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The 7 Worst Places to Live in Montana, Looking at Affordability and Safety

Montana is a beautiful place to live, and of the many visitors the state receives there is a fair proportion that come away thinking it would be a great place to return to, or even to live in. But there are of course many factors to consider when deciding. What appeals to some may make a town or city one of the worst places to live in Montana for another.

Everyone wants to live in a place where affordability meets convenience on an equal footing. And then there is the matter of safety on a number of levels to take into consideration. Whether you are looking at a long-term visit or even relocation to Montana, there is certainly a lot to consider.

So depending on how you look at what might constitute some of the worst places to live in Montana, here are a few pointers to help you weigh up the odds and avoid any unsuitable areas according to various factors in relation to personal circumstances.

The Worst Places to Live in Montana

  1. Wolf Point
  2. Polson
  3. Cut Bank
  4. Ronan
  5. Rollins
  6. Whitefish
  7. Bozeman

1. Wolf Point

wolf point

Let’s start by looking at one of the main concerns of anyone when looking at places to live in – crime rates. Wolf Point is hardly one of Montana’s well-known towns, with its main claim to fame being related to the fact that it is where you’ll find the oldest rodeo in the state. The majority of visitors to this cowboy town come for the rodeo, but unfortunately, it doesn’t fare well for some of them.

To get straight to the point, Wolf Point has one of the highest violent crime rates in the entire state, and even worse, much of this is often directed towards strangers. Most visitors and travelers are often totally unaware of this fact beforehand and become unwitting victims.

The 3,000-odd population is centered largely in the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, and some statistics have listed as many as 26 violent crimes occurring in a year. This may not sound so high compared to city crime rates, but statistically, it is around 900 per 1000 people per capita.

But of course, there is always an upside to everything, and in this case, it is that property crime rates are significantly lower, with Wolf Point registering only the 13th highest in the state for property-related issues that have also shown decreasing trends in the last decade. Phew!

2. Polson

polson

The northwestern city of Polson is located in the Flathead Indian Reservation, and some rankings have actually listed it as the most dangerous in the state. This comes by way of not wildlife attacks, but the high crime rates, though it does come in at around 3rd or 4th in other listings.

Property crime seems to be the main problem here statistically speaking, with violent crimes often even being related to theft. Some listings have shown Polson to have the highest levels of property crime per capita of any town or city in Montana, which might have something to do with the fact that the place has a history of high unemployment rates.

3. Cut Bank

cut bank
Image: Royalbroil

The Northwest Montana town of Cut Bank is another small place with a population of not more than 3,000. Coupled with the high rates of unemployment that the town has incurred over the years, the small populace might have something to do with its ranking between 1 and 8 as one of the most dangerous places in Montana in various listings.

Crime rates have actually shown decreasing trends over the last decade or so, but the town still ranks fairly high by statistical comparison.

The worst of it is that violent crime tends to be the main issue, with property-related not featuring so heavily. The town does have a decent reputation as a western adventure zone with plenty of opportunity for outdoor pursuits, but it is, nonetheless, one of the worst places to live in Montana.

4. Ronan

ronan
Image: Shane McMillan

The northwest town of Ronan has a population of just over 2,000, and it is included in part of the Flathead Indian reservation region in Lake County.

What you might need to know about this place is that it has been rated as the sixth most dangerous place to live in Montana, and it is considered one of the most violent spots in the state, coming in somewhere between first and third highest in various listings. Assault is one of the main issues in terms of the violent crime in the area.

Ronan doesn’t fare much better when it comes to property crime either. Ronan residents suffered 50 property crimes in one year at one point, which ranked as the 11th highest in Montana. Needless to say, it could be one of the worst places to live in Montana.

5. Rollins

rollins
Image: Chris Knight

Rollins is a small, remote, and expensive place to live. It doesn’t have so much of a problem with violent crime, yet the highly scenic town with a population of just 200-odd does weigh in heavily on the financial scales, just in case you thought all of rural Montana was where the cheap property lay.

The town is situated on the western side of the rather picturesque Flathead Lake backed by the Rocky Mountains though, so although Rollins is secluded and offers little in terms of amenities – just scenery – it is an expensive place to try to settle

The town actually has some of the highest property values in the state, with steady increases still in place.

In fact, the  average value of a home in this small Montana town is reportedly more than double the state average, which could in many ways make it one of the worst places to live–unless you are a mega-rich retiree looking for a spot of peace and quiet.

6. Whitefish

whitefish

Whitefish is a much-visited and very scenic town with some decent local amenities. It is one of the best spots you are likely to find anywhere for skiing and other winter-related activities, and all of these factors make it an ideal place for a vacation.

But for relocation or living? Well, that’s a different matter entirely, especially when taking into consideration the fact that this scenic little Montana town with a 7,000-plus population consistently ranks as one of, if not THE most expensive place to live.

From a national average of 100, Whitefish ranked 115 for cost of living in this report, and housing costs came out at 147 compared to the national average of 100.

Needless to say, even though this idyllic Montana holiday destination is incredibly popular, and may even feature in many ‘best places to live’ reports — you wouldn’t want to live anywhere near the place unless you had just landed the triple jackpot, ten times.

7. Bozeman

bozeman

Bozeman is another Montana city that frequently comes up in ‘most liveable places’ posts, but it is unlikely to be the case if expense is one of your main concerns.

Bozeman comes in a close second to Whitefish statistically when it comes to the cost of living, house prices, rentals, etc., and although the place certainly has some wonderful amenities and a friendly vibe to it – not to mention some stunning surrounding scenery – it will ultimately cost you a pretty packet to put down any roots there.

There has certainly been something of an increase in the interest of Bozeman as a tourist destination over the last decade or so, and this has helped in pushing up the prices and living costs. Don’t get us wrong here, Bozeman is undoubtedly a wonderful place to consider relocating if money is no object – but it is now one of the worst places to live in Montana in terms of living costs.

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