Why You Should Retire in Montana’s “Magic City”

Of all the memorable views, the best have been framed by Montana windows.

William Hjortsberg, author

When you’re preparing for retirement and what life will look like in this exciting stage of life, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is where you will retire.

Billings, Montana is home to over 117,000 people, making it the city in Montana with the highest population. I, like many others, moved to Billings from out of state because I was attracted to the small town feel with the easy access to both outdoor recreation and urban amenities. I knew I wanted to move to the state of Montana, and ultimately moved to what’s lovingly referred to as the “Magic City” for the aforementioned amenities and recreation, affordability, the ‘milder’ winters, and the proximity to both the airport and hospitals. How does my relocation to Montana relate to your retirement plans, you may ask? Well, as someone who is not originally from Montana, I offer an outsider’s perspective on relocating and remaining in this beautiful state.

Here are some reasons you should consider spending your retired years in Billings, Montana.

Low Population Density

Montana is one of the largest states in the country, yet is ranked 44th for population density. Due to the smaller population, Billings is able to maintain a small-town environment and a closer-knit community. If you are relocating from somewhere like Los Angeles with a population of 3.8 million, in comparison, this small town may be a breath of fresh air.

I recall the immediate relief I felt when I moved from a county with over two billion people in it to Yellowstone Country, which has fewer than 170,000 people in it. This made each connection – even one at a grocery store – feel more authentic and less rushed. Strangers actually want to talk to strangers in the gas station? Who knew! The smaller population also allows for a slower pace in your day-to-day life, which can help reduce your stress levels – less time driving in traffic means more time enjoying your much-earned new free time in retirement.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Billings is slightly below the national average, making it a more affordable option for many retirees. Retiring in Billings could mean having more financial freedom to enjoy the amenities available to you such as seeing your favorite band in concert at the Metra, discovering a new local restaurant or food truck, seeing a touring company at the Alberta Bair Theater, or shopping in the Shiloh Crossing.

Something for Everyone

Whether you are drawn to the ease of access to local outdoor recreation, trails, and National Parks, or you prefer to spend your days exploring culinary delights and local shopping, there’s something for everyone in Billings. Without having to leave town, you can spend your morning hiking in Zimmerman Park, fill up on delicious burgers at World Food Championship winning restaurant Burger Dive in the afternoon, and end your evening browsing through local shops downtown.

Billings is continuously developing new shops, introducing new cuisine options, and bringing in new entertainment for locals to enjoy. In the spirit of the small-town feel, there are also events such as parades, fairs, rodeos, and downtown strolls that make for the perfect opportunities to get together with your community. Skypoint serves as the official gathering area for the Billings community and houses farmer’s markets, festivals, and similar events that encourage community members of all ages to enjoy our Downtown area and celebrate local businesses.

If traveling is something you look forward to in retirement, living in Billings will place you within a very short drive to the Logan International Airport. As someone who travels back home at least once a year, it’s been such a luxury to have an airport within 15 minutes of my home. To have out-of-state travel so accessible throughout the year is truly an aspect of Billings that I appreciate. The Bozeman airport, which is also a great option, is just over 120 miles from town as well.


retiring in billings

Because Billings rests in a valley, temperatures in the winter are typically more moderate, unlike many other parts of the state. According to the Billings Chamber of Commerce, “while the average snowfall is below 60 inches, it rarely accumulates to any great depth due to frequent thawing periods. Bitter cold spells can change into Chinook wind warm ups in a matter of hours.”

Billings offers a wide variety of weather conditions throughout the remainder of the year, but many are drawn to “experiencing all four seasons”. Springs are beautifully vibrant and colorful, summers are warm and the perfect time for water recreation and camping, and autumns provide a chilly climate but beautiful landscape.

I will be honest: moving from a state that didn’t have snowy winters, I was not looking forward to the snow. After my first winter in Billings, though, I was shocked by how mild it was in comparison to my expectations. I’ve had family members visit in the winter and family members move to Billings, and the less-frigid winters are appreciated by all.

  • Annual Average Temperature 48 degrees
  • January Average Temperature 27 degrees
  • July Average Temperature 73 degrees
  • Average Annual Precipitation 13.66 in.
  • Average Annual Snowfall 54 in.


retiring in billings

Knowing that I wanted to start a family when I moved to Billings, having a hospital nearby was a priority for me. Billings has not only one, but two fully equipped hospitals within the city – Billings Clinic and Intermountain Health (formerly St. Vincent Healthcare).

In addition to the two hospitals, there are 40 medical clinics ranging in specialties and services throughout the city. Residents throughout Montana and even out-of-state folks travel to Billings to utilize its nationally-recognized healthcare specialists.

Since moving to Billings, I myself have had my fair share of Emergency Room visits – from incidents requiring stitches to kids getting sick, to injuries in the family, each visit required less than a 10 minute drive to get to. Each of these hospitals has compassionate caregivers that prioritize patients’ needs, safety, and accessibility to exceptional healthcare.

Enjoy the Essence of Montana at a St. John’s United Community

retiring in billings

St. John’s United communities offer a place for you to continue to live your life to its fullest and enjoy everything that Montana has to offer. From 55+ to active independent settings (both urban and rural), to more supportive levels of services, St. John’s United offers a full range of living opportunities that allow you to truly enjoy the essence of Montana, the Big Sky Country. We are honored to have partnerships with leading local healthcare and both hospitals that allow us to provide our residents with the best support possible when needed.

Our Life Enrichment and Events teams take great care in planning events and activities that encourage residents to take advantage of all that Billings and our beautiful state of Montana have to offer, such as overnight trips to visit museums and explore new areas, boat tours on the river, on-site concerts throughout the summer, and so much more.

If you are interested in retiring under the Big Sky and would like to learn more about our new, elevated 55+ luxury residence in the St. John’s United family, Aeries, call us at 406-655-7700.

The low population density, cost of living, access to National Parks and outdoor recreation, urban amenities, nationally-recognized healthcare services, and climate are only a few reasons I invite you to consider retiring in Billings, MT. You will truly never run out of things to do in this city, and you’ll never run out of places to explore in this beautiful state.

More about the communities at St. John’s United

Written by:
Kaylee Parry
St. John’s United
Social Media and Marketing Specialist


  1. Billings Chamber Climate Report
  2. Kiplinger
  3. World Population Review
  4. Discovering Montana

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  • Posted on: January 18, 2024
  • Categories: Blog