“Welcome to Montana. Now leave.”
That should be the state motto.
Montana is truly one of the nation’s gems. One of the most beautiful states in all the land, you could get lost there for months and not even care. At least, the truly adventurous could.
A bunch of tough, hard-working, meat-eating, and all-around friendly bunch of folks, they’ll welcome you with open arms as long as you act respectfully and keep their state awesome.
You could do a lot worse when you pick a place to live, that’s for sure.
But is it all good in Big Sky Country? Of course not. Just like every other state, Montana has its least desirable spots. The purpose of this post is to use science and data to determine which cities are the worst you could possibly live in if you make Montana your home.
After analyzing 34 of the state’s most populous cities (over 2,000 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in the state of Montana:
What? Where are these places you wonder? And before you get all riled up and say we’re picking on small town America, that’s not the case.
We understand there’s a lot of good in every place.
However, according to data (which doesn’t measure things like beauty and ‘friendly people’), there are far better options in the state for making a place home. And the worst place to live in Montana? That would be Polson.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2019.
For more Montana reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Montana
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Montana
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Montana
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Montana For 2019
If you live in Polson, you’re either going to fiercely protect your town, or you agree that it should be on this list. Either way, it doesn’t matter, because science says it’s the 1st worst place to live in the state.
You’ve got the 1st highest crime rate in Montana, which saw 29 violent crimes last year. You have a 1 in 15.3 chance of being robbed and a 1 in 162 chance of being attacked, raped or killed here for every year you spend in the city limits of Polson.
Plus, folks are simply out of work. Polson sports the state’s 3rd highest unemployment rate (10.3%), and families bring in a combined $33,023 a year, which is far below the state average.
No wonder homes are cheap; you can get one yourself for only $174,600.
About three or four beers east of Billings is the small town of Hardin. Here, the unemployment rate is sky high at 9.5%, which is the 4th highest in Montana. As you might guess, the families here are bringing in less than it takes to be comfortable, at least for what most people would consider a decent living.
And, like we’re seeing in other towns with economic issues, the crime is far above the norm for Montana.
Rank Last Year: –
Median Home Value: $120,200 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.0% (2nd worst)
More on Malta: Data
Malta needs some tough love.
Years ago, someone told me the sun never shines in Malta. That’s not true, of course, but you can understand why she might say that when you analyze certain facts about Malta. Of the 34 cities considered in this ranking, Malta had the least to be proud of across the board.
Not only does Malta have Montana’s 7th lowest home value rank, but it also had the 2nd and 8th highest rankings in unemployment and crime respectively. Statistics like that will certainly make the sun shine a bit dimmer, and it will win you are in contention for title of “Worst City in Montana.”
If you know anyone in Malta, tag them on Facebook and tell them you love them. They can probably use it right about now.
When you’re looking at the worst places you could live in Montana, Shelby came in 4th. Let’s see why.
When you’re comparing the unemployment rate to the rest of the nation, Montana residents are very hard workers. But when comparing the unemployment rate among cities in Montana, you can see some really big differences. In Shelby, the number of people out of work is 1.4%
In Montana, that’s the 32nd highest in the state.
The residents in Shelby have the 10th lowest incomes in the state. Folks in Shelby average $39,868 a year. Which isn’t too shabby in comparison to the other ‘lowest’ income cities in most other states.
Additionally, the homes are valued at $136,900 on average. That’s the 10th lowest in the state.
South of Missoula on Route 93 is the beautiful city of Hamilton, tucked away at the base of the Bitterroot Mountains. However, while people here might ‘hack out a living’ to a certain extent, the economic outlook here is pretty bleak.
The average household brings in about $29,799 a year, and 21.7% of them live below the poverty line. Plus, in Montana terms, the crime rate is really high. Residents here have a 1 in 28.9 chance of being the victim of a property crime, meaning car and home break ins and other thefts. We’re pretty sure Montana people know how to handle a gun.
Additionally, you have a 1 in 207 chance of being the victim of an attack, rape or outright murdered when you’re within Hamilton city limits.
Perhaps they need to lay down the law more aggressively out here.
Tthe small town of Cut Bank has the 8th lowest income levels in the entire state. At $38,229, many of the people are having trouble making ends meet, and the unemployment rate is 4.6%. Additionally, 23.9% of the population lives below the poverty line.
The cost of a home here is bottom barrell at $120,800.
At least the crime is very minimal here.
Wolf Point doesn’t have it much better, in terms of overall economic outlook. The unemployment rate is at 6.1%, and people average less than $43,512 a year in combined household incomes. Homes stand at $107,100, which is very low, and crime in the worst 10% in Montana.
And again, in terms of the overall ‘enjoyment’ factor, it’s not easy to find fun on a Friday night.
LIttle Libby is having a hard time, at least when you look at the data. More than 12.8% of the people here are unemployed, and 14.9% live below the poverty line. The area was largely supported by logging and mining, which have since closed down. Tourism has helped the locals make up for that loss in jobs.
Additionally, the area around Libby has been dealing with a Superfund clean up for the last 15 years. Apparently, the soil is contaminated, and there have been major medical concerns as a result.
Beyond these facts, the schools are poorly rated and crime is above average, even way out here.
Libby is on Route 2 near the Idaho panhandle.
Townsend needs some tough love as it ranks as the 9th worst city to live in Montana for 2019.
Crime in Townsend is the 8th highest in the state, where 1 in 25.5 people have a chance of being the victim of a property crime, according to the latest FBI numbers.
Additionally, the income is almost dead last in Montana.
If commute time is important, Townsend residents have the 1st longest commute of any residents on our list.
Three Forks, MT needs a big hug right now. The unemployment rate here is 3.8%, the median income is just above the poverty line, and the crime is the 16th highest in the state. You have a 1 in 37.7 chance of being robbed here every year.
You could find a much better place to call home.
How we determined the worst places to live in Montana for 2019
To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.
We don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that people like the following things:
- Good education
- Lots of jobs
- Low crime
- Low poverty
- Nice homes
- High incomes
- High population density (Lots of things to do)
- Short work commutes
- Health insurance
We broke crime down into violent crime and property crime to give violent crime a larger weight — if you did a simple calculation of all crimes per capita, property crimes are normally 7x more common and really bias that ranking.
Furthermore, only cities with at least 2,000 people were considered — leaving 34 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 34 for all the criteria with a #1 ranking being the worst for the particular criteria.
Next, we averaged the rankings into one “Worst Place To Live Score”.
Finally, we ranked every city on the “Worst Place To Live Score” with the lowest score being the worst city in Montana — Polson. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Montana.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Wrapping Up The Worst In Montana
If you’re looking at areas in Montana with the worst economic situations, where there’s higher than average crime, and not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
And in the end, Polson ranks as the worst city to live in Montana for 2019.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Montana:
- Conrad (Pop. 2,841)
- Colstrip (Pop. 2,253)
- Glasgow (Pop. 3,361)
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