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Average Cost of Living in Montana: An In-Depth Guide

Buying a home in Montana is a dream come true for many. But calculating the up-front costs of acquiring that dream is only the beginning. Without assessing the long-term cost of living in Montana, you could be financially under-prepared. Here’s what to know before buying your Montana dream home.
Buying a home in Montana is a dream come true for many. But calculating the up-front costs of acquiring that dream is only the beginning. Without assessing the long-term cost of living in Montana, you could be financially under-prepared. Here’s what to know before buying your Montana dream home.

With its rugged wilderness and gorgeous scenery, Montana is a nature lover’s paradise. From its several national parks to its four-season climate, those seeking wide open spaces and an escape from city life find peace and tranquility in Big Sky Country.

Finding a home in Montana is a dream for those who find themselves enchanted by its natural beauty. But making sound financial decisions requires more than whimsy and good vibes.

It’s important that anyone looking for a home in Montana has thoroughly considered the cost of living in the state and factored that cost into their financial planning.

To help with this process, we’ve compiled the critical information you need to know regarding the cost of living in Montana.

Remember that when you’re moving to a new area, working with an experienced, local real estate agent is essential if you want expert guidance related to both the home buying process and regional long-term financial considerations, as well.

Typical Home Prices in Montana in 2019

According to Zillow, the median home value in Montana is $237,500. Home values across the state increased by 6% in 2018 and are projected to rise another 2.9% in 2019.

The median listing price in Montana is $329,000, up from January 2018’s median of $300,000. It’s a buyer’s market, and those who purchase Montana real estate in 2019 will likely enjoy significant appreciation well into the future.

Home prices, while mostly affordable state-wide, do fluctuate based on where in Montana you choose to live. For instance, while the median home value in Great Falls is just $160,500, in Grant Creek, near Missoula, it’s $413,300.

However, even accounting for the local fluctuations, Montana is still one of the most affordable statewide housing markets in the country.

How Much Are Montana Property Taxes?

The property taxes in Montana are substantially lower than the national average, coming in at 0.870% of assessed home value. For a home assessed at the state median home value of $237,500, that works out to an average of about $2,066 per year according to Investopedia.

However, property tax rates vary by county, and it’s important to take that variation into account when estimating the property taxes you’ll have to pay.

For example, Great Falls is in Cascade County, which has an average property tax rate of 0.919%. That would make a home assessed at the median of $237,500 subject to $2,183 in annual property taxes.

In Grant Creek, the property tax rate is 0.992%, which would mean the property taxes on a home assessed at the state’s median value would be $2,356 annually.

Clearly, the county in which you buy a home has a direct impact on how much you’ll have to spend on property taxes each year.

Additionally, the value of your home plays a critical role in determining how much your property taxes will be. For instance, in the last example, if we used the median home value of Grant Creek, which is $413,300, we’d find that a more accurate estimate for the property taxes in this area is $4,100 per year.

Given the variability inherent in property tax calculation, it’s important to consult with an experienced, local real estate agent. Your agent will be able to properly advise you regarding property tax estimates and other financial considerations pertinent to the home buying process.

Average Homeowners Insurance in Montana

Another factor that plays into the cost of living in Montana is homeowners insurance. This ongoing expense represents a significant cost that homeowners must take into consideration in order to properly estimate the true long-term cost of owning a home.

Fortunately for Montana home buyers, homeowners insurance statewide costs about 4% less than the national average, coming in at about $1,175 per year according to Insurance.com.

However, like most costs, homeowners insurance is variable, and rates can change not just from city to city but from person to person, as well. That’s because the factors that insurers take into account in order to determine how much your homeowners insurance should cost are, for the most part, personal and individual.

How many structures you have on your property, the way you intend to use those structures, the condition of the home, the presence of a security system, the neighborhood you live in, and your credit history are just some elements your insurer will consider when determining how much to charge you.

However, you do have some control over what you pay, specifically when it comes to how you maintain your home.

Common Home Maintenance and Repair Costs in Montana

How much you can expect to pay for home maintenance and repair in Montana completely depends on the property you buy and the goals you have for that property.

For instance, if you buy a home with significant repair needs that you intend to renovate, you’ll have to consider a different — and likely more expensive — set of repair costs than you would if you purchased a fully renovated home.

Also, if you’re going to own chickens and horses, you’ll have different costs to consider than if you only have a house and a dog.

On average, however, there are a variety of maintenance and repair costs you can expect to pay regardless of your property and personal goals.

Roofing costs are common, and while you won’t likely have to replace your roof very often, you’ll undoubtedly have to repair it from time to time. This is especially true in places like Montana where harsh weather can cause seasonal damage.

Keeping the paint fresh and fixing wear and tear is another common maintenance cost. So, too, are the costs associated with landscaping, updating any outdated plumbing, cleaning carpets and flooring, patching leaks, fixing electrical issues, conducting routine pest control, and periodically checking for health hazards like mold.

Given the volume and variability of home maintenance and repair costs, it’s difficult to predict exactly how much you can expect to pay. Some experts say you should put aside 1% of the purchase price of your home each year to cover these types of expenses.

However, your best bet is to discuss this issue with your real estate agent. They’ll be able to look at your specific property and your personal goals and provide you with an individualized estimate of what you can expect to pay in home maintenance and repair costs.

Other Costs of Living in Montana to Consider

Montana is a relatively rural state. Even its larger cities are closer to nature than most big cities will ever be.

While this is a draw for most home buyers who are attracted to Montana, it can also cause some ongoing expenses that traditional city dwellers aren’t likely to encounter.

For example, wildlife passing through your property can cause damage to everything from your landscaping to your exterior paint. In some areas, you may have to install and maintain fencing or other protective structures to keep your home and pets safe from wildlife in the area.

The weather in Montana can also be volatile and harsh. The bitterly cold winters and hot summers are likely to cause you to run the heating and air conditioning more often than you would in a temperate climate.

It’s important to do your homework and consult with long-time residents you know in the area to ensure you have realistic expectations of how much you should pay to live in Montana.

As always, your real estate agent will help you with these estimations given their in-depth knowledge of the area and their experience with home buyers and the costs they’ve encountered.

Find a Top Montana Real Estate Agent

An experienced, local real estate agent can provide you invaluable guidance and support through the home buying process. They can advise you regarding the costs you should prepare for, how to make a competitive offer, ways to negotiate the most beneficial outcome, and more.

A real estate agent will set realistic expectations for you regarding the cost of living in Montana, especially where it pertains to your specific location and property.

Clever connects buyers to top performing real estate agents in Montana. Clever Partner Agents work on a flat fee basis for reduced commission fees that Clever has negotiated on your behalf.

Clever buyers in Montana who spend more than $150,000 earn a home buyer rebate of $1,000 to put toward closing costs, providing yet another cost savings opportunity.

Contact Clever today and we’ll introduce you to one of our Montana Partner Agents for a no-obligation consultation.

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Jamie Ayers

Jamie is the Director of Content at Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you with top real estate agents and helps you save thousands on commission. In the past, Jamie has managed columns for clients in a variety of leading business publications, including Forbes, Inc., CEO World, Entrepreneur, and more. At Clever, Jamie's primary goal is to provide home sellers, buyers, and investors with the information they need to successfully navigate the ins and outs of the real estate industry.

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