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MSU economist says trend of people moving to Bozeman likely to continue for next few years

Vincent Smith.jpg
Posted at 6:04 PM, Jul 19, 2021

BOZEMAN — Despite a pandemic, it seems like the city of Bozeman is doing great economically. But that comes with advantages and disadvantages.

“What we’re seeing in the last year and a half is an unprecedented surge in housing prices driven in large part by the availability of relatively high-income folks to relocate in places of their choosing,” said Dr. Vincent Smith, an economics professor at Montana State University.

You may think a pandemic would hurt a local economy but in a lot of ways, it has made it easier to move here.

“Because of the willingness of companies like Google and so on to allow folks to work from pretty much wherever they want to live,” explained Smith.

But with more money being poured into the city, it increases the prices of everything else—which brings the question, when will the increase stop?

“If I knew that I would make investments and end up very rich," Smith said, "but I—it’s very difficult to make that forecast.”

But Smith says he's sure of one thing.

“Bozeman is going to remain at the top of people’s list as a place where they want to move, at least over the next three to five years.”

Which will continue to cause issues with affordability, especially when it comes to housing.

“Who's going to pay for affordable housing and keep the rent for those houses at levels that are relatively low? It’s very hard to ask someone who could rent their properties for $2,000 a month to just rent at $1,000 a month.”

In 2021, Bozeman was ranked by the Policom Corporation as the fastest-growing micropolitan area in the U.S., its fourth straight year in the number-one spot.