Billings is one of the best places to buy a home



    We already know that Billings is the best place to live, but now we have street cred: HousingWire backs us up. Reporting on a SmartAsset study, they placed Billings in the number two slot as the best cities for middle-income earners to buy a home.

    Bismarck, North Dakota beat us by taking the number one spot (I know, right?) but they didn’t beat us by much. SmartAsset likes our housing cost as a percent of income (20.6 percent), our 3.9 percent unemployment rate and our snappy commutes – 17.5 minutes.

    We’re not Las Vegas or anything, but they also factored in that we have 10.7 entertainment establishments per 10,000 residents.

    The top score in the study was 100 percent and we came in with a score of 97.48. Bismark, by the way, got the whole 100 percent (I know, right?).  Face it, they won because their unemployment rate is lower than ours.

    Our home values are stable

    In case you didn’t know, last year SmartAsset named the Billings housing market among the nation’s most stable. They said that our home values aren’t as likely to decline as other cities our size over the next decade.

    “If you’re thinking about buying a house in Billings, it may help to know that the average homeowner has never experienced price declines of 5 percent or more since 1991. And within that same period of time, overall growth has been more than 200 percent.”

    Read that again, slowly. Those are some amazing statistics, proving that it truly is better to buy than rent a home in Billings.

    Here’s what they didn’t talk about

    There are lots of other ways that Billings is one of the best cities of its size across the country.

    Nationwide, and even in the cities on the list and, yes, here in Billings, the inventory is ultra-tight. What good does it do to say that a city is a great place for middle-income earners to live if there aren’t enough houses available for them to buy?

    Right now, for instance, there are 43 homes for sale in Billings priced below $200,000. In Bismarck, there are only 17 homes in this price range. Prices are escalating quickly in Bismarck – much faster than ours.

    The rest of the list

    In case you’re curious, here’s the entire list of “the best 6 cities for middle class Americans to buy a home”

    1. Bismarck, North Dakota
    2. Billings, Montana
    3. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
    4. Santa Fe, New Mexico
    5. Boise, Idaho
    6. Cheektowaga, New York

    I know, I haven’t ever heard of that last one, either. Apparently, it’s not even a town, but a suburb of Buffalo with a population of 88,226. They get 91 inches of snow per year and have a whopping 157 days of sunshine. We get, on average, 49 inches of snow each year and have 205 days of sunshine.

    Interestingly, just one year ago this month, Bismarck’s housing market was named the worst in the nation, with housing prices not growing at all and “ . . . sellers are having trouble finding buyers,” according to

    Then, the director of the North Dakota’s Missouri Valley Coalition for Homeless People claims that, although Bismarck has jobs, people “can’t afford to live here. They find out that $12 an hour doesn’t quite cut it and they don’t have the funding to go back to where they were from.” So, they end up homeless.

    So, I hereby unilaterally claim that SmartAsset made a mistake and that the number one place for middle-class folks to buy a home is Billings, Montana.


    Photo:  coulson-park-billings-montana-july-2010-roger-peterson-001/CC by 2.0


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