The Journal
Go Back
How to 'Become a Local' in Big Sky
Posted on April 21, 2022 @ 3:02AM

I moved to Big Sky, Montana from Seattle, Washington in 1999.    

I grew up in Montana but was happy living in the city and didn't think I would be returning     My career was taking off. I was working for a great architecture firm in the city - everything was happening for me…. I was ‘adulting’.   

Then I had my first child, Harry.    Everything took a backseat to him.  I decided I wanted to raise our son where he could ride his bike in the street and where we had family close by.   I found a job working as an interior designer at the only design firm at the time in Big Sky.   I knew not a single person. 

It took some time but eventually I felt like a 'local'. Here are my five tips to helping you break into that wonderful and welcoming community a bit more quickly.    

1.  Embrace, work, and/or play in the snow, perhaps at Big Sky Resort.   You can't talk the talk unless you're walking the walk.    Locals love to ski!  They ski together,  they ski often, they sneak away from work to ski, their kids can ski circles around you.   Locals love to apres ski at Moonlight, Spanish Peaks and the Summit Hotel.  

2.  You must definitely go and spend money at the annual Pie Auction.   All locals will be at this event!  This is the biggest fundraiser for Big Sky school district and is responsible for paying 80 to 90% of the programs at Ophir elementary school and Lone Peak high school.   Last year they raised $75,000.

3.  Shop at the Hungry Moose Market. It's locally owned by The Robin family. Wonderful people.  My first week living in Big Sky, I happened into the market and was writing a check to pay for my items and Mark Robin said to me "Ohhhh your Harry’s mom!  We've been excited to meet you!"  (Evidently Harry was making quite an impression on the locals.) 

4.  Volunteer at Ophir School.   Ophir is a public school with a private feel. They have a staff of dedicated teachers who do amazing projects with the kids. Mr Harder takes his 4th grade class on a 5 day trip into Yellowstone-  in the WINTER with no parents allowed!!  Enough said... 

5.  Spend a day pulling weeds with the “Gallatin - Big Sky Weed Committee”. I'm not kidding.    This is a nonprofit organization working to conserve native plants wildlife habitat and water resources through noxious weed education and management    It's so impressive what they do, and you'll be working alongside many locals!

~ Noelle

Author: Noelle Child

Native to Montana, Noelle has always loved art and design. At a young age, she was consumed with creating something from nothing. She attended Montana State University and The Art Institute of Seattle - and traveled abroad to Indonesia, China, and South Africa to study design. In her studies, she gained a great appreciation for the beauty and history of many cultures, which has further inspired her work. With over two decades of experience in residential and commercial design she is currently based out of our Bozeman studio. Noelle’s skills include managing all facets of residential projects from conception to installation. She has experience with high design, custom furniture, lighting, art, rugs and more. Noelle is passionate about building relationships with clients and helping them express their characters.