Havre sign

New research from Montana State University is focusing on the young people that are bucking trends and ditching big city life for rural Montana.

MSU researcher Sarah Schmitt-Wilson and colleagues Madie Hanson and Mitchell Vaterlaus focused on Montana's Hi-Line, studying nine educated young adults who chose to live in rural communities that they weren't raised in.

All of the participants are from counties that are seeing an exodus of people in their 20s.

They admitted there were downsides to rural life, like not being able to go to concerts or have close access to an airport. But say they see bigger benefits, like inter-generational friendships and a close-knit community. They also say that it can be a career boost, since they're forced to have a wider breadth of knowledge and skills.

Schmitt-Wilson explained what one young woman told her about her choice: "She goes: 'We are living here because we choose to live here. It's not that we can't make it in big cities, we're choosing to move here because this is where we want to live and we feel like this is gonna give us opportunities that big cities won't.' And I just thought that that was really cool."

Those choices by young people might be the saving grace for rural communities with aging residents. Schmitt-Wilson says older locals know that and are generally welcoming newcomers in with open arms.

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