The Magic City has a crazy amount of reasons why people move here. It appeals to the disenfranchised youth that want to drop out of urban sprawl and into Big Sky Country – so long as there's other stuff to do than just look at the sky. Job seekers, too, come to Billings as there is corporate representation by 16 Fortune 500 companies representing dozens of industries. Billings is also popular as a leisure destination for the hip, pretending to be non-hip. There are a disproportionate number of art venues including theaters, museums, and even a symphony. Additionally, there is a city “event” just about every week – from wine & food, to hot air ballooning (Skyfest), to Gay Pride Weekend, to concerts and art walks, and rodeos. Billings is a tightly knit, navigable city that is very much in touch with its inner fun-ness – it's like Austin with contours and fewer Longhorns (but way more Bighorns).
How many shillings will it cost me in Billings?
Billings is not big and the collection of apartments can be sparse. While Billings has some exceptionally historic and colorful neighborhoods, you will find apartment hunting most fruitful in the following sections:
Downtown: The effective center of town – the heart of Billings' financial and cultural personalities are here – commonly referred to as “The Downtown Core.” Using Montana's tallest building, First Interstate Center, as the X marks the spot, you'll find about 45 restaurants, taverns, and pubs within ½ mile. Check out Cham Thai for some of the most universally loved food in the city, or Sarah's for locally owned/operated Mexican fare. There's also a Hardee's - attention all you East Coasters, deprived of the ultimate hangover cure (and cardiac event cause). 1 BR around $500 (fancy loft 1 BR for $900), 2 BR $600 - $725
West End: Sometimes called The West Side, this is the fastest growing neighborhood in Billings. The West End is home to the Rimrock Mall which has such treats as Orange Julius and casino gambling. Both true and equally refreshing. A decent amount of decent public schools can be found in the West End. 1 BR $475 - $525, 2 BR $600 - $725, 3 BR under $1,000
South Side: Encompassing Old Town and South Park (stop chuckling, it's not that one), The South Side of Billings is technically part of the Downtown Core. Billings' oldest neighborhood, the South Side hosts (at South Park) numerous festivals and foodie events. The South Side is the most diverse, bohemian neighborhood in Billings. 1 BR $500, 2 BR $600 - $700, 3BR $775 - $925
Heights: Another fast growing section of Billings, Heights is Northeast of downtown and is the place to be for outdoor activities, including golf. The acclaimed, quite beautiful, and reasonably priced and public Lake Hills Golf Course is here as well as Lake Elmo State Park. There are several apartment complexes here and a stunning array of fast food restaurants in this sort of “last gas for 30 miles” edge of Billings. 1 BR (not so easy to find) $500 - $575, 2 BR $675 - $750, 3 BR under $1,000.
Make it thrilling in... you guessed it...
Billings has a new age but also stubborn, “we were here first” kind of vibe. It's not a problem, just don't bring your Hamptons snobbery (whether or not you own a place there). However, you should bring a love for nature and your entire wardrobe as Billings is a four season city (although Spring and Fall are short). It can get brutally cold in the winter and very hot in the summer.
Billings is a place with great, fresh air. Bring your outdoor spirit, your dog, and consider leaving cigarettes behind – they're sort of discouraged more than in most places – Montana was an early adopter of smoking bans and indoor clean air acts.
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