GREAT FALLS — Business Insider recently named Great Falls among the best Western U.S. cities to live in after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
In placing Great Falls at #10 on its list, the business site highlighted the fact that Great Falls has the 12th-lowest population density and the 10th-lowest average housing cost of metro areas in the West region, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The article states: "The nine factors we used are the pre-coronavirus unemployment rate, ability to work from home, population density, housing affordability, monthly housing costs, cost of living, average travel time to work, total elementary- and secondary-school spending per student, and share of residents age 25 and over who have at least a bachelor's degree."
Great Falls mayor Bob Kelly agreed with the assessment: “Well, I wasn’t surprised, that’s for sure. I guess if I was surprised at anything, it was recognizing that other people from a national perspective have finally discovered out secret.”
He mentioned the public school system, short commute times, and renewed business energy downtown as other strong factors.
“Right behind us is downtown, and I think it’s just done a tremendous job. I’ve lived here almost 30 years now, and I’ve been telling people, ‘You don’t know what you’ve got,’” Kelly said. “I’ve lived a lot of places in the country and Great Falls has a great sense of itself and its community. Its location near the (Missouri) river is really an attraction for people. Our downtown is picking up, our schools are doing well, (Malmstrom Air Force Base) is firmly planted here. I think we have a lot of momentum in the community, and I think others are sensing that.”
Two other Montana cities made it on the list, with Billings ranked at #16 and Missoula at #7.
The top three cities in the West, according to Business Insider, are Logan, Utah; Cheyenne, Wyoming; and Pocatello, Idaho.