MSU is getting noticed for their research. There are a few things we were naive about when we chose Bozeman. (Our student is now a 3rd year at MSU). It is not the sleepy town budget college one might assume.
There is a massive homeless problem for a city this size. Yes, some are working folks priced out of housing and living in campers. But there is also a large number that are also drug addicted. So far, the number and size of encampments has only grown in the 2+ years we’ve been there. The area up near Walmart is questionable, as are some area parks. Meth is a problem in Bozeman. (google all of this. Also search NFL Dane Fletcher’s recent rant)
Housing. It is more expensive than you probably think for Montana. Students will have to live off campus 2nd year and should budget $800-$1100/month just for rent and utilities. No doubt it can be stressful finding housing, especially within walking distance to campus, which means students will need a car and parking pass at $155-$375/yr, and they sell out.
I have heard that the number of Grad students admitted far exceeds Grad housing available.
Visitor Housing aka AirBnBs. In a feeble attempt to help alleviate the housing crisis, the City Council will phase out almost all AirBnBs (except rented rooms in owner occupied homes). Hotels and short-term rentals are already expensive in Bozeman, so get ready for visiting parents to pay even more in the future.
Crime and Safety. In general my student feels safe there. However there is a local bar and a fraternity that are known for spiking drinks with date rape drugs (google it).
The football team is doing well, and tickets sell out quickly and many students are disappointed they are unable to attend.
Politics. This one is interesting. Bozeman votes liberal Democrat. However, there are threads of good ol boy vibes, and students with out of state plates (esp CA) do get nasty and sometimes threatening notes left on their vehicles. There are no cameras in the MSU parking lots so reporting incidents is moot.
In summary, Bozeman is a city experiencing massive growing pains and seems to be in react mode. The fishing, outdoors, and beauty of Montana are being marketed to the world, and MSU keeps marketing and admitting more and more students. Unfortunately, the city is having a hard time handling all this marketing success. What do the locals say? “Don’t come to Bozeman. It’s full.”