Missoula offers no shortage of things to do. The outskirts of town hold opportunities for skiing, mountain biking, hiking, backpacking, kayaking, and whitewater rafting. Within the city limits, folks like to relax and take it easy. Brewpubs, art galleries and coffee shops decorate the main drag.
In Missoula, you’ll be considered a local once you’ve: 1. Hiked up to the big M on the hill; 2. Played a round of Frisbee golf (Folf) at Pattee Canyon; and 3. Eaten “brains and eggs” at The Ox. Until then, let’s work on finding you a Missoula apartment.
For years, the mantra in Missoula was to “live wherever you could find a place.” Although that pressure has let up some in recent years as the city has grown and new housing has been developed, it’s still no cakewalk for renters to find a place. The best advice from the Missoula Chamber of Commerce? “Start early.” It may take a while and there is a large range of housing styles and quality. Since most places require a 12-month lease, you want to make sure you are happy with your decision. Additionally, there are lots of property management places so it is best to try out several to find the best fit. Locals know that the best time to find housing is in early summer. Many places are vacant this time of year. But hurry— by August they will be filling up again. One thing many locals don’t know is there is another let-up time in late December. If you’re quick, you can snag something then.
The thing about describing housing in Missoula is the city is so much more about what’s outside than inside (Rattlesnake National Recreation Area, Pattee Canyon Recreation Area, etc.). That said, there are certain neighborhoods you’ll want to investigate, each of which carry their own distinct vibe and culture.
With tons of bars, coffee shops, pizza parlors, art houses, restaurants and cafes scattered throughout the streets, the downtown neighborhood is definitely a convenient place to live. A select number of apartments, multiplexes and rental houses exist and with diligence (and a little luck), you may be able to nab one. If you do, the area will offer you an abundance of food, shopping and nightlife nearby, and you’ll be able to walk or bike just about anywhere.
The South Hills area provides an abundance of rental units. The neighborhoods are spread out, so you will probably have to drive a car to get downtown (or ride a bike if you have one).
This quaint, scenic part of town is a mix of homes, apartments and multiplexes nestled in and out of the woods at the foot of the Rattlesnake National Recreational Area. Most of the housing options here are surrounded by trees and you can bike downtown in ten minutes.
West End (Orchard Home, Mullan Road)
In the West End, there are fewer apartments than big homes. However, the neighborhoods are newer and the region feels more “suburban” than other parts of town. It is close to Reserve Street, the stretch of town holding the city’s big box stores and strip malls.
This part of town is tucked on the east side and is in close proximity to downtown. There are fewer large homes and housing options are mostly apartment complexes and trailer homes.
This up and coming part of town has been renovated in recent years through a number of revamping initiatives. The city’s focus on economic development has given it a fresh facelift. Neighborhood councils have been added and cultural centers established. Brewpubs and art galleries have sprung up which have made it a viable place for people to call home.
This area is on the outskirts of town and a bit of a drive if you have to commute every day. However, it offers some of the most scenic and beautiful views in the city limits. Moreover, it has the nestled, small town feel that many people move to Montana to experience. If you move to the Miller Creek area, you will likely have a big yard. An ideal living spot for people with vehicles who love open spaces.
Missoula is a small town. Although its bus system now offers service to most neighborhoods, you won’t find super comprehensive routes or schedules that run all night. There is no urban train or trolley car. There are a few taxi cabs services but in general, if you are planning on being out in the evenings, you need to plan ahead. The same goes for your daily commute.
The good news is Missoula is considered one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country and there are paths to get you everywhere, many of which are out of traffic. It is also very walkable with a number of pedestrian bridges and walkways. With a little forethought, you will find a transportation system that works best for you.