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Bozeman vs. Belgrade

Hi there-
My family is transferring to the area on a somewhat short notice (we thought 3 years but it looks like NOW), and it seems there is a big difference in housing between Belgrade and Bozeman. Can anyone give me the honest scoop regarding differences between the two communities? Is Belgrade considered "a step down", or is it less expensive just because it isn't Bozeman? In our last move we discovered (the hard way) that there can be huge differences in the population/demographics of a town's suburb that you don't know about until you move there, and we don't want to repeat that. But we have also found (in Denver) that sometimes you are only paying for a name, and that isn't the way we want to go either. Please- we would greatly appreciate your help.
Thanks so much for your time!!

POSTED: 2004-12-09

Generally speaking, as you get further away from Bozeman the cost of housing goes down. You also have to factor in your commute (time and cost of gas/auto maintenance) to work as you live further outside of town. I don't think Belgrade (or Manhattan, Three Forks, Four Corners, etc) are really a "step down" from Bozeman. Especially if you have kids, you may prefer having your kids attend a smaller high school.

POSTED: 2004-12-11 00:50:20

From your use of the term "step down", I surmise that status is important to you.

In that case, either live in Bozeman to maintain your snottiness, or better yet, don't move here at all.

POSTED: 2005-01-16 17:48:00

I agree. We do not need or want any more people moving here. If only we could have a tsunami come through here and clean out the transplants.

POSTED: 2005-01-18 13:18:12

What a tasteless and careless comment to make!

POSTED: 2005-01-20 16:43:51

I am repeatedly amazed at the level of disrespect coming from some loud "native" Bozeman residents with reference to "transplants." So where the hell did you come from?? I'm pretty sure that you or your family came from some where other than Bozeman. And why are you sitting on a forum designed to help people become acquainted with Bozeman and the area and local businesses, bashing the people the site was designed to help? Nothing better to do in the Best Place on Earth? I'm embarrassed for you.

POSTED: 2005-01-22 14:40:29

To the OP, yes there are differences between Bozeman and Belgrade. Belgrade tends to be more working class. Property is cheaper there. The school district is different (some say Bozeman is better, but I think that Belgrade is also excellent.) In the long run, you might get more appreciation on the value of your house if you live in Bozeman. But since things are growing so much and so quickly, I think Belgrade will go up in value too. Either way, you live in a beautiful, warm community (trolls on the internet notwithstanding!) Good luck in your search.

POSTED: 2005-01-22 14:58:00

Live in Belgrade. People there are not nearly as clickish and snobby as those in Bozeman. Having moved from Oregon, I can't believe how rude and cold people in Bozeman are and I'm thankful to be leaving soon. It makes itself out as a great place to be, but it's just a bunch of poser contractors who think painting their house a thousand island color to be the height of sophistication.

POSTED: 2005-03-25 18:47:47

We are moving to Belgrade next week. Homes are much more affordable and the lots are much larger (1/2 acre) in our price range in Belgrade. Plus, we found a nice area with no multi-housing; most of the homes that we looked at in Bozeman were across from rentals on tiny lots. Plus the drive to Bozeman is short compared to what we are used to in the metro area we are moving from.

POSTED: 2005-03-25 20:56:27

Geez, after recently accepting a job in Bozeman, I had the identical question myself regarding Bozeman vs. Belgrade. I read on, expecting to get intelligent input. Instead there was a few touchy, defensive people. I DO know what it means to have parts of town that don't maintain property value as well as others and I know what the original question meant.
Additional "bonafide" answers would still be welcome. By the way, some of us "transplants" don't have a choice but to move there....

POSTED: 2005-07-08 23:16:56

My family has lived in Belgrade for over three months and we are very pleased with our decision to live out here rather than in Bozeman. Most of the people we have met in our area are very "neighborly" and incidently, from all over the country. Plus, the views of the Spanish Peaks, Tobacco Roots and Bridgers are amazing! Good luck!

POSTED: 2005-07-09 08:24:38

Thanks for your input on your experience with living in Belgrade. Do you have school-age children that attend Belgrade schools? It's nice to hear you enjoy it there.

