The median home price of homes sold in Gallatin County, Montana in January 2024 was $951,700 according to the Gallatin Association of Realtors. In Madison County, it was $900,000. Silver Bow county seemed 'affordable' in comparison with $330,000.

We'll get to what a 'living wage' in Montana has been calculated to be, but before that - let's take a look at the dollars based in reality. Where do we really stand in terms of wages and how we have to spend our paychecks?

As of January 1st, 2024: "State law requires the minimum pay for workers to increase automatically with inflation, which will result in a 35 cent increase for 2024. That brings the minimum wage in Montana to $10.30 per hour." (According to

If you make Montana's minimum wage with a full time job, that calculates to about $21,000 per year. Needless to say, that falls drastically short of the cost of living in Montana's larger counties.

What about the cost of rent in Montana? It varies but for the most part it's above the national average. Some towns are pricier, and size and amenities of course play a part in rent costs. Let's take a look around Montana. According to

  • The average rent for an apartment in Bozeman is $2,305 (with 76 rentals available)
  • The average rent for an apartment in Billings is $1,407 (with 48 rentals available)
  • The average rent for an apartment in Missoula is $1,471 (with 100 rentals available)
  • The average rent for an apartment in Helena is $1,465 (average size is 842 square feet)
  • The average rent for an apartment in Great Falls is $1,227 (average apartment size is 749 square feet)
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According to Living Wage at MIT: "The living wage is the hourly rate that an individual in a household must earn to support themselves and/or their family, working full-time, or 2080 hours per year."

The required annual income required before taxes for 1 adult with zero children in Montana is $42,374 (also according to Living Wage at MIT). 

So, that means that Montana's living wage would be nearly $16 an hour to cover all costs associated with living in the state. But that doesn't fly in expensive metros such as Bozeman. Making $16/hour equates to about $2,560/month.

Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash
Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

Even having roommates doesn't make the math awesome - groceries, cell phone, power, etc. Basic monthly expenses leave next to nothing for savings. Getting ahead, or digging out from any debt is nearly impossible.

  • 8,884 or 35% of the households in Great Falls, MT are renter-occupied while 16,664 or 65% are owner-occupied.
  • 6,619 or 44% of the households in Helena, MT are renter-occupied while 8,413 or 56% are owner-occupied.
  • 17,239 or 53% of the households in Missoula, MT are renter-occupied while 14,994 or 47% are owner-occupied.
  • 11,636 or 55% of the households in Bozeman, MT are renter-occupied while 9,352 or 45% are owner-occupied.
  • 17,218 or 36% of the households in Billings, MT are renter-occupied while 31,260 or 64% are owner-occupied. (via

See Full Living Wage Calculations for Montana

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