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Housing in Montana

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I grew up a small town girl, and it's in such places where I feel most comfortable. While I can find common ground and carry a conversation with almost any person, I'm an introvert by nature and don't crave constant social interactions or encounters with other persons. This is why I've always felt uncomfortable in concrete jungles, or cities over-flooded with humanity at almost every corner. The constant chatter from the mouths of strangers and clicking sounds of feet pounding on pavement are somehow exhausting to me. I receive no rush of energy or pleasure from these crowds, only a sense of suffocation and irritation. When I first arrived in Montana, it became clear this State is unique. Perhaps like none other I've visited, with the exception of Wyoming.

1.  Montana is the fourth largest State, but one of the least populated. At times, it seems there are no people anywhere! :)) Only Alaska and Wyoming are less populated, and having traveled to all three of these States, I can confirm I love them deeply for their wide-open spaces and huge landscapes filled with exquisite nature at almost every turn. The land area of Montana is around 146,000 square miles, yet there are only a million residents spread over the entire region. I can describe most houses here in a few words - remote with big views!

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2. You rarely encounter neighborhoods that are common in other parts of America. By this I mean the suburbs, where most of the houses in a given area are designed the same and placed relatively close together. The closest thing to a suburb I saw in Montana was in Helena, the State capital, yet even here each house varied in design and size. This one looks similar to the house in which I grew up, and where my parents still live. I showed you my childhood home in the big post about my hometown.

hel52

3. Instead of standard suburban homes, you see various dwelling structures spread all over Montana, sometimes in random places. Usually they are small in size, and unfortunately many of the homes are not well maintained, with excessive amounts of trash and junk thrown about.

hel32

4. It's common to see some type of trailer or RV on the housing lots. This is not surprising given that residents of Montana are very connected to nature, spending a lot of time outdoors hunting, fishing, hiking and camping. There is really not much else to do in this State, so if you're not a fan of nature, there's no reason to visit this part of the USA.

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5. A lot of rural areas face depressive statistics when it comes to drug abuse, alcoholism and overall job prospects. The main industries in Montana are agriculture, farming, gas, coal, and tourism in the summer months, as Montana is home to two of the most visited National Parks - Yellowstone and Glacier. However, during winter season, the jobs dry up in a lot of places. People need some type of motivation to not fall into a pit of hopelessness and despair, so you see all types of motivational billboards on the highways here.

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6. I'm not sure if this was an old cabin or some type of storage unit or shed, but regardless I like it!  It would be awesome to have such a place in the middle of the forest to visit on weekends and holidays.

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7. Here is a symbolic Montana "neighborhood," stuck at the foot of a mountainous landscape with a few houses sprinkled on the farmland, and some type of trailer affixed to the property. Over 70% of people in Montana own their homes, and the average house price is only $170,000. I can't even fathom such a low number because I live in one of the most expensive regions of America.

hel39

8. You can compare the average housing cost in Montana with my area. It's really an astronomical gap, but everything is relative. Salaries and job prospects in Montana are much lower compared to Northern Virginia and Washington, DC. The market simply cannot bear such huge real estate prices anywhere in Montana. Btw, there is zero sales tax in Montana and I was surprised when I went into a 7-Eleven to buy a bottle of water and it cost only 79 cents! :))

housing cost nova

9. Almost all of the towns in Montana look something like this. A few bars, a pharmacy, a couple of gas stations and one or two restaurants where the locals can unwind and catch up on the latest gossip. Even remote places usually have one or two casinos, as I previously explained.

hel38

10. Many towns are abandoned. Some of them are "ghost towns" and tourist attractions, while others are a bit creepy and filled only with remnants to suggest there may still be earthlings who walk the streets each day. One such place is the town of Marysville, where you can find many burned out buildings and a lot of stray dogs and pick-up trucks. This means people are still living on some desolate, hidden streets which were beyond my frame of reference. There's even a local bar where I saw a few cars parked, and this dog came running out to greet us when we arrived. I suppose he is the guardian of the province.

