No surprise Montana town on Top 10 for retirees
For years we've been hearing about the aging of Montana and how it could eventually have one of the oldest populations in the U.S.
That was even before the COVID "out-migration" from some more urban states over the past 3-years.
But one Montana town keeps making the lists of best places to retire in the U.S. And anyone who's already living there can generally agree why that's the case.
The latest appearance comes on a list of "The 10 Best Small Towns in the U.S. for Retirees", in Travel & Leisure's listing of locations that "inspire nostalgia and the feeling that past traditions are still thriving", according to the article. The write-up notes that many retirees are looking for places that either remind them of their roots, or a "long-imagined ideal place to settle down."
The list is an eclectic one
First on the list is Greer, South Carolina, a smaller city just outside of the popular Greenville, South Carolina metro area. Coolidge, Arizona and Dillboro, North Carolina round out the Top 3.
Others in the group include Fredericksburg, Texas, Cedar Key, Florida, Paso Robles, California, Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, Mequon, Wisconsin, and Bristol, Vermont.
This Bitterroot favorite just makes #10
T&L picked Hamilton as the final entry on the list, and the only entry in the Rocky Mountain States. Noting Hamilton's population with "small farms, ranches and orchards" the writers praise Hamilton's combination of history and the outdoors.
"Retirees who are independent, active, and enjoy being outdoors would love life in Hamilton, where gorgeous scenery is a constant backdrop. Hamilton is defined by its wide-open spaces and rural small-town feel with a strong community atmosphere, but the convenience and amenities of a bigger city are available in Missoula, about an hour's drive away." - Travel & Leisure Magazine
Hamilton has actually been a retirement "secret" for decades
Anyone who lives in the Bitterroot, or has spent a lot of time there, would likely echo those highlights. Other things to appreciate are the vibrant downtown, an abundance of trails and parks, dramatically upgraded facilities with Bitterroot Health, and a regular assortment of small town community events and festivals.
But what residents probably only realize is that Hamilton's attraction as a retirement location has been going on since at least the 1980s. That's when many well-heeled retirements began snapping up ranch properties and building big homes. I've been astonished at the number of people I run into that I knew from Washington who moved to the Bitterroot because of that small-town appeal.
But that's where I worry
Years ago, Sequim on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, also had the same atmosphere. Perched along the Olympic Front, retirees began flocking to Sequim throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s. And while Sequim still has some remaining charm, the arrival of heavy traffic, "big box" strip development and subdivisions certainly changed the nature of what made it special. Ironically, I know several people who moved from Sequim to re-settle in Hamilton.
So while we celebrate the acknowledgment, let's hope we can also find a more measured approach to maintain what makes Hamilton special.
LOOK: Where people in Montana are moving to most
Gallery Credit: Stacker