If life goes as currently planned, I will be relocating to Kalispell, Montana sometime in 2019.
Last year my husband and I purchased 27 acres of land in Montana. The land includes acres of meadow, a forested hill, a creek and old logging trail. This picture is taken looking over our meadow towards the neighbor’s house. When we originally purchased the land, we were thinking about putting our home on the grassy area. That idea changed once we walked every inch of the property and found we have some amazing views from the top of the property.
So next year the house building will start. I intend to share my experiences regarding the home building process, as well as my thoughts about preparing for, and then actually moving to the new state. I will be continuing my real estate career out there, so will also share any “ahas” about the difference in the industry from one state to another.
But first things first. When mentioning this future move to family or friends, the question that almost invariably comes up is..
Most New Yorkers do NOT move to Montana. So why in the world do we want to go to a place that’s so “cold” and “remote”?
So let’s tackle the “remote” question first. While there is much about the northwest that IS remote, our actual home will not be. While we will be located on a hard-packed dirt/gravel road, it is a public road and is taken care of by the highway crew. We are about 15 minutes from all the shopping the area has to offer (at least three large and fully stocked grocery stores we’ve found so far, Lowes, Home Depot, a Mall, restaurants and the like). In addition, I’ve already tested the time it will take to get to my future real estate office – 12 minutes. That’s a shorter commute than I’ve ever had, so our home will not be remote. We also have very good cell service where the home will be, and fiber optics have been run up the road. So remote? Nah, not so much.
That being said, Montana does have a lot of remoteness to it, which is one of the things that draws us here. To be able to drive a short way to find hiking trails that provide the peace and escape one can get from the outdoors is priceless. Some examples of the beauty of the area can be seen in the pictures I’ve chosen. You can’t help but to keep saying “wow” while in the northwest.
The forest and hiking trails are not all we like about the area though. There are lakes, boating, fishing, rainbows, four seasons, horses, downhill and cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ranches, fun activities and more. I think it’s obvious that part of the “why” we are moving has to do with our love of the outdoors, and the beauty that is found everywhere around our future home.
But then there is the question of “cold.” Why are we moving to a place that is so cold?
Well, if you’re current living in Florida or Mexico or southern California, then yes, you’re right, it’ll be cold. But for the last three or four years, we’ve tracked the temperatures and snowfall between our current home in NY and the area of Montana we will be moving to. And believe it or not, the differences are very slight. The average high temperatures are a few degrees cooler in Montana. The precipitation amounts in New York are actually higher than in Montana (hence the increased risk of fires in the West). As for snow amounts, I’m betting they are higher out west, although I won’t know for sure until I’ve actually experienced a winter there. I do have an interesting story though, which makes me feel better about the winters.
I met a lady who has lived in South Dakota her entire life. SD abuts Montana and often has very cold weather. She told me she went to New York City in the winter for a visit and I asked her what she thought. She told me that it was SOOOO cold in New York. She said the cold was the kind that got into your bones and you just couldn’t warm up. I found that to be very funny since I always thought the Dakotas were horribly cold. So I’m no longer worried about being too cold while out west. Since New York is so much more humid than Montana, the humidity equates into an entirely different kind of cold (and heat). As a hater of humidity, I am so excited about the drier air which brings me to another benefit of moving out west.
It’s a great place for my hair. Haha. Seriously, though. In my current home, I’ve always had to deal with frizz. I can air dry my hair out west and it looks great. Now isn’t that reason enough to move to Montana?
Or what about the fact that there’s no poison ivy? For my entire life, I’ve been so allergic to the nasty three-leaved plant that I used to have to go to an allergist every Saturday to get shots. They were supposed to help me become less sensitive to poison ivy leaves, but they never helped. I’ve just become very good at identifying and sidestepping the plant, but it will be so nice to be able to walk outside without having to worry about that.
And then there’s the difference in property taxes. For a 1,720 square foot home with an acre of land in New York, we pay nearly $11,000 a year in taxes. Our 27 acres of land in Montana cost us $93 in property tax per year. When our future home is built, a larger home than we currently have, we will pay only a few thousand dollars in property taxes. That makes the West more affordable than where we are now.
The “why” could also be that the people we have met have all been so helpful and kind. From giving us advice on builders, excavators and well drilling to inviting us over for coffee or dinner or taking the time to just talk, everyone has been incredible.
But maybe the best way to explain why we are moving to Montana is something my husband mentioned to me one day.
While we were on one of our visits out west, he said, “You know what I noticed?” and when I responded, “No, what?” he told me “Everyone out here dresses like us, and drives the same kind of vehicles we drive.” So perhaps the most important reason that answers “Why” we are moving to Montana is as follows. We seem to have found our tribe.