Moving To Great Falls: Q & A

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OK, Great Falls, time to put your best foot forward! Got an e-mail from Vivian today, and she & her husband will be moving to Great Falls soon. They’ve got some questions – and you’ve got the answers.

My husband is going to be retiring from the Coast Guard this summer…he has taken a job in Great Falls. I have read the Chamber of Commerce Site, along with the Official City Site, however I would like to know what it is really like to live there. We will be renting a house so I guess what I am after is what Great Falls is like from someone who actually lives there. Cost of living; shopping, grocery; malls, local downtown shopping; what the weather is like in Spring Summer Winter and Fall; is it easy to get around driving wise. Right now we are in the Seattle area, needless to say the best word that describes traffic is gridlock most of the time. A ball park figure on what rental houses go for. Just the basic three bedroom two bath nothing fancy type but in a good neighborhood. I know all places have crime, what is the crime rate. Any and all information would be greatly appreciated!

I’ll be posting my answers to her questions later, but it would be great to hear what YOU have to say. Let’s have it!

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26 Comments

  1. My 2 cents: Just have her read thru this blog, or Electric City’s. Thats a good slice of life here. It would be nice to know where SHE is from in order to draw comparisons.

    BTW. the feed-burner did not send me the courtesy notice in my e-mail today.

  2. I moved my family here about 2 years ago. We moved from a place we really liked so we were apprehensive. We have found that the people are really friendly. Traffic gridlock doesn’t exist compared to most cities. There are many ways to get around to where you want to go. Yes, there is wind but there is no smog and the winters are more mild than I expected. Crime is low and will especially seem that way to anyone coming from Seattle. For the size of town, there are a lot of cultural opportunities in Great Falls and a very diverse group attend those events. People are very generous and willing to support good causes. I haven’t seen a lot of snobbery here, for the most part, people here seem to be pretty genuine. I don’t know about rentals but housing seems to be affordable, especially compared to many areas of the country.

  3. I think you will enjoy the atmosphere. Make sure to check out the farmer’s market during the summer; it is always a pleasure.

  4. My 2 cents?

    Advance Property Management
    (406) 727-4850

    Buchanan Enterprises
    (406) 761-0372

    American Horizon Property Management
    750 6th St SW Great Falls, MT 59404
    (406) 452-9747

    M G M Property Management Specialists
    1325 8th Ave N Great Falls, MT 59401
    (406) 727-3960

    Goodover Realty
    105 Smelter Ave NE Great Falls, MT 59404
    (406) 727-8222

    Schultz Property Management Llc
    7 2nd St S Ste 2 Great Falls, MT 59401
    (406) 216-5544

    Red Sky Llp
    Great Falls, MT 59401
    (406) 216-2771

    Up Front Properties Inc
    1120 24th St S Great Falls, MT 59405
    (406) 452-8364

    Lincoln Properties
    503 1st Ave N Great Falls, MT 59401
    (406) 761-2288

    Superior Property Management Inc
    3010 11th Ave S Great Falls, MT 59405
    (406) 453-7556

    Now I know these above might just be resources already tapped when looking for rentals here in Great Falls, but it’s always worth repeating.

    We’re a rather friendly bunch, I might add.
    Great Falls is most likely the most family oriented city in the state.

    Though we may have our in’s and out’s (every community does), on various matters, we are still friends and neighbors at the end of the day.

    A heads up?
    I’ve known Pat Goodover (Jr) for many years, and “sometimes” he has some pretty good rentals. I would point you to MGM first though, and work down from there.

    Looking for a newer home to rent?
    Contact Jim Workman (406) 727-7682, or any of his brothers, Spencer or Dennis.

    You’ll never meet a nicer bunch of folks though, than those who live, work and play, right here in Great Falls, Montana.