POSTED: 2005-07-09 20:12:03

Our son is only 19 months old, so unfortunately I don't have a whole lot of knowledge of the schools in Belgrade. I have read a bit and test scores and the like appear to be up above the national average. I do know that there is a new elementary school near the Landmark Subdivison where we are living. If you are looking for more bang for your buck and a little more elbow room, Belgrade is perfect. I do agree that the community tends to be a bit more "working class" although have not been disappointed in the least (and for what it's worth, there are doctors and professors living in our neighborhood). Have you had a chance to visit the area to look at homes? For us, driving 10 or so miles into Bozeman for additional amenities is far from a commute. I can also recommend a FANTASTIC realtor if you're in the market!

POSTED: 2005-07-09 20:48:24

Yes, I did visit the area over the 4th of July weekend. A realtor took me around a few subdivisions and I saw Landmark. Very nice. I'm with you on elbow room. I'm not interested in paying alot for a house with a postage-stamp yard. My husband's future boss lives in Belgrade and she likes it. If you have a realtor you can highly recommend, I wouldn't mind getting their website. Thanks for you help, it's such useful information.

POSTED: 2005-07-09 23:02:38

Kim Konzak is with Absaroka Realty and her website is I can't say enough positive things about her! This is our third house and she far surpassed any experience we had with either prior purchase and made finding a house across the country a breeze.

POSTED: 2005-07-10 12:09:27

Thanks! I wrote down her website. I'd like to make another visit before the move next year so I can become more familiar. Prices have already skyrocketed so much out there, I fear waiting another year! Thanks for the advice and info.

POSTED: 2005-07-10 19:47:54

You're right, housing prices have climbed steadily in the year that we had been looking at properties as well. But long-term, there are benefits--our home has appreciated 40-50K in the few months we have lived here. FYI, we literally cut our lot and square footage in half (from 1 acre and 3000 square feet) to be able to afford a great location and views within our budget. Despite the challenges, it is an incredible place to raise our son and we LOVE it here!

POSTED: 2005-07-11 07:53:25

We just sold our house in River Rock and got a $60k return, from when I bought it four years ago. So property returns are doing well there, even if it's not as huge as Bozeman.

I would start to worry about a bubble in the real estate market in Bozeman. The costs seem to be out weighing the values there.

Plus if you find a good deal, your property may be deemed a blight, like in the north east neighborhood. What a slap in the face.

POSTED: 2005-08-17 09:44:40

Belgrade is reallly looking great these days. My feeling is that it will just get better over time. Bozeman is wonderful, and it's more expensive -- so the answer is that the booming community of Belgrade is doing their own thing to make their hometown another great place to be. I like what I see in the downtown area, with renovations to some of the old buildings and the addition of new businesses over the last few years. The Mint is an excellent place to eat and hang out, and for breakfast, gotta love that place across the street and upstairs (can anyone help me with the name? it escapes me just now). Belgrade High is pretty darn nice, too -- the physical building is newer and nicer than Bozeman's. All the cultural benefits of Bozeman are just minutes away, like the excellent bands, symphony, drama, opera, more good restaurants, nice Main Street festivals/events and all that. Belgrade a step down? No way! It's actually a rising star. -- sincere comment from a 20-year resident of Bozeman.

POSTED: 2005-09-21 08:57:05

Buy in Belgrade or Bozeman both are getting expensive but worth every penny. However, in an earlier post someone recommended a realty firm called Absaroka Realty...dont believe it. Run, dont walk, away from this bunch of unprofessional/dishonest agents as fast as you can. Had very expensive legal battle over some misrepresented property issues on land I bought thru them..what a nightmare..

POSTED: 2005-10-31 00:15:45

Regardless of the previous posting, I still firmly stand by my recommendation of Kim Konzak with Absaroka Realty! My family had a completely smooth, professional and incident free relocation from across the county working with Kim. This was the purchase of our third home and her services by far surpassed those of the other "professionals" we had worked with.

POSTED: 2005-10-31 06:57:37

Regardless of the above posting, I stand firmly by my earlier statements of this firm, Absaroka Realty, being a shoddy, unprofessional, dishonest, office. I'm glad to anyone who had a "smooth" relocation paid for it and it should be that way..everytime. For us it wasnt. Easy to recommend when you are not out pocketfulls of $$ in Attorney fees, and no home, because a "Professional" decided to be lazy. Look elsewhere for your "Realty experience" cause if you dont its gonna cost ya!