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11. An example of a booming town by Montana standards. Several houses in close proximity, a small store and cozy little church in the background. No one is on the roads, and I never once got caught in a traffic jam anywhere in this State. Huge bonus for someone who spends hours each day commuting to work.

hel45

12. My cousin plays on an amateur hockey team - the Helena Bighorns - and I went with him to visit the University of Montana in Missoula. This is a university town, filled with mostly young students who appear to live in houses rather than apartments. I didn't see any sort of highrises in Montana, neither businesses nor traditional multi-story apartment buildings. There is no need for such structures, because there aren't enough people to occupy so much corporate or residential space in any town in Montana. I found the churches in Missoula to be especially bright, colorful and creative. This is the most artistic and bohemian city in the State. I tried to meet with one of the local residents, known as the "Indian Jones of Mushrooms," due to his fascination with mushroom cultivation. Sadly, we missed each other, but I hope to meet him next time, as he seems like quite an eccentric character. :)

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13. Student housing. The most populated city in Montana is Billings, where only 166,000 people live. I researched the prices for apartments online, and the average cost is about $900 for a two bedroom apartment. You can compare the cost with the over $2,000/per month rent I paid for a one bedroom apartment in Arlington, Virginia.

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14. Great place to eat in Missoula - Uptown Diner! I love such places, which you can find in almost every small town in America.

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15. Back to the topic of billboards, Jesus is frequently watching over you on the Montana highways and providing words of wisdom and hope as you drive for hours on long stretches of road.

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16. In all rural areas, Jesus competes with drugs for attention. I suppose many people find salvation in one or the other. In Montana, there is a growing problem with the use of methamphetamine, and there are a lot of anti-drug posters and propaganda spread all over the place, like on this barn located on a remote stretch of highway near Browning, Montana. Browning is home to the Blackfeet Indian reservation, which I'll tell you about in separate posts.

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17. I wonder if the locals grow tired of such views?

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18. One more example of a house placed in the middle of nowhere. No neighbors or other homes anywhere near them.

hel47

19. My home base during the journey was Helena, the capital city. It was here that I saw a fancy, upscale neighborhood in a small enclave of the city known as Reeder's Village. They have sweeping views of Helena, as the residential neighborhood sits high up.

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20. These are mansions by local standards, and very huge living spaces ranging from 2500 - 5000 square feet, with a lot of land affixed to the properties. Housing costs in this exclusive neighborhood average around $450,000 - $500,000. In my area, you cannot even buy a nice, one bedroom condo for this price.

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21. Some very modern architectural designs. Personally, I don't like such big houses. They have no feeling of warmth or coziness to me, and unless you have a huge family with a lot of children, I don't understand the need for so much living space. More importantly, I don't wish to clean or maintain such a big house or property.

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22. One more view of Helena from the top of the hill. I'll write a separate post about this city at some point. I think some Trump supporters or those who wish to live in an Aryan nation would be quite pleased with the diversity of the population in Montana - because there is none. This is one of the whitest States in the country, with over 90% of residents identifying as "white". I saw only a few black people here, and zero Hispanics, Asians, Arabs or other nationalities. Strange for me because I live in an area where whites are quickly becoming the minority.

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23. Montana appeals only to certain people. It seems to me that many Americans spend their lives working in more high-earning parts of the USA, and then relocate to Montana in retirement. There, they can live as a king or queen on pensions from their jobs and social security benefits because the cost of living in Montana is so low.

However, you must be prepared to abandon some of the comforts and pleasures that are common in other parts of the USA. I noticed after only one week that you can expect to drive A LOT if you live in Montana, as it sometimes takes several hours to get to the next town. In between these vast distances, there's limited cell phone coverage, and Wifi access is sparse. Thus, you should be prepared if you're driving alone because you're basically screwed if you break down on one of these roads. There are almost no cops patrolling in Montana, and I never saw a police car on the highway. You're at the mercy and kindness of the first car that passes you, and it can sometimes take hours before another human or automobile drives the same stretch of road, especially late at night. But this is the reason why I love it so! It may sound strange, but driving alone in places like this was both scary and invigorating at the same time. You're forced to think about survival to a certain extent, and in such situations, I'm never bored - the mind is filled with all types of diverse thoughts and emotions, ranging from admiration of the natural landscapes to a sort of fear of the unknown or worst case scenario. This is important, because boredom is one of my greatest fears...