  5. I moved to Great Falls from Columbus, OH 8 years ago. The first thing I laughed at was hearing people complain about the “rush hour traffic” on 10th Avenue south. I was used to 2-hour gridlocks. Rush hour here lasts barely 20 minutes. It’s fun! You say, “WOW! Other CARS!!!!”
    Something that my friends from LA complain about in Great Falls is the lack of aggressive drivers. People piddle around here, drifting aimlessly along and forgetting their blinkers half the time. It drives city people crazy. But you know…once you get used to it it’s kind of nice. Relaxed.
    I think of Great Falls as a city of 60,000 with the soul of a town of 6,000. Once you’ve been here a little while, you’re going to recognize people everywhere you go. This has both advantages and disadvantages, which you can imagine.
    Coming from a big city, you ARE going to notice a distinct difference. When I lived in Columbus, I used to go out 4 or 5 nights a week and there was always something to do, always something new to find. Be aware that Great Falls is not a big city. There are not very many cool hole-in-the-wall places, ethnic restaurants, or cultural events here. You can get tired of going to the same old places. It’s possible to get bored here. Some Great Fallsians tend to get a little defensive about that–citing the symphony orchestra, the farmer’s market, the state fair, the museums–“we have culture!” they protest. And it’s true. We do. But please be aware it’s not going to be the same as the culture in a city of millions. I’ve discovered that there is much to do here–but you often need to make your own fun.
    Demographically, Great Falls is very white; I’m sure you’ve noticed that on the chamber of commerce website. Coming from Seattle, that is probably going to seem rather striking at first. Under the veneer of civilization you can still feel the pulse of the original cow-town. Once again, this can be both positive and negetive.
    If you like outdoorsy things, there is the wonderful River’s Edge Trail right in town. It’s very nice for walking, biking, roller blading, etc. No mountains here, but the Little Belt mountains, less than an hour’s drive, have a very creditable ski area. Glacier Park is 3 hours North, and Yellowstone about 4 hours south–both places you must visit. There are many places nearer than that for great hiking, camping, and boating experiences. Some people water ski and kayak right here in town on the Missouri river.
    Winters it can get very very very INCREDIBLY cold, but it doesn’t last for very long. It’s really cool the way the temperature changes so quickly. Likewise summer temps can get very high, but don’t usually last more than a day or two. It is dry here compared to Seattle. Your skin will get itchy. But there’s very little mold, and no termites or fleas. That’s nice.

  6. Many,Many thanks to all of you!
    You do not know how much I appreciate the information!
    My Husband is in the Coast Guard getting ready to retire this summer. We hope to be in Great Falls Mid August.
    You have no idea how I am looking forward to a 20 minute rush hour.
    I am orginally from a town of 100,000, our previous duty station was a town of 5,000. Moving to the Greater Seattle area was culture shock to say the least.
    here is a huge ((((((((((hug))))))) to each and everyone of you for all your helpful information.
    I have bookedmarked your responses to show my husband, I know he will appreciate it as much as I do!

    Vivian

  7. I came to Great Falls from L.A Granted that was almost 2 decades ago, but I have returned to city life a few times and almost moved to Seattle this year..I’m glad I decided to stay.

    I can guarantee that you will appreciate the slower pace of traffic there is nothing like having an extra hour or two of play instead of sitting on I-5
    waiting for the traffic to get off at the Renton exit.
    As for the outdoors, Living in Great Falls is almost the equivalent of living in Spokane, they are actually sister cities and have an almost identical climate and culture. The difference?

    * We are much much closer to the mountains and for a 2 hour drive you can choose between little belts, big belts, the rocky mountain front or Glacier.

    * We don’t have a state sales tax…woohoo!

    * Gas is pricier then in the Seattle/spokane area but you make up for it when buying groceries.

    * unlike spokane we have the wild and Scenic Missouri river, that means an abundance of fishing (including what I have heard as being ) the worlds best fly fishing and judging by the different license plates found up in the craig area I’m willing to buy that. it also means, picnics, walking, boating and a plethora of things to do in the summer..

    **As mentioned above the we have farmers markkets, art shows and a host of museums.

    Rentals
    renting is by far cheaper, for a 2 bedroom apartment your looking at about 475-600 a month.

    It really depends on what your husband has in mind for employment and pay to say if the cost of living is better. You can live comfortably (if you are good with finances) on about 20k a year for a family of 3. we make roughly 25 a year and have a family of 5 and we are doing just fine.

    I hope that helps! 😀 good luck and hope you like it here!

  8. Hi!
    It seems my family (hubby and 2 kids) may be moving to GF late summer, 2010. I see these posts are a little dated…I’ve been online to the property mgmt sites to get an idea about rental home prices and have found so little it frightens me. I appreciate the detailed list “Dave” posted. I’d love to hear direct with some up to date info about GF. We are currently living in Twin Falls for my hubby’s job and again my hubby’s job may be taking us to GF this time. I am a secretary with nearly 20 years of experience. I’d love to hear from anyone.

    Jodi
    [email protected]

  9. Jodi,

    I think that you will enjoy Great Falls. It is an easy place to live. We have a great public and private school system. We have opportunities for kids to play mulitple sports locally and on traveling teams. Macek Property Management is another place to try for a rental as well at 406-727-5505 or their website at macekcompanies.com You are going to find that our rental market is tight. It is hard to find rentals that are good quality at a reasonable price. I am a Broker at REMAX of Great Falls. I was a property manager for Macek Companies as well. You will also find that our housing prices did not slide considerably as the rest of the nation. Great Falls is known to have always opeated as “steady as it goes”. I have loved raising my children here! If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

  10. Gena,

    Thank you for your post. I appreciate your taking the time to share your experience.

