Living off grid in Montana is completely possible. Although the state is rugged and has extreme temperatures, many people can be seen living there off the land. The population density is so low that there are more bears per square mile than people—now that’s rural.
Want to read more about off grid living? We’ve written an in-depth article on every state!
General Statistics for Living Off Grid in Montana
Living off the land in Montana may be challenging. Most of the state is untamed wilderness, and the winters are harsh. To prepare for winter, Montana residents stockpile food for at least a week—if not more. This is because traveling is extremely difficult and dangerous when it snows.
People traveling through Montana are urged to have food and water in their vehicles for at least two days. If their car breaks down, it may take days for someone to discover them. You’d think they could use their phone—but no, Montana is so rugged that most of the state lacks cell signal.
Living off the grid in Montana isn’t all bad, though. Sure it’s tough—but it’s estimated that over 2% of the population is off grid. This is pretty high compared to most other states!
What’s the Climate in Montana?
Montana has a northern pacific coastal climate. The climate in the state’s eastern sections is semi-arid and, in the wester parts, continental. This implies that summers are brief, while winters are lengthy and harsh. During the summer, the average temperature is approximately 70°F. However, it can reach 85°F in July/August. The average temperature in the winter is far below freezing (usually in the negatives in Fahrenheit).
During the summer, Montana faces smoke from the wildfires that plague California, Oregon, and Washington. While the fires have made it to western Montana before, they’re less common. However, the summer can be very dry, with an annual rainfall of less than 15 inches.
What Type of Crops are Grown in Montana?
Wheat is the most prevalent crop farmed in Montana. Other popular cross potatoes, flax, beans, peas, apples, and grapes. In addition to plats, Montana boasts many cattle farms. In fact, the state has more cattle than humans living there.
Most homesteaders in Montana cultivate vegetables in greenhouses because not all regions in this state are ideal for producing crops.
What’s Freshwater Availability Like in Montana?
Freshwater availability is split into two sections in Montana. On the western side of the state, there are no freshwater concerns owing to the climate. However, in the eastern portion of the state, where the environment is semi-arid, you may have trouble catching rainfall or groundwater.
On average, the yearly rainfall is roughly 15 inches. However, in mountainous places, rainfall may reach 100 inches per year. The average yearly snowfall is between 30′′ and 50′′, with mountains receiving up to 300′′.
What Kind of Wildlife Does Montana Have?
Montana is home to various creatures, including grizzly bears, moose, wolverines, bighorn sheep, elks, mountain lions, coyotes, white-tailed deer, lynx, and black bears. Many of these creatures are large and can hurt people very easily. Many homestead and off gridders carry bear spray with them at all times for protection.
Bull trout, brown trout, yellow perch, burbot, black crappie, American paddlefish, and westslope cutthroat trout may all be found in rivers and lakes. Both fishing and hunting require a license which can be found here.
How to Generate Off Grid Power in Montana?
Solar power: Generating solar power in Montana is a great place to do so. Montana provides one of the most generous solar incentives called the Residential Alternative Energy System Tax Credit. It is 100% of the entire cost, up to a maximum of $1,000. Additionaly, you can use the federal tax credit of 26% if your solar system costs more than $1,000 (which they probably will).
Wind power: Montana gives a $500 tax credit for wind turbines and attractive loans of up to $40,000 that must be repaid within ten years.
Are There Living Off Grid Laws in Montana?
Living off grid in Montana is completely legal. Due to the low population density, many people live off grid already. The state also provides considerable incentives and low-interest financing to residents who wish to construct solar or wind-generating power systems.
Because of the severe winters and low population density, many people homeschool their children. Homeschooling rules are quite liberal, and you may even apply online.
Interested in a state with no Off Grid Living Laws? Check out my article on the Last Frontier.
What’s Road Access Like in Montana?
Road access will be an issue during the winter, so if you intend on going to Montana, make sure you have a bugout bag or at least some food and water in your vehicle. Here’s the one I use, and although I’ve never had to use it in an emergency, it comes in handy on my day-to-day.
The majority of individuals in Montana use four-wheeled vehicles. Those who reside in extremely rural locations also utilize snowmobiles and four-wheelers.
What’s the Price of Off Grid Land in Montana?
The cost of land and housing is almost the same as the national average. A median home price is around $231k. The price of property and land is often much lower in the western sections of the state.
However, you can find five acres of land for less than $60k in Montana. It might take some looking, but it can be done!
What’s the Property Tax in Montana?
The property tax in Montana is roughly 0.81 percent which is below the national average. Stillwater County has the lowest property tax in this state at 0.63 percent.
Seriously, these taxes are hard to beat and any other state on the western coast has more than double the property tax. You’ll save money living off the grid in Montana!
What’s the Cost of Living Off Grid in Montana?
The cost of living in Montana is lower than the national average. You will spend 25% less on transportation and 10% less on utilities. The cost of housing, health care services, and food is right at the national average.
What’s the Job Market Like in Montana?
Montana’s unemployment rate is 2.9 percent, which is lower than the national average. Nonetheless, Montana’s unemployment rate is rising. The minimum wage is $9.95 per hour, slightly more than in surrounding states. Agriculture, forestry, industry, renewable energy, and tourism are the major industries where most people work. Montana’s economy is reasonably steady, and it has been rising in recent decades.
What’s the Crime Rate in Montana?
Despite Montana’s low population density, the crime rate is rather high. The crime rate of Montana is 4.68 crimes per 1000 people. This compares to the national average of 3.9. The safest neighborhoods are those around Elliston, Hysham, Opheim, Winnett, and Stanford. Billings, Helena, Crow Agency, Great Falls, and Missoula, have the highest crime rates.
This is not to say that Montana is unsafe however, as most of the places with the highest crime rates are urban areas. No matter where you live off grid, the more rural, the safer (from people at least).
Is Living Off Grid in Montana Affected by Natural Disasters?
Winter storms, ice storms, and floods are Montana’s most prevalent natural catastrophes. Although floods are regular, those that cause significant property damage are uncommon.
As mentioned above, wildfires have become more prevalent in Montana over the past few years.
Is Living Off Grid in Montana Possible?
Overall, I would suggest off grid living in Montana for those with thick skin. If you have ever experienced winter in Montana, you will understand why. The planting season is quite short, and you will be preparing for winter throughout the summer. Simply put, you will either love or despise living off grid in Montana.
If you want to learn more about living off the grid in Montana, we’ve got an in-depth guide focusing on each county.