The 10 Most Expensive Mountain Towns in Montana

Written by Lisa Bohler
Published: December 5, 2023
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Breathtakingly beautiful views make Montana mountain towns the most coveted migration spots. Montana offers high mountain peaks, snowy ski paths, clear water in sparkling streams and lakes, and an escape from the hustle and bustle of crowded cities and concrete everywhere. This was true before the pandemic hit; however, with the pandemic causing people to want to distance themselves from others, the lure of the mountains increased.

Discover the 10 most expensive mountain towns in the state of Montana.

Add to that urge to surround yourself with acres between you and your nearest neighbor, the “Yellowstone” fantasy of the Dutton clan, and you have mountain towns with prices skyrocketing. In the last five years, the migration of people from the city hunting their little spot of heaven in Montana has turned these getaway locations into the most expensive mountain towns in Montana.

10. Garrison: Median Home Value: $719,000

Mission Mountains reflecting off of a perfectly still lake in Western Montana

Mission Mountain is just outside Garrison, Montana.

©Zoe Rae/Shutterstock.com

Garrison is located in Powell County and has a population of 52. It is a Census-designated place, and the cost of living there is on average with the rest of Montana. It costs an adult about $36,045 per year to cover the cost of food, housing, transportation, medical care, and taxes. Surprisingly, in Garrison, the annual income of the average person is only $41,042.

A single adult will pay about $12,500 a year in transportation costs, while a family of four will pay closer to $16,000. Annual childcare costs for one child aged three to four years will cost about $6,200. A family of four will spend about $9,732 a year on food and $17,000 on healthcare.

9. Big Fork: Median Home Value: $752,328

Flathead Lake is a view for one of Montana's most expensive mountain towns.

Bailey Mountain is home to Flathead Lake and Big Fork, Montana.

©iStock.com/11jasons

If you are planning a move to Big Fork, Montana, be aware that the cost of living index in the Montana mountain town is rated at 115.7 This rating tells you that the cost of average living necessities like food, housing, child care, and transportation is 15.7% higher than the national average. A single adult needs an income of $48,000 annually to live comfortably here, and a family of four will need to bring home $142,220 a year.

Flathead Lake is one of the attractions near Big Fork. Residents also enjoy serene beauty, fresh air, and a quality way of life.

8. Manhattan: Median Home Value: $761,000

One of the most expensive Montana mountain towns is on the Bridger mountains.

The Bridgers Mountains are home to Manhattan, Montana.

©LI Cook/Shutterstock.com

The cost of living in Manhattan, Montana, is 25.7% higher than the national average. Homes are 65.5% more expensive than the national average. A single adult will need an income of $50,000 annually to afford food, housing, transportation, health care, and the necessities. Families of four will need to make $107,280.

The cost of living scale is rated at 100, and everything above 100 is a percentage point higher than the national average. Grocery costs in Manhattan, Montana, received a 105 rating, meaning they are 5% higher than average. Healthcare received a 102.5 and housing scored 185.1 However, utilities and transportation were below the national average cost.

7. Lakeside: Median Home Value: $765,000

A snowboarder carving down the mountain on Blacktail Mountain in Montana

Blacktail Mountain is home to Lakeside, Montana.

©Mark Peugh/Shutterstock.com

To live comfortably in Montana mountain towns, the average adult has to make a higher income. In Lakeside, a single adult will need to make $53,200, and a family of four will need to make $148,320. This income is enough for the necessities and does not include luxuries. However, a good thing about Lakeside is the utility costs, which are 21% less than the national average. The overall cost of living here is 15.7% higher than average.

6. Whitefish: Median Home Value: $817,128

Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana is one of the most expensive Montana mountain towns

Big Mountain is home to Whitefish, Montana.

©iStock.com/ronniechua

Whitefish Montana is a Montana resort town. Like other Montana mountain towns, a single adult will need a higher income to afford to live there. In Whitefish, a single adult needs to earn $54,800 a year, and a family of four will need a minimum of $160,560 annually. Utility costs are lower than the national average; however, they are higher than in tons like Lakeside and Whitefish. Groceries cost 5.4% more than in other places, and housing is double the average cost.

