The 10 Most Affordable Places to Live in Montana

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By Michael Yessis Updated June 13, 2024
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Edited by Ashley Simon

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The 59501 zip code in Havre tops our ranking of the most affordable places to live in Montana.

We looked at 27 zip codes in the state, evaluating home values, rental costs, energy rates, property taxes, and five other affordability indicators. We used the data we gathered to calculate our proprietary Affordability Score for each zip code.  

Top 10 most affordable places to live in Montana

RankCity Affordability Score Median home valueRental costs
1Havre 🥇100$255,230$1,583
2Great Falls🥈97.2$269,810$938
3Billings 🥉94.9$317,635$1,075
4Butte94.9$268,770$1,144
5Miles City92.7$261,041$1,583
6Laurel87.4$379,703$1,583
7Missoula70.9$606,352$1,228
8Hamilton69.5$510,761$1,050
9Helena64.8$419,625$1,478
10Livingston54.9$527,500$1,583
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1. Havre

Here's why the 59501 zip code in Havre is Montana's most affordable place to live.

🔎 Key data about Havre

Data pointValueRank (out of 27 markets)Difference from median or average
Affordability Score 100 No. 1N/A
Median home value $255,230[1]No. 1 -$228,948.16
Home affordability ratio 4.1No. 1-2.8
Home value five-year change 47.0%[2]No. 2-21.4%
Home value one-year forecast 1.0%[3]No. 140.0%
Rental costs $1,583[4]No. 12$0
Rent affordability ratio 2.24%No. 110.0%
Median household income $62,188[5]No. 20-$8,414
Property taxes $2,085[6]No. 3-$679
Energy costs $0.09 kWh[7]No. 1$0.00
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Havre's 59501 zip code is the cheapest place to live in Montana, leading the 27 markets we evaluated. 

The median home value is $255,230, making it the 1st-cheapest housing market in the state. Forecasts project a 1.0% change in home values in the next year. Rent in the zip code averages $1,583 per month, which is the 11th cheapest amount in Montana.

The median property tax for homeowners in Havre is $2,085 per household, the No. 3 ranked market in Montana. 

Residents pay $0.09 per kWh of electricity, which ranks No. 1 among Montana markets.

2. Great Falls

The 59401 zip code is the 2nd-cheapest place to live in Montana.

🔎 Key data about Great Falls

Data pointValueRank (out of 27 markets)Difference from median or average
Affordability Score 97.2No. 2N/A
Median home value $269,810[8]No. 4-$214,368.33
Home affordability ratio 5.6No. 9-1.3
Home value five-year change 63.8%[9]No. 12-4.7%
Home value one-year forecast -0.4%[10]No. 1-1.4%
Rental costs $938[11]No. 1-$644
Rent affordability ratio 1.94%No. 6-0.3%
Median household income $48,396[12]No. 27-$22,206
Property taxes $1,921[13]No. 1-$843
Energy costs $0.09 kWh[14]No. 1$0.00
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Great Falls's 59401 zip code has a median home value of $269,810, which is the 1st-cheapest housing market in Montana. You can rent for an average of $938 per month. That's the 1st-cheapest price in the state.

The average household income in the zip code is $48,396, which ranks 27th-highest in the state. 

Homeowners in Great Falls pay a median property tax of $1,921 per year, making it the 1st-most affordable market in Montana.

Great Falls ranks No. 1 among Montana energy markets. You'll pay $0.09 per kWh of electricity.

3. Billings

The 3rd-cheapest place to live in Montana is Billings's 59101 zip code.

🔎 Key data about Billings

Data pointValueRank (out of 27 markets)Difference from median or average
Affordability Score 94.9No. 3N/A
Median home value $317,635[15]No. 6-$166,542.86
Home affordability ratio 5.6No. 10-1.3
Home value five-year change 50.0%[16]No. 3-18.5%
Home value one-year forecast -0.4%[17]No. 1-1.4%
Rental costs $1,075[18]No. 3-$508
Rent affordability ratio 1.90%No. 5-0.3%
Median household income $56,659[19]No. 23-$13,943
Property taxes $2,128[20]No. 6-$636
Energy costs $0.09 kWh[21]No. 1$0.00
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The No. 6 cheapest housing in Montana is Billings's 59101 zip code, with a median home value of $317,635. Rents in the market average $1,075 per month, making it the 3rd-most affordable rental market in the state.

The median property tax for households in Billings is $2,128, which makes it the 6th-cheapest place in Montana. Billings ranks No. 1 among Montana markets by energy costs. Residents pay $0.09 per kWh of electricity.

4. Butte

The 59701 zip code in Butte comes in at No. 4 on our list of the cheapest places to live in Montana.