    I am looking forward to our move to GF in June. My biggest concern is finding a nice rental home for our family, since I continue to hear that the market is a difficult one – especially since we have a dog that definitely moves with us. Have a great weekend.

    Take care!
    Jodi

  11. Gena,

    One more thing: Is it possible we might find a rental home through a realtor whose client has been unable to sell their home? We would be willing to sign a one- or two- year lease.

    Just a thought.
    Take care,
    Jodi

  12. Jodi,

    My recommendation is to call the list of property management companies to ask them if they know of any vacancies for June. Your biggest hurdle is having a pet but it isn’t impossible. Start filling out applications from property management companies. You will then be ahead of the game when you get to Great Falls.

    Gena

  13. Jodi,

    It is possible to find a rental through listings that have not sold. I get emails from agents daily regarding individuals looking for rentals and sellers who are renting their homes. June is a little ways out for signing a lease just yet. But it will not hurt to start the process.

    Gena

  14. My husband and I are moving to GF the first week of August from NJ with a mellow dog. I will be a professor at UGF and my husband is a boiler operator…We can’t seem to find any pet friendly rentals at all and are getting very anxious

  15. Hi!

    I’m a college student this year at Montana State University, Great Falls College of Technology. I’m an interior Design Major. I was wondering, how to go about finding an apartment. I currently have no rental history and EVERYWHERE I look, I’m REQUIRED to have 2 previous rental histories, and as my parents don’t exactly count, it makes this hard. I was told by one landlord that I could submit the application, but beings that I didn’t have a rental history, they more than likely would not consider me. This is rather discouraging, as my Family lives in Missoula, so it makes finding an apartment, well, rather hard and frankly disappointing. I do not want to have to move back home, as I cant major in Interior Design in Missoula, and my school does not offer housing facilities. And the time remaining in my current situation is running out. I weight nothing (110lbs) and would live by myself, and the only things that I have found that DON’T require a history, are not safe (if you Google an address, and it comes up with 4 people living in that building as registered sex offenders, its not safe by my standards). Any kind of advice or guidance or assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thank you SOOO much!

  16. I have wanted to live in Montana for quite a while now, and am finally doing some research!
    I really like great falls, and I have family all over the state. I’m only 20, single, with no kids. I would like to go to school and work there. I have heard that work isn’t always to cone by in that area, I have some experience in multiple areas. I don’t know too much about the area yet, but what I’ve learned so far only makes me want to go sooner. I was born and raised in a town called ilwaco, Washington and later moved to tacoma, then Olympia…. I’m not much for the big city life and live the vibe great falls sends to me. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated…. thanks!

  17. The biggest advice that i have (im 20 almost 21 and single) is that you HAVE to find things to do, and dont let yourself get hung up in the wind and all of that. Apply for MANY job, and dont stop there, make it your job daily to find a job. even if you get an offer, keep submitting applications, resumes, checking on the status of them ect…until you accept a position. Dont be afraid of accepting a job that you think is below you.. its better than no job. and continue looking. school keeps me busy. the MSU-COT is WAY cheaper than UGF. and i rather enjoy MSU-COT. Im an interior design student and love most of the people in my program. See Ryan Dam. See Rainbow Dam. Dont be afraid to get into photography. There are some good chances if you just let yourself go wild. Check out the areas before you move into them. Know where you want to stay.. there are resources out there on registered violent/sexual defenders and a map of where they are address…get educated! and above all, dont be afraid to ask locals where its safe, and what there is to do. Meet alot of people and DONT let the wind blow your hair too much.

  18. Oh my goodness! Thank you… I am preparing to go after this winter, and visit before that. I happen to love photography. I have been looking at local job postings online and will start applying as soon as its an appropriate time. Would you suggest I look into any other places? I like small towns, but civilization, colleges, resources, jobs, housing, and safety are all important to me. I have a friend that wants to move there with me after he gets his associates in may, he is a firefighter and student right now. Is the work seasonal? Is there any jobs that are high in demand? What’s the average income and cost of living? Any feedback is appreciated..

  19. I would say that it isnt very competative. i see that the people who are continually applying for job after job here and show up to interviews looking clean and well put together and arent putting on a front are more likely to get the job. There are alot of people that dont look for jobs and expect to get one handed to them. Most places are going to be about Minimum (7.25), where i work, i started at 9.40 an hour. i would say that the cost of living is a little high, if you can find a roommate, do. some rental companies and agencys want WAY too much for an apartment. Its tough to find something acceptable and safe for a good price. ive been looking for a year now. i would say that you should apply for Home Depot asap when you get here, in the summer they employ almost double what they do in the fall and winter. the earlier you apply the better your chance of a permanent job not a temp spot. if they dont call you the first time, wait the 60 days or so, and do it again. DONT WORK AT SHOPKO! it was awful and they have a HUGE turn over rate.

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