The tidbits of advice for new Montana residents and those looking to move here range from the mundane to the laughably wrong. But the most common piece of wisdom you'll see in online forums is to "change your plates as soon as humanly possible".

Sure. Changing your plates from Washington, Texas or California to new Montana plates is one of the quickest ways to start "blending in"...whatever that means anymore.

I suppose it's a quick way to appear to be a local, but it troubles me that it's gotten to the point of racing to the courthouse to hide where someone comes from.

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Other than the VERY RARE but terribly offensive vandalism to out-of-state plated vehicles at a fishing access or something, are Montana locals seriously treating newbies or visitors poorly? (You can Google that if you don't know what I'm talking about. It was a terrible, nasty thing for someone to do.)

Are we quicker to flip the bird? Do we tailgate them more? Yell at them to "go back home"? Jesus, I hope not. Why? Because we can't possibly know who's in that car. A college student. A tourist. A family friend from out of town. And SO WHAT if they just moved here. Last I checked, it's still a free country and people are allowed to move here just like many of us did before them.

I despise so many of the problems that come along with rapid growth too. But perhaps us "locals" should pick another lane and befriend these folks asap and help groom them into "good Montana neighbors" asap. If we think Montana values are so much different and better than other states, let's prove it.

This ain't a political thing for me one little bit. (In fact, I'm getting the feeling that a majority of newbies these days have a vastly different political view than I do, but that's a moot point to this story.)

It's almost as simple as a manners thing. Let's lead by example from the start. Invite them to dinner. Shovel their walk (once) when they're gone. Bring them to your volunteer event. See what happens.

After giving it our best shot, if that person turns out to be a genuine a-hole, you can go ahead and flip them the bird knowing YOU did the right thing.

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