Can't afford a home? Get out of the city

  Oh, come on, Mark Matthews. As I started your Writers on the Range article "I’ve tried, but I can’t eat the view" (HCN, 6/7/04: I've tried, but I can't eat the view), I expected an analysis of Tom Power’s anthem on how we make worthy sacrifices to live in the great West, trading some monetary rewards for quality of life in a small town. Instead, you tell us what we already know about the high cost of living in large and attractive, geographically confined Western cities that host the largest regional universities. Missoula and cities like it attract people. No surprise there.

Thing is, there’s plenty of places you would be able to afford a home in Montana. I invite you to Butte, Anaconda, Dillon, or if you’re ready to have an expansive view with your affordability, Lewistown, Roundup, Miles City, or Sidney, to name a few. Take my home of Butte. If you’re handy with a hammer and a total outlay of about $15,000, you could be the owner of a perfectly serviceable home.

My point is that Missoula, Coeur d’Alene, Park City and Medford (or especially Ashland) are the places that attract hordes of young people, the retired, or the affluent. They have priced out many working stiffs. However, places like Butte, Anaconda, and many others could actually benefit from an increase in population. There are simply too many boarded-up buildings to turn people away.

Larry Smith
Butte, Montana