Cost of Living in Montana

cost of living in Montana 2021

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    (Last Updated – 12/2021)

    Montana is a gorgeous state that any nature lover would appreciate calling home.

    If you’re looking to move to Montana, you’re not alone. U.S. News & World Report reviewed recent census data and found that Montana was the eighth most popular state to move to.

    Before relocating to Big Sky Country, it’s important to have an idea of what the cost of living looks like. That way you can make sure that you can relax and enjoy the skiing, hiking, rock hounding, rafting, and hot-spring steeping the state affords.

    What’s the Average Cost of Living in Montana?

    Average Cost of Living in Montana: $42,310 per year

    Take a good look at your monthly budget if you’re planning a move to Montana.

    According to MERIC data in the third quarter of 2021, Montana ranks 30th when it comes to cost of living. That means Montana is more expensive to live in than half of the country. If you have your heart set on living in the Rocky Mountain region, Wyoming is a much more affordable option, ranked 18th on the same list.

    So how much does it cost to live in Montana? Let’s look at some average expenses, according to 2020 data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis . The average total personal consumption cost in Montana is $42,310 annually and breaks down to:

    Category

    Average Annual Per-Capita Cost in Montana

    Housing and Utilities

    $7,599

    Health Care

    $7,560

    Food and Beverages (non-restaurant)

    $3,814

    Gas and Energy Goods

    $939

    All Other Personal Expenditures

    $22,398

    In terms of monthly expenses, that’s $3,525, on average.

    Housing Costs in Montana

    Average Housing Costs in Montana: $590 to $1,429 per month

    No matter where you live, housing will be a major recurring expense. Montana has a little over 500,000 housing units, according to 2019 census data, so your housing choices may be somewhat limited.

    How much should you expect to spend to put a roof over your head? In late 2021, Montana’s typical home value was $394,500, Zillow said.

    How much you’ll spend on housing will depend on your specific living arrangements. Let’s look at a few options, according to the latest census data.

    •  Median monthly mortgage cost: $1,429

    •  Median studio rent: $590

    •  Median one-bedroom rent: $660

    •  Median two-bedroom rent: $849

    •  Median three-bedroom rent: $1,045

    •  Median four-bedroom rent: $1,211

    •  Median gross rent: $831

    Those averages give you a general idea of what you should expect to spend on housing in Montana, but these are the typical home values for a few specific Montana cities, according to Zillow, in late 2021.

    Montana City

    Typical Home Price

    Billings

    $317,514

    Missoula

    $509,203

    Kalispell

    $567,075

    Bozeman

    $637,164

    Great Falls

    $252,846

    Helena

    $389,041

    Butte

    $171,497

    Utility Costs in Montana

    Average Utility Costs in Montana: $291 per month

    Utilities are an ongoing expense. This is what you can expect to spend on utilities each month in Montana.

    Utility

    Average Montana Bill

    Electricity

    $97

    Gas

    $52

    Cable & Internet

    $104

    Water

    $38

    Sources: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Sales, Revenue, and Average Price, 2021; Inspirecleanenergy.com; DoxoInsights, U.S. Cable & Internet Market Size and Household Spending Report 2021; and Rentcafe.com, What Is the Average Water Bill?

    Groceries & Food

    Average Grocery & Food Costs in Montana: $318 per person, per month

    Let’s take a closer look at how much the average resident might spend on food in Montana. The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that each Montanan has an average annual non-restaurant food cost of $3,814, which comes out to about $318 each month.

    Where you live in Montana may affect how much you spend on food, so take into consideration the Council for Community and Economic Research rankings for two of Montana’s major cities. These grocery costs are for the second quarter of 2021, ranked from lowest to highest.

    Montana City

    Grocery Items Index

    Great Falls

    102.2

    Bozeman

    108.7

    Transportation

    Average Transportation Costs in Montana: $4,900 to $13,317 per year

    Between commuting to work and making sure the kids get to school on time, most of us spend a lot of money going to and fro. To make budgeting your transportation expenses in Montana easier, take a look at how much MIT’s Living Wage Calculator estimates you’d spend on transportation annually.