🔎 Key data about Butte

Data pointValueRank (out of 27 markets)Difference from median or average
Affordability Score 94.9No. 4N/A
Median home value $268,770[22]No. 3-$215,408.07
Home affordability ratio 4.8No. 6-2.0
Home value five-year change 84.3%[23]No. 2215.8%
Home value one-year forecast 1.6%[24]No. 200.6%
Rental costs $1,144[25]No. 4-$439
Rent affordability ratio 2.05%No. 9-0.2%
Median household income $55,818[26]No. 24-$14,784
Property taxes $2,156[27]No. 8-$608
Energy costs $0.09 kWh[28]No. 1$0.00
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The No. 3 cheapest housing market in Montana is Butte's 59701 zip code, where the median home value is $268,770. Renters here pay an average of $1,144 per month. 

When it comes to energy costs, Butte ranks 1st among Montana markets. Residents pay $0.09 per kWh of electricity.

The median property tax for households in the zip code is $2,156, which makes it the 8th-cheapest market in Montana.

5. Miles City

The 59301 zip code in Miles City ranks No. 5 among Montana's most affordable places to live.

🔎 Key data about Miles City

Data pointValueRank (out of 27 markets)Difference from median or average
Affordability Score 92.7No. 5N/A
Median home value $261,041[29]No. 2-$223,137.51
Home affordability ratio 4.3No. 2-2.6
Home value five-year change 58.5%[30]No. 8-10.0%
Home value one-year forecast 1.0%[31]No. 140.0%
Rental costs $1,583[32]No. 12$0
Rent affordability ratio 2.24%No. 110.0%
Median household income $60,997[33]No. 21-$9,605
Property taxes $2,151[34]No. 7-$613
Energy costs $0.11 kWh[35]No. 27$0.02
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Miles City's 59301 zip code has a median home value of $261,041, the 2nd-cheapest market in the state. Forecasts project a 1.0% change in home values in the next year. 

The median property tax per household in Miles City is $2,151. It's the 7th-cheapest market by tax rate in Montana.

6. Laurel

The No. 6 most affordable place to live in Montana is the 59044 zip code.

🔎 Key data about Laurel

Data pointValueRank (out of 27 markets)Difference from median or average
Affordability Score 87.4No. 6N/A
Median home value $379,703[36]No. 9-$104,475.60
Home affordability ratio 4.5No. 3-2.3
Home value five-year change 53.0%[37]No. 6-15.5%
Home value one-year forecast -0.4%[38]No. 1-1.4%
Rental costs $1,583[39]No. 12$0
Rent affordability ratio 2.24%No. 110.0%
Median household income $83,687[40]No. 6$13,085
Property taxes $2,112[41]No. 5-$652
Energy costs $0.09 kWh[42]No. 1$0.00
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The back half of our top 10 kicks off with Laurel's 59044 zip code, which has the 9th-cheapest home values in Montana. The median home value is $379,703. Rents average $1,583 per month, making it the 12th-most affordable rental market in the state.

Residents pay $0.09 per kWh of electricity. It's the 1st-cheapest energy market.

7. Missoula

Missoula's 59803 zip code is the 7th-cheapest place to live in Montana.

🔎 Key data about Missoula

Data pointValueRank (out of 27 markets)Difference from median or average
Affordability Score 70.9No. 7N/A
Median home value $606,352[43]No. 24$122,174.06
Home affordability ratio 6.2No. 13-0.7
Home value five-year change 78.2%[44]No. 209.8%
Home value one-year forecast 4.1%[45]No. 263.1%
Rental costs $1,228[46]No. 7-$354
Rent affordability ratio 1.25%No. 1-1.0%
Median household income $98,233[47]No. 2$27,631
Property taxes $4,258[48]No. 27$1,494
Energy costs $0.09 kWh[49]No. 1$0.00
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You'll find the 24th-cheapest home values in Montana in Missoula's 59803 zip code. The median value: $606,352. Renters in Missoula pay an average of $1,228 per month.

Homeowners in Missoula pay a median property tax of $4,258 per year, which is Montana's 27th-most affordable market.

The average household income is $98,233, which ranks 2nd-highest in the state.

8. Hamilton

The 8th-cheapest place to live in Montana is Hamilton's 59840 zip code.

🔎 Key data about Hamilton

Data pointValueRank (out of 27 markets)Difference from median or average
Affordability Score 69.5No. 8N/A
Median home value $510,761[50]No. 14$26,582.67
Home affordability ratio 8.2No. 211.3
Home value five-year change 88.3%[51]No. 2319.8%
Home value one-year forecast 1.0%[52]No. 140.0%
Rental costs $1,050[53]No. 2-$533
Rent affordability ratio 1.68%No. 4-0.6%
Median household income $62,576[54]No. 19-$8,026
Property taxes $2,101[55]No. 4-$663
Energy costs $0.09 kWh[56]No. 1$0.00
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The 14th-cheapest housing market in Montana is Hamilton's 59840 zip code, with a median home value of $510,761. Renters pay an average of $1,050 per month, the No. 2 rental market in the state.

The median property tax for households in Hamilton is $2,101, which makes it the 4th-cheapest place in Montana. The average household income of $62,576 ranks 19th.

9. Helena

Helena's 59601 zip code sneaks into the top ten of Montana's most affordable places to live.

