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Retire in Red Lodge, Montana?
Red Lodge is a cute, touristy resort town in rugged, south central Montana. It sits at 5,553 feet above sea level at the base of the beautiful Beartooth Mountains and is a very outdoor-oriented place.
Downhill skiing, hiking, camping, fishing, jeeping, snowshoeing and more keep most people busy. Tourists come for the striking natural beauty and year-round recreation, but they also come because Red Lodge is on the way to Yellowstone National Park. Red and blond brick, two story historic buildings with awnings line downtown streets. Inside these buildings dwell cozy coffeehouses, specialty shops, bookstores, galleries and outdoor gear outfitters, many oriented to tourists. Red Lodge has more eateries and bars per capita than anywhere else in Montana, and many have live music. The town also has a lot of fun activities, including Johnny Cash-themed concerts, a hoedown, a farmers' market, a mountain bike festival, walking tours and more. There are even yoga classes.
Beartooth Market is one of several grocery stores, including an organic one, but there are no major retailers. There is only one golf course, but it usually has open tee times. Homes in town tend to be older and small, while outside of town there are cabins, brick ranch ramblers and working cattle ranches with large spreads.
Population: 2,400 (city proper)
Percentage of Population Age 45 or Better: 45%
Cost of Living: 13% below national average
Median Home Price: $310,000
Climate: Summers are spectacular, with big blue skies and temperatures in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Winters bring temperatures in the teens, 20s and 30s. On average, the area receives 125 inches of snow each year (the national average is 25 inches). Humidity is practically non-existent.
At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients? No. The nearest hospital that accepts Medicare patients is in Powell, Wyoming, 37 miles away.
At Least One Hospital Accredited by Joint Commission? No. The nearest hospital is in Powell, Wyoming, 37 miles away, but the nearest accredited hospital is in Billings, 60 miles away. Red Lodge does have a primary care medical clinic and a long distance, non-emergency medical tranport service.
Public Transit: No
Crime Rate: Below the national average
Public Library: Yes, a Carnegie library
Political Leanings: Conservative
Is Montana Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement? No
Cons: Winter driving can be treacherous, particularly outside of town.
Notes: The only road into Red Lodge is the Beartooth Highway, a National Scenic Byways All-American Road with two lanes that sits between 6,400 feet and 10,947 feet above sea level. The nearest commercial airport is in Cody, Wyoming, 45 miles away. The nearest city is Billings (population 105,000), and it is 60 miles away. Summer tourists clog eateries, shops, etc. Most residents make monthly or quarterly trips to Billings for supply shopping. Red Lodge has grown by 8% within the last couple of decades, but racial diversity is still but a concept.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Red Lodge is a nice town, but its isolation and lack of a hospital should be weighed if thinking of retirement here.
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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