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  1. Default From Virginia, looking at visiting / moving to the Western Montana area.

    Wife has developed some pretty severe allergies out east here in Virginia in the last couple years. We’re always talked about moving west and letting our boys grow up in wide open country surrounded by fishing and wildlife areas.

    I am mechanical engineer / lean process specialist finishing up an MBA this spring / summer. What good opportunities are there in Billing, Bozeman, Missoula areas? Is there a better place somewhat nearby with good opportunities? We’re planning a visit out that way this summer and I’d like to take the opportunity to look at neighborhoods, job opportunities, etc. while on the trip.

    I know, Montana’s full, they have bears and SH**... ha


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    clinch river regular

    Default Re: From Virginia, looking at visiting / moving to the Western Montana area.

    Support your Local Flyshop!

  3. #3

    Default Re: From Virginia, looking at visiting / moving to the Western Montana area.

    Ahhhh, another person looking for the dream of living in Montana... I can relate, I did so back in the early 1990s. In addition to Montana being full, and full of bears and SH**, one other thing to consider is the weather. Those long, cold Montana winters are known to have run out more than just a few folks who wanted to live the dream. Winter can start in September and last until June. In between there are usually some good days, but it can snow and does snow any month of the year. It can also get really hot, and in recent years large wildfires have become less rare and less of a nuisance and more of a real risk.

    Housing costs in Missoula are currently really high, and I believe it's the same in Bozeman, especially if you're hoping to raise your family on acreage out of town. Your profession may pay well enough this isn't a problem, but it is for lots of regular folks. Billings might be your best bet, but it lacks the aesthetics that make Missoula and Bozeman so appealing (e.g. mountains). Missoula and Bozeman, by the way, are full of people seeking what you're seeking, and therefore finding solitude on nearby streams and rivers can be a challenge. For sure you do want to check these places out before committing your family. Not trying to dissuade you, believe me I get it, but there is a reality here that may not live up to your expectations.

    I moved to rural Idaho in the late 1980's intending to move to Montana shortly thereafter. I was able to find a job in Dillon, Montana in 1993, which is ground zero for fly fishing and rivers such as the Big Hole, Beaverhead, Jefferson, and Ruby. Dillon is also a relatively small town, and at the time had a reasonable cost of living. This was my dream, and this was what I had wanted for many years. But you know what, I only lasted a year there. There was a scene with the fly fishing and outfitters and big money and big ranches and small town politics I could not stomach. It was also cold and windy as hell in the winter, heck it was pretty darn cold most of the year, even by my standards. Was the fishing awesome?? Of course, as long as you could tolerate the crowds and parade of drift boats floating by every 2 minutes. I remember muttering to myself once, after a particularly bad experience on the Big Hole, I would rather fish for 4" brook trout on a small no-name stream than endure one more minute of the scene on the that river, even with all those big rising trout. Shortly thereafter, I moved back to my very small town in Idaho and never looked back and never regretted it. I could afford to buy 20 acres and build a small log home in the woods, and I have ready access to wonderful fishing and beautiful rivers and endless wilderness without the whole Montana tourist and outfitting scene. Idaho certainly has its issues and is not a perfect place (and that's an understatement), but for me it works.

    What I'm trying to say here is there may be better options for you and your family, and it's worth spending a lot of time out here checking out not just Montana, but other states... e.g. Idaho, eastern Washington and Oregon, northern Utah, etc. When I say a lot of time, I mean weeks if not months. You won't be able to learn it in a week or 2. And if your heart is truly set on Montana, look outside of Bozeman and Missoula (and the adjacent Bitterroot Valley) to more rural areas, or less well known cities such as Helena or Great Falls. And again, Billings may work for you too.

    And for the record, I still travel to Montana and fish there and usually have a great time. I truly love to hang out in Missoula and Bozeman, they both have wonderful hip scenes in their downtowns to accompany their really good fishing. I just found I did not want to live there. Others do, however, and they love it and may even take offense at what I just wrote (and if so, I apologize! It's not personal, it's just about what works for one person doesn't always work for another).

    Best of luck to you in finding your dream and making it happen!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Hudsonville, Michigan
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: From Virginia, looking at visiting / moving to the Western Montana area.

    Good luck with your move and hopefully your wife will get relief from her allergies. There are other places to consider besides Montana, sure that would be nice and scenic with some great fishing destinations. Montana does have 4 seasons, which can be brief, why not move somewhere you can enjoy Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter to their fullest?

