The Prospera Business Network published its trice annual cost of living study that confirmed what most Gallatin Valley residents already know: Bozeman’s housing market is expensive.According to the report, housing in Bozeman costs 9.5 percent more than the rest of the nation.
Drew Little, the Prospera Program Manager, said that number does not factor in Belgrade housing costs.“My guess is it’s more affordable to live in Belgrade,” Little said. “Just based on the listing prices I’ve seen.”The study looks at other cost of living factors, like grocery, transportation, healthcare, goods and services and utility rates. In each other category except healthcare, Bozeman falls below the national average for cost of living.
Prospera also includes data for four other cities with similar populations to Bozeman. The cities featured in the study are Mankato, Minn., Grand Junction, Colo., Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Kalispell.Falling nearly 32 percent below national housing costs, Idaho Falls has the cheapest housing of the five surveyed cities. Bozeman was the most expensive of the cities by more than 20 percentage points. Housing in Kalispell is less expensive than the rest of the nation by eight percentage points and 17 percent cheaper than Bozeman. High housing rates made Bozeman only a marginally more expensive place to live overall than the rest of the nation. Prospera’s report says Bozeman is .2 percent more expensive than the rest of the country, thanks to below average costs most other categories. Little said Bozeman’s low grocery, goods and service and transportation rates probably apply to the Belgrade community, as well.“The two communities are not isolated,” Little said. “So those cost of living things could be similar.”Little talked about how often Belgrade residents trek to Bozeman to fill prescriptions, visit the doctor or go shopping. Those trips make the cost of living nearly identical in the two communities, with the exception of housing costs.“
Bozeman residents continue to enjoy a bargain when it comes to utilities and transportation, which were both 6.7 percent below average,” Little said in the report.
“Healthcare was 2.1 percent above average this quarter, which is not usual compared to prior periods.” Historically, Bozeman’s cost of living rate has ranged from 98.2 in 2002 to 107.5 in 2008. In 2011, the cost of housing in Bozeman was 3.5 percent below national prices. By 2012, Bozeman housing cost 5 percent more than the rest of the country.
The change in the housing index score is relative to national averages, meaning the Bozeman real estate market is picking up rapidly compared to other states.“It boils down to supply and demand,” Little said. “The inventory right now is limited in Bozeman.”Though Bozeman’s housing numbers look especially optimistic, the Belgrade market is showing signs of reawakening, too.
According to the Montana Multiple List service used by realtors, in 2010, 145 houses were sold in Belgrade. The average home sold for $180,449. By June this year, the average home sale price in Belgrade increased to $190,324. If home sales continue at a steady pace, nearly 185 homes will be sold in the area in 2013.The number of short sales in Belgrade is dropping, too. In 2012, 29.3 percent of all the homes sold were short sales. This year, that number has dropped almost 10 percent to 19.6 percent.For both Belgrade and Bozeman residents, the valley is a valuable place to live with lower than average utility, grocery, transportation and goods costs.