It’s hard to imagine in a time of massive growth in Montana’s population that any areas of the beautiful, greatly desired state could possibly be shrinking. While the city’s population grew overall by more than 10 percent since 2010, some neighborhoods in town have lost residents. Data released by the City of Missoula profiles neighborhoods’ overall growth, demographics, features, and assets. According to these reports, many neighborhoods increased their population by 10-29 percent.

Two neighborhoods in town, though, reflect negative numbers in their population growth: Moose Can Gully and the University District.

Which Neighborhood Shrunk the Most?

According to the neighborhood profiles, the population from 2010 through 2022 in Moose Can Gully went down by one percent. While such a small number is not typically significant, in a report of positive growth numbers, any negative statistic will stand out. The same report shows that the University District lost six percent of its population during the same time period.

In an area full of various tree species, access to Mount Sentinel, numerous parks, and frequent public events, why are residents flocking out of the neighborhood?

Missoula residents may have noticed an increase in road work in the University District over the past year as the city replaces underground water lines. Still, that cannot account for such population loss over the last decade.

America’s College Enrollment is Down

While local headlines boast large incoming freshman classes at the University of Montana, overall enrollment has steadily decreased since 2010.

This is the trend nationwide. From the spring semester of 2019 until that of 2023, college admissions of both public and private institutions have decreased by more than seven percent, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

In a neighborhood that has nearly half of its population made up of individuals aged 15-24 years old, dramatic drops in college enrollment could also be reflected in the neighborhood’s population.

So, if you are looking for a part of town that might be getting less traffic and has a median rent just below the city’s average, check out the University District.

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