Great Falls named among top 100 places to live

Great Falls made the list of the top 100 places in this year’s ranking by Livability.com.

Great Falls made the list for the first time, coming in at 97.

Brett Doney of the Great Falls Development Authority told City Commissioners on Tuesday that in the past Great Falls didn’t even make the top 1,000 a few years ago.

Billings and Helena ranked higher on the list, but Bozeman and Missoula did not make the list.

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Great Falls beat out Tuscon, St. Louis, Las Vegas, Nashville, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Albuquerque, Omaha City, Ogden and Bangor, Maine, among others.

According to Livability’s profile, “this city in the heart of Big Sky Country is ideal for anyone who loves the outdoors. Great Falls is situated along the banks of the lovely Missouri River and offers ample opportunity for adventure. When it comes to getting outdoors in Great Falls, the sky’s the limit — no pun intended.”

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Great Falls scored high in the infrastructure and economics categories, due to the low cost of living and ease of getting around, according to Livability.

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“Great Falls is increasingly becoming a destination for entrepreneurs because it’s a welcoming and inspiring place for anyone looking to bring a new idea to life — this is pioneer country, after all,” according to Livability’s description of the city on the list.

The city’s profile on the list highlights Great Falls as the pizza capital of Montana; grilled cheese at The BlockMighty Mo Brewing Co. as the best brewery and Cassiopeia Books, as the beloved bookstore.

Not surprisingly, Livability names the Sip ‘n Dip Lounge as the city’s hidden gem.

According to Livability, this year’s list ranked more than 1,000 cities with populations between 20,000 and 1 million according to the latest projects from their data partner Esri.

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For each city, the company used their proprietary algorithm to calculate a LivScore, which is based on more than 40 data points grouped into eight categories:

  • Amenities

  • Demographics

  • Education

  • Economy

  • Health Care

  • Housing

  • Social and Civic Capital

  • Transportation and Infrastructure

To develop the ranking, Livability partnered with Ipsos, a market research firm, to survey more than 1,000 millennials about the factors that are most important to them when deciding where to live.

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The results of that survey are available here.

The main themes were affordability, job opportunities, diversity and inclusion. We used these results to determine how much weight to give to each data point, and make sure our 2019 list reflects the values of the country right now.

According to the survey results, affordability was the top consideration in deciding where to live.

So Livability instituted a cap on median home value for the first time in their ranking process.

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In this year’s list, no city has a median home value over $250,000.

The company also raised their population maximum from 350,000 to 1 million to include mid-size cities that are attracting young people.

Livability pulls data from the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Affairs, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Federal Aviation Administration, the United States Golf Association, the Federal Communications Commission, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of Education as well as private-sector sources including Esri, Great Schools, and ATTOM, as well as data from nonprofits including the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps produced by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.