10 Worst Places To Live In Montana For 2019


We used science and data to determine which places in Big Sky Country are looking cloudy.

Join RoadSnacks
Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2019. This is our fifth time ranking the worst places to live in Montana.

Swipe left for slideshow. Article continues below.

“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:

Here are the 10 worst places to live in Montana for 2019:

  1. Polson (Photos)
  2. Hardin (Photos)
  3. Malta
  4. Shelby (Photos)
  5. Hamilton (Photos)
  6. Cut Bank (Photos)
  7. Wolf Point (Photos)
  8. Libby (Photos)
  9. Townsend (Photos)
  10. Three Forks (Photos)

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.

If you’re looking for something more national, check out the worst cities in America or the worst states in America.

For more Montana reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Montana For 2019

Polson, MT

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 4,702
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $174,600 (22nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.3% (3rd worst)
More on Polson:  Data | Photos

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.

Hardin, MT

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 3,812
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $111,800 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.5% (4th worst)
More on Hardin:  Data | Photos

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.

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 2,000
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.

Review Of Malta by HomeSnacks User

Born in Lewistown and lived in Malta my entire life until Uncle Sam needed me. I live in the south now but someday maybe I will live back in G*d’s country.

Shelby, MT

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 3,194
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $136,900 (10th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 1.4% (32nd worst)
More on Shelby:  Data | Photos

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.

Hamilton, MT

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 4,570
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $171,200 (20th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.3% (16th worst)
More on Hamilton:  Data | Photos

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.

Cut Bank, MT

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 3,009
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $120,800 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.6% (14th worst)
More on Cut Bank:  Data | Photos

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.

Review Of Cut Bank by HomeSnacks User

I do not believe this report. I live in Cut Bank and we have way more than 0 African American’s living there.

Wolf Point, MT

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 2,792
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $107,100 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.1% (8th worst)
More on Wolf Point:  Data | Photos

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.

Libby, MT

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 2,664
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $103,200 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.8% (1st worst)
More on Libby:  Data | Photos

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.

Review Of Libby by HomeSnacks User

I have lived in Libby for years. I have just been told I have COPD, go figure. Our founding fathers should have known that W.R. Grace was a bad idea. It is unfortunate that for reasons unknown our current fathers keep getting duped by out of state companies. If it’s to good to be true, then it is. One misstep after another has plagued the City for years. Out of state folks coming into our area with the big bucks has ruined the average newly wed couple who works at Pizza Hut from buying a home.

Townsend, MT

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 2,000
Rank Last Year:
Median Home Value: $141,200 (13th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 2.3% (27th worst)
More on Townsend:  Data | Photos

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

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 2,046
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $186,000 (24th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.8% (21st worst)
More on Three Forks:  Data | Photos

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

The data comes from the Census’s most recent American Community Survey and from the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

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:

  1. Conrad (Pop. 2,841)
  2. Colstrip (Pop. 2,253)
  3. Glasgow (Pop. 3,361)

For more Montana reading, check out:

Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Montana?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Polson 4,702 10.3% $174,600
2 Hardin 3,812 9.5% $111,800
3 Malta 2,000 11.0% $120,200
4 Shelby 3,194 1.4% $136,900
5 Hamilton 4,570 4.3% $171,200
6 Cut Bank 3,009 4.6% $120,800
7 Wolf Point 2,792 6.1% $107,100
8 Libby 2,664 12.8% $103,200
9 Townsend 2,000 2.3% $141,200
10 Three Forks 2,046 3.8% $186,000

30 thoughts on “10 Worst Places To Live In Montana For 2019

  1. You’ve probably never been to any of these towns on this list. You’re opinion is junk science with no basis. Such bullshit.

    1. Not true! Those places can be very insedious. They can be dark and dangerous and a lot of them are in or near the res. I’m surprised Butte isn’t on the list.

  2. I hope lots of people read this and believe it. I’m tired of all these people moving to my little corner of the world. Go away

    1. As long as “your” little corner is part of the America that I am a proud and legal citizen of, I will move there whenever I wish. And I will be sure to spend all of my free time harrassing YOU.

