Big Sky Beauty, Growing Tech Industry Attract U-Haul Renters
People must have paid attention when Missoula began marketing itself as a fitness-friendly destination for flourishing businesses and young families who fancy the great outdoors.
Judging by U-Haul migration data, the well-suited sales pitch did more than garner inclusion on everyone’s “best places to live” lists. It got moving trucks pointed toward western Montana.
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U-Haul locations in Missoula saw 53.8 percent of truck rental customers coming into the city as opposed leaving. Missoula welcomed 17 percent more U-Haul arrivals year-over-year, while its departures were up 2 percent over the same period. The overall increase in U-Haul traffic made this western Montana refuge a busy place for do-it-yourself movers.
“We get a lot of creative types,” Mayor John Engen said. “We have a solid employment base and a lot of folks interested and involved in the tech sector. I’ve lived here 51 years, and Missoula is as busy and attractive to businesses as I’ve seen it in my lifetime.”
New residents are drawn to Missoula for reasons in addition to business, from the educational opportunities at beautiful University of Montana to the blue-ribbon trout fishing in the heart of town, made famous by the 1992 movie A River Runs Through It. Trail running, mountain biking, hunting and camping are all practically right outside your front door. If you’re a football fan, the Grizzlies are one of the top Division I-AA college programs with seven championship game appearances.
“Missoula provides a unique experience in that you can have a cosmopolitan experience and access to a great arts community, world-class lectures at the university, world-class meals and fine accommodations,” Engen added. “And then in 10 minutes out my door, I can be breathing air that is scented with pines, hear a creek flowing by and feel that I’m as alone as I want to be for that moment. We’re lucky.”
While U-Haul migration trends don’t correlate directly to population or economic growth, the growth cities data is a strong gauge of how well cities are attracting and keeping residents. Continue following the U-Haul Top 10 U.S. Growth Cities countdown at myuhaulstory.com and via Twitter @uhaul.
More on Missoula
- Missoula is the No. 1 fitness-friendly city in America for 2016, according to a recent list compiled by Smart Asset. Livability.com lists Missoula among the Top 100 U.S. cities to live in for the third consecutive year due, in part, to its 60,000 surrounding acres of wilderness to explore and its huge craft beer scene (the only city in the West with more microbreweries per capita is Portland).
- Missoula faces challenges as a growing city landlocked by five mountain ranges, starting with affordable housing. Local real estate values have spiked in the last two decades, and some newcomers have a tough time finding homes to meet their budgets. As a result, there has been an explosion of new apartment construction. Engen said his priority going forward is to establish a thoughtful policy that will ensure people have decent housing options.
- U-Haul Moving & Storage of Missoula and nine U-Haul neighborhood dealers serve the city, which welcomed two new
dealers in 2015.
- “I’ve never seen so many bicycles in my life. Everyone rides a bicycle to work. We have skiing and everything the outdoor enthusiast wants. The college is a big draw. St. Patrick Hospital’s International Heart Institute brings in a lot of people wanting to get closer to it. The unemployment rate is below 4 percent. It’s just a good all-around city.” — Terry Shaub, president of U-Haul Company of Montana
- “Businesses have discovered Missoula. That’s why I think we’re No. 10 on the list. Bozeman had all the tech jobs. Now Missoula is getting them. I’ve been in the Missoula area most of my life and have seen the town go from 30,000 residents to 80,000 or 90,000 in the immediate area. In another five years, we’ll probably outpace Billings and become the largest city in Montana.” — Scott Rouse, general manager of U-Haul Moving & Storage of Missoula
Do you have any tips on moving to or living in Missoula? Share with us in the comments below