Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!
Built in a Rimrock Canyon Carved by the Yellowstone River, Billings is a Friendly Town with a Symphony, an Opera, Craft Breweries, a Small University and More
Friendly Billings is situated beneath big blues skies and along Interstate 90 in south central Montana. It grew up around freight hauling and railroading and for years was an actual Wild West town, with dusty streets, noisy saloons, quick draw gunfights, gamblers, cowboys and ladies of the evening.
These days, Billings is tamer but still holds onto its authentic Western character. Built in a rimrock canyon carved by the Yellowstone River, the modern, bicycle-friendly downtown is partitioned by cliff walls. It has office buildings, government buildings, banks, restaurants and gentrified housing along wide, busy streets and hosts a farmers' market and a summer concert series. Residents also enjoy a symphony, an opera, an array of craft breweries, the Billings Studio Theater, the Yellowstone Art Museum, the Western Heritage Center and an annual strawberry festival. Established neighborhoods are leafy and neatly laid out, with a lot of ranch ramblers, raised ranch ramblers and bungalows. Newer areas meander a bit and have larger homes and more green spaces.
Billings manages an extensive park system, too, as well as outdoor pools, a par three golf course, and a trail system. Several shopping malls have a variety of small and large retailers. Montana State University (4,000 students) draws traditional and nontraditional (older) students. The 64-acre Lake Elmo is inside city limits, and the Pictograph Cave and Chief Plenty Coups State Park are within minutes. Six mountain ranges and the Little Bighorn Battlefield are within 100 miles.
Population: 120,000 (city proper)
Age 45 or Better: 41%
Cost of Living: 3% above the national average
Median Home Price: $425,000
Climate: Summer temperatures are in the 70s and 80s. Winters bring temperatures in the teens, 20s and 30s. On average, the area receives 52 inches of snow and 14 inches of rain each year. The elevation is 3,300 feet above sea level.
At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients? Yes
At Least One Hospital Accredited by Joint Commission? Yes
Public Transit: Yes
Crime Rate: Meets the national average
Public Library: Yes
Political Leanings: Conservative
College Educated: 32%
Is Montana Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement? Somewhat
Notes: Billings is Montana's largest city and has grown 9% over the last decade. Home prices have increased 6% since last year.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes
By area, Montana is the fourth largest state in the United States. With an average of only six people per square mile, it is one of the country's least populated states. This Big Sky Country was the 41st state to enter the union in 1889 and is home to 12 tribal nations.
Split by the Continental Divide, the state can experience dramatic climate differences from east to west. The west usually has milder winters and cooler summers than the east. Western Montana is characterized rocky peaks, forests, streams and lakes, while eastern Montana is open prairie punctuated by occasional buttes and hills. This prairie is drained by the Missouri River and its tributaries. Elk, moose, and grizzly bears are still abundant across the state.
Although manufacturing, tourism, and minerals contribute to Montana's wealth, agriculture may be the top economic driver. Cattle, calves, barley, hay, and black cherries are important products.
Tourist favorites include Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument and Glacier National Park. The Park contains 250 lakes. The largest, Flathead, is 28 miles long and between five and 15 feet wide.
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