they boast one of the largest Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations in the US.
Butte sits between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, so a great central hub for exploring the state. Families can enjoy plenty of outdoor activities including hiking, skiing, and mountain biking, with just a short drive out of town.
If you are looking for a family-friendly place in Montana that prides itself on its tight-knit community, Livingston is the place for you. Founded in 1882, Livingston is all the things you associate with the old west, but you’ll be surprised to find that Livingston has a thriving art community as well.
Livingston has a long history that includes cowboys, the railroad, and even a little Hollywood glitz. Sitting along the Yellowstone River, Livingston is the original gateway to Yellowstone National Park and is an easy 30-minute drive from Bozeman, MT.
Today, families come to Livingston before they head into the park and are able to enjoy some of the best food in the US, and some of the best fly fishing in the world.
Despite being a popular destination for some Hollywood elite, Livingston holds strong to its agricultural roots. Most residents rely on tourism or agriculture to make a living, though the community is also home to a number of well-known writers and artists.
The cost of living in Livingston is slightly higher than in other parts of Montana, but there is still plenty of affordable lodging and housing to be found for families.
The community has a few museums that are not to be missed. Families will enjoy the abundance of outdoor activities including skiing at Bridger Bowl, mountain biking, hiking, and snowmobiling.
Livingston is just a short drive from Yellowstone National Park, so it is a good place for families visiting the park that want a quieter experience, and fewer tourists.