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8 Towns Perfect For Retirement In North Dakota

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8 Towns Perfect For Retirement In North Dakota


As one of thirteen states sharing a border with Canada, North Dakota gets its name from the American Souix name for “ally ” or “friend.” The “Peace Garden State” might be best known for its colder climate and wide-open landscapes, but in recent times, it has emerged as a surprising haven for retirees seeking a place to spend their golden years. For senior adults looking for close-knit communities, affordable living costs, and a rich historical heritage with numerous outdoor activities to explore, North Dakota delivers. The following eight communities are hidden gems perfect for retirees looking to find a tranquil and peaceful lifestyle far from the rigors and congestion of daily urban life.

Jamestown

The World’s Largest Buffalo in Jamestown, North Dakota. Editorial credit: Daniel M. Silva / Shutterstock.com.

Jamestown sits in Stutsman County in the south-central part of the state, with a population of over 15,000 residents. The town was formed in the 1870s and has a rich heritage as a railroad stop, supplying local ranchers with a place for commerce and community to help support their homesteads. The town boasts the North American Bison Discovery Center (formerly the National Buffalo Museum). This fantastic museum is dedicated to restoring the Buffalo through educational and preservation initiatives. The grandkids will love exploring the Frontier Village, with its original pioneer buildings filled with antiques and artifacts. In addition, the world’s largest buffalo sculpture makes for a memorable photo opp. History lovers will enjoy exploring the Stutsman County Memorial Museum, a free historical venue with several floors of interesting displays and stories about local culture.

The median home price is $229,000, and with very reasonable fuel and food costs, seniors will not have to worry about making ends meet. Residents enjoy a cost of living that is about 11% less than the national average and is about average compared to other areas of the state. Healthcare is supplied by Jamestown Regional Medical Center, a 25-bed critical care facility serving a nine-county area. When you visit, be sure to eat at the Buffalo Grill, an excellent dining establishment committed to offering affordable meals to locals and visitors alike. If you can stay during the summer, don’t miss the Buffalo Jam, North Dakota’s premier music festival.

Devil’s Lake

Downtown Devil's Lake, North Dakota
Downtown Devil’s Lake, North Dakota. Image credit: Andrew Filer via Flickr.com.

Devils Lake is aptly named for the large mineral-rich lake it borders in the northeastern part of the state. The region has plenty of stunning natural beauty and boasts an extensive list of outdoor activities to enjoy. Retirees can enjoy fishing, boating, and birdwatching around the lake, and Graham’s Island State Park has extra-large camping spots that are perfect for RVs. This community of just over 7,100 residents is close-knit, with very little traffic and a priceless small-town charm.

History enthusiasts will love exploring the Lake Region Heritage Center, housed in the 1910 old Post Office/Federal building. The downtown area features many local businesses, shops, and boutiques. If you visit, the best place for a meal is Old Main Street Cafe, with its eclectic array of old photos, weird collectibles, and delicious meals.

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The average home price in Devil’s Lake is a reasonable $240,000, and the living cost is 17% less than the national average. Alexius Health, a 25-bed facility that can handle most medical situations, offers medical care. With nearly 22% of the town’s residents aged 65 and over, it is easy to see why this tranquil place might be the perfect retirement destination.

Minot

Stave church of Norwegian design found in Minot, North Dakota
Stave church of Norwegian design found in Minot, North Dakota.

Minot is a city in Ward County in the north-central part of the state. With 47,000 residents, it is one of the largest cities in North Dakota and is known primarily for the Air Force Base, which sits fifteen miles north of town. The town began as a railroad hub supplying settlers who ventured across the northern Plains in search of their fortunes. Today, the community is home to Minot State University, serving about 2,500 students every academic year.

Retirees can explore the Scandinavian Heritage Park with its many artifacts and buildings or enjoy strolls along the Souris Valley Trail. The downtown area has many historic buildings and shops that lend to its small-town charm. The Roosevelt Park Zoo, with over 65 species of animals, is a nice way to spend a day with the grandkids when they visit. After visiting the menagerie, try the Starving Rooster downtown for great pizza or homemade sandwiches.

Owning a home in Minot will cost about $289,900, and living costs are just under the national average. One of the best things going for Minot is Trinity Health Regional Healthcare, which just opened a 167-bed medical campus in 2023.

Valley City

A rail bridge over the Sheyenne River in Valley City, North Dakota
A rail bridge over the Sheyenne River in Valley City, North Dakota.

