What's life like in Wyoming/Montana???

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

My husband has a case of wanderlust, and is dreaming about moving [from southern Vermont] to Wyoming or possibly Montana. This won't happen anytime soon, but I have this sinking feeling that it WILL happen! The only way I can be emotionally prepared for it is to find out as much as possible about the area and daily living in general out yonder! So.......I was hoping somebody could 'tell it like it is', or 'ain't'!!! We live in a pretty rural place right now where we were both born and raised [hence, my apprehension to move!], have a nice little house w/ 10 acres and 3 children. We are no strangers to snow and dealing with all that, yet my husband has much more of a 'backwoods' nature than I do. I, unfortunately, was raised more of a city girl and am afraid that I couldn't handle making it somewhere out in the big wide open! Anyway, i'm rambling. Thanks for any input! God bless.

-- Nancy (weebeesix@netzero.net), January 16, 2001


Nancy, I live in Montana, I'm not exactly sure what it is you really want to know about " the big wide open". Our weather has been below the NORMAL limits for about 10 yrs. This winter we've had more snow and colder weather than in the last couple. Where we live it is growing by leaps and bound that's why we're looking for a way out, more land and less neighbors. There is alot less people per square mile here than in Vermont but we do have ALL the modern conviences. If you ask specific ? I'll try to answer them. Wyoming is pretty just like Montana, they do have more plains( open grass land) than we do or so I believe but I can stand to be corrected. If I could move to WY. it would be Sheridan, it's a beautiful town nestled between two mountain ranges. What job are you looking to relocate to? Sorry I couldn't answer more but if you'll give me some specific questions I'll help in any way I can. Blesssings, Kelle in MT.

-- Kelle (kvent1729@aol.com), January 16, 2001.

Thanks for the info Kelle. We too, are going through the same thing you are with more and more people moving into this tiny little town. I have mostly looked at homes in eastern WY. I'm afraid of going much more west than that in fear of a grizzly showing up at my doorstep! [uh-oh, I'm showing my city side.....] My husband is a supervisor at a precsion machine shop. They make many parts for GE and companies that are in the airplane, aerospace industry. I don't want something 50 miles away from the nearest store, but right now, the closest 'big ' town is 20 or more in either direction, so we are used to a travel. We definately prefer a much more rural area. Our school system , k-12, has approx 250 kids, and we wouldn't want to throw our children into something a WHOLE lot bigger.... As far as housing prices [3 bedroom/1bath], is there anything out there in the $70-80k range that's not an old , dilapidated thing, with possibly land? Am I dreaming? I could look that up, I just don't know what town-Montana OR Wyoming- I should begin looking in to narrow my search. Do most people build with full basements, or is it a slab foundation? As far as the weather- I've heard of storms out there, which you seem to get way more of than us!, that completely shut down roadways for days on end. Am i watching too much TV? Also, I noticed in real estate listings in WY anyway, that the ad would say something like , " fenced in lot". Literally? And why, exactly? forgive me if that sounds pretty green, but we don't have that around here, so I'm just wondering. I knew there would be all the modern conviences, we have people that come up from the city around here that don't expect us to have running water, I guess. Yep, me and Jethro just use the ol'one holer out back.........! I'd just hate to move into something either 40-50miles from the nearest neighbor, or in the other direction, 500 ft away from one. I'll shut up now. Not one for quick responses, you can tell..........thanks again.

-- Nancy (weebeesix@netzero.net), January 17, 2001.

Nancy, I have traveled to that area every year for the past five, covered maybe 80-100,000 miles in those two states. (Yes, I drive a lot, but those states are big.) First thing to understand Montana is HUGE compared to anyplace in the East. Montana is about THREE times the size of New York state.

Both MT and WY are roughly divided into two major zones, plains in the East and mountains in the West. Both have vastly different climate, with intermediate zones mixed in. The population of both states is less than 1.5 million people - more cows and horses. :>) I deeply love both places, but do not want to live there in the winter.

I believe you said your husband is a precision machinist. I would suggest looking in a place called Big Timber. There are two manufactures of custom made old time rifles that do a lot of machining work. Big Timber is right at the edge of the mountains and near the gate way to Yellowstone. Awesome country south along the MT- WY border near Big Timber. Hope this helps some.

-- JLS in NW AZ (stalkingbull007@AOL.com), January 17, 2001.

JLS is right about the Big Timber area. It is pretty country. There is also a platinum/palladium mine near there that would be worth checking into for employment possibilities. They would probably be interested in a good machinist. With the mine, the area is really booming, so real estate is also high, but don't know how it would compare to where you are from. Winters can be tough around here, but have been pretty mild the last few years. There isn't all that much "big wide open" left here any more either!!! LOL--lots of people moving here.

-- Tie A. (knot@endofrope.com), January 17, 2001.

Hello, you said you were afraid of a grizzly showing up on your doorstep...get a dog..preferably a catahoula leopard..they can handle bears..I have a buddy who hunts bears with those dogs...of course, I'm biased because I have this breed :) They're good with kids but not with strangers unless you tell 'em it's ok and they'll leave the strangers alone.

