What Is The Cost Of Living In Billings, Montana?
Just two and a half hours north of Yellowstone National Park sits Billings, Montana. Billings is the largest city in the state with a population of approximately 109,500. It is located in southern Montana along the Yellowstone River. Billings may not be the capital city, but it does have a lot to offer.
The cost of living index for Billings, MT is 94.9, which means it is slightly cheaper than the country’s average. Food and groceries cost of living index hits at 101.3, with housing at 99.7. The utility cost of living index is approximately 95.6.
Are you considering the move for lifestyle or financial reasons? You should be aware of the impact – good, bad, or otherwise – it’s going to have on your wallet. While Billings isn’t the most expensive place in the US to live (far from it), it also isn’t going to be as cheap as you might initially think!
Housing Costs in Billings, Montana
Housing in Billings has a wide range. This includes affordable single-family homes to multi-million-dollar mansions for those looking for the ideal mountain retreats. Housing in Billings is overall cheaper than all of the state, but comes in significantly under the average in the United States.
Homeownership rates in Billings are also slightly lower than both the US average and the state average. However, they are much higher than those in Helena, Montana, the state’s capital city.
Median Home Values in Billings
|Location||Median Home Value||Homeownership Rate|
As mentioned previously, the range of houses that you can find in Billings varies greatly. You will see the most homes in the $100,000-$299,999 price range, however.
Median Home Prices in Billings, Montana, Compared
|Value of Home||Percentage of Homes|
|$1 Million and Above||0.6%|
Rental Costs in Billings, Montana
The rental market in Billings, Montana is slightly higher than the US average, with 35% of residents in Billings, Montana renting homes or apartments. As of 2021, approximately 32.6% of Americans nation-wide rent their homes.
Montana, as a state, doesn’t even hit the top 10 list of where renters are the majority, in fact– they don’t even come close.
The Average Rental Cost by Bedroom Size in Billings, Compared
|Housing Size||Billings||Billings Metro||Montana||United States|
It’s clear to see that the Billings metro area is more affordable than living within Billings proper. This is because as you go farther out, you move away from city amenities, just like with any major populous area.
There are about twenty-one states in the U.S. with average rents below $1,000 a month. West Virginia has the lowest average rent in the country, followed closely behind by Montana with an average rent of $678 per month. States with the lowest rental prices also tend to have the lowest overall costs of living, and this holds true for Montana.
The average monthly rent for an apartment in Billings, however, is $1,012. Though, you can expect to spend as little as $605 or as much as $1,624 per month, depending on the apartment’s size and specific location. To put things in perspective, the following table outlines how the average monthly rent in Billings compares to other neighboring cities in the state of Montana:
The Average Rental Cost in Montana, Compared
|Great Falls, MT||$982|
Tax Rates in Billings, Montana
Good news if you’re worried about taxes in Billings, Montana! Montana’s progressive state income tax system has a top rate of 6.9%, property taxes are below the national average and there is no state sales tax.
Sales Tax in Billings, Montana
Fortunately, residents of Montana enjoy no sales tax. This means that the state does not collect any sort of sales tax – at the state or local level.
Property Taxes in Billings, Montana
Property tax rates below the national average are another reason why Montana can be considered a tax-friendly state. The average effective county property tax rate for Yellowstone County (where Billings is located) is 0.900%. For a residential home valued at $230,500, the median home price, property taxes on that property would be $2,075 annually. This is slightly higher than Montana’s average, which is 0.830%, but still lower than the national average of 1.07%.
Income Taxes in Billings, Montana
If you’re concerned about state income tax, Montana may also be a good choice for you. The state has a progressive income tax, meaning you pay based on your income. As such, there are higher rates for higher income earners and lower rates for lower income earners. Montana has seven income brackets in total, with rates ranging from as low as 1% to a top marginal rate of 6.9%. Although the bottom rate is considered low on average, the top marginal rate is fairly high.
However, considering some states, like California and Hawaii, have more than double that, Montana seems like an affordable place to live and work.
Utility Costs in Billings, Montana
The average residential electricity rate in Billings, Montana is 11.64¢/kWh, which is high when considered to the state average. State-wide, the average residential electricity rate is 10.08¢/kWh. However, this is lower than the US average, which sits at about 11.88¢/kWh.
For a 900 square foot apartment, you can expect to pay about $115/month for your basic utilities. This includes heating costs, cooling, water, electricity, and garbage. The average internet cost for the area is just under $62/month with no data cap.
Food & Grocery Costs in Billings, Montana
Food costs in Billings, Montana, are slightly higher than the country average, with a cost of living index at approximately 107.6. This is due to a number of factors, including the city’s larger size and the remote location of it. If it isn’t grown locally, it needs to be shipped quite a distance to make it to Billings!