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What do you think? Could you live in such a remote place? I have a lot of stories from Montana, so stay tuned... :)



Comments

( 89 comments — Leave a comment )
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pro100_petrov
Mar. 14th, 2016 09:11 am (UTC)
Marvelous place.
peacetraveler22
Mar. 14th, 2016 12:16 pm (UTC)
I like it, and can see myself retiring here. :)
e_d_w
Mar. 14th, 2016 09:12 am (UTC)
Cute place.

I grew up on Sakhalin island, there looks the same.

And my character is the same.
pro100_petrov
Mar. 14th, 2016 09:22 am (UTC)
Bingo! It is simular with Sakhalin
(no subject) - yacc11 - Mar. 14th, 2016 10:41 am (UTC) - Expand
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andrey_kaminsky
Mar. 14th, 2016 09:26 am (UTC)
Вот оно - единение с природой
The people of this state have a wonderful opportunity to go out wearing nothing and to piss right from the doorstep in the morning.:)
peacetraveler22
Mar. 14th, 2016 12:18 pm (UTC)
Re: Вот оно - единение с природой
You don't need to live in Montana to walk around nude in your yard. However, pissing is more common place in the backwoods of America. :) I'm now in a better mood, and can smile at your childish jokes.
buddhistmind
Mar. 14th, 2016 10:47 am (UTC)
OMG this is extraordinary awesome, to the point of ineffability ! :-)
peacetraveler22
Mar. 14th, 2016 12:19 pm (UTC)
You know, absolutely no one is interested in reading about beautiful places. It is obvious by the traffic this report has generated. Filth and scandal are more appealing. :(
(no subject) - buddhistmind - Mar. 15th, 2016 11:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
mjol1nir
Mar. 14th, 2016 11:33 am (UTC)
Great place, great views.
Perfect region for an introvert to live.
peacetraveler22
Mar. 14th, 2016 12:19 pm (UTC)
It's not only for introverts. Adventurers, mountain men, ranchers...lots of people will be happy in this environment. Including me. :)
(no subject) - mjol1nir - Mar. 14th, 2016 12:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 14th, 2016 12:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
mb_b
Mar. 14th, 2016 12:06 pm (UTC)
And this was in February? I'm surprised there's so little snow.
peacetraveler22
Mar. 14th, 2016 12:20 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it's an exceptionally warm winter with not much snow. :(( Even in Yellowstone, there was barely enough snow on the tracks to operate the snowmobiles in mid-February. I was hoping for a dreamy winter wonderland, but it was not so.
qi_tronic
Mar. 14th, 2016 12:18 pm (UTC)
Great!

But I did not try to live in a place like that for a long time.
Long time ago, when I did not have my own family which makes constant noise, I came to the dacha on weekends with my mother and immediately felt like I was in vacuum.
I could not do anything, just sitting, relaxing and listening to silence ad breathing fresh air.

My normal daily surroundings were like this:

s14. buyreklama. ru/moskva/photos/34156695/5b084e51775d6fc80aef3a44b73f61b0.jpg

and this (the white building is where I spent 5 years studying in the university):

