“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
When you’re looking at science and data, Polson is by far the worst place you can live in Montana. Let’s see why.
The unemployment rate in Polson is 10.3%. In terms of comparing Montana cities to one another, that’s the 3rd highest in the state.
And while a lot of folks in Polson are out of work, the ones who have jobs earn $33,023 a year, which doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room. And the crime in Polson is the 1st highest in the state, where 1 in 15.3 people have a chance of being the victim of a property crime, according to the latest FBI numbers. That’s really high.
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 doesn’t have it much better, in terms of overall economic outlook. The unemployment rate is at 11.0%, and people average less than $37,708 a year in combined household incomes. Homes stand at $120,200, 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.
Shelby, MT needs a big hug right now. The unemployment rate here is 1.4%, the median income is just above the poverty line, and the crime is the 8th highest in the state. You have a 1 in 25.5 chance of being robbed here every year.
You could find a much better place to call home.
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.
When you’re looking at science and data, the city of Cut Bank is the 6th worst place you can live in the state of Montana. Let’s see why.
Residents who live in Cut Bank, located in Glacier County, have the 14th most crimes in the state committed against them. Factor in a much-lower income level–per resident–and homes valued around $120,800, and you’ve got yourself a crummy place to live. In terms of comparing it to the rest of Montana, that is.
Wolf Point needs some tough love as it ranks as the 7th worst city to live in Montana for 2019.
Crime in Wolf Point is the 13th highest in the state, where 1 in 32.8 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, Wolf Point residents have the 30th longest commute of any residents on our list.
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.
Most of the rest of the cities on this list deserve to be on here due to their high crime numbers. Townsend is the 8th most dangerous city in Montana, according to the FBI. Residents had a 1 in 25.5 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That’s really high for Montana, but not even the highest in the state.
Home values are the 13th cheapest in the state, and income levels are almost as low as you can get. Households in Townsend bring in just under $49,012 a year annually.
Here in Three Forks, you have some of the highest crime and the highest unemployment rates in Montana. That’s not a good combination.
Located in Gallatin County, you have a 1 in 37.7 chance of being the victim of a property crime when inside Three Forks city limits every year. Some of those crimes might be due to the relatively high unemployment rate (3.8%). That’s good for the 21st highest unemployment rate in Montana.
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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