Bozeman is like a giant KMart. If the blue light on top of the old five-story Baxter Hotel is on in the morning, everyone rushes to Bridger Bowl for a chance at first tracks. If the light is off, it's OK to sleep in. There's good news for techies here: Montana State University, Deaconess Hospital, and small technology and biotech firms like EDS and LigoCyte Pharmaceutical, are the biggest gigs in town. "Tech companies are located here because of the lifestyle, says James Grenzebach, 31, who moved to Bozeman three years ago and landed a job as a chemist with LigoCyte and now works in business development. "You can fake the S-K-I virus here very easily. Of course, with its larger size—and big boxes like Wal-Mart—Bozeman loses some of the charm of smaller resort towns, but your chances of avoiding the service-industry ghetto are good to great. If all else fails, Moonlight Basin, which opened last year, expects to employ 128 people by the end of 2005.
Working here: Aside from tourism, Montana State University is Bozeman's backbone, employing 2,500 people. The university has plenty of support and staff positions for those without letters after their names.
Leaving Here: Gallatin Field Airport, 8 miles southeast of Bozeman, receives four daily flights from Denver and eight from Salt Lake.
Being Here: Sprawling Nineteenth Street, one of the main drags, is a mixed blessing. The likes of Home Depot, Costco, and Target are eyesores, but they're a boon to transplants who are working on fixer-uppers or running their own businesses.
Skiing Here: 15 miles from Bridger Bowl
Snowfall: 286 inches
Skiable Terrain: 1,500 acres
Vertical: 2,000 feet
Per Capita Income: $16,104
Median rental price: $551
Median home price: $137,300