I like Montana and Wyoming..been to both states and Idaho but it's too cold for me right now :)


-- Ted Hart (tedhart71@hotmail.com), January 17, 2001.

Hey, Ted, I've lived in Montana all my life and I'm.... Well, let's just say "if I was a chicken I'd have been noodles a LONG time ago", and I've never yet seen a grizzly bear except in the zoo!!!

-- Tie A. (knot@endofrope.com), January 17, 2001.

You're talking about some of the most beautiful places on the face of the earth. Depending where in Wyoming it can be awfully dry - it's not the least populated state for nothing!

I just visited a friend at the beginning of winter. He lives near Sheidan with is in the middle of Wyoming east-west and pretty near the Montana border. The (I'm blanking on the name of the range) Mountains were big on the horizon. Most of the people near town had 5 to 40 acres and the grounds pretty flat, so we could see about 5 houses from his front yard. He raises buffalo and various neighbors raise Angus, Llama & Alpacas, horses, and some sheep. He's throw the dinner-making scraps (peelings & stuff) out the door and a dozen deer would walk into the yard and eat. One day we drove up into the mountains and saw two bald eagles and moose and antelope but no elk :-(. And not a single bear.

All I can say is - go visit. See it for yourself. You'll probably fall in love and never want to leave. But it ain't cheap. He said land with water rights is $10,000/acre. Dry land is pretty cheap but useless, except to look at.

-- Deborah (ActuaryMom@hotmail.com), January 17, 2001.

I agree with most of the things posted earlier. I have lived here all my life, we hunt, hike, fish & camp, we've never seen a grizzle bear. Brown and black bear which can be dangerous if they have cubs, anyways we've NEVER had a problem. You will be more likely to see deer, elk, coyotes, moose, mountain lion and even wolves(depending on where you live ) The Big Timber area is pretty in many ways, price being the biggest. There are tons of small communities all over this state that are just as pretty. We live in an area between Billings and Shepherd, there is other small towns, to the west of us, named Parkcity that's in between Laurel and Columbus, several to the southwest like Silesia(sp.?), Rockvale, Edgar, Bridger, Joliet, Roberts, and Redlodge. Redlodge is a tourist town, so land comes dearly, most of these other areas you can get land for about $1,500- $5,000 acre. You do need to be careful as with any land purchase to make sure of the avaliblity of good water, alot of areas are what is called DRY land that is that there is no irrigation, only mother nature to supply your moisture. To the northeast of us are areas like Shepherd, Huntley, Worden, Pompey's Pillar and Ballintine, these areas all tend to be spendy but they do have irrigation more readily avalible. We've been looking for about 10 - 20 acres and an older home, well they are running from $70,000 + for dry land to $ 125,000 to $200,000 + for irrigated land. I don't know alot about Wy. land prices but it's probably similar to MT. We seem to be attracting alot of MOVIE star to both states which hasn't help to bring down land prices, the therory is if you raise the price they'll come, I mean the rich of course. LOL!!! Anyways stop worrying about the grizzlies and come for a summer visit Maybe we can plan on meeting and doing some show -n- tell. Hope this answers some of your questions, I've given specific area names but just know that is such a small area, there is lots, lots, lots more. My husband is a Hydraulics Mechanic, he works in a machine shop, he is also trained in grinding/ chroming and pumps and valves. They work on thing from tractor parts to the repair to the HUGE cylinders that come from the mines. The other day he was tearing down a cylinder off a drilling machine it had an ( ID) of 4 1/2 ft. your husband should be able to explain. The cylinders he mainly works on are off the HUGE trucks at the local mines in WY and MT. There are lots of mining related jobs here and I'm sure something that would be in a round about way in your husbands line of work, I don't know about that specific field though. Feel free to email me with more question just put ? about Montana in the suject box. Sorry this is so long !

Blessings, Kelle in MT.

-- Kelle (kvent1729@aol.com), January 17, 2001.

Thank you all SO much for the amazing amount of info you wrote! It would've taken me 5 years to find all that out.

Kelle, thanks so much for mentioning all the towns to look at. I was originally looking at East WY, but now, I think my husband and I would be more comfortable in the western part of WY or MT [more invaders Tie A.!] My husband was about ready to pack up when I told him about the Big Timber area, especially after hearing about the rifle manufacturers JLS mentioned.

Ok, ok, I have to say what a weeny I was being about the bears. We have seen many since we built a few years ago [ on their old stomping grounds....], and have even had one nosey enough to come up to the back porch and peer in the sliding glass door one day! So I'm no stranger to black bear and other wildlife. In fact,we have moose and deer crossing our yard fairly often [usually we see the tracks after we get back home from church-go figure]. I think with bear as like with any animal, you need to exercise common sense and some respect. It's just the grizzly's are so,so big............

And I forgot to mention that we do have a dog. Although it's only a German shepard- ours happens to have the same 'attitude' that Ted's dogs have regarding strangers and the way he is with the kids. I'm sure he couldn't KILL a grizzly [ yea, I realize the chances of me even seeing one close enough to worry about are pretty remote..!] I'd like to think he'd do some damage before the thing ever got near us. Or at least he'd bark!

