Meghan Ballock grew up in Billings, Montana, a city in the eastern part of Montana. She originally moved to Great Falls for a little R&R after years of school, but stayed because of the life she gets to live.
Meghan was featured in our Live in Great Falls video series. Check out the video and read on to learn more about why Meghan loves living and working in Great Falls:
Why did you move to Great Falls?
I’ve lived in Great Falls for about 5 years. When I decided to move to Great Falls, I was actually living in London studying my final semester of architecture school and traveling around Europe. I needed a break from school for a while. (The Europeans call it their obligatory “gap year”.) I had a great job lined up in Seattle but decided to move to Great Falls for a short period, where my parents were living at the time. My dad was working at Benefis, and my sister, her husband and their daughter were here as well. In the end, I stayed!
What do you do for work?
I am an architectural and interior designer at LPW Architecture – do a little bit of everything, from meeting one-on-one with clients to scoping out bids and estimates to the part that I love the most – the design element. I love creating spaces for people that perfectly match with what their design goals are for commercial and residential spaces alike.
What is the best part about living and working in Great Falls?
The best part about living and working in Great Falls is undoubtedly the people I get to live near and work with. I’ve gotten to live in some really awesome place: London, Rome, Los Angeles, a cool little town called Moscow, Idaho, among others. Wherever I go, it’s the people I meet there that really make the place.
Great Falls has that for me – the people I’ve met here are some of the best I’ve ever met. I love the small town feel, and I love being back under the big Montana sky. I know I could ask anyone for advice or help and someone would help me – it’s just that kind of place; the community looks out for one another and takes care of one another and I think that just comes through the historic foundation of our town and the people who have been here and made it what it is. And at the same time, the new people who come in adapt to that “help out” mindset. In Great Falls, there’s not a “Everyone fends for themselves and ‘Don’t talk to me’” mentality.
I love the people, which is the biggest part, but I also love the the cost of living. I was able to buy a house at a super young age in a super affordable market – one that is still much more affordable than other Montana cities.
From a work perspective, I have significantly more opportunity to learn and have more responsibility simply because we’re a small firm in a small community. Even being small, there’s still awesome work and project opportunities that we have to get done. I’ve loved getting to work my way up more quickly in the firm, a lot faster than I would have been able to at a larger firm in another city.
What is a best kept secret about Great Falls?
Great Falls is the best place to get anywhere else in the state if you’re wanting to travel. I used to live in Billings and it would take eight hours to get up to the Flathead Valley, but living in Great Falls, I’m only about 2.5-3 hours from any other major city that I’d want to visit.
I’m also super grateful for Malmstrom Air Force Base being located here. All my best friends right now that I’ve gotten to know well (besides one who is a local Great Falls girl) is Air Force and they’re from all over the country and many have lived around the world. I just love that there’s a little unexpected spark of diversity in this community that you wouldn’t necessarily expect from a smaller town in Montana. I love the diversity that having friends from all over brings into my life, because I do value that diversity so much in all of my relationships.
Do you have a “Great Falls gem” you’d like to share?
My personal favorite thing to do is drink coffee, so I love Al Banco and all the cute little coffee shops around town. I also love going for walks at the very easternmost part of River’s Edge Trail – it is incredibly beautiful and almost no one knows about it. I love not being swarmed by people every time I go out into nature.
I also recently got into golfing and discovered Anaconda Hills Golf Course in Black Eagle. Every time I’m there, I always think how pretty it is and how much I love being out there. It could even be a hidden gem for people that don’t golf!
The last thing I’d say would address how easy it is to have misconceptions about a place without really, truly knowing it. In my job and from the perspective I get to see Great Falls, I have such a vision for our town. I think of it is the ultimate canvas. At one point, Great Falls was the heart of our state and it was the foundation that Montana was built on. There is so much potential here and I forsee in the next 5 or so years it just becoming such an amazing, thriving little town because of the bones and what it was built on. It is really exciting to be a part of that, right in the center of it!
In the end, I am fully aware that I could live anywhere else. I really could. There’s nothing stopping me, but when it comes down to it, the values of Great Falls and what I get to be a part of in this awesome community with such an amazing office and clients and people that I get to work with are really unique and I don’t want to leave it.
I love being a part of this and I don’t think many people get the opportunities I have here, similar opportunities that other people can have here as young professionals. I get to walk around downtown now and think, “I designed that; I’m designing that; oh, I got to be a part of that project.” These projects that I’m a part of are designed to last for the next 100 years or more, so working here creates a legacy for my life and I hope a lasting influence on other people’s lives that hopefully betters theirs.
Like what you’re reading? Check out the stories of The Drazich’s and Salina & Val, as well!