5. Gallatin: Median Home Value: $937,000

American Elk in front of the Rocky Mountains

The Rocky Mountains are home to Elk and Gallatin Gateway, Montana.

©Tom Reichner/Shutterstock.com

Perched in the iconic Rocky Mountains, Gallatin Gateway is a beautiful place to live. Gallatin Gateway has a higher cost of living than some other Montana mountain towns. They score 125.7 on their overall cost of living, which means they are 25.7% more expensive than the national average. A single adult needs to earn an annual income of $65,600, and a family of four needs about $181,440.

Groceries cost 7.7% more than average in Gallatin. However, housing has a score of 342.3, and the national average is 100. Like other Montan mountain towns, the utility and transportation costs are 20% lower than average.

4. Big Arm: Median Home Value: $1,039,500

Mission Mountains reflecting off of a perfectly still lake in Western Montana

The Mission Mountain Range is home to Big Arm, Montana.

©Zoe Rae/Shutterstock.com

As far as Montane mountain towns go, Big Arm is one of the most scenically beautiful. It is also one of the more expensive places to live. A single adult needs an annual income of $75,590, and a family of four requires $247,456 a year. Food, housing, and child care are more expensive; however, property and income taxes are surprisingly low, and by low, we mean closer to the national average.

3. Pray: Median Home Value: $1,395,000

Pray is one of the most expensive Montana mountain towns.

The Absaroka mountain range is home to Pray, Montana.

©kenez/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Welcome to Pray, Montana, where the view will take your breath away, and you are only a short distance from Yellowstone National Park. Pray is one of Montana’s mountain towns that allows you to live like a Dutton if you can afford to do so. In Pray, the cost of living is higher than the national average. A single adult will require a yearly income of $83,000 a year. A family of four will need about $260,000 a year. Living the dream life does not come cheap.

2. Big Sky: Median Home Value: $1,797,500

Lone Peak Mountain, Montana

Lone Mountain is home to Big Sky, Montana.

©iStock.com/Gypsy Picture Show

Out of all of the Montana mountain towns, Big Sky is one of the most alluring. Beautiful mountain scenery, crisp mountain air, and clear mountain water await you. However, along with all of those amenities, higher housing costs and higher costs of all necessities also await you. A single person in Big Sky needs an annual income of about $90,000. A family of four needs an income of close to $400,00 to make ends meet.

1. Cameron: Median Home Value: $1,835,000

Camron Montana, is the number one most expensive Montana mountain town.

Sphinx Mountain is home to Cameron, Montana.

©Niceley, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License

We have made it our number one ranking of expensive Montana mountain towns. Cameron, Montana, is perfectly situated on Sphinx Mountain. In most of the Montana mountain towns, we have looked at utility costs, and transportation costs were below average. In Cameron, the transportation cost is 25% below average. However, the utility costs are closer to the average.

A single adult will need to make $100,000 a year to live comfortably. A family of four will need more than $500,000 a year. You pay a price for the peace, security, and solitude of a place like Cameron. But a few days here, and you will know that it is worth every penny.

Summary Of The 10 Most Expensive Mountain Towns in Montana

RankTownMedian Home ValueMountain The Town Is On
1Cameron$1,835,000Sphinx Mountain
2Big Sky1,797,500Lone Mountain
3Pray$1,395,000Absaroka Mountain
4Big Arm$1,039,500The Mission Mountains
5Gallatin Gateway$937,000Rocky Mountains
6Whitefish$817,428Big Mountain
7Lakeside$765,000Blacktail Mountain
8Manhattan$761,000The Bridger Mountains
9Big Fork$752,328Swan Range and Mission Mountains
10Garrison$719,500Bailey Mountain

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Zorro Stock Images/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Lisa Bohler is a writer for A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. Lisa has been writing and researching animals for over 12 years and holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Creative Writing from Liberty University, which she earned in 2021. A resident of Texas, Lisa enjoys fishing, gardening, and caring for the animals on her small hobby farm.

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