The meteoric rise of towns such as Bozeman and Kalispell inevitably produce speculation of other Real Estate growth areas that remain less well known. The following looks at some worthy of consideration.
Livingston & Paradise Valley – Park County
Median Home $344,000 (Single Family Home)
OK, it might be pushing the envelope of “small” to refer to Livingston in those terms – but relatively a population of just over 8000 would still qualify. There are 12 other Montana towns with more humans. Then there are factors that dictate not including Livingston in this list would be negligent. “And you have an office there” you say? Honestly, such cynicism does not become you.
Seriously, Bozeman’s little sister has much to say for itself. The two towns are separated by just 26 geographical miles but by $238,500 in median house price! If that is not an eye popping enough statistic to consider heading “over the hill” for, here is another: When looking at the same months in the fall of 2016 and 2020, median prices in Bozeman rose 61.8% impressive (or scary) enough, Livingston increased 96.5%! Overheated? Maybe. Livingston’s prices are noticeably more volatile, but the trend is still only one way, over the same periods.
Of course, fiscal considerations are only part of the equation. A prudent financial decision is little comfort if you do not like where you live. Detractors will point to the high wind that can barrel through Paradise Valley at such velocity they cause highway diversions, and semi’s to crawl through the town. Yet the wind is somewhat mitigated by the buildings downtown. And yes, Livingston might be a little more (insert appropriate metaphor here) around the edges than Bozeman. Yet this is the bait that leads those in search of more color and energy to its maze of historic streets around the Murray Hotel. It is what so enamored countless writers from numerous genres, some of whose books have been produced for the screen in films so ubiquitously quoted when speaking of the area, that I shall refrain from such. I will however, shamelessly indulge in the words of the late, great Anthony Bourdain who suggested it might be “one of the most awesome places on earth”; the aforementioned Murray Hotel, one the worlds 10 best.
High praise indeed and not sentiments that will be shared by all. But if you want to find a place a little more reminiscent of the original Montana, you will see it more in Park County than Gallatin. Alternatively, if you like your Music, art, literature, occasional major celebrity sighting or just want to claim the equivalent of being “into Bozeman’s early work but not the later commercial stuff” Livingston could tick that box.
White Sulphur Springs – Meagher County
Median Home Value $155,000
With a median house price hovering around the $150,000, WSS represents the least expensive of our featured towns. This cost of entry appeal is aligned to the proximity of recreational pursuits and larger more familiar towns. White Sulphur sits at the base and very center of a geographical triangle formed by Livingston/Bozeman to the south, Great Falls to the North and Helena to the west.
Add to the equation its encasement by no less than four (FOUR!) mountain ranges, providing 360-degree awesomeness on a clear day. White Sulphur Springs has a case to argue for exceptional value for money and growth potential. This former Railroad town is probably now best known for the The Red Ants Pants music festival. Each year this brings, in normal years at least, ever increasing thousands of visitors.
Fun Fact: Travel from Bozeman, past Bridger Bowl Ski Hill on Highway 86, and experience one of Montana’s great (and fortunately yet underutilized) driving roads.
Philipsburg Granite County
Median Home Value: $216,500
There is a lot to like about P’burg. And lot of people do. Take a short time (or a long time) to sit outside the landmark Phillipsburg brewery and you will hear them say so as they wander past. The County Seat of Granite County has endured changing fortunes spanning centuries. Prosperous in its mining heyday the waning fortunes of which through the early 20th century are evidenced by the numerous surrounding ghost towns. The closing of the main sawmill in the 1980’s saw further hardships and population falls.
In current times Philipsburg exists as a small town with a thriving permanent community, trying to balance this with the increasing amount of, and reliance on, tourism. Through initiatives and good planning, they seem to be succeeding. The historic buildings downtown sit in the valley flanked to South by the Winninghoff Park. This product of Rotary Club fundraising provides a summer amphitheater for concerts and community events and winter ice skating rink. Philipsburg can be accessed via The Pintner highway, one of Montana’s more scenic byways.
Dayton – Lake County $235,300
Dayton, warrants investigation by those who might want to live by the water but not pay the premiums required on neighboring, Whitefish or Swan Lake. The sheer size of Flathead Lake does ensure that is a few degrees colder than either and generally choppier for water sports. However, when taking into consideration the disparity Real Estate prices, such things must be taken in context.
From a livability perspective, Dayton is a more evolving location. As such the heavy influx of seasonal tourists is less impactful and prices of day to day items similarly reflective. Those wishing to buy land will certainly find more opportunities.
Eureka – Lincoln County
Median Home Value: $275,350*
You can not travel much further northwest in Montana and remain in the US, than Eureka. As such it might represent the wild card entry to this list. Certainly, those looking for year around living will have to appreciate that in the mid-winter, it is going to get cold. Like, not wrap up warm cold; but stay inside or risk loss of extremities cold. As a summer retreat, therefore, and in summer it can get warm in similar ratio, is where this inclusion is framed. If you are looking for beauty, Lake Koocanusa has a very viable claim to be among the most stunning in this region.
*estimated due to lack of recent data. Calculated from an average of sold and listed prices.