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retire

Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!

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Retire in Whitefish, Montana?

Overview:   Scenic Whitefish is situated in beautiful northwestern Montana and started out as a logging hub and a stop on the Great Northern Railway in the early 1900s. In the 1940s, developers built the ski resort Whitefish Mountain Resort and tourists began to discover this cozy mountain hamlet.

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Today, nearly 70,000 vacationers come to Whitefish each year via Amtrak. With the majestic Rocky Mountains as its backdrop, the town has become a thriving year round resort and has grown by 10% in the last decade. It is just minutes away from Glacier National Park, a stunning area that is perfect for photography, hiking, fishing, biking, camping and horseback riding. Whitefish plays host to several festivals, including the Huckleberry Days Arts Festival, the Whitefish Winter Carnival and the Great Northwest Oktoberfest celebration. The town is also home to the Whitefish Theater Company, the Great Northern Brewing Company, art galleries and unique retailers, most of which owe their existence to tourism. Homes are nestled in the woods and range from spectacular mountain chalets to more modest condominiums.

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Population:  7,100 (city proper)

Percentage of Population Age 45 or Better:  37%

Cost of Living:  18% above the national average

Median Home Price: $370,000

Climate:    Whitefish has a four-season climate with mildly warm summers, and wet, cold winters. Summer temperatures are usually in the 70s and 80s. Winter temperatures are in the teens, 20s and 30s. On average, Whitefish receives 75 inches of snow and 18 inches of rain per year. The elevation is 3,035 feet above sea level.

At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients?   Yes

At Least One Hospital Accredited by Joint Commission?  No

Public Transit:   Yes, provided by Eagle Transit. A dial-a-ride service is also available.

Crime Rate:   Meets the national average

Public Library:    Yes

Political Leanings:   Very conservative

Is Montana Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement?    No

Cons: If the train were to break down, access would be difficult, particularly in winter. Class lines are evident and tension between long-time locals and wealthy newcomers is not unknown.

Notes:    This is a pretty town, but it is isolated. The hospital, while small with 25 beds and not accredited, receives good reviews from patients. Whitefish has very little racial diversity.

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Recommended as a Retirement Spot?    Maybe. This is a beautiful place, but the town's small hospital and isolation should be considered. A Greyhound bus runs to Whitefish, but if the train were to stop running permanently, the town could easily decline.

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Montana:

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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Stats:

Population - 1,042,520

Persons 65 years old and over - 18%

High school graduates, persons age 25+ - 93%

Bachelor's degree or higher, age 25+ - 30%

Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin - 3%

White persons, not Hispanic - 86%

Median household income - $47,169

Median home value - $193,500

Social Security taxed? Yes

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

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