Bozeman ranked No. 2 on ‘dream town’ list

Bozeman keeps cropping up on national Top 10 lists and this week it appeared as No. 2 on’s new list of American “dreamtowns.”

Dreamtowns are “small towns that offer the best quality of life without metropolitan hassles,” according to the Charlotte, N.C.-based company, which Thursday released the results of its national study of quality of life in “micropolitan” areas.

The No. 1 dreamtown was, according to the study, Torrington Conn.. That city, with 190,00 people, is 81 air miles outside of New York City in northwestern Connecticut’s hill country.

But Montana dominated the list, with Bozeman in second place and Helena and Kalispell taking fifth and sixth places, respectively.

“The study was inspired by the heavy public interest in small-town life,” according to

An estimated 235,000 families, seeking refuge from congested urban areas in places with less hassle and a greater sense of community, moved to nonmetropolitan areas in 2006, according to the Web-based publication. That’s an average of 640 families each day.

“But where's the best place for them to go?” the publication asked. “(The study’s) aim was to identify communities that would be most attractive to people considering such a move.”

To compile the rankings, bizjournals compared 140 “micropolitan” areas in 20 statistical categories, using U.S. Census Bureau data.

High scores went to “well-rounded places” with light traffic, healthy economies, moderate costs of living, impressive housing stocks, strong school systems and easy access to big-city attractions.

Rounding out the top 10 list were:

No. 3: Lexington Park, Md.

No. 4: Lebanon, N.H.-Vt.

No. 7: Mankato-North Mankato, Minn.

No. 8: Oak Harbor, Wash.

No. 9: Stevens Point, Wis.

No. 10: Concord, N.H.

Bizjournals is the online media division of American City Business Journals Inc., which publishes more than 50 business and sports newspapers and magazines across the nation.

Bozeman, Mont.

Strengths: This Rocky Mountain community is fast-growing and prosperous. Only four micropolitan areas have expanded more rapidly than Bozeman since the start of this decade. The local poverty rate is the lowest in any U.S. micro, and the unemployment rate is the second-lowest.

Closest major metropolitan area: Denver, 517 air miles

Quick stats

Area population: 81,763

Population growth since 2000: 20.5 percent

Average commuting time: 20.6 minutes

Median household income: $47,532

Homeownership rate: 66.2%

Median house value: $261,900

Adults with bachelor's degrees: 45.2%