I was born and raised in Montana. Here are 4 good things about living there and 4 reasons why I wouldn’t go back.

A photo collage shows the author smiling at a selfie (left) next to a photo of a thermostat and an open field.

I love the outdoors in Montana, but I hate the cold.Jordan Parker Erb/Insider

  • I was born in Montana and lived there until I graduated college. I come back several times a year.

  • As a child, I dreamed of leaving. Now we have a clearer picture of the strengths and weaknesses of the states.

  • I love being able to enjoy the outdoors right away, but the lack of city life has made it impossible for me to go back.

I was born in Helena, Montana and spent most of my 18 years dreaming of leaving Montana.

Side-by-side photos show the author as a child (left) and as an adult in his hometown of Helena.

The author in his childhood (left) and adulthood in his hometown of Helena.Jordan Parker Erb/Insider

Many teenagers had a particular grudge against where they grew up.it’s too small, too boring AnythingBut since graduating college in 2015, I’ve taken a more nuanced view of my home state.

I still think there are downsides to living there (freezing winters, etc.), but I see the very upsides and spend at least a month away from my childhood home each year. I work at

From vast outdoor spaces to perfect summers, here are the best parts of living in Montana and why I can’t go back.

Living in the Big Sky State means you have access to pristine wilderness wherever you turn.

Side-by-side photos show fields and mountains outside the author's home.

The field in front of the house where I spent my childhood (left) and the mountains behind it.Jordan Parker Erb/Insider

Returning to Helena’s childhood home reminds me of how important nature is to me.

Out the back door you can walk straight into the mountains for a hike. And just a few steps from my front porch is a sprawling field with a creek that my dogs splash in during the summer months.

These are not the only perks of my neighborhood: in the middle of town Mount Helena, a city park with miles of hiking trails. Residents have access to beautiful views and spaciousness without leaving the city limits.

It’s usually cheaper to go out for food and drink in Montana than in places like New York, and there’s no sales tax.

The author in a bar in Montana, where there is no sales tax.

The author in a bar in Montana, where there is no sales tax.Jordan Parker Erb/Insider

Going out to dinner and drinking in Montana feels like you get more for less.

In my experience, drinks like White Claws are half the price in New York City, where I’m currently based, making a night out much more affordable.

moreover, No local or state sales tax in Montana —Compared to New York City, Total State and local sales tax will be approximately 9% About food and beverages sold in restaurants.

I love being able to drive wherever I want without getting stuck in traffic.

4 people in front of FJ Cruiser

The author and three friends on a hiking trail outside Bozeman, Montana.Jordan Erb/Insider

When I’m in Montana, I love being able to run errands around town without getting stuck in traffic. Montana’s cities continue to grow, and of course have more traffic, but they’re nothing like the major metropolitan areas.

It feels so free to hop in the car and go wherever you want without having to walk to the nearest station or bus stop or wait for the often-delayed public transport.

Summers are fairly mild, perfect temperatures in my opinion.

The author smiles with outstretched arms near a river in Montana.

Montana’s summers are ideal for outdoor recreation.Jordan Parker Erb/Insider

Visiting Montana in the summer means soaking up the rivers, lakes, mountains, and all that Montana has to offer without putting up with the heat.

It’s not that Montana doesn’t get hot.of Average temperature in July is in the mid-’80s, and there certainly are better days to relax indoors than to go on outdoor adventures. But the low humidity makes it less sticky than the East Coast summer.

The warm summer months are a great time for hiking, kayaking and the outdoors.

Winters, on the other hand, can be bitterly cold. Input: Downsides of living in Montana.

A thermostat showing a temperature of minus 40 degrees and a photo of me in full winter gear side by side.

In December 2022, the weather dropped to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit for several consecutive days.Jordan Parker Erb/Insider

When I was home for the 2022 vacation, Montana was hit by a severe cold snap that sent temperatures skyrocketing. -40 degrees Fahrenheit for days on end.

Although the weather is not always extreme, Montana winters can be very cold. in Helena, average height January has highs of 13°C and highs of 33°C, and snow usually starts in October and can continue. Until after April.

Montana’s long, harsh winters prevent us from enjoying all that the state has to offer and is one of the main reasons I won’t be returning anytime soon.

Also, depending on where you’re coming from, it can be expensive to go.

Photo of an airplane wing over fields and mountains in Montana.

Travel to and from Montana can be expensive.Jordan Parker Erb/Insider

I often joke with my family that it’s cheaper to fly to Europe than fly back to Montana, but there’s a little truth behind the exaggeration.

I recently scanned a flight from New York City to Helena and the ticket was a whopping $700! That same week, the cheapest ticket to London was $422 for him.

maybe the trip my greatest passionand living in a big city like New York allows you to do it more often at a lower cost. can be high, creating a higher barrier to frequent travel.

Especially if you buy or covet something, you may have trouble finding it when you need it.

Downtown Helena, Montana

Most of my shopping is done in downtown Helena because there aren’t many big box stores.Matt Volts/AP Photo

Despite being the state capital, Helena always feels under the curse of big retailers. Growing up, the mall was a place for old people to roam the empty corridors until it was finally shuttered and demolished.

There are no department stores left in town. Macy’s was the last one standing. closed in 2020The biggest stores are TJ Maxx, Target and Walmart, and fast-casual restaurants like Sweetgreen have yet to open anywhere in the state.

As such, I tend to shop at small businesses and eat locally. I love supporting small businesses — my family is made up of entrepreneurs — but if you’re looking for something specific, it can be frustrating not having a variety of stores to choose from.

The lack of comfort in the city is the main reason preventing me from returning.

Side-by-side photographs show the author at various locations in New York City.

I love endless activities in big cities that Montana towns don’t have.Jordan Parker Erb/Insider

I have always been drawn to city life. I lived in Boston and New York City. I also lived in smaller metropolitan areas like Indianapolis and Boise, Idaho.

I love how diverse there is to do and see in each city. I love that in New York there’s always something going on and the party really never ends. The city is alive with bustling restaurants, hidden bars and all-night bodegas.

Montana offers a quiet and quirky experience. I cherish it, but it’s something I can’t go back to.

At least not yet.

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