Moving to Missoula: What You Need to Know

Nestled between five mountain ranges, Missoula, Montana is a beautiful place that offers all the great benefits of living in a remote and rural ‘big’ city. After all, Missoula has a population of nearly 120,000, making it the second-largest city in Montana behind the capital, Billings.

Residents of Missoula have access to open-space conservation land, where the likes of grazing elk and deer are visible. But they’re also able to head to one of the oldest breweries in the western United States before joining friends at the University of Montana to watch one of the country’s most competitive collegiate football teams take the field.

However, for anyone readying for a big move, it can be a stressful time. But newcomers have nothing to fear. Between its natural wonders, hometown feel, and classic Americana culture, Missoula is a great place to resettle.

The Griz

Established in 1893, the University of Montana is home to around 11,000 students, half of which are undergraduates. But don’t worry – despite their strong football team, known locally as the Griz, Missoula isn’t considered by most residents to be a college town. Sure, the Griz attract good odds in college football and regularly turn out NFL-ready athletes like 2020’s Dante Olson, but beyond the hype is a respectable team that’s part of a modest university culture, well integrated into Missoula.

The stadium can fit up to 26,000 fans, and the streets surrounding the stadium often look like an extension of this group, with fans wearing maroon and cheering loud. However, there are also tailgating areas specified on the University campus where tailgating parties are allowed, often including students, alumni, and even first-time football fans.

Newcomers to Missoula are encouraged to grab some Griz gear, available online and at the University stadium. And, for those catching the game at the stadium, be sure to arrive a few minutes early to see the Griz Walk, a grand entrance that is accompanied by the University of Montana marching band.

Natural Wonders

            The metropolitan and county of Missoula include over 400 acres of city parkland. Given that, as aforementioned, Missoula is nestled between five different mountain ranges, the views offered in these parks can’t be rivaled in the US or indeed worldwide. While newcomers should be prepared for a heavy winter, spring through autumn offer unlimited outdoor recreational activities.

There are also towns, such as Stevensville and Hamilton, that are only a short drive away and provide residents with a timeless glimpse into classic American living (see below). Nearby natural wonders include Seeley Lake, Mount Jumbo, and the Bitterroot and Blackfoot Rivers, all of which have ample trails that are well-marked.

In addition to fantastic views, new residents may also want to get to know the local flora and fauna. While its normal to see the likes of grazing elk and deer, the area is also home to predators like black and grizzly bears, as well as osprey and bald eagles. For those who enjoy fishing, there are plenty of lakes and rivers that offer recreational fishing and bird watching.

The ponderosa pine, Montana’s state tree, is a common sighting along with willow and cottonwood trees. While sightings for flora and fauna may seem like a large undertaking, especially for someone new to outdoors recreation, there are plenty of social clubs and groups in Missoula who head out for weekend daytrips and are always happy to have a new member.

Americana Style

            Like most outposts located throughout the American Rocky Mountain region, Missoula has developed its own unique customs and cultural cues based on geographic separation from other major hubs.

In particular, Missoula has an impressive farmers market, with many residents choosing to grow their own food and sell it at market as a hobby. The farmers market also shows a strong preference for locally grown and sourced raw materials that are sold not only to individuals, but also restaurants.

Missoula restaurants are known for their classic, homestyle meals with modern twists. Spots such as The Depot, Caffe Dolce, Rumour, Plonk, and The Keep have perfected new gastronomic ventures, while other places like The Rhino, James Bar, Paul’s Pancake Parlor and the Mo Club offer standard American fare.