The Top 5 Safest Places to Call Home in Montana (2024 Edition)

Mark Barnett
Last Updated: May 10th, 2024

Have you ever found yourself daydreaming about ditching the city grind for wide-open spaces and a slower pace? When people think about wide-open spaces in a safe and secure environment, Montana is one of the states that often comes to mind. As it turns out, though, Montana is just like every other state: some places are safe, others…not so much. Even this slice of paradise has spots where crime rates might make you hesitate. 

But don’t let that scare you away! 

We’ve scoured the state to uncover those hidden gems where you can let your guard down and let the kids out to play. Whether you’re dreaming of a cozy mountain town or a thriving small-city vibe, we’ll pinpoint the safest, most welcoming communities Montana has to offer.

Criteria Used to Determine the Safest Places

Let’s cut through the confusion about what “safe” actually means. When we dug into pinpointing Montana’s safest havens, these were our non-negotiables:

  • Hard Data: The Numbers Don’t Lie
    • Crime statistics were our starting point. We pulled data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program, along with individual law enforcement websites for the most up-to-date facts.
    • Types of Crimes: We put a heavy focus on violent crimes (assaults, etc.), as these are what make most people feel unsafe in their daily lives. Property crimes are still important, but not as much of a dealbreaker for many.
    • Beyond Stats: We also looked at things like police response times and the ratio of officers to residents. Because even with low crime, you want to know help is there when you need it.
  • Community Feel: The X-Factor
    • You can’t put a number on a sense of security. That’s why we paid attention to the harder-to-measure things that make a place feel truly safe:
      • Are there robust neighborhood watch programs or strong community policing efforts? This shows people are working together, not just looking out for themselves.
      • The vibe matters: Well-lit streets, clean parks, and businesses that stay open a bit later all contribute to a place NOT feeling deserted and potentially risky.

The Top 5 Safest Places to Live in Montana

Montana holds a certain allure, but finding the right spot means knowing where safety is as abundant as the mountain views. These are the top 5 safest places to live in for anyone ready to chase the Big Sky dream without compromising peace of mind.

1. Whitefish

Whitefish Secluded

Tucked into the stunning Flathead Valley, Whitefish wins on both breathtaking scenery AND safety.

Size: That Goldilocks “Just Right” Feeling

With just under 9,000 residents, Whitefish strikes a perfect balance between bustling metropolis and unbearably sleepy town.

You’ll find enough variety in shops, restaurants, and services that you won’t feel limited – bored people tend to get restless, and that can sometimes invite trouble – but there’s a distinct “Mayberry” feel that nearly everyone finds charming.  

Location: Montana at its Finest

We’re talking prime Big Sky Country, tucked up against those iconic Glacier National Park peaks. That means outdoor access most people only dream about, but – and here’s the kicker – Whitefish isn’t remote.

You’ve got the bigger city of Kalispell just 15 minutes down the road for major shopping needs, and an international airport. Safety-wise, that balance of stunning nature with easy civilization access is a big plus for many folks.

Amenities:  Small Town, Not Small Offerings

Downtown Whitefish is surprisingly walkable for a Montana town. Boutiques, coffee shops that roast their own beans, even a couple of breweries…it’s the kind of place for a leisurely Saturday stroll. And the necessities?

They’re covered with good schools, a solid healthcare system, and reliable grocery stores (which can be a gamble in more rural spots). This matters for safety, as a town where folks can get what they need and find decent jobs is less likely to turn to desperation.

Factors Contributing to Its Safety

Whitefish constantly boasts some of Montana’s lowest crime stats, and that isn’t a fluke. Here’s part of their secret sauce:

  • Visibility is Key: Folks here don’t just hide behind curtains. It’s a culture of noticing – a friendly wave to a stranger, helping a lost tourist, even just keeping an eye on your neighbor’s house when they’re on vacation. Those little things make it clear that people actively care about their community. That alone deters some would-be criminals.
  • Police Aren’t the Bad Guys: The Whitefish police aren’t some intimidating outside force, but are part of the fabric of the town. You’ll see them at the Fall Festival, coaching Little League, and building genuine relationships within the community. This creates trust, makes it easier for folks to report problems before they escalate, and makes it easier for officers to spot potential troublemakers.
  • Preemptive Problem Solving: They’ve got programs for at-risk kids (think after-school activities and mentorship), resources to help folks get back on their feet after a rough patch, and even support groups for dealing with things like substance abuse. Addressing the root cause of crime matters more – and is more effective – than just locking people up after the fact. According to the town’s website, initiatives like these have contributed to a 20% decrease in overall crime within the past 5 years.

