The locals like to tout how great Missoula is, and they like to not talk about the things that are awful. So let me fill you in, as someone who has lived here almost two decades:
#1 - The locals: they are laughing at you behind your back. They have no manners, no intellectual curiosity, and the weight of your opinion is directly proportional to how long you have lived in Missoula and/or Montana. They like your money, but they do not like you. Tourist season is jokingly referred to as another hunting season. They are atrocious drivers and, by and large, a bunch of drunks.
#2 - Amenities: That A+? That's because there's a bar on every corner. There are so many bars in Missoula that new businesses flat-out cannot get a new liquor license, because there are already 300% more licenses issued than should be legally allowed (old establishments were grandfathered in.) There's a couple of Walmarts, a Target, a Perkins, an IHOP...there you go. That's it. There's not even an Olive Garden. The "museums" are small, dated, and tired. Unless you are super sportsy, there's nothing to offer, and that goes double for kids. If you have a smart kid in Missoula? Forget it. There's nothing for them to do. The mall? Entirely clothing stores, what storefronts are even filled. The Walmarts have driven most of the interesting small businesses out of town.
#3 - Cost of Living: Do you like paying $1K a month for a studio apartment in MethVille? How about paying that when you're making $8 an hour? 'cause that's what you'll be doing, all while trying to figure out how to pay $4 a pound for butter and $5 a gallon for milk. The "median income" stats are super skewed by the folks up on Millionaire Hill, who all make their money in other states and bring it here to buy a house and file taxes. Deregulation made our electric stupidly expensive. Our water is owned by a non-Montana company that wants to bottle it and sell it to other people. Our "high speed internet" is a joke. (What's a T1 line again?)
#4 - Crime: We aren't called the Rape Capital of the nation for nothing! We also have a plethora of drugs. Both our meth and our oxy problems are out of control, and no one thinks it's a big deal. (We had a doctor arrested for over-prescribing and actually KILLING people, and not only were his pain patients left in an addicted lurch, but people stood up for him.) We also have plenty of property crimes, armed robberies, and for those of you who want to risk it, one of the highest drunk driving rates in the nation! Go us!
#5 - Education: Remember what I said about smart kids? God help your kid if he/she is identified as "gifted." The school district offers the gifted kids NOTHING until the high school level. They will tell you, to your face, "Yes, your child is gifted, but we have nothing for them." The bullying is out of control at the local schools, and the administration is a joke.
#6 - Housing: I wasn't kidding about $1K a month for studio apartments on $8 an hour. Or you could maybe rent a trailer. If you'd like to buy a house, be aware that the same exact house/land set-up you'd expect to pay $150K for on a good day? $300K in Missoula. If you can even find a house with any land to it--we're pros at what we charmingly call "in-fill," which is jamming as many houses as human possibly onto every inch of available space. Unless you want to live close to the university, in which case up that total by $100K more and get used to cleaning puke and red solo cups off your yard.
#7 - Weather: where in the world did they get the "average summer temperature?" It doesn't pair up at all with the US Climate Data, or with, you know, living here. Summer involves weeks of 90-100 degree weather, relentlessly, without even so much as a cloud. You know what that leads to? Forest fires! The valley Missoula occupies is subject to frequent inversions, trapping air in the valley. In the summer it's smoke, in the winter it's generic pollution. The air quality is so atrocious that the EPA routinely dings us for it. We don't even approach federal air quality standards. Your lungs are literally healthier living in Pittsburgh than living in Missoula.
Is it pretty? Sure. It's pretty. But you can't eat the scenery. Visit, but my advice is don't stay. They don't want you here, and it's not a good place to live.
I traveled through the city of Missoula, MT on my moving trip from Alaska to Seattle, WA back in August of 2010. I spend 3 nights in Missoula and got to see some gorgeous scenery and meet some of the nicest people I have ever met. On our first day in the town we arrived at the Holiday Inn Express on Expressway Blvd and was immediately amazed at how beautiful the landscape was. There were plenty of trees and beautiful flowers, and off to the edges of the city, the rolling hills covered in lush grass, it was just a nice scenic area.
On my second and third day, I went to visit the downtown area and checked out the MAM or the Missoula Art Museum, learned a lot about different artists and their designs, a great experience. The highlight of my stay was visiting the Caras Park and Kiwanis Park, which both lay off of the Clay Fork River, it was a great place to sit down and read a book and relax. Missoula is a great town, friendly and culture inspired.