    Just for grins, I live in SW Lower Michigan, I have everything I could want within an hour's drive from my home in any direction. However if I were to relocate I would move to the Northern Lower area of Michigan. Specifically the Boyne or Petosky areas. With your mechanical engineering and LEAN experience I don't think you'd have any trouble finding a good paying job and plenty of outdoors to explore.

    Good Luck, hope it works out for you and the family!


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  6. #5

    Default Re: From Virginia, looking at visiting / moving to the Western Montana area.

    Haha, Montana isn't full, that's Colorado. Come visit, see if you like it. Some folks from back east can't stand it here. If you do relocate, don't try to change it to what you left behind. You might also consider the Kalispell area, but for your line of work Bozeman and Billings are probably your best bets. And yes, the rivers and the fishing are crowded and terrible here.

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  8. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Oakville, ON Canada

    Default Re: From Virginia, looking at visiting / moving to the Western Montana area.

    I love Montana and, like many, dream of living there... However, I was in Utah last Autumn for business / pleasure and I was very impressed. Utah seems to be booming and it appears there is lots of opportunity (professionally). I was equally impressed with the people, hospitality, climate, scenery and fishing opportunities.

    Good luck to you!!

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  10. #7
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Southeast Idaho

    Default Re: From Virginia, looking at visiting / moving to the Western Montana area.

    I too second the sentiment on looking around .... a lot.

    Winter anywhere in the Rockies can be fun! Or not, if you aren't used to the cold. Besides the cold there are also fun things like stagnant inversion air.

    I don't know what kind of allergies your wife has, but if it is any kind of breathing problem, you may want to be careful of what area you settle in. I know from experience that Missoula, MT, Salmon, Idaho, the whole line of cites in the middle of Utah, and many more cities in the west have some terrific inversion problems, especially in the winter. It's due to the cities being in valleys backed by high mountains. That is something that you may not notice or even be aware of in the summer.

    I wish you well on your coming adventure. I'm sure that you will be able to find a great place to live. You have lots of places to choose from.

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  12. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Oakville, ON Canada

    Red face Re: From Virginia, looking at visiting / moving to the Western Montana area.

    That’s a good point Cindy, and one that I totally missed... I did notice that Salt Lake City can get pretty socked-in with smog(?). I forget what they call it but, it can look like a yellowish haze over the city. I think it’s due to the city being in a “bowl”. Being a tourist, I’m sorry I can’t elaborate or speak to specifics.

    If your wife has a breathing problem, you might want to look further into the excellent point raised.

    Good luck!!

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  14. #9

    Default Re: From Virginia, looking at visiting / moving to the Western Montana area.

    You can always try New Mexico. Nice dry weather, some but not may allergies. Albuquerque is 2.5 hours from the San Juan, 2 hours from the Chama, 1 hour to the Jemez, 2 hours to the Pecos. Plus mule deer and elk hunting near by. Not overly priced. National Labs nearby, movie industry moving into the area (Netflix just bought one of the studios), lots of diverse eating in town. Come on down south a little ways.

    NM Hokie!

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  16. #10

    Default Re: From Virginia, looking at visiting / moving to the Western Montana area.

    Just a few thoughts about the allergy issue raised by the OP concerning his wife and relocation. Don’t make the assumption that high altitude, dry climate will automatically mean an area free from allergens.

    In Laramie, at 7200 feet and very low humidity we have a fair number of people who have never had allergy problems until they moved here. Part of the problem is that dry climates can make sinuses much more sensitive. And part of the problem can come from different plants and pollen in a new location. Here pollen from sagebrush seems to be around all year depending on the wind and humidity. If that happens to be one of your allergies then it is not seasonal and there is little respite.

    I think a smart move, since you probably can’t take a year to live in a location before deciding if it is for you, would be to consult a doctor specializing in allergies. It might be best to talk to one in the proposed new location. He or she could well have tests for local pollen or other irritants that could be given before making a move.

    When I worked in Oregon, we hired a top candidate from California. He and his wife relocated and he loved the job. But all of the grass and other pollen in the Willamette Valley made it impossible for them to stay. One of the major drug companies had an operation there to collect pollen to be used in formulating drugs to fight those allergies.

    It is worth doing the research ahead of time so you don’t have a wasted relocation.

    Many of the locations listed would be great, but you can’t assume that moving will put the allergy problems behind you.

    Good luck,


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