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Montana Life - Whitefish Montana City Moving Guide

Flathead Valley boasts an airport, Amtrak station, 2 ski resorts, 8 golf courses, mountain bike trails, cross country skiing and snowshoeing trails, over 269 lakes and reservoirs, campgrounds, diverse wildlife, fishing, hunting, and more. It’s easy to see why this county draws new residents every year. But, is it the right location for you and your family? 

It’s easy to see why this county draws new residents every year. But, is it the right location for you and your family?

In this series of blog posts and videos I hope to answer those questions and help you determine not only if Flathead Valley is the best place for your family, but which city or area within the county best fits your needs. Be sure to subscribe and reach out with any questions you may have about Montana living.

Central Avenue - Whitefish, Montana

This week’s blog post is dedicated to Whitefish Montana. If you prefer to watch a video with this information click here.

Whitefish Montana surpassed 8,500 residents in 2020 growing over 35% in the last decade. It’s easy to see why many are drawn to this quaint town. Whitefish boasts beautiful hiking and cross country ski trails, stunning lakes and beaches, shopping, dining, fishing, art galleries, and more. 

It’s easy to see why many are drawn to this quaint town.

Additionally Whitefish Mountain Resort provides residents with epic skiing and snowboarding in the Winter along with mountain biking, zip lines, an aerial adventure park, summit restaurant, and alpine slide in the Summer. In this city moving guide I will discuss housing costs, schools, recreation, amenities, and pros and cons of choosing Whitefish over other cities in Flathead County.

In this city moving guide I will discuss housing costs, schools, recreation, amenities, and pros and cons of choosing Whitefish over other cities in Flathead County.

Farmhouse Inn and Kitchen - Whitefish, Montana

I have done my very best to give accurate information regarding areas of the city and corresponding school districts, taxes, etc. but please consult professional real estate agents before moving to verify accuracy, as this information is subject to change.

In downtown Whitefish residents will enjoy a plethora of shopping and dining options along Central Avenue, along with parades, festivals, a weekly Summer farmer’s market, coffee bistros, art galleries, and more. Downtown Whitefish is a mix of beautifully remodeled homes, newly built houses, and run down cottages waiting for some tender loving care. 

Glacier Cyclery - Whitefish, Montana

Home Prices in Whitefish Montana

According to Zillow, the median price for a home in Whitefish, MT is currently $450,738. This simply means that half of the homes listed for sale are above this price and half of them are below it. If you read my Kalispell Montana city moving guide you will notice that this is over $100,000 higher than the median price in Kalispell.

Commute Time

According to bestplaces.net the average commute time for Whitefish Montana is currently 19.1 minutes. The national average is 26.4 minutes.

Public Transportation

The Amtrak train comes directly into downtown Whitefish arriving at the Whitefish Depot, providing easy access for family and friends. Check out the Empire Builder line which runs from Chicago to Seattle. 

Check out the Empire Builder line which runs from Chicago to Seattle.

For local transportation residents can hop on the Tri-city commuter bus line providing service between Kalispell, Columbia Falls, and Whitefish. All vehicles are ADA accessible and equipped with lifts. Most routes are $1 each way. You can view the routes here. And, for easy access to Whitefish Mountain Resort residents and visitors alike can climb aboard the free SNOW bus (available in Summer and Winter) with various pickup points throughout the city. You can view the route map and schedule here

Schools

Whitefish Middle School

Whitefish Middle School is a 5th-8th grade establishment with a great schools rating of 7 out of 10. The school offers basketball, track, cross country, volleyball, and football for sports along with yearbook club, student council, and intramural opportunities.

Whitefish Middle School - Whitefish, Montana

Whitefish High School

Whitefish High School is a 9th-12th grade establishment with an 8 out of 10 rating. Whitefish High School offers Fall, Winter, and Spring sports along with band, drama, and speech and debate activities.

Whitefish High School - Whitefish, Montana

Whitefish schools are some of the best rated within Flathead County, however I have heard multiple parents say if they could do it over again they would send their kids elsewhere. I don’t think this is due to academics as much as peer pressure and access to drugs and alcohol. Whitefish Montana has some very wealthy residents. Some students here will receive cars for birthdays, have unlimited funds for clothing and activities around town, and high school students may have access to alcohol and drugs in homes during parties where parents aren’t present. 

Whitefish schools are some of the best rated within Flathead County, however I have heard multiple parents say if they could do it over again they would send their kids elsewhere.

While I’m certain this is not unique to Whitefish Schools (all schools deal with drugs, alcohol, and peer pressure) it is something that has come up time and again when discussing Whitefish schools with local parents. If this is a concern, but you want to live in Whitefish, residents here do have the option of paying for out of district schooling at Glacier High School (currently $300/yr) if space is available. Transportation will need to be considered with this option as bus lines don’t run out of the district.

Taxes

Whitefish Montana does not currently have sales tax but does have a 3% tourist tax on purchases. 

Property taxes in Whitefish Montana are a bit higher than other Flathead County cities. Utilities here are higher as well. Discuss this with your real estate agent for specifics.

Crime

Moving to Flathead County from our highly ranked suburb in the Midwest was a bit scary for me when comparing the crime ratings. Even now, as I look at them it concerns me. But, I can say that I've never felt unsafe in the area or felt that my daughters were in danger. The crime rating is based per 1,000 residents. Whitefish Montana has a crime index rating of 35 meaning it is safer than 35% of towns in the country. Here is the neighborhood scout link for your investigation. Feel free to message me if you have further questions.

