Magazine article Sunset

Bozeman, MT

Magazine article Sunset

Bozeman, MT

Article excerpt

BEST PLACE TO REBOOT YOUR LIFE

You're weary of the big-city corporate world. Youewant a slower pace. You want to be your own boss.

We've got the towns for you.

THE BIG PICTURE

"More and more people are able to live where they want to live, because the technology allows jobs to be done wherever people want to do them."

-JONATHAN SCHECHTER, CHARTURE INSTITUTE, JACKSON, WY

After more than a decade in software sales in Santa Cruz, California, Serena Rundberg was ready for a change from quarterly quotas and traffic. Exactly how or where to go she didn't know until she visited a relative in Bozeman, Montana, and "fell in love with the community and the mountains."

So Rundberg made the leap. In 2005, she sold everything she owned, left California, and bought a restaurant on Main Street in downtown Bozeman, transforming it into what is now a local favorite, The Nova Cafe. The move was scary, and not just because most new restaurants fail. "Being gay and moving to a small town in Montana was a concern," says Rundberg, 42, who met her spouse, Mariah Talbott, 32, in Bozeman; they wed in New York almost two years ago. "But people here have traveled and lived all over the world. They have open minds and big hearts."

The southwestern Montana university town does a lot of things big. Set between the Gallatin and Bridger Ranges, Bozeman offers easy access to thousands of acres of Gallatin National Forest, hundreds of miles of blue-ribbon trout streams (the nearby Yellowstone and Madison Rivers are ranked among the best in the world), and three downhill ski areas, including nonprofit Bridger Bowl, just 18 miles north of town. "And we can nordic ski out our back door," says Jeff Wyatt, 44, who moved from the Bay Area with his wife, Paige, 43, and their three children in 2006. They traded private schools for superb public schools and swapped scheduled activities for the freedom to "play in the woods and get dirty." Jeff runs consumer products design firm Pinion Engineering & Design and frequently taps the talent of students and graduates of Montana State University.

Between 2000 and 2012, Bozeman's population grew more than 40 percent, and a good deal of that growth came from urban refugees seeking a smaller-city pace and daily access to the outdoors. For some, the move is part of a grand plan to finally work on that big idea. For others, new ventures are born out of necessity; in the absence of major metro jobs, many newcomers create their own.

Culture? The Museum of the Rockies is one of the best natural history museums in the West. …

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