    Family Makeup

    Average Annual Transportation Cost

    One adult, no children

    $4,900

    Two working adults, no children

    $8,987

    Two working adults, two children

    $13,317

    Health Care

    Average Health Care Costs in Montana: $7,560 per person, per year

    How much you’ll spend on health care is often affected by location. The 2020 Bureau of Economic Analysis Personal Consumption Expenditures by State report found the average annual per-person cost of health care in Montana to be $7,560.

    How much you end up spending on health care may be more or less than that average, as your specific health insurance plan and medical needs influence how much you’ll pay toward health care each year.

    Child Care

    Average Child Care Costs in Montana: $925 to $1,075 per child, per month

    How much you’d spend on child care in Montana depends on what type of care you’re looking for. If you have an infant who requires care, you would pay more each month than you would for a toddler.

    Parents who need help paying for child care can turn to the Montana Early Childhood Services Bureau , which provides resources in an attempt to improve affordability and accessibility of early care and education in Montana.

    These are the average child care costs in Montana in 2021, according to costofchildcare.org .

    Type of Child Care

    Average Cost Per Month, Per Child

    Infant Classroom

    $1,075

    Toddler Classroom

    $925

    Home-based Family Child Care

    $1,049

    Taxes

    Highest Marginal Tax Rate in Montana: 6.9%

    As of 2021, Wyoming is one of eight states that do not levy individual income taxes (formerly seven, now joined by Tennessee, which abolished its income tax in 2021).

    In Montana, like most states, residents are required to pay a state income tax. Montana has a graduated rate, which means the rate is determined by income. Residents may pay as little as 1% or as much as 6.9%, according to the Tax Foundation’s State Individual Income Tax Rates and Brackets for 2021 .

    Want to stick to the Rocky Mountain region but don’t want to be stuck with a state income tax? Wyoming doesn’t charge any state income tax at all.

    Miscellaneous Costs

    While essential expenses like your rent or mortgage, groceries, and utilities will take top priority in your budget, leave some room for fun. So what can you get up to in Montana?

    The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates personal expenditures at $22,398 per person, per year. These popular activities can give you an idea of how much fun costs in Montana (costs are accurate as of Nov. 17, 2021):

    •  Check out the can’t-miss-views in Glacier National Park: $25 (winter) to $35 per vehicle for a seven-day permit.

    •  Hit the slopes at Big Sky Resort: $619 to $1,349 (price varies by age) for the Black Season Pass, which gives unlimited access to the slopes all season.

    •  Get to know the wolves and grizzly bears at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone: $75 for a family membership.

    How Much Money Do You Need to Live Comfortably in Montana?

    The idea of living “comfortably” is highly subjective and depends greatly on your needs, family size, and lifestyle choices.

    That said, Montana does not appear to be one of the more affordable states to live in, and ranks 32nd in U.S. News & World Report’s Affordability Rankings . The rankings compare the average cost of living in each state with the average amount of money most households have.

    As noted, MERIC views Montana as a tad easier on the wallet, ranking it the 30th most affordable state.

    What City Has the Lowest Cost of Living in Montana?

    The Council for Community and Economic Research’s Cost of Living Index for the second quarter of 2021 ranked Montana’s cities and metro areas to find which had the lowest cost of living. Here are the two most affordable, the researchers found.

    Great Falls

    Great Falls snagged the most affordable spot with a cost-of-living index of 88.6. If you’re a fan of the great outdoors, you’ll appreciate being a stone’s throw from the Missouri River, which provides opportunities for rafting and kayaking. This is hardly a sleepy burg: It’s full of arts and culture and home to an airport.

    Bozeman

    With a cost-of-living index of 113.5, Bozeman is the second-most-affordable major city in Montana, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research. If you’re looking for a close-knit small town to live in, the fact that Bozeman is home to less than 50,000 people (according to the most recent census bureau figures), should appeal to you.


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