Dan McAllister moved to Montana two years ago to enjoy all that the flathead has to offer, and he’s not alone! Each year, more and more people are moving to Flathead Valley’s small towns because of the wide variety of outdoor activities they can enjoy year-round. After growing nearly 10% since 2010, Flathead County officially hit 100,000 residents in 2017 making it Montana’s second-fastest growing county, after Gallatin County, and we are now amont the fastest-growing rural counties (with populations over 25,000) in the U.S.
With Glacier Naitonal Park about 30 minutes from Kalispell, the hub of Flathead County, and so many varied actifities year-round it’s no wonder that the rureal areas of the Flathead Valley have seen such tremendious growth. Many residents say it still feels rural and thats the way they like it, with several small towns that are miles apart, Bigfork (on Flathead Lake) and Whitefish (at the base of a popular ski resort) are just two great examples of small town life with lots to offer those who live here either seasonally or year-round.
However the growth across the valley has many of the residents concerned with the lack of affordable housing for renters and when it comes to buying the prices seem to be on the rise there as well going up 6% since 2009, according to census data. Schools are brimming with children with enrollment increasing which is forcing schools to get creative with teaching techniques, but don’t worry new schools are on the way!
Other concerns that are also being addressed include increased traffic not only on larger highways but also the small downtown areas that the residents love so much. The most obvious signs of growth coming on the North side of Kalispell with many new retailers and big box stores which is being touted as “Consumption Junction”.
For many people the move starts with a vacation or even just a drive through the valley on their way somewhere else and they just fall in love. Many people still work seasonal jobs, there are more and more high-paying, year-round jobs coming to the valley all the time.
To read the full original article please visit: http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2018/04/19/outdoor-recreation-driving-population-boom-in-rural-areas