cdn. ruvr. ru/2015/01/25/1497583996/000_APP2000100565690.jpg

Not completely like Peter but very grandiose and regular anyway.
peacetraveler22
Mar. 14th, 2016 12:24 pm (UTC)
Yes, families and children make constant noise. :)) It's sometimes difficult for me to deal with when I've grown used to living alone for so many years. Usually, I seek refuge in my room when I stay with my sister to get some peace and quiet, but my nephew always finds me and sucks me into another game or conversation. :)) I'm a pushover for him, so I always give in, and silent time immediately ends! :)
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Mar. 14th, 2016 12:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
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moskitow
Mar. 14th, 2016 01:58 pm (UTC)
Oh, what a nice place! I would love it there! I'm such a loner and introvert. My child would hate it with a passion though - she is a "people's person". I can see how it's not the best place for kids socialization. I also saw a piece about drug problems in places like this one (I think it was about Utah).
Wonderful views. Thank you for sharing this experience. Waiting for more reports and pictures.
peacetraveler22
Mar. 14th, 2016 02:30 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you liked the story. So many people in my family are extroverts and social butterflies, but not me. I think for younger people it could be boring, but in old age I crave peace. :)) I think I'm going to visit Utah during the summer and maybe Arizona. Hopefully I won't die from heat exhaustion!
notabler
Mar. 14th, 2016 02:29 pm (UTC)
I imagine Siberia looks like this ) It would be nice. But Siberian traditional houses are probably even more practical and warm.
peacetraveler22
Mar. 14th, 2016 03:14 pm (UTC)
Yes, like Siberia maybe but less snow. In Montana it gets very cold in the winter, but it seems they had a warm February this year, so I was not lucky with the snow.
fesma94
Mar. 14th, 2016 03:22 pm (UTC)
I don't like to live in such empty place, I like culture more than nature . But to travel in Montana with good friends it would be one of the best vacation
peacetraveler22
Mar. 14th, 2016 03:24 pm (UTC)
There is culture here - redneck culture and Native American culture. :)) Both are interesting.
(no subject) - fesma94 - Mar. 14th, 2016 03:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
bopobyc
Mar. 14th, 2016 03:31 pm (UTC)
I'd move to that house with no neighbors if I'd know what to do over there. Maybe when I'll retire...
peacetraveler22
Mar. 14th, 2016 03:34 pm (UTC)
You can always find ways to occupy your mind and time, anywhere. But in places like this it's harder if you crave a lot of night life or social interaction. I would be scared to live out in the wilderness alone, but with someone else it's okay. :)
(no subject) - bopobyc - Mar. 14th, 2016 03:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 14th, 2016 03:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
Mar. 14th, 2016 03:39 pm (UTC)
Nice report
I don't know if this type of solitude, or whatever you want to call it, is for everyone. But I think, to some degree every person is drawn by this atmosphere. I've never been to the United States. But it remings me of images from movies like U Turn or Fargo or works by E. Hopper while seeing this places. Thanks.
peacetraveler22
Mar. 14th, 2016 03:46 pm (UTC)
Re: Nice report
Hi! Thanks for your comment, and you're welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. If you have the desire, I hope you get to visit the USA one day. It's a beautiful country, with very diverse landscapes and people.
agathpher
Mar. 14th, 2016 03:39 pm (UTC)
I spent a week in Wyoming once - very similar impressions of huge spaces, breathtaking vistas and no people, want to move there ever since :)
peacetraveler22
Mar. 14th, 2016 03:44 pm (UTC)
Wyoming is even more remote with fewer earthlings. :)) It's really a wonderful State! I have a lot of reports from my journey there a few years ago, but I went at the height of the summer season and spent most of my time in Jackson Hole. It's probably the busiest city for tourists. The Tetons seemed more magnificent to me than the mountains in Montana, but both States have breathtaking landscapes. Ah...wish I was there now. :))
Danila Kunichnik
Mar. 14th, 2016 04:51 pm (UTC)
How do they deal with water and power supply, heating, waste disposal and all that stuff living in those secluded houses?
peacetraveler22
Mar. 14th, 2016 06:23 pm (UTC)
I assume they have weekly trash pick-ups provided by the town or jurisdiction in which they reside, but it's a good question. I will ask my contact there in Montana and try to get clarification.
theodorexxx
Mar. 14th, 2016 06:21 pm (UTC)
I can't imaging living there, there is nothing to do
peacetraveler22
Mar. 14th, 2016 06:21 pm (UTC)
Well, what do you do in your city that you can't do here?
(no subject) - theodorexxx - Mar. 14th, 2016 06:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 14th, 2016 06:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
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