James, 32, and his wife, left their apartment in New York City at the height of COVID-19, decamping for a relative’s vacant house in Big Sky, Montana. One month later, they became first-time homeowners, purchasing a three-bedroom townhouse in Moonlight Basin development. The decision, James said, was easy.
“I personally had never really seen unadulterated, dramatic nature like this before, and for that to be in your backyard and accessible in minutes, but at the same time have a community right down the road,” he said, asking us to only use his first name. “The town is forming in front of our eyes. It’s a little bit scary, because you don’t want the one-lane town to be overrun with people, but it’s exciting to be part of it.”
James isn’t alone in his thinking — Big Sky, Montana, has been becoming an increasingly popular destination for second home owners in recent years. The city topped Vacasa’s list of best places to buy a winter vacation home for 2020-2021.
This can be attributed to several factors, said Ania Bulis, vice president of sales and founding broker at The Big Sky Real Estate Co. There has been a significant boost in advertising done on a more collective scale between some of the bigger entities in the city. Plus, she said, the increasingly widespread and deadly forest fires that plague the West Coast are driving people into the Rockies as they search for vacation homes. But nothing could have prepared Big Sky for the influx of people who decided to relocate there amid the pandemic.
“It’s amazing the number of friends we’ve made who were here in March who are from New York or LA or Boston who after several months of being here during COVID, gave up their places and are making a permanent move,” said Bayard Dominick, vice president at Lone Mountain Land Company. “The quarantine lifestyle in Montana is pretty good because you can get outside and really enjoy it, hiking and biking and getting out on the trails and rivers and have plenty of social distance. People are just getting to know it because they are here.”