      1. I agree. I was born in the USA, my brother served in the army, my nephew has spent thousands of dollars at university of Montana, and I cannot understand the cruelty I’ve been subjected to in a town called Drummond. I am a 66-year-old Senior Lady, an out-of-stater, Slavic last name, and had to endure humiliation at a local store by someone who openly continues to do this. But, I have a solution/tactic (but won’t mention here).
        Thanks “f” for your reply, I was pleases to see it.

  3. I am from stevensville Montana and am very proud of that. I think they must have their facts backwards about all these towns I think they are some if the best towns in Montana and are wonderful.

  4. I had to read this article, when I saw the title, but the further I read the more I realized the data doesn’t lie. Don’t get all fired up, before reading this, and try to keep an open mind through out . The information stated within paints an accurate picture, of the sad socioeconomic, ecologic, and medical timeline, of what Libby (my hometown), has become, and is today. If the article was based upon the people, activities, captivating beauty, and simplicity of life Libby, and so many other locations throughout Montana, the list and the article would be a positive, and glowing review.
    I left Libby 20 years ago, one year after graduating from high school. I decided, in part, to leave because of the bleak economic outlook. I also left because of the growing health effects, linked to the mine. The environmental impact, of the W.R. Grace mines health legacy, deeply effects my life, and the lives of generations of my family.
    My friends, who live in Libby, struggle to earn money at their low paying jobs. Many of them are also dealing with negative health effects, from asbestos. They also live among others, whose lives mirror theirs, but they choose to stay. I respect every hard working resident, of Montana. I admire their hope, and perseverance to live on the land they love. Unfortunately, when looking at factual data, opinions do not compare. Don’t be angry with facts. They’re just numbers! They are an indication of the minority of Montana’s people, because the MAJORITY of the people of Montana are strong, proud, law abiding, hard working citizens. God bless Montana!

  5. I moved to Montana for 5 years. And I lived in Thompson Falls. Yes it is isolated, but it is only an hour (give or take for weather) to large cities in either direction. Also, when you are doing your research you should get your facts straight. I worked at “Little Bear” and it is an ice cream shop/ cafe/ gift store that during the summer months thrives on people from out of town and out of state. It has really good schools, and quite a few good dining options too.

  6. The data used by this author is faulty. Don’t know why you would fail to interview the residents of these communities; that may have given some informed insight into WHY the people chose to live there. Montanans will, for the most part, be pleased that you have written such a slanderous article; they don’t want the state to get too crowded. As a former resident and native of Polson, Montana, your BEST PLACES list missed Missoula, Polson, Big Fork and several other gems in the Treasure State. Faulty data leads to false conclusions. Pathetic and negative article.

  7. Bozeman is 68 out of a 92 on this list?! What a dumbass. Four corners, which is a dump, beats it LOL! It’s where people go from Bozeman when they can’t afford the real estate. I agree with Browning on your list, which should be at #1, but like others said, you have no idea what the hell you’re talking about.

  8. the article says it is opinion based…..if you want to spend the time looking at all the rates per town/ cities then go ahead and get the right facts….I love libby, yes it has its small town problems but what town doesn’t, its a good place for families..i moved here a while ago and I have stayed around, jobs are actually every where if you actually look for one…it was a retirement community when we moved here in 97 and pretty much still is….this town got a bad rep with the asbestos thing…we do not glow in the dark and here is a F.W.I we are not the only town with asbestos–we just find it a lot on the web without real info on it….

  9. I have lived in Libby for years. I have just been told I have COPD, go figure. Our founding fathers should have known that W.R. Grace was a bad idea. It is unfortunate that for reasons unknown our current fathers keep getting duped by out of state companies. If it’s to good to be true, then it is. One misstep after another has plagued the City for years. Out of state folks coming into our area with the big bucks has ruined the average newly wed couple who works at Pizza Hut from buying a home. Would any sane person plop down $250.000.00 for a 1/4 of 1/4 acre of land plus you still have to build the house ? The California people do this all the time. The out of State land developers come here, buy up god zillion acres of property, clear cut it the turn round and sell lots. Everyone should stand at the three ways to get into Libby with a jar of Vaseline telling everyone to get it over with prior to going into town.