Recreation

City Beach and Whitefish Lake

City Beach is located along the South end of Whitefish Lake. The sandy beach offers residents a great place to swim and soak up the Summer sun. Paddle boards and kayaks are available for rent along the beach, while a boat launch and dock afford residents the opportunity to enjoy their own watercraft along the lakeshore or a jaunt on the Whitefish River. 

The sandy beach offers residents a great place to swim and soak up the Summer sun.

There is a deck overlooking the beach as well where day visitors can enjoy a hot dog or ice cream cone while taking in the lake and mountain views. 

City Beach on Whitefish Lake - Whitefish, Montana

Whitefish Mountain Resort

In the Summer months residents can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, alpine slides, ziplining, an aerial adventure park, and cable car ride to the Summit for a drink or lunch at the Summit bar and grill. In Winter residents flock here in search of fresh powder and epic runs before enjoying apre’s ski drinks and recounting the day’s events. 

Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort - Whitefish, Montana

Blanchard Lake

Blanchard Lake does not have a beach area, however locals can use the fishing access here to launch paddle boards and kayaks into the peaceful lake and enjoy an afternoon of fishing or paddling around the lake.

Blanchard Lake - Whitefish, Montana

The Whitefish Trail System

The Whitefish Trail System offers residents over 42 miles of hiking, biking, snowshoeing, and equestrian trails spread out over 12 different trailheads. Many of these trails offer lookouts rewarding hikers and bikers with stunning lake and mountain views. 

Whitefish Trail System - Whitefish, Montana

Whitefish Bike Retreat 

Located on 19 acres adjacent to the Whitefish Trail, the Whitefish bike retreat offers residents and visitors alike a bike park to brush up on skills for the beginner to the advanced and everyone in between. Residents can purchase a season pass for the park or join visitors with a day pass visit. 

Horses at Bar W Guest Ranch - Whitefish, Montana

Bar W Guest Ranch

While the ranch typically caters to visitors, residents can enjoy horseback rides here in the Summer and sleigh rides in the Winter. The ranch also offers horseback riding lessons, boarding for horses, and rental of the grounds for weddings and receptions. 

Bar W Guest Ranch - Whitefish, Montana

Dog Sledding 

Dog Sled Adventures is located just North of Whitefish along the Stillwater State Forest and offers locals and visitors an opportunity to glide through the snow covered wilderness before warming up by the crackling fire with a cup of hot cocoa.

Skijoring

Since the 1960’s the city of Whitefish has welcomed skijoring to the Whitefish Winter Carnival bringing entertainment to all. While it has moved from Central Avenue, due to some close calls with horse and rider, the event still draws spectators from every walk of life looking to enjoy the show.

Stumptown Ice Den

Stumptown ice den offers ice skating lessons, figure skating training, youth and adult hockey opportunities, public skating opportunities, and party room rentals.

Shopping and Dining

Downtown Whitefish offers residents a plethora of shopping and dining options. The Village Shop is located in a historic theatre and offers shoppers a beautiful selection of apparel, jewelry, handbags, shoes and more. Further down Central Avenue residents will find Whitefish Quilts and Gifts and Big Sky Antiques. Don’t miss Stumptown Snowboards and Glacier Cyclery and Nordic for your sporting goods necessities. 

Farmhouse Inn & Kitchen is one of my favorite eateries for farm to table items.

Farmhouse Inn & Kitchen is one of my favorite eateries for farm to table items, the Boat Club Restaurant at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake has gorgeous lake views and an elk tenderloin to die for, Ciao Mambos provides a warm atmosphere with Italian nachos that I crave time and again, and additional dining options abound.

Abruzzo - Whitefish, Montana

Pros and Cons of Choosing Whitefish (over other cities in Flathead County)

Whitefish is definitely the most liberal city in Flathead County Montana. Depending on your views, you can place that accordingly below.

Pros

Whitefish Montana offers residents a quaint town feel. The downtown area is very walkable and the free snow bus conveniently whisks residents away for a day of mountain exploration. The public middle and high schools are at or above the state average. 

Residents of Whitefish Montana don’t have far to go to enjoy skiing, hiking, biking, golfing, fishing, beaches, art galleries, and more.

Residents of Whitefish Montana don’t have far to go to enjoy skiing, hiking, biking, golfing, fishing, beaches, art galleries, and more. And, if they tire of all the city has to offer, the West entrance of Glacier National Park is only 33 minutes from downtown.

Whitefish Lake - Whitefish, Montana

Cons

Whitefish is the most expensive city in the county. Residents here will pay more for housing, utilities, groceries, etc. And, while incredibly close to Whitefish Mountain Resort, it is a bit further from Lakeside and Bigfork along Flathead Lake (however, with all that Whitefish has to offer, residents don’t often find a need to venture to these cities) 

Whitefish is the most expensive city in the county.

Whitefish also sees an influx of Summer and Winter visitors sometimes backing up traffic on the main thoroughfares during Christmas and the New Year holidays.

Downtown - Whitefish, Montana

Approximate commute times are as follows. 

Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort - 16 minutes

Columbia Falls - 16 minutes

Kalispell - 24 minutes

Glacier National Park West Entrance - 33 minutes

Lakeside - 37 minutes

Bigfork - 41 minutes

Blacktail Mountain Ski Area - 66 minutes

Whitefish Depot - Whitefish, Montana

Hopefully, this answers some of your questions about the area. If you feel I’ve missed something please leave a comment below. If you have a question, feel free to leave that below as well.

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