POSTED: 2005-11-02 00:41:05

I'm not sure if you are still looking, but my husband and I are selling our condo in River Rock, in Belgrade Montana. We are "motivated sellers" and are selling it on our own...both meaning we are willing to negotiate a price.
Our condo is only 4 years old, and is a 2 story end unit with a 2 car garage. We are moving to Helena, and need to get it sold. It has 3 bedrooms with 2 1/2 baths, and is 1522 sqft.
If interested, please e-mail me at

POSTED: 2007-06-04 11:59:33

We are also selling our home in the Landmark Subdivision in Belgrade. MLS# 138360. Wonderful, sunny home with an awesome fenced, 1/2 acre lot! You can view details:

POSTED: 2007-06-04 12:40:35

Just wanted to give you the update on Belgrade from a local --

Belgrade is looking really sweet lately! A couple of the downtown buildings have been renovated to the 9s (Belgrade Mercantile in particular) by the same guys as are working on cool projects in Manhattan (Montana, that is). The overall effect has been to create a very vibrant feel to the Main Streets of these little towns, without compromising the character of the old buildings.

Also, Belgrade is showing a lot of promise in new subdivisions and in proximity to some of the bigger new "visionary" developments going on. I personally think Belgrade is an outstanding investment right now. Manhattan is another really good one -- there's a lot going on there if you haven't driven out there lately.

And by the way, I don't work for or make any money in real estate. I'm a freelance writer who has lived in Bozeman for 20 years and I'm just offering my perspective.

POSTED: 2007-06-04 14:15:35

Wow, many of you are really negative about Bozeman! I hope you live somewhere else. I moved here from one of the larger cities in Montana, and I found Bozeman to be VERY friendly and inviting. Everyone I meet is friendly and welcoming, which was not the case in the last city I lived in. The only gripe I have about Bozeman is there are no single men over 40, but under 50! Lots of kids, or geezers, whoopee. Otherwise, Bozeman is terrific!

POSTED: 2007-08-23 16:44:24

What a great posting on Belgrade/Bozeman! I moved to MT in '94 from ~ Boston. I have lived in Missoula and live in Belgrade now. For THOSE FROM OUT OF STATE this posting gives you some GREAT INSIGHT. Here is what you can read into this posting: 1) Bozeman’s population has ballooned with wealthy, aging individuals who are not “small town” friendly. They came here to escape the rat race, and see the beautiful scenery. They also expect amenities. They brought that mentality with them. Don’t expect someone to hold a door for you or start a conversation (references to “snootiness”). Walk the downtown art shops and look at the prices. Then realize that Bozeman’s median household income is $32k-42k (depending on the source). You will quickly realize that the shops are not catering to the local population. If you are comfortable paying $3k for a wooden bench with fish painted on it, you will be content. The schools are thought to be good, but a defunct ‘lottery’ system means you may not be able to plan on where your child will go. (Best to make friends on the inside of your target school – wink, wink.) 2) Belgrade has grown immensely over the last 8 years. It used to be called “plains, trains, and automobiles” – the airport is on the North edge, the train (freight only) still goes through downtown, and I-90 bisects the town. The people are more down to earth with a healthy mix of blue collar and middle to upper middle class families. Some “true locals” are resistant to the change and newbies, but for the most part conversation and friendliness abound. River Rock and Landmark are two of the newer developments that benefitted from some level of preplanning. The schools are well thought of.

As for buying a home: Some areas of development have not been planned as well as one would like. Also the housing boom was so strong that anyone who ever swung a hammer or a paint brush became a contractor and built homes (there are NO national builders here). I know 25 year old kids who are “developers”. Quality can be an issue. Hire an inspector, but more importantly use your best judgment – not just your heart and eyes! (NOTE – was it me, or did it seem like that real estate agent or her assistant were typing those postings???)

As for living here: I moved here with no family or friends in state. I have not left and don’t plan on it. I met my wife and have started a family. I hope that tells you how highly I think of MT. Some friends who have moved away had the same issues. You need to make sure you can deal with: Lack of shopping/amenities, long winters, difficult traveling (flying from here is more limited and guarantees you a stop at a hub. My work requires travel of the US. A two day trip for coworkers from out of state, turns into three for me. My wife and I cut week-long vacations short by flying home on Saturday mornings so that delays, etc… are less of an issue. The sheer exhaustion of traveling can set in. For instance traveling from Florida to Bozeman took – from taxi to car - 16 hours).