🔎 Key data about Helena

Data pointValueRank (out of 27 markets)Difference from median or average
Affordability Score 64.8No. 9N/A
Median home value $419,625[57]No. 11-$64,552.72
Home affordability ratio 6.4No. 14-0.5
Home value five-year change 62.9%[58]No. 11-5.6%
Home value one-year forecast 0.8%[59]No. 12-0.2%
Rental costs $1,478[60]No. 11-$104
Rent affordability ratio 2.25%No. 200.0%
Median household income $65,696[61]No. 17-$4,906
Property taxes $3,099[62]No. 19$335
Energy costs $0.09 kWh[63]No. 1$0.00
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The 11th-cheapest housing market in Montana is Helena's 59601 zip code, where the median home value is $419,625. Renters pay an average of $1,478 per month. It's the state's 11th-cheapest rental market.

The median property tax for households within the zip code is $3,099, which makes it the 19th-cheapest property tax rate in Montana. 

10. Livingston

The final spot on our list of the most affordable places to live in Montana goes to the 59047 zip code in Livingston.

🔎 Key data about Livingston

Data pointValueRank (out of 27 markets)Difference from median or average
Affordability Score 54.9No. 10N/A
Median home value $527,500[64]No. 15$43,321.39
Home affordability ratio 7.6No. 170.7
Home value five-year change 73.2%[65]No. 164.7%
Home value one-year forecast 1.0%[66]No. 140.0%
Rental costs $1,583[67]No. 12$0
Rent affordability ratio 2.24%No. 110.0%
Median household income $69,417[68]No. 14-$1,185
Property taxes $2,417[69]No. 13-$347
Energy costs $0.09 kWh[70]No. 1$0.00
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The 15th-most affordable market in Montana is Livingston's 59047 zip code. The median home value is $527,500. Rent in the market costs $1,583 per month on average, making it the 12th-most affordable rental market in Montana.

The median property tax for households in Livingston is $2,417, which is the 13th-cheapest property tax rate in the state.

Livingston ranks No. 1 among Montana markets by energy costs, with households paying $0.09 per kWh of electricity.

How we ranked the most affordable places in Montana

We evaluated 27 zip codes in Montana with a population over 10,000 on nine metrics. We then assigned each market an Affordability Score based on its weighted and combined rankings. 

✍️ Editor’s note: Our Affordability Score identifies the most affordable places in a state by zip code.

Often the zip code we identify will represent an entire city or portion of a city. 

Occasionally the zip code we identify will encompass an area that includes one or more small towns. In these cases, the data we’ve gathered applies to the entire zip code, not just the single town we’re using to help identify the zip code's location. 

If you’re looking to move to one of these affordable places, we recommend doing additional research to make sure the costs in the area — and the quality of life it offers — meet your specific needs.

Methodology: What is an Affordability Score?

Our proprietary Affordability Score is a score on a scale of 0 (worst in state) to 100 (best in state) that estimates the affordability of a particular zip code. It takes into account these key data points for each zip code.

  • Median home value: The median home value for each zip code comes from the Zillow Home Value Index. The lower the median home value relative to the median value in Montana, the higher our score on this component. We assign a weight of 23.8% to median home value.
  • Home affordability ratio. The home affordability ratio is the typical median home value divided by the median household income in the zip code, which reveals the number of years of household income needed to afford a home in that zip code. A lower ratio is better because it means more households can afford a home. The data comes from the Zillow Observed Rent Index and the U.S. Census American Community Survey. We assign a weight of 23.8% to the home affordability ratio.
  • Home value five-year change: The home value five-year change is the amount that the median home value in the zip code has risen or fallen during the last five years. Our data comes from the Zillow Home Value Index. We assign a weight of 4.8% to the home value five-year change.
  • Home value one-year forecast: The home value one-year forecast comes from Zillow Forecast data. It projects how much home values in the zip code are forecasted to change in the next year. We assign a weight of 4.8% to the home value one-year forecast.
  • Rental costs. The rental costs are the observed rents in the zip code, sourced from the Zillow Observed Rent Index. The index includes "listed rents that fall into the 40th to 60th percentile range for all homes and apartments in a given region." We assign a weight of 11.9% to rental costs. 
  • Median household income: The inflation-adjusted median household income figures for the zip code comes from the U.S. Census American Community Survey. We assign a weight of 4.8% to median household income.
  • Rent affordability ratio. The rent affordability ratio is the ratio of rental costs divided by median household income, which provides the percentage of household income needed to pay a typical month’s rent in the zip code. The data comes from the Zillow Observed Rent Index and the U.S. Census American Community Survey. We assign a weight of 11.9% to the rent affordability ratio.
  • Property taxes: The property tax figures are the median real estate taxes paid in the zip code, sourced from the U.S. Census American Community Survey. The lower the property tax rate relative to the Montana average, the higher our score on this component. We assign a weight of 7.1% to property taxes. 
  • Energy costs: The energy costs are the costs of a kilowatt hour (kWh) of residential electricity in the zip code, sourced from the U.S. Department of Energy. The lower the cost of electricity relative to the Montana average, the higher our score on this component. We assign a weight of 7.1% to energy costs.  

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Authors & Editorial History

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