Valley City is known as the City of Bridges due to the eight historical bridges surrounding it. This historic town charms retirees with its picturesque landscapes and historic downtown. Residents will enjoy the Sheyenne River Valley Scenic Byway, which offers scenic drives, while Medicine Wheel Park provides a serene setting for relaxation overlooking the town. If you like hiking, the North Country National Scenic Hiking Trail is a must-see. The 4,800-mile trail stretches across eight states, offering several memorable once-in-a-lifetime excursions.

The median value for a home in Valley City is $292,000, with a living cost 14% less than the national average. Healthcare is provided by CHI Mercy Health, which operates a 25-bed hospital, with more specialized care offered in Fargo, which is about an hour away. When you visit, be sure to eat at the Bridges Bar and Grill, which has an excellent beer selection and tasty burgers.

Williston

Aerial View of Williston in the Bakken Oil Fields of North Dakota
Aerial View of Williston in the Bakken Oil Fields of North Dakota.

Known for its robust economy fueled by the oil industry, Williston thrives in the northwest corner of the state, offering retirees a unique blend of urban amenities and small-town charm. This community has numerous outdoor recreational opportunities, from fishing on Lake Sakakawea to exploring the Maah Daah Hey Trail. History buffs will love exploring the Fort Union Trading Post, which operated as an important site for the fur trade between 1828 and 1867.

The downtown area has many boutiques, antique stores, and delicious dining establishments to choose from. Every Mother’s Day weekend, the town celebrates band day, where marching bands show their skills in a large parade and competition. The Williston Basin Air Show is one of the town’s premier events, happening every August.

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The average price for a home is a stout $429,000, with home prices being driven up by the oil revenues brought into the community. (The town’s population nearly doubled during 2010 – 2020). Still, the living costs are about 6% less than the national average. Medical care is supplied by the Williston Medical Center and CHI-St. Alexius Healthcare.

Wahpeton

Aerial view of Wahpeton, North Dakota
Aerial view of Wahpeton, North Dakota.

Wahpeton is a hidden gem for retirees seeking a serene and fulfilling lifestyle. Nestled along the Red River’s scenic banks in the state’s southeast corner, this charming town offers good schools, safe streets, and a caring community. Retirees can immerse themselves in the town’s rich history at the Chahinkapa Zoo and explore the fascinating exhibits at the Red Door Art Gallery. For nature enthusiasts, the nearby Chahinkapa Park provides picturesque walking trails and tranquil picnic spots. The town also boasts the Wahpeton Wahper, the world’s largest catfish. This unique work of art is a great photo op.

The median price for a home in Wahpeton is $296,000, with a living cost factor 22% less than the national average. In addition, healthcare options include the St Francis Medical Center, a critical care facility that can handle almost any medical situation. With its blend of local attractions, affordable housing, and access to quality medical care, Wahpeton, North Dakota, stands out as a prime destination for retirees seeking a fulfilling and comfortable retirement lifestyle.

Watford City

Watford City, North Dakota
Theodore Roosevelt National Park near Watford City, North Dakota.

Watford City is located in McKenzie County on the western edge of North Dakota. It owes much of its recent development to the state’s oil boom, which has brought significant growth to the town over the last couple of decades. Watford City has seen a remarkable transformation in recent years, but with a solid infrastructure, a warm community spirit, and abundant recreational activities, this small town of 6,000 residents strives to be a great place to live.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hiking and wildlife viewing. The park is home to bison and wild horses, so keep your eyes peeled as you explore the park’s many hiking trails. It’s not uncommon to spot these majestic animals during your visit. The best place for a steak is Outlaws Bar and Grill, located on South Main.

The median home price is $375,000, and the living cost is slightly higher than the national average. With excellent access to medical care through McKenzie Healthcare System. Nearly 7.4% of the resident population is over 65, but more retirees are flocking to the area every year.

Mandan

Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park near Mandan, North Dakota
Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park near Mandan, North Dakota.

Mandan is a small town sitting on the western side of the Upper Missouri River across from Bismarck. The community has a population of just under 25,000 residents and has a rich Native American heritage. History buffs will enjoy the Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, where visitors can explore reconstructed military buildings and the iconic On-A-Slant Indian Village. Additionally, Mandan boasts an array of outdoor recreational opportunities, from fishing and boating on the river to hiking and camping in the nearby hills. With its picturesque landscapes and vibrant community spirit, Mandan provides residents with a tranquil retreat amidst the rugged beauty of the North Dakota plains.

