GREAT FALLS - People are continuing to move to Great Falls amidst a growing period for the city.
One of the reasons for that is the lower costs of living.
The Great Falls Development Authority reported that in 2022, the local cost of living was about 87% of the national average.
They also report that Cascade County's GDP increased by more than 10% in 2022.
Great Falls' cost of living is an exception from the state, as Montana overall came in at just over 103% of the national average.
"Nationally, of course, it's rising because of inflation," GFDA marketing director Lyndsay Bruno said. "Many different costs are impacting the cost of living. But we're trying very hard here in Great Falls to make it affordable for people to live here and people to move here and attract new talent that can help grow our economy."
The "Live In Great Falls" website (link) features a cost of living calculator that lets you compare how far your salary will go in Great Falls compared to other places around the country.
Compared to Bozeman, for example, a salary of $50,000 will go about 28% further in Great Falls.
What about a much larger metropolitan area?
Some are about the same, such as St. Louis, but comparing Great Falls to Boston, for example, your salary will go 42% further in Great Falls.
Even with the lower cost of living, some real estate agents are saying that the housing market has slowed down, with not as many people moving to Great Falls right now.
"I think that it's slowed down some for sure," broker Melissa Dascoulias said. "I just think with the interest rates and also I think people are concerned about the economy in general, I think that they're just more hesitant to make leaps and bounds to move around like they were."
"We definitely still have people coming here," broker Kim Martin said, "but there's still pent-up need for housing because really what's going on is we don't have a lot of inventory. So they're out there, but we can't really see them because nobody's making offers on houses."
According to the Great Falls Association of Realtors, the median sales price of a home in Great Falls as of February 2023 was $290,000; for Cascade County, the median price was $323,000.