Montana locals frown upon Californians moving in

3 mins read

With hands exhausted from sewing face masks, Sasha Vermel, a designer and seamstress in Oakland came to her husband one day and said she wanted to look at houses in Missoula, Montana for the weekend.

They found themselves moving in there by Thanksgiving, adding to the thousands of Californians who have transferred to Montana for the last couple of years.

The couple has thought of the relocation through with Vermel saying they usually do “real estate tourism” on Zillow. Asheville, North Carolina; Austin; and Ashland, Oregon were also among their choices but they settled in Montana as Vermel has relatives there.

They sold off their house in Oakland and used the amount to acquire a bigger property in Missoula. “Being able to sell a Bay Area home meant that we could have a lot more,” Vermel shared. “We went from 1,600 square feet with houses packed around us to 180-degree mountain views.” 

However, the transaction in getting the property was not a walk in the park — until the seller learned that Vermel “wasn’t really from California.” 

Several Montana natives are not pleased with the flock of residents from out-of-state arriving and acquiring homes, and they were frank about this.

Vermel shared that her friend, with California plates, was one harassed at a gas station. Her father, who also resides in the town, had to fight for her to move back to Montana.

Carolyne Calvin, Keller Williams Montana realtor, said that in 2019, 85% of her clients were not from the state. Calvin said that this year, home sales within and surrounding Bozeman went mad. Residents from the Bay Area, Texas, Seattle were aware of the housing market and even paid for properties they don’t physically see.

But Calvin said local buyers were left behind, being priced out of the immediate market as out-of-the-state buyers are coming in.

Despite moving to Montana, Vermel still misses great restaurants in the Bay Area. She, however, shared she loved how her kids can explore the neighborhood as there were children of the same age out in the streets.

As the state of Montana is 88% white, Vermel said it is the diversity she misses the most in the Bay Area, SFGate reported.

“People have figured out what a great place this is,”  Lance Trebesch, CEO of Eventgroove, said, noting that the diversity in Bozeman progressed through the years. “The level of outdoor activities is top notch. There’s an emerging tech cluster. The schools are excellent…it’s not perfect, but why not live in a place like this?”