With its close access to Bismark, there are ample healthcare options, including the Vibra Hospital of the Central Dakotas, a 41-bed critical care facility. The median home price is $370,000, with a living cost of 11% less than the national average. The downtown area has plenty of quaint shops and boutiques to venture through. If you need a place to eat, try Friends Family Restaurant, a local eatery serving home-cooked food and drinks.

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In conclusion, North Dakota’s small towns offer retirees a tranquil haven to embrace a slower pace of life, connect with nature, and foster meaningful community ties. Whether you’re drawn to outdoor adventures, cultural attractions, or simply seeking a close-knit community, these eight towns provide the perfect backdrop for a fulfilling retirement lifestyle.



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North Dakota

North Dakota Legacy Fund keeps growing

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North Dakota Legacy Fund keeps growing


(Bismarck, ND)  —  The fund created to be a source of long-term funding for the state continues to grow.  

According to the Retirement and Investment Office as of March the North Dakota Legacy Fund is worth over ten-and-a-half-billion-dollars.  

The Legacy Fund was created in 2010 to provide money for the state should the energy economy falter.  

The fund received about 487-million-dollars from investments between 2021 and 2023 and received about 564-million-dollars in oil taxes between July 2023 and March 2024. 

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North Dakota tax collections running ahead of forecast

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North Dakota tax collections running ahead of forecast


Tax collections in North Dakota continue to outpace the revenue forecasts.

“They are 14 percent, or $51 million, ahead of budget in April,” said State Office of Management and Budget director Susan Sisk. “Biennium to date, they’re 12 percent ahead of budget, or $264 million.”

Sisk said virtually every tax type is ahead of forecast – with the exception of individual income tax, with collections running slightly behind forecast.

“However, we have not yet finished our first tax season since the tax rate changes,” Sisk said. The 2023 Legislative session lowered taxes for many North Dakota filers.

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“We still have processing to do,” Sisk said. “Once the dust settles, we’ll have a better idea on how close we are to forecast.”

Sisk said she expects going forward, collections will run much closer to forecast.

For the overall revenue picture and forecast, Sisk said there is stll a lot of risk around oil production and prices.

“Certainly, in a year with a presidential election, there is risk,” Sisk said. “We’re also waiting on the decision on the Dakota Access Pipeline. And everything going on overseas — it’s hard to say right now.”

Sisk said OMB puts together a budget forecast that she calls “reasonable but conservative.”

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Sheriff Charles McCarthy honored 150 years after dying in the line of duty

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Sheriff Charles McCarthy honored 150 years after dying in the line of duty


BISMARCK — More than 24,000 names are etched in the marble at the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C.

This year, three names were added from North Dakota.

Fargo Police Department Officer Jake Wallin and Mercer County Sheriff’s Deputy Paul Martin were killed in the line of duty last year. The third officer died 150 years ago.

“It’s a real honor. This is a family story we have had for a long time,” said Karen Nielsen.

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She is the great-great-great-granddaughter of former Sheriff Charles McCarthy.

It’s a story that the Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department didn’t know much about until last year when they were researching the department’s history as part of their 150th anniversary celebration.

“The only information we had to start with was a name on the wall,” said Deputy Elliot Carvell.

There is no known picture of McCarthy, but plenty of history. McCarthy served in the Civil War.

“He was arrested by General George Custer for some illegal wood cutting prior to being the sheriff,” Carvell said.

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McCarthy was the sheriff of the Dakota Territory as North Dakota would not become a state for another 15 years.

“It’s hard to comprehend what law enforcement would have been like in that time. These were one-man departments,” Carvell said.

It is believed McCarthy was the first lawman from North Dakota to be killed in the line of duty.

McCarthy, along with Deputy U.S. Marshall Clinton J. Miller, drowned on December 12, 1874, when their horse sleigh fell through the frozen Missouri River. They were investigating a deadly shooting outside a saloon near Washburn.

“It’s important to remember those who came before you,” said Carvell.

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Through Ancestry.com, Carvell was able to track down Nielsen and her father who live in the southwest.

He informed them McCarthy’s name was going to be added to the police memorial walls in Bismarck and Washington, D.C.

“It really made the history come alive. It was really an honor,” said Nielsen.

“It’s a symbol or recognition to our current officers that the sacrifices they make each day, whether small or large, are not forgotten,” said Carvell.

Nielsen and her father were not able to attend the ceremonies this year, but hope to make it to Bismarck and Washington, D.C. in the near future.

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“We are very thankful to them and proud of them for doing that and honoring him,” she said.

Deputy U.S. Marshall Clinton J. Miller is not on the wall yet.

McCarthy replaced Miller as sheriff when Miller became a deputy marshall.

Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years.

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