You hear towns boast about “community,” but Whitefish lives it. Whether they are looking out for each other, fostering a sense of pride with their parades and festivals, or just overall welcoming (but watchful) of strangers, Whitefish creates an “everyone is invested” atmosphere. That makes it difficult for ill-intentioned residents to get away with much.

2. Dillon

best bed and breakfasts in dillon

If trading stress for wide-open skies and a place where folks still wave hello sounds like a dream, Dillon, Montana deserves a closer look. It isn’t some huge metropolis, but it’s got what matters for feeling safe, settled, and just plain content. 

Size Matters (in a Good Way)

Living in Dillon, you’ll see familiar faces, but also have the space to breathe – and that sense of both belonging and freedom can be a powerful safety factor. 

Location: Not as Remote as You Think:

The mountains are practically your backyard, so outdoor adventures are a given. But, Dillon has easy access to bigger cities like Butte or Bozeman when needed. Feels secluded, but not isolated.

Amenities that Keep Life Simple

Good schools, a solid healthcare system, even a surprising number of restaurants for its size…Dillon covers the “need-to-have” bases without the big-city hassle.

Factors Contributing to Its Safety

So, What’s Really Behind Those Low Crime Stats? Dillon’s safety isn’t an accident.  Here’s what sets it apart:

  • Low Crime Rates: The Proof is in the Pudding – Year after year, Dillon boasts some of the lowest crime numbers in Montana. We’re talking especially low for property crimes, which says a lot about the overall respect folks have for their community.
  • Strong Community Feel: People Care –  They do festivals, volunteer days…things that sound like something out of a movie until you realize that’s how people truly get to know each other. And the more you know a person, the easier it is to care. And the easier it is to care? Well, it’s hard to be a bad apple when everyone’s invested in the health of the orchard.

3. Livingston

downtown livingston

Tucked into breathtaking Paradise Valley (with Yellowstone basically its next-door neighbor), Livingston delivers the best of both worlds: small-town charm with a touch of modern development. But beyond the pretty scenery, there’s something else special: a feeling of genuine security.

The Size is Right

Livingston hits that Goldilocks zone – not too big, not too small. It’s a genuine town, not some glorified gas station with a few houses. That means a good mix of familiar faces and fresh energy, which can be a safety bonus in its own way. Old-timers keep an eye out for the new folks (in a friendly way!), and newcomers bring the kind of watchful energy that deters troublemakers.


Scenery-wise, Livingston’s a knockout, but it’s also located in an area that is remote, but not disconnected. Easy access to Bozeman or Billings for those big-city needs keeps that balance. Afterall, feeling cut off from the world can breed its own kind of trouble, and Livingston sidesteps that neatly.

Amenities that Keep it Real

You’ve got solid schools, a decent-sized hospital, and a bustling little downtown with indie shops alongside the necessities. This isn’t a romanticized “escape from it all” fantasy –  it’s a place where folks can build real lives, and that stability matters for a town’s overall safety and well-being.

Factors Contributing to Its Safety

According to recent data, Livingston’s property crime rate is 28% lower than similar-sized towns nationwide. That translates to less worry about break-ins, and a peace of mind that is sometimes hard to find in other places.

  • Strong Community Feel: It’s the Antidote to Big-City Blues; Street festivals, the rowdy high school football games, even the sometimes-heated town council meetings all add up. Folks here show up for each other. Sounds simple, maybe even a little corny, but that shared purpose makes people less likely to tolerate the kind of trouble that ruins a town’s vibe. It’s like everyone’s got an unspoken agreement: “We built something good here, let’s not mess it up.”

4. Columbia Falls

columbia falls
Image: Marc Roston

Nestled in the heart of the Flathead Valley, Columbia Falls delivers that cozy mountain town vibe – but it’s a town with enough oomph to keep things interesting and convenient. Here’s the breakdown:


Columbia Falls isn’t a tiny village, but neither is it an overwhelming sprawl. At the last census, it had around 5,000 residents, a number that’s been steadily growing but not exploding. That balance is important for safety. Too small, and resources get thin. Too big, and you lose that sense of community that deters sketchy behavior.


