I feel like I'm in the upside down.

I lived in Billings for 10 years and if I'm being honest, I spent at least five of those years figuring out how I could move back to Missoula. It didn't work for various reasons, but the cost of living was a big factor.

Because of (dare I say) "the cool tax", Missoula, in general, is a more expensive place to live than Billings. So it comes as a bit of a surprise to see that a new report shows Missoula is a better city for renters than Billings, and both cities are in the top 100 cities in the country for renters.

But if you break it down, Missoula isn't better because of the cost--it's other factors that make it more desirable than Billings.

READ MORE: Missoula Vs. Billings--They Might Be More Similar Than You Think

The finance site WalletHub looked at both affordability and quality of life when determining the best places to rent in America in 2024. These included things like rental vacancy rates, historical rental-price changes, the job market and other things that contribute to making a city ideal for someone who rents.

Here's how Missoula and Billings ranked.


  • Missoula - 27th overall
  • Billings - 11th overall

While Billings is more affordable than Missoula according to their data, it is surprising that Missoula would be ranked in the top 30. Anecdotally, I'm hearing that the rental market is Missoula is still hard, but according to this study, it's not as hard as it is in other places. Cities in Florida and California were ranked as some of the least affordable in the country.

Quality of Life

  • Missoula - 131st overall
  • Billings - 174th overall

What I referred to as the "cool tax" above could be more accurately described as the quality of life, and this is what puts Missoula ahead of Billings. From personal experience, I can say that drivers are more friendly in Missoula than in Billings, and that's one of the variables measured in this study. Factors like recreation and safety probably also helped Missoula.


  • Missoula - 70th overall
  • Billings - 86th overall

So there you have it--the numbers say Missoula is better for renters than Billings. But I do think lived experience is important here. If you've rented in Missoula and Billings, message us on our app and tell us which city is better.

LOOK: Highest-paying jobs in Missoula

Stacker compiled the highest paying jobs in Missoula, MT using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Gallery Credit: Stacker

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