Sometimes called the "Hub of Five Valleys", Missoula is a small city of roughly 70,000 in Montana. A lumber town for most of its existence, Missoula had to find a new way to thrive as the lumber industry dwindled away to almost nothing by the 1990s. When being a logging town was no longer viable, Missoula re-emerged as a town centered around the University and health care. There are two hospitals in the city, both of which are major employers. St. Patrick Hospital and the Community Medical Center are the largest employers other than the University in Missoula. The University of Montana is a public research University that has nearly 15,000 students walk through its doors annually.
Like college towns across the country, graduates moving out of town to start their careers leave a big hole in the apartment rental market. This means that the months of May, June and July provide the best times for apartment hunters to find a place to live. Starting your search a little earlier, such as the last few weeks of April, might give you access to a few more places where tenants have given advance notice.
Meeting your landlords in person is important. This can be difficult for people moving in from out of town, but the truth is that other people will spend the time and money to travel to Missoula in person to look for their apartment. If you're not willing to take that step, you may find yourself losing out on apartments to those who are.
Missoula is famous for confusing drivers who are new to the town. The streets are winding and not laid out in a fashion that makes sense to many out-of-towners. In addition, icy road conditions in the winter may be dangerous for those not used to serious winter driving. The local bus service can alleviate all these problems, and is both affordable and reliable.
The natural terrain outside Missoula provides endless options for entertainment. Well groomed and managed ski resorts and golf courses complement natural trails and rock climbing sites. During Saturdays, a street market offers an opportunity to shop from the many unique artisans and craftsmen that work in Missoula. The Big Sky Brewery, Bayern Brewing, and Kettle House are three local breweries with taprooms where you can sample their wares.