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Missoula, Billings continue seeing influx of out-of-state residents

Moving to Montana
Posted at 5:17 PM, Feb 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-03 19:17:38-05

MISSOULA - Despite 27 million Americans moving last year, the United States still saw its lowest moving rate in over 70 years in 2021.

But people moving state-to-state saw a jump, according to new US Census data.

That data also shows Montana had the highest net inflow of moves per capita with 73% of moves inbound -- meaning more people are moving into the state rather than moving out.

The great Montana migration continues, and the proof is in the numbers.

"The ratios were all taken based on population the state, and Montana had one of the lowest populations, and some of the highest moves inward," explained Mercedes Martinez with moveBuddha, which is a technology company that collects data on moving.

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The new report puts Montana as the number one place people flocked to last year, with Martinez saying, "that's just the biggest takeaway there, is considering how it will change the way of life for everyone moving and already living there."

The new data also shows a slight decrease in moves to Missoula. moveBuddha noticed that while the Garden City saw the highest influx of people moving to the state in 2020, those numbers tapered off some in 2021.

The report breaks down the number of people moving in divided by the number moving out-in a "net inflow ratio." That figure dropped from 7.1 in 2020 to four in 2021 for Missoula, marking the single, sharpest decline in the whole study.

"Even though that change, it looks like a negative 300% change from 2020 to 2021, that feels very drastic, which in comparison to the year prior it is, but it's still very high, there's still a lot of people going to Missoula," Martinez explained. "It's not that it's not popular anymore."

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Meanwhile, Billings saw even more people moving in last year with their figures increasing from 2.7 in 2020 to 3.9 in 2021. "Basically, long story short, Billings just caught up to Missoula," Martinez said.

A lot of these people moving to Montana might be coming from California, as the report also shows that state lost the most residents last year with Martinez noting, "I think that people are just looking to get the most space that they can for their dollar."

Martinez says as the world adjusts to post-pandemic life, the trend to Montana is likely to continue, "there's more of an even spread of where people are landing. Overall, they're still both two of the most popular inbound cities for 2021, and probably will continue to be this year as well."



The following information is courtesy of moveBuddha:

  • Year-over-year (2020 to 2021) Montana actually lost some traction when we compared the ratio of inbound to outbound moves.
  • #1 — Despite the slowdown, Montana had the overall highest proportion of inbound vs. outbound compared to the other remaining states and D.C.
  • Billings: To better understand the increased interest, in 2020 for every 1 outbound move there were 2.7 in. This 2021 that inbound count jumped to 3.9 moves in for every 1 out.
  • Missoula's still attracting droves of inbound moves: While Missoula may have been impressively popular in 2020 with 7.1 inbound moves for every 1 out, 2021 still showed promise for the city with a strong rate of 4 moves in for every 1 out.  

moveBuddha compared the net inflow for each state to the corresponding state's population. They say taking a look at net moves per capita "can provide insight into how inflow into each state may be impacting local infrastructure."