I had read an article on the net about rural properties and making sure about the water bit. Not something I would've given a second thought too since we hardly have to think about that around here.

Stupid question #10......do the Wyoming praries ever see any - now don't laugh too hard- tornadoes? Ok , Ok, but I had to ask! We are VERY secluded from so many things like that. We have felt tremors from distant quakes [ I can remember 3 times in my entire 31 years], and the Nor'Easters can be bad if it comes with lots of ice, but the snow stops eventually, and if you have a brain in your head you have a wood stove to heat with or a generator- if you're rich. Just wondering....

Ok, my last question, and then I'll wrap it up: Have any of you ever relocated like we are thinking of doing, and if you have, was there something that you wish you had investigated more? Anything you wish you had thought through more or wished somebody had told you? I just think an educated decision is the best decision. Let's leave no room for following your heart or any foolishness like that...........!

Looking forward to your answers, thanks again. Nancy

p.s. I'd love to have you as a pen pal Kelle , if you'd be interested- with 3 kids I don't get to write much-ok I do- but it's usually not novels like this! Or if Kelle's busy.......maybe someone else? Just so it's said --maybe you should keep your expectations low, I haven't had a pen pal since 3rd grade!

-- Nancy (weebeesix@netzero.net), January 18, 2001.

ok, I'm all set with a pen pal! Thanks again!

-- Nancy (weebeesix@netzero.net), January 19, 2001.

Nancy, your question "Wyoming prairies ever see any tornadoes? Rarely, extremely rarely, same with eastern Montana.

I have lived all over the world, several countries and in at least five or six states. Just remember home is where you make it.

By the way, both gun companies make replicas of the 1880 style Sharp's rifle. They are works of art.

-- JLS in NW AZ (stalkingbull007@AOL.com), January 20, 2001.

Nancy- You are far and away much more likely to be attacked or injured by a MOOSE than by a Grizz!! Even in Alaska where bears are MUCH more prevalent than the lower 48, Moose are a much larger danger. Your chances of seeing Grizz in the wild in Montana and Wyoming is REAL slim. They tend to avoid inhabited areas, and CERTAINLY avoid a barking dog!

Check out areas. Take a vacation there. Be normal folks, and talk candidly with LOCAL real estate agents. You may want to avoid the agents that are national franchises. Stick with the local folk.

And those Sharps/Ballard/Meecham rifle replicas are GORGEOUS!! Not to mention pricey!! I know a couple of them, and they are GOOD places to work.

Good luck!!


-- Glenn Bullock (UrsusO@aol.com), January 22, 2001.

Hi Nancy,

It is a different way of life out here, and as many suggested in the previous posts West and borders North and South are the better places to look for homesteading. Here in Casper, Wy (we are about centered in the state) it is more on the plains side of things. Dry, sagebrush, heavy mineral deposits in water, that type of thing. There is irrigation in some areas and they grow things fairly well. Wind is one thing you have to get used to here...and yes, there rarely are tornadoes here. But mostly it's the winds, 20 mph not unusual when fronts are coming through. Water is a BIG thing and you need to make sure the property that you are looking at has it. The piece next to you could have a well in at 50' and you not get one at 200. But, I don't think I'd trade the wide open for anything....I grew up in western Washington...lots of wet, trees and green....but I've gotten used to the open and brown. Have you decided if you're moving or not? Best thing to do is visit the areas first, see if you like it. Enjoy your life.


-- Deborah (bearwaoman@Yahoo.com), April 09, 2001.

I've never lived in Montana or Wyoming but I've visited both places and i can only say that Northwest Montana was the most beautiful place I've ever been. We drove from Jackson Hole, WY up to Glacier National Park,MT. I've traveled a great deal and have seen many places and still think of the time I spent up in that corner of Montana as the closest to perfection I've ever experienced! I've also dreamed of owning land there. I dont' know where you live in Vermont, but knowing what I know about Vermont climate, I'm sure you'd be okay with WY or MT.

-- amy (acook@in4web.com), April 09, 2001.


I was reading some of the responses and found some interesting. It sounds like you fear the grizzlies the worst but I could be mistaken. Both Montana and Wyoming are great states but I think jobs pay better in Wyoming than Montana. About the grizzlies......I have had a run-in with one at 20 feet but like the other gentleman was saying, dogs are a good key to keeping the bears away from you. Incidently, when I had my encounter, it was on the prairie not far from my house. I was hunting pheasants and the bears come down from the Mission Mountains to feed on apples and other fruits and I happen to not take notice of the bear scat piling up in the area. So maybe I was at fault. I have seen lots of grizzlies from a distance and they are awesome, no doubt. But Wyoming also has griz. In fact I read in the paper the other day that one was killed on the highway near Cody, so take the information for what it is worth. My theory is ...if your going to die ...there is not much you can do about it and God will take you when your time comes. I think I would rather be with the bears than the rattlesnakes. Also, I think that you have a better chance of being hurt in an auto accident that getting hurt by a bear. Good luck in your decision. Eric

-- Eric (arl0035@blackfoot.net), July 05, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