A good rule of thumb is your food budget for the year should be 11% of your income. The median income in Billings is just $31,991 per person, or $59,656 per household. Per household, that gives you about $7,662 per year for food purchases, or $638/month.
|Food in Billings, Montana||Average Cost|
|Average Meal for 1||$10-$12|
|Mid-Range Meal for 2||$50-$55|
|Gallon of Milk||$3-$3.50|
|Loaf of Fresh Bread||$2.20-$2.75|
|1lb of Bananas||$1-$1.50|
Transportation Costs in Billings, Montana
Transportation costs are another important factor that you must consider in order to determine the overall cost of living in a particular location. These include expenses such as gas prices, public transportation costs, and car insurance premiums. When it comes to transportation, Billings, Montana is cheaper than the national average, with a cost of living index of transportation to be just 91, on par with the state of Montana.
If you’re commuting to work, the most common way to travel is to simply drive. However, Billings does have a public transportation system if you do not drive or wish to reduce your impact on the environment.
The average commute for a Billings, Montana resident is just over 17 minutes.
The Cost of a Gallon of Gas, Compared
Public Transportation Costs in Billings, Montana
If you can’t drive or don’t want to, the MET Transit is in Billings and ready for use.
MET Transit Fare Prices
|Age Range||One-Way Fare||Unlimited Monthly Pass|
|Seniors (62+) and Disabled Citizens||$1||$12|
In addition to these prices, a single-day pass for the MET Transit system is just $4, and a 10-ride ticket is $18. Transfers are always free on MET transit.
You can also bike or walk in Billings, but be aware that in the winter it can get cold and very snowy, making conditions difficult. There is nowhere in the city to rent bikes or scooters, unlike some other major metro areas.
Annual Car Insurance Premiums in Billings, Montana
The state of Montana has an average cost for full-coverage car insurance of $1,737 as of 2021, which is higher than the US average of $1,674. The minimum coverage premium for Montana, however, is just $342 – significantly cheaper than the US average of $565.
The average car insurance premium in Billings, Montana, however, is $1,644 for full coverage. Though, your rate can vary based on your age, driving record, the insurance company that you choose, and whether you opt for full or minimum coverage.
To help illustrate how car insurance premiums vary based on where you live in Montana, the following table outlines average car insurance rates in five Montana cities.
|City||Average Annual Premium for Full Coverage||Percent Increase in Average Annual Premium|
Education in Billings, Montana
School districts are often a big consideration for families looking to relocate. In Billings, the number of students per classroom is slightly higher than the state average, which is 14. Most have 15 students per teacher, with the high schools having 18 students per teacher.
The Billings public school district is the largest in the state, with over 16,600 students each year attending K-12. It includes an impressive 22 elementary schools, 6 middle schools, and 3 high schools, plus a career center. The school district is also the 3rd largest employer in the state.
The career center also offers courses in a variety of career fields like engineering, design, welding, and more. Even if a student isn’t interested in a traditional career path or a 4-year degree, the Billings school district can help.
The graduation rate for the Billings school district is 84.6%, slightly below the country’s average of 88%. The state of Montana has an average graduation rate of 87%.
Activity Costs in Billings, Montana
Looking for something to do? There is no shortage in Billings. There are plenty of hiking and outdoor activities that won’t cost you a dime, if you enjoy nature and being outside, including Lake Elmo State Park, Pryor Mountains, Pictograph Cave State Park, and The Rimrocks.
ZooMontana, a 70-acre zoo, is located in Billings, and tickets are $11 per adult, $8 per child. Billings is also home to Yellowstone Art Museum, the largest contemporary art museum in Montana. The cost of entrance is $15 per adult, $6 for students or children under 19 years of age.
Is Billings a safe place to live?
If safety is a big concern for you, Billings might present some problems. Billings is considered the least safe city in the entire state, earning a Safety Index score of -0.97, according to data pulled from FBI crime statistics.The violent crime rate is 4.93 per 1,000 and the property crime rate in Billings is a staggering 54.58 per 1,000. The chances of becoming a victim of a violent crime in Billings is 1 in 162, whereas in all of the state, it is 1 in 247. The chances of becoming a victim of a property crime in Billings is 1 in 24. Per square mile, there are 119 crimes reported in Billings. Per square mile in all of Montana, there are just 28.
Is it worth it to move to Billings?
So, what did we learn, looking at the average costs for Billings, Montana? Billings is as cheap, or expensive, as you make it – your lifestyle is going to dictate its worth. If you live frugally, you can eat and live well within the city. Crime may be your biggest concern, with snow coming in a close second.If you can move past these issues, however, Billings is a charming city with lots to do and see. It is the seventh-happiest city in the state.
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