Canoes at Dock on Lake

Approximately 47% of Americans consider moving once they finally retire. There are many factors that typically go into the decision of where, but the greatest weight generally goes to cost of living, taxes, and overall healthcare quality. Most people will often think about going someplace warm to get away from the three w’s: winter, work, and worries.

Of course, the first place that pops into most people’s minds is Florida. However, not everyone wants to spend their golden years separated from family and friends—even if the weather is nice and toasty.

Why Northern Minnesota?

You might be surprised to learn more people are choosing to retire in Northern Minnesota than ever before. While it may not be the most obvious choice for some, the prevailing mindsets do make a lot of sense when you break them down. Maybe you’ll find you fit into one of them.

Over the years, I’ve helped hundreds of people plan their retirement here in north central Minnesota. Of those, I’ve found there are roughly seven retirement mindsets in people who choose to relocate during their golden years to, say, the Whitefish Chain instead of the Florida Keys. Some of them might surprise you a bit, while others make complete sense to those of us who already live and work here.

1. Northern Minnesota Connection

If I had to label the biggest contributing factor or mindset of the type of person who chooses to retire to northern or central Minnesota, I would have to say, they typically have a strong connection to the area already. Many of them have visited the area as children or maybe even have family cabins up this way. Some may have lived here at one point in time and have fond memories.

These people love the area, the residents, and the nostalgia associated with being here. Others might have children, grandchildren, or friends who live in the area, and want to be