Yes, those mountain views are postcard-worthy. But Columbia Falls is also smartly situated for day-to-day living. Kalispell, with its bigger-city amenities, is only a 20-minute drive.

Amenities that Make it Livable

Columbia Falls has the stuff that matters for long-term peace of mind, from good schools to a thriving (but still walkable) downtown with proper coffee shops and stores, not just tourist traps. A little slice of civilization goes a long way toward that feeling of security.

One thing that happens with newcomers is that they’re pleasantly surprised to find they can get basically everything they need right in Columbia Falls. Sure, occasional trips to Costco are inevitable, but most daily stuff is covered. Why does this matter for safety? It means less of that desperation that drives some types of crime, and creates a more stable community overall.

Factors Contributing to Its Safety

Columbia Falls boasts some of Montana’s most reassuring crime stats. But a safe town is about more than just numbers on a spreadsheet. Here’s the deeper dive:

  • Stats Don’t Lie:  Let’s get specific. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting data, Columbia Falls’ violent crime rate has been trending downward for the past five years. Property crimes are also significantly lower here.
  • Small Town, Not Sleepy Town:  Columbia Falls has festivals, a lively sports scene with fun school rivalries, community clean-up days…that shared purpose matters. It deters the kind of bored, restless troublemaking that plagues towns where there’s nothing to do but stir up drama.

Why Columbia Falls Feels Safe: Beyond the Stats

Here’s where things get interesting – and bust the myth that all of Montana is automatically safe. Columbia Falls has specific factors working in its favor:

  • Eyes on the Street (the Friendly Kind): People notice if a car’s parked in the same weird spot for days, or a stranger’s scoping out houses. It’s NOT about being nosy curtain-twitchers, it’s about neighbors genuinely looking out for each other. Criminals hate that sort of attention.
  • Cops You Can Talk To:  Seeing officers grab lunch at the local diner, not just rolling in when things have gone sideways, builds a different kind of relationship. That makes folks more likely to report problems early, nipping them in the bud.
  • The Newcomers Factor:  Columbia Falls is experiencing steady growth, but not that frantic boomtown chaos you see in some places. New folks bring fresh energy, watchful eyes, and add to that sense of community investment that keeps a town safe AND welcoming.

5. Lewistown

b & b motel
Image: R. Sieben

If the thought of trading car horns for birdsongs makes you smile, but safety’s non-negotiable, Lewistown, Montana might just make you do a double-take. 

Lewistown: Size, Setting, and the Perks of Both

Lewistown delivers a true Montana experience, but it’s a place built for actually living, not just playing cowboy on vacation. Here’s how that balance plays out, especially for safety-minded folks:

  • Size:  Lewistown currently has around 6,000 residents, and that number’s held fairly steady. It’s big enough to have real resources (which is important for safety, as we’ve seen), but small enough that you’re not just another face in the crowd. That middle ground can be ideal – you get the sense of community that deters crime without feeling like everyone’s up in your business.
  • Location is Key:  Smack dab in the middle of Montana, surrounded by the Judith, Moccasin, and Little Belt Mountains…the scenery’s practically a postcard.  But, Lewistown’s also smartly situated for practical stuff, with Billings and Great Falls each about a two-hour drive away. That connection to bigger cities can be a big safety factor, avoiding the isolation that sometimes leads to trouble folks don’t want to talk about.

Lewistown is a small town, but it isn’t naïve. The people there know that there’s a difference between the kind of small-town vibe where everyone knows your secrets, and the kind where folks pay enough attention to deter troublemakers. Lewistown hits that sweet spot. People are proud of their safe community, but it’s not about pretending bad things never happen. It’s about vigilance without paranoia.


Montana, with its wide-open spaces and friendly communities, has an overall safe reputation. These top picks for 2024 offer an extra layer of security, so you can focus on building your best Montana life.

Did we mention a place that sparks your curiosity? Let this be your starting point, but remember: Always do further research to find the perfect fit for your needs and dreams.

About The Author

Mark Barnett

Mark Philip is a writer and lifestyle enthusiast from the Midlands in the U.K. With a background in martial arts and fitness, Mark headed out to Bangkok, Thailand where he now lives and works. Mark has authored e-books, articles, and blogs across a wide range of topics for commercial, educational, factual, lifestyle and leisure-based purposes.

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