POSTED: 2007-11-14 10:38:39

I live in Bozeman and have no intention to leave. I will offer some honest observations. Housing is somewhat higher in Bozeman, but only marginally. Most homes built here are attached, but not necessarily modest. I won't bad mouth Belgrade, but from what I've heard, I would stay away from River Rock. The road access is miserable and it can take a long time to commute to Bozeman (or even Belgrade) from there. I would recommend trying the commute at peak hours before buying in the area. Belgrade's traffic is much worse than Bozeman's. You might consider Manhattan. Manhattan is carefully planning their growth (Belgrade tries, but they're way behind the curve). You very likely can get from Manhattan to Bozeman faster than from many areas around Belgrade, even though the distance is doubled.

Livingston is a nice town, and the freeway access is good, but that means crossing Bozeman pass. The pass is easy normally, but it snows a lot up there and gets pretty messy sometimes.

My honest answer is that it's worth paying a little more to be in Bozeman. It's a big time buyer's market now. The new development is well regulated and the traffic patterns are improving. Also, commercial services are becoming available in more and more neighborhoods.

I think all of the schools in the valley are good. Politically, Bozeman is much more progressive than the valley. Personally, I wish to live in a place with well regulated development, lots of landscaping, tough sign codes and improving transportation, including walking, biking, and bus. Don't buy until you've sampled a River Rock rush hour.

POSTED: 2007-12-03 14:19:56

I can attest to the traffic issues near River Rock. My family is moving into Bozeman from the Landmark Subdivision, which is just behind River Rock. The commute was over an hour to drive 15 miles some days! Our subdivision is very nice, a bit less expensive than most of Bozeman, with nice large (1/2 acre) lots, but having our children in Belgrade school district when we work in Bozeman would have been impossible. And now our drive time will be greatly reduced as well.

POSTED: 2007-12-03 15:26:02

I moved to Belgrade last October from Washington State. I currently live in River Rock and love it! Everyone has kids or pets and they all kinda look out for one another. I currently work for Jenifer Owens at Remax Realty Group in Bozeman. When I first heard about Belgrade from my boyfriend he called it BELOW GRADE... I thought it was the white trash version of Bozeman. I was wrong. If anyone need advise they can contact me at 406-586-2599 or contact Jenifer at 406-209-0022

POSTED: 2008-10-02 08:46:20

I think Belgrade is further out but just as nice I think it has a different feel than bozeman. Hecknowadays houses are cheap everywhere, so might as well live in Boze!

POSTED: 2009-01-24 16:50:55

We are on our way to the area too...Dare I say where we are coming from with all this
"not wanting transplants" talk. I understand about transplants because they are what is pushing us all out of our own towns to look for places like Bozeman. You think it's tough to have someone from another state? Try having every different country living in your town. When I was born I lived in a city of 25,000, now we are at 200,000. We know how it feels. I know coming up there that we will be going to a different "culture"
(Thank God)and we will be the ones to adapt, we wouldn't expect any different. At least you are not like Colorado as far as becoming so overpopulated.I hear most or our people are going there.
We transplants come only for a better quality of life. We come, because we want to live the original American dream. We want the best for our kids. Where we are, that has become pretty much impossible.
I am glad that we have all received answers to the difference between Belgrade and Bozeman.We are coming from a very "uppity" area that is surrounded with not so good areas and have no desire to go back to another place like that.Belgrade sounds like it is going to work out well. When we came up in July I was not sure how I felt about Belgrade but after reading this it seems just fine.
We never asked to literally be pushed out of our own hometowns, but we have, and at this point we have to go somewhere.Only a small number of us picked Montana as our destiny,and I bet we all have a lot of wonderful things to offer.Like it or not, we will be there soon and I promise, we will give it all we've got.

POSTED: 2009-03-29 23:56:26

Amazing how things have changed. but Bozeman has had 40% growth since 2000 which is why the schools are starting to get way overcrowded. Sad.

POSTED: 2010-01-29 16:32:32

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