Disgruntled local

A timeline to becoming a disgruntled local.

We all know an older curmudgeon—always complaining, always griping about the current state of Bozeman. But he, too, was most likely once a giddy, gleeful newcomer to town. Curious as to the trajectory of this deterioration, we asked around, and got a pretty good picture. Here’s the typical timeline of transition, from starry-eyed neophyte to grumpy old Bozemanite.

Day One
You just pulled into town from a state you’re afraid to name, with everything you own packed in your trusty Subaru. Wow, look at the mountains! You wonder which ones are the Bridgers—you’ve heard there’s a cool ski hill tucked in there somewhere. A barista named Cornice recommends some canyon called Hyalite for a good car-camping spot while you start the hunt for housing. Driving south, more mountains appear in the distance as you pass through green fields, deer grazing placidly in the grass. What a place!

Six Months
You finally landed housing—yesterday. And not a moment too soon, as the Suby is packed to the brim with outdoor gear from the secondhand store. Just can’t pass up on those ten-percent-off-full-price discounts. Days are packed with more outdoor activities than you could’ve imagined: rock climbing, kayaking, backpacking, fishing. And the tips from your evening service-industry job are just about enough to pay the bills. Bozeman seems to be living up to the hype.

One Year
You’re getting the hang of things now. You’ve got a selection of favorite trails, you’ve met a crew that likes to get after it, and you’ve added a niche sport like paddleboarding or pickleball to your repertoire of activities. You love showing everybody the “secret spots” you’ve found, and posting on Instagram to make your city friends jealous. You can’t help but add how fantastic the beer and food is, too. This place is Nirvana!

Three Years
Bozeman is home for good. A few transient folks you’ve met have moved on, but you have a core group of like-minded individuals, still getting after it in the mountains. You know certain areas like the back of your hand, but there is still so much of Montana to explore: the Pintlers, the Crazies, the Beartooths—plus Glacier, the Bob, and all of eastern Montana. Good thing you just sold the Subaru for peanuts and took out a loan for a Tacoma with 175,000 miles. Time to start looking for a real job and a long-term romantic companion. You can’t live with five roommates forever.

Five Years
Finally, you have a professional, full-time job. But due to a 60-percent increase in rent, you’re still living with three other people and only putting $125 per month into a savings account. You’re engaged to your former-best-friend’s ex, but feeling okay about it because dating is hard in Bozeman. And sure, the nine-to-five takes away from most of your outdoor time, but there are a few spots just a stone’s throw from Bozeman where you can get out during the weekends without seeing other folks. Bridger, however, is “unskiable” because it’s too crowded when it snows more than a centimeter, and you’re getting frustrated because you still haven’t had time to explore eastern Montana. But you live in Montana! Sure beats anywhere else you’ve ever been.

Fifteen Years
You finally bought property—in the dry, dusty sagebrush hills outside Dillon. You spend every weekend building a platform to set up a wall tent on it. You’re working hard to pay for it, and you can barely get outside because Outside Bozeman has exposed every single one of your secret spots. You start daydreaming about moving to Dillon full-time, getting out of the hustle and bustle. Where did all these freakin’ people come from? And dammit, how does this young bartender not know the difference between a pilsner and a lager? And she keeps interrupting your conversation—what happened to good manners, basic courtesy, and other good ol’ Montana values? Is this really what Bozeman has become?

Thirty Years
You’re cursing out the window at all the “foreign” license plates that make your commute down North 19th ten minutes longer than it used to be. Remember when it ended at Durston? You just can’t believe what has happened to this place, with all the skyscrapers downtown, especially “Mendenhall Canyon,” as your friend calls it. And all these damn 20-somethings with their flat-brim ballcaps and slouchy beanies. When you moved here at their age, things were different. You were young, sure, but you weren’t an idiot! You didn’t sit around coffee shops drinking half-caf soy vegan machiatacinos; you drank gas-station coffee and skied in jeans! To make matters worse, your back, knee, and shoulder all hurt, so your outdoor time is limited to walking your mother-in-law’s terrier on Peets Hill, where you look down on the remains of your once-idyllic town. You’re as jaded as a jilted lover—and you still haven’t been to eastern Montana.