Well before the pandemic, Montanans have been moving within Montana. You almost can't call yourself a Montanan if you haven't lived in more than one city in the state. This shuffling between cities happens for myriad reasons, but a big one, I think, is attendance out our public universities. Many times someone will move to Bozeman to attend for their undergraduate degree only to move to Missoula for a graduate degree or vice versa. Sometimes students start in Billings, or Helena and then transfer to larger, in-state schools, too. But sometimes, people are moving within Montana because of resources.

I've heard stories of people in small towns who had to move toward the city because their town was dying--that there weren't enough people or opportunities to make staying sustainable. We've also heard post-pandemic stories of people moving out of cities like Bozeman and Missoula because they can't afford to stay and they find better opportunities in smaller communities.

In any case, many Montanans move within the state, so here are a few tips for those moving, and a few more for those welcoming other Montanans.

If You're Moving Within Montana

  1. Don't wear your Griz or Cats gear on the first day unless you're in the city of the Griz, or the city of the Cats. Supporting the local team is a solid way to endear yourself to the locals.
  2. Don't talk about how much better it was where you came from. We're all Montanans, and even if we like to poke fun at each other, we're proud of our towns. Plus, missing your old town will only make it harder to fall in love with your new town.
  3. Try to move your stuff all at once. Speaking from experience, having half your stuff in one town and the other half in the other, gets confusing quickly (and leads to a lot of time on long Montana highways).

If You're Welcoming Someone From Another City in Montana

  1. Don't pick on them if they "accidentally" wear the wrong team. You'll have them converted in no time, but as they say, you catch more flies with honey.
  2. Help a fellow Montanan out. Tell them where the best place is to grab a burger or recommend your favorite barber. Even if you're moving within the state, you have to start over with all that stuff, and having someone provide recommendations can remove a lot of the guesswork.
  3. Invite your new Montana acquaintance to do something with you. Every part of Montana is so different, something you're used to might be totally different to them. Also, they won't just be looking for recommendations, they'll be looking for friends.

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