Flathead Valley named as top place to retire

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August 15, 2012

Flathead Valley featured in national magazine 

By Matt Naber West Shore News | Posted: Wednesday, August 15, 2012 9:34 am

Flathead Valley was featured in Where to Retire magazine yesterday as a top retirement destination in the country. Every two months the magazine features four new ideal locations for retirees and Flathead Valley was chosen because of its mountain and lake setting for recreation combined with medical facilities, art galleries, museums, shops, and other cultural amenities.

“When you look at the great places to retire, we got lakes, mountains, skiing, world-class restaurants, and lots of shops and beautiful towns to be around,” Francois Zanni, president of the Lakeside and Somers Chamber of Commerce, said. “When people retire we also have the Kalispell regional hospital and north valley hospital. With such great doctors and facilities, that makes it a big plus for retirees.”

According to Where to Retire, 700,000 Americans relocate to new towns after retirement. For the last 20 years this magazine has featured different locations throughout the country that suit the needs of retirees. Their circulation base is now roughly 200,000 nationwide.

Mary Lu Abbott, editor of Where to Retire magazine, said the valley catches people’s attention as a vacation destination and then “woos them back” for retirement.

“With each new neighbor that joins us, they have extended family too, bringing economic growth and more opportunity for our businesses to thrive,” Bruce Solberg, president of the Bigfork Chamber of Commerce, said.

Flathead Valley is featured in their September/October edition along with southern Delaware’s 25-mile stretch of beaches, Ann Arbor, Mich., and Boca Raton, Flor.

“With its beautiful setting and proximity to Glacier National Park and other parks, the Flathead has attracted vacationers for years, and now retirees are finding it’s a perfect place for retirement too,” Abbott said. “Those who’ve coped with congested city life in their careers especially are drawn to the open spaces and outdoor splendor of the valley.”

The author of the feature on Flathead Valley is Jean Arthur, a resident of Bozeman and frequent visitor to the valley. Carlee Mausner, advertising coordinator for Where to Retire magazine said Bigfork, Whitefish, Polson, and Kalispell are some of the towns mentioned in the feature.

Throughout the feature, retirees and semi-retired residents of the valley discuss what they like about life in the valley and why the came here.

“Glacier International Airport makes it convenient when coming in and out,” Zanni said. “Besides, it is a beautiful area and we have the amenities to make it a great place to spend the rest of your days.”

Solberg said he remembers Bigfork being in the running for similar recognition as a good place to retire a few years ago. He also said Bigfork has been looked at prior to this but has never reached the top mention.

Zanni said Blacktail Mountain Ski Area had some national recognition in the past for the amount of snow it gets. He also said the valley has received national recognition before, but for being “the gloomiest” due to the amount of cloud cover the valley gets each year.

Zanni said this type of national recognition will help build the small towns in the valley by supporting the local shops and businesses during the summer tourist season and during the winter skiing season as well.

“I think that this is a fabulous opportunity,” Solberg said. “I think they nailed it, it is a fabulous place to retire. Some don’t realize how fortunate we are to live in this part of Montana.” 

Matt Naber, West Shore News
(406) 844-3015

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