Ask Maxine

Katie Thomas  |   Monday Apr. 1st, 2024

Tired of running down rabbit holes when you ask Google a question? Want a succinct, personalized answer to your specific question? Meet Maxine, your new go-to for answers to those sometimes puzzling questions. We think you’ll find her advice relevant, maybe even endearing.

Dear Maxine:
My family is feeling like it’s time to leave. Bozeman is no longer the charming mountain town with a sense of community that it was when my husband and I moved here, intending to raise our children in a wonderful place. There are so many transplants from so many places, bringing their rude, unfriendly attitudes with them. Plus, it’s getting seedy – between the camper villages and scary people wandering everywhere, it doesn’t even feel safe. Everything is changing so fast. Should we stick it out, or get the heck out?
​​​​​​​--Thinking of Roaming

Dear Roaming:

This has been a very hot topic, and you raise some valid concerns. The vibe of our town has definitely changed. Anyone who’s been around for a while has watched our small, locally-owned, mom-and-pop businesses disappear and be replaced by big-box chains, or out-of-state ownership. There are those locals who remember when North 7th was the edge of town; now the sprawl will most certainly make Bozeman to Butte one long river of development someday. What used to be a too-cold climate to accommodate living in a car or under a bridge has somehow changed; there are now people panhandling on Main Street and sleeping who knows where.

Speaking of housing, we all know how out of proportion that’s become. In 1981, my parents purchased a 4,000 square foot home, built in 1896, on the 500 block of South Willson for $105,000.00, where my sister and I would spy on Malcolm Story, who lived across the street and tottered up and down the block smoking his pipe. Very unsurprisingly, Zillow now values it at $2.5 million. No way could humble schoolteachers get into such a house today.

The matter of crime/safety is relative; if you’re one of those transplants from Texas or California, what Bozeman has going on probably seems like nothing. But if you grew up in Fort Benton, seeing unhoused, mentally ill, and chemically-dependent folks among our population is likely shocking, and frightening.

So if you want to leave, you have to ask yourself where you’d like to go. According to the Real Ask Bozeman Facebook page, Townsend is nice (for now). If your main concern is raising a family, do your research – online and in person, if possible. Visit the towns that seem like “old” Bozeman if that’s what you’re after – but if you move there, tell everyone it’s ugly, boring, and that there are no jobs, so as not to turn another Montana town into a spot for some millionaire’s Yellowstone-wannabe cowboy adventure fantasy.

Maxine is a lifelong Montanan with a background in both language and unsolicited advice-giving. She spends her free time doing field research and writing critiques on American culture, ideologies, psychology, and relationships, and is happy to provide solicited advice to our community’s questions. To submit your question to our advice column, put “MAXINE” in the subject line and send your email to 

About the Author(s)