Is Montana a Good State to go Off the Grid?
Montana is a stunningly beautiful state. It seems like Montana is usually on the short list of people who are considering an off-grid lifestyle. I'm not sure why, maybe it's because of the Marlboro Man image or maybe it's because of the low density levels. For whatever reason Montana is usually at the top of the list. But, is it really a good place to start your self-sustaining homestead off the grid? Let's take a look and see.
Summer is by far the most beautiful season in Montana. It usually doesn't get too hot except in the occasional heat wave and it's not too humid. It does cool down in the evening and nights during the summer. Fall weather can be variable and lasts typically from September until November. Winter is the worst as far as weather goes. Montana sometimes sinks into below zero deep freeze temperatures. Winter is the biggest challenge in Montana. Western Montana receives more snow than eastern Montana but the entire state can be covered in endless snow with the higher elevations sometimes getting as much as 100 inches of snow. Spring is the rainy season in Montana and can also be variable with some snow. It has been known to snow in every month of the year in Montana!
The average rainfall throughout Montana is 13.26 inches per year. The average for the United States is 37 inches.
3. Building Codes:
While one should check within a specific county to get the building code laws, Montana has been known for lax building codes when it comes to alternative building materials.
4. Cottage Business Laws:
Montana allows a limited list of non-potentially hazardous foods. In addition there is no registration, permit or licensing requirement to sell cottage foods in Montana. There is also no sales limit or labeling requirements when selling cottage foods in Montana. In other words, Montana is a good place to have a cottage business.
5. Homeschooling laws:
Montana has a low regulation requirement and requires notification by the parents to the state only.
6. Other Laws involving Children:
A third party can sue and take your kids. Montana does have laws that will allow a 3rd party to sue and take your kids away from you, that may or may not include social workers, teachers and/or grandparents.
7. Rainwater Harvesting:
Rainwater harvesting is not illegal in Montana.
- Montana taxes social security income.
- Montana has no sales tax.
- All residential properties can receive a 34% exemption if it's filed for. A homestead exemption in Montana protects up to $250,000 of equity in residential property. There is no inheritance or estate tax in Montana.
- Disabled vets and the spouses of deceased veterans are eligible for an exemption from residential property taxes.
- Also, homeowners or renters aged 62 and over are eligible for a credit if they live in Montana for at least 9 months and occupy a residence for 6 months and have a gross household income of less than $45,000.
- Residential property is assessed at 19% of its fair market value.
Recently some residents have seen a huge increase in their property tax bills causing some people to consider implementing a California style Proposition 13 measure that would tax new homeowners at a higher rate. This would enable people who have lived in Montana all their lives to continue to live in their homes without worrying about outrageous tax bills as their property values increase.
9. Gay Marriage:
Gay marriage is banned by statute or state constitution.
10. Gun Laws:
Montana is an open carry and conceal carry state. Montana has some of the most liberal gun laws in the country.
11. Garden and Food Laws:
Raw milk is illegal in Montana, in fact Montana has one of the most restrictive raw milk laws in the country; it is absolutely forbidden to even drink your own raw milk in Montana; the state has even harassed cow-herd share participants.
12. Raising farm animals:
Due to the short growing season you would have to provide hay and feed for any farm animals for when it snows.
Chicken Laws and Permits:
Kalispell, Montana allows chickens in the city as long as they aren't a nuisance. There is no maximum amount and of course roosters are not allowed. In Bozeman you have to pay for a permit as of 2009 the price was $25.00 for 1-6 chickens and $50.00 for 7-15 chickens. In Misssoula you can have up to 6 chickens for the price of $15.00 for a permit.
13. Growing Season:
The eastern half of the state can be difficult to grow food because it is hot and dry. The western side is nicer but has a mountain climate and a short growing season. Seems to me that a green house would be a priority.
There are pros and cons no matter where you decide to go off the grid. While Montana definitely has a lot of pros like big open spaces, incredible natural beauty, liberal gun laws and liberal building code laws. It also has quite a few cons like high property prices and taxes, anti-raw milk laws and a short growing season. Still the call of the wild and the grandiose natural amenities are compelling. I hope that you find this information useful and if any of it changes or if you have some hands-on information about living off the grid in Montana please let us know in the comments below.
After reading this article do you think Montana would be a good state to go off the grid?
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