What's it like to live in Bozeman, Montana?
December 25, 2005 4:23 PM   Subscribe

What's it like to live in Bozeman, Montana?

My husband and I would be considered blue-state liberals with a leaning towards hippie - ish. Would we be happy there? Currently living in Tucson, AZ where the sun always shine and you can ride your bike year-round.
posted by TorontoSandy to Work & Money (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I went to grad school there and loved it. The university is large in comparison to the town, so there are plenty of non-right wingers there. While Montana went for Bush like 60-40, they also elected a democratic govenor and passed a medical marijuana law. It's sunny there almost every day (that is, even if it rains, part of the day will be sunny) and it's also a big bike (mountain bike) town, I rode to school almost everyday. There are a lot of bike/hike trails all throughout the town. It's surrounded by mountains, but in a flat valley. So driving and biking is easy, but there is wilderness camping withing 10 mi. It is very dry, but since it's cold in the winter, snow sticks around. You get about 2" at a time and it's fluffy. You don't need a 4x4, but you can get a old 4x4 pickup or suburban for bad days (or get a subaru since you're liberal). You will find a lot of christians (I am still quoted as saying "you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a christian [in bozeman]). But they are almost shockingly un-pushy and un-judgemental. We were good friends with some extreme christians (hosted bible study, held hands for grace, big in an evan. church) and they never asked us to go to church or anything.
Are you going to school there or do you have a job lined up?
posted by 445supermag at 6:17 PM on December 25, 2005

Response by poster: My husband's considering a post doc there. I'm a nurse so my job is portable.
posted by TorontoSandy at 6:32 PM on December 25, 2005

One of my good friends transfered from a school in Boston to Montana State,and he loves it there. Good fishing, there's a restaurant scene and apparently everyone's nice. Oh and poker at bars.
posted by stratastar at 6:46 PM on December 25, 2005

It seems like Gambling is legal everywhere in Montana, even in daycares. Seriously though, remember that if you live there it will be a real pain to travel, you'll be pretty far away from any other major city or national park. If that's not a big deal its a pretty place, and about as "secluded" as you can get and still live the urban lifestyle.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:28 PM on December 25, 2005

you'll be pretty far away from any other major city or national park
Yellowstone is just a couple hours south, glacier is 6 hours north. But it's surrounded by public land, mostly National Forest.
Salt Lake city is 6 hours south, seattle is 11 hours west, Denver is about 8-10 hours. So, yeah, if you need a big city on occasion, it could be a problem. Not much of a chance to see bands other than in bars (in the 6 years I was there, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Snoop Dog, and the Bare Naked Ladies played at the university).
What is your husband's field? I know a lot of chem and physics people there.
posted by 445supermag at 7:41 PM on December 25, 2005

Actually, you'll be only about an hour from Yellowstone, and about 4 hours from Glacier. Bozeman is an incredibly beautiful community, and as pointed out above, the people (like virtually all Montanans) are amazingly kind, honest, and just downright neighborly (but not TOO much so). Bozeman doesn't have quite the crunchy-liberal reputation as Missoula, but it IS a college town, so of course it's more liberal than, say, Great Falls. You will NEVER lack for anything to do outdoors, whether it's in sun or snow -- Montana is arguably the outdoor capital of America. And given the size of Bozeman, it is remarkably "hip" and upscale in terms of art, culture, dining.

Here's a few blogs from folks I know (IRL or online) in Bozeman: Wulfgar (also a MeFi member, and a very good-hearted liberal), and Revolving Duck (student @MSU); Big Mike (lots of pix); and a list of at least 25 other Bozeman bloggers.

You can't go wrong - trust me.
posted by davidmsc at 11:03 PM on December 25, 2005

You might give us more details about what sort of thing you're looking for. But in general I'll just put in a good word for Bozeman and it's hippie/liberal friendliness. I lived there for several years. Good times.

Being a smallish university town it has a larger then normal percentage of liberals as the student body makes up a significant part of the total population. Folks in hemp pants, tie-dyed shirts, and dreadlocks wouldn't be given a second glance. But the university has very large departments for engineering and agriculture, so these things exist in balance.

Winters can be long and cold in Bozeman. You better like snow and driving on ice if you live there.

Wilderness, wildlife, and nature are minutes from downtown. It's one of the nation's great fishing areas. Backcountry hiking and fishing opportunities are everywhere. Several National parks are close enough to be good weekend trips. The skiing is truly outstanding.

But Montana is a weird and unique place. It still has a rather cowboy feel to it. Cattle ranching is still a major industry, and you'll occasionally (rarely I suppose) see men with gunbelts on. And it has a habit of attracting crazy people. The Unibomber settled not far from Bozeman, and one of the countries biggest cults is still to the east I believe. The ideals of self sufficiency, individualism, and rugged determination are very overt here.

Bozeman is one of the few cities I really miss.
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:03 AM on December 26, 2005

I'll concur with everyone else above... MOVE THERE as fast as you can!!!

It's a great town, with plenty to do... the Skiing is great at Bridger Bowl, but if you're more into the fasion show you can always go to Big Sky on the way down to Yellowstone. Now - since you're a nurse you can practically call ahead and get a job. My mom just retired as the head of nursing at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital - which is a GREAT hospital. The amazing thing about Bozeman Deaconess is the quality of healthcare there... you'll find some of the best doctors in the Nation who have moved there because they enjoy the 'Bozeman' life and wanted to escape the cities. An example would be my orthopedic surgeon who moved there from LA because he discovered on a vacation that he liked to Fly Fish.

Anywhoo - other than being a college town and the opportunities that come with it, Bozeman isn't much on career employment unless you're into agriculture or something service industry related (health-care excepted). That being said, there's a lot of engineers and programmers who 'telecommute' to Seattle.

If you get the chance, get your hands on the local newspaper... it won't take long to read the police report section, and find that the most significant crime is usually vanadalism of a mailbox or someone's kid lost their bicycle. There's the occasion moose that wonders through town, and there's a blue light on top of an old hotel downtown wherever there's fresh snow up at Bridger Bowl.

Enough rambling... it's a great place to live. MOVE!!!
posted by matty at 1:25 PM on December 27, 2005

I generally agree with the comments above but Bozeman is not the liberal hippy capitol of Montana. That would be Missoula. Bozeman probably ranks #2 on that list, which I wouldn't have said 20 years ago when I attended college there. It has changed a lot in the past couple decades. I'd probably consider moving there if I didn't have strong roots here in Helena (probably the elitist snob capitol and Capitol of Montana, but Bozeman is on that list, too).
posted by friarjohn at 2:49 PM on December 27, 2005

Almost forgot... to be fair we should mention the 'dark side' of Montana - including Bozeman.

Montana (including Bozeman) has one of the highest if not THE highest per capita highway accident death rate. This is far and away due to drunk driving - which is seen as a rampant problem.

Summer occurs on July 3rd from 2 - 3 pm. If you don't like cold weather, you REALLY shouldn't move to Montana. That being said, you can often ski in late spring in jeans and a t-shirt - and a cold snap in the East Coast feels a LOT colder than it does in Montana.

Racism - yup, it exists everywhere... except that out in Montana it's more of a White vs. Indian issue. People will deny it, but it's there.

There will be at least one or two bear mauling deaths during the winter, as well as at least one or two deaths by freezing in a car on the highway. Hopefully you won't be involved in any of these.

Ok - that's it from my perspective. All that aside, if I could find a job in Bozeman I'd be there in a heartbeat. GO FOR IT!!
posted by matty at 7:56 AM on December 28, 2005

Just moved in yesterday and I love it. Email's in my profile if you want specifics, or another mefite to have a beer with when you visit.
posted by slhack3r at 8:50 AM on December 28, 2005

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