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Why Does Montana Have the Most Inbound Moves in the U.S.?
March 7, 2022

Why Does Montana Have the Most Inbound Moves in the U.S.?

by The CE Shop Team

Montana Is the Top Relocation Destination in the Country

Montana has seen extraordinary growth over the past decade, with the bulk of the boom occurring since the onset of the pandemic. This boom ranked Montana first in overall inbound moves when compared to outbound moves, according to a report by State to State Migration

In 2021, Montana had the highest net inflow of moves per capita, with 73% of moves inbound and just 23% outbound. Billings was the top destination with a 3.9 to 1 inbound-to-outbound ratio with Missoula ranking second. 

“The growth is across all sectors and all geographic areas,” Joanna Harper, Gallatin Associations of REALTORSⓇ Board President, said in an interview with NBC Montana. A 2021 report released by the Bureau of Research and Economic Development at the University of Montana found that housing was tight across the state, though particularly acute in cities like Missoula and Bozeman.

For example, Gallatin county’s median sales prices jumped 45.1% from $560,000 to $812,750, according to the Gallatin Association of REALTORSⓇ. This price increase is primarily due to demand for housing, with homes only lasting an average of 41 days on the market — a 34% decrease from 2021.

For many locals, the city of Bozeman and cities such as Billings and Missoula are unrecognizable. The tremendous growth over the past two decades has changed their tiny mountain towns to thriving cities filled with newcomers from across the country. 

But who’s making their way to Treasure State?

Californians Make Up the Majority of Inbound Residents

A study conducted by the California Policy Lab shows that Montana was one of the most popular destinations for people moving out of California during the pandemic.

Further research confirmed their findings; The San Francisco Chronicle reported more than 13,000 Californians moved to Montana since the beginning of the pandemic.

Specifically, the Chronicle showed Bay Area residents are the largest group leaving California. After Montana, Utah is seeing the next highest migration. Between the two states, there’s a 140% increase of San Franciscans calling these Rocky Mountain states home.

Headed to Montana or Fleeing California?

Real estate agents in Bozeman say the Bozeman-Yellowstone International Airport is a driver behind why so many Californians are relocating. The airport’s direct flights to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Long Beach contributed to the ease of California residents moving to the greater Bozeman area. 

It’s no surprise why so many people want to live in Montana. 

“It’s the access to recreation,” Bozeman real estate Broker Christy Delger said to the Chronicle. “When you’re in a more urban environment, things are getting shut down left and right, you come to a place like Bozeman and it’s still a playground, we still have rivers and lakes and mountains and skiing and all the activities that are perfect in a pandemic because they’re outside.”

The need for more space is a trend the nation has noticed since the onset of the pandemic, and people fleeing urban areas for greener pastures has impacted rural areas throughout the country. 

The CE Shop readers: Have you experienced this influx of residents in your market? Where are they moving from? Let us know in the comments below!

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