  10. This is actually true about Kalispell (and Columbia Falls, Hungry Horse, Libby and Eureka -the only ones I’m familiar with). Lived in Kalispell for several years and don’t miss it a bit. The bad schools mean businesses have trouble hiring competent help. Seriously the average high school grad in Flathead is about the same as middle schoolers in other parts of the country (or state). Big meth problem and poverty problem, so much so that about half the kids in school have parents who are on drugs or welfare. Add the high cost of rentals and it means a lot of good families have left for greener pastures, leaving the dregs behind. Big epidemic of alcoholism among adults, probably because there’s nothing to do. If you’re interested in Montana, try Bozeman or Missoula. You’ll find better jobs, the housing is expensive but much nicer, more educated people in general and better teachers, more cultural activities.

  11. I lived in Libby from 1993-1999. Could not be more true. Huge meth problem. The people are proud; of nothing. They cannot imagine what the real world actually is. I found my peace and joy in Texas and never looked back.

  12. I’m trying to find out how much it cost to live in either Great Falls, Helena,Billings. Can you tell me witch is better and cost of living in Montana?. Thank you

  13. The things that the author writes about being bad are laughable. Compared to nation wide problems the cites stated wouldn’t even come close to be considered, “the worse”. The truth of what is bad in Montana are these three things.
    1. The entire judicial system from the courts, judicial review board and law enforcement are corrupt and out of control.
    2. The rent is so extremely high from these greedy bastard conservatives that a person has to triple up on room mates just to afford it.
    3. The third being that the wages are so low in this state that if you fart your wallet will float out of your back pocket.
    These are the real problems in Montana

  14. You are very mistaken in your conclusions because you have no idea what “science” actually is. Where did you get the idea that if the median house price is low, then there is something wrong with the town?! Falsely and inappropriately elevated real estate valuations are the largest cause of poverty in the United States, yet you complain if the home prices aren’t falsely inflated?!

    You are clearly an idiot, and that is a scientific FACT!

    1. “the collapse of marriage and erosion of the work ethic are the principal long-term causes of poverty. The collapse of marriage and erosion of the work ethic are the principal long-term causes of poverty.”
      No need to get your panties in a bind.

  15. Yikes … I’m considering buying property in the Hamilton area … have been there & love it, but I’m a little concerned now …. 1 chance out of 24 of a property crime; and, 1 in 267 chance of being the victim of an attack, rape or outright murdered when you’re within Hamilton city limits? OUCH … that sounds more like Chicago. Are you sure of these statistics? My friends that live there disagree; so, I will most likely move forward after doing some more checking.

  16. Great Falls, MT should have made the number one slot of worst places to live in the entire United States. Unless you are into depressing winters, overpriced houses jammed one on top of the other, meth, minimum wage jobs, poverty, and ignorance I would steer clear. I’m out of here as soon as my dad’s health improves. By the way, those friendly folks in Montana that the article mentioned are some of the rudest people that I have ever met. In fact, Washington state is the only place that has them beat. The friendly folks here like to drive around with “Montana is full. Go home stickers” on their dirty trucks. I can’t wait to! I wouldn’t wish this place on Satan!

  17. I am 61 years old and was born in Libby. I have spent the last 50 years living in the north end of Lincoln county in the Eureka area. Yes we have seen better times economically but have had to adjust our life styles when the logging and lumber industry collapsed because of outsiders that don’t even live in Montana, We have had to adjust to it. I miss how it was before the Libby dam was finished and I lived in the old town of Rexford. Now its just a memory of what was once a great place to love. The new town of Rexford just as well be called southern Alberta. But good, bad, or indifferent, northwest Montana is not the great place to live like it used to be because in the last 40 years too many outsiders have moved in and took it away from Montanans. They talk about the violent crime rate. We used to have maybe a murder once in 30 years. With all the people moving in, they brought big city crime with them.

  18. You are right. Maybe we have reason to be rude after so many of you outsiders moved in and took our home away from us. So please go ahead and move out. We never invited you in the beginning.

  19. The so called news reporter needed to be put in his place. If you think we are such garbage, please feel free to NOT BE IN MONTANA.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *