November 30, 2023

They Moved to Great Falls and Never Want to Leave. Find Out Why.

They Moved to Great Falls and Never Want to Leave. Find Out Why.
Sure, people relocate to this stunning Montana city for the spectacular outdoors and job opportunities, but they stay for the wonderful neighbors and deep connections.

By Patsy B. Weiler

It’s not every day that a stranger who you strike up a conversation with at a public park invites you to her home for a meal. Unless, of course, you are living in Great Falls, MT, where the word “friendly” is not just an adjective, but a way of life.

Shumaila Abbasi remembers the reservations she had moving from New York City to Great Falls in 2016 with her three young children and husband, Raheel Khalid, after he accepted a position as a hospitalist at Benefis Hospital.

“The only thing I knew about Montana was the entertainer, Hannah Montana,” Abbasi says. “Our friends told us we were crazy. We are Muslims, and I wondered if we would be accepted.”

Enter Becky Monroe. She noticed Abbasi and her children playing in the park and their New York license plate. After saying hello, Monroe soon invited Abbasi and her family over for lunch.

“I remember asking my husband if he thought she could be a serial killer,” Abbasi says with a laugh. “She wasn’t. Becky had researched what a Muslim family would enjoy eating. It was a lovely introduction to how gracious and hospitable the people are in Great Falls.”

While it took Abbasi a little time to transition to her new life in Great Falls, she and her family are now active members of their new hometown.

“I quickly became part of the Rotary Club and met many wonderful people,” she says. “I am a member of the international committee, and we are working on raising money to construct a school for girls in a remote area of Pakistan who otherwise have no option to attend school.”

“It took me a while to adjust – I missed my food and culture. Now, I can’t see myself living anywhere else. The community here is accepting and welcoming.”