It is fairly common to hear a retiree mention settling down in warmer climates during their twilight years. Locations like Sun City, Arizona, and Boca Raton, Florida have become the go-to hotspots and largely cater to the 55 and over crowd, coupling the lovely weather with plenty of amenities geared toward a very specific age group.
But not everyone seeks a lifestyle in the year-round sun. In areas that seem to only have a single season, Montana covers all four very well. Many retirees who love the vast wilderness and abundant nature of the Big Sky State are flocking to take in the brisk clean air and a vast plethora of options for both indoor and outdoor recreation.
Many small Montana towns have eagerly embraced the new residents and welcomed more each year, creating unique experiences that cannot be found in a typical tropical retirement community. The combination of small-town life, historic charm and endless scenic landscape are just a few of the reasons why retiring in Montana is a wonderful decision.
Getting away from big city life can be jarring. East Helena gives those seeking a new home to settle down for later life in close proximity to Montana’s capital, Helena, while still being detached enough for small-town charm. Five miles away from Helena city center, East Helena is a town with a vibrant community and active lifestyle.
Events like the Helena rodeo and Fourth of July Fireworks draw crowds from all parts surrounding the town of only about 2000 citizens. It celebrates an active water recreation scene with the Canyon Ferry Reservoir, Holter Reservoir, and Hauser reservoir only a stone's throw away. If fishing is in the retirement plan, this is definitely a place to set down roots.
History lives in this southwestern Montana town just a scant hour drive south of Butte. For retiring folk that don’t see the need to sit around and wish to be as active as possible, Dillon offers everything from blue ribbon flyfishing to cross-country skiing. But if that is a little too active, then enjoying the professionals at the PRCA rodeo weekends might be more to the liking.
For those who do want to tame the trails, Dillon has plenty of hiking through some of the most beautiful scenery Montana has to offer, and these trails are low impact so no need to fear. And if exploring history tickles the fancy, plenty of museums, such as the Beaverhead Trail Museum are always happy for curious guests. Or maybe visit the ghost town near the old mining camp, the location of Montana’s first gold strike.
A small town is nothing without a sense of community, and nothing says community like a local farmers market. Here, Belgrade residents showcase and sell their finest organic produce, honey, and other homemade products, with town pride in every stall. And after, drop off your purchases and play 18-holes at the golf course or see a local production at the Belgrade theater.
If a visit to Yellowstone is on the bucket list, Belgrade is a very short drive away, as well as near Bridger Bowl and Big Sky Resort. Explore the Lewis and Clark Caverns and visit the Museum of the Rockies where tales of the famous pair’s journey to the west are brought to life in vivid accurate detail. Or just enjoy the day on the 4.5-mile walk down the Valley Center Trail.
Not too far north, south, east, or west, the town of Lewistown finds itself situated at the center of Big Sky Country, and "country" is the right word. Not only does Lewistown have endless miles of rolling prairie land, but the mountains are never too far away. Set in the Judith Basin, Lewistown checks all the outdoor recreation boxes, including biking, fishing, skiing, and gorgeous hikes.
Meet the neighbors at Music on Main, celebrate at the annual Chokecherry Festival, and have a ball at the Central Montana Fair. It is truly the best place to adopt a Western lifestyle and feel at home nestled in a veritable island of grass between 5 lovely mountain ranges. Grab a tourism map to see all that Lewiston has waiting for welcome retirees.
At the foot of the Rocky Mountains and an hour northwest of Great Falls, Choteau has a legacy that will enchant retirees almost as it does their grandkids. All kids have a fascination with dinosaurs and at the Two Medicine Dinosaur Center, the entire family can be regaled by the region’s dinosaur history, which makes the Old Trail Museum the perfect next stop. Here stories are told of Egg Mountain, where one of the most important fossil finds in the world took place.
When the tour is through, enjoy one of the many restaurants and shops downtown or take everyone to the Bob Marshall Wilderness, a million-acre playground for lots of outdoor enjoyment. Camping, fishing, hiking, and even horseback riding is available during the summer months, with snowmobiling and skiing popular after the snow sets in.
A bustling community with tons to do no matter what season, Whitefish is named one of the Top 25 Ski Towns in the World, compliments of National Geographic. This accolade draws skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts from all over, further bolstered by Whitefish Mountain Resort, the second-largest ski area in the entire state.
Whitefish’s main thoroughfare, called Central Avenue, is lined with plenty of restaurants, clothing stores, gift shops, and the like, as well as the town theater. But the most exciting times are during summer when events like Huckleberry Days roll around, and of course, in the colder months, The Winter Carnival brings everyone in town out for fun and games.
There is plenty of reasons to retire in Montana and never a lack of ways to fill the day. History beacons around every corner, exploration is always within reach, and rolling back the clock with a laid-back lifestyle has never been easier. With incredible scenery, a myriad of activities, and wildlife in abundance, Montana is ready to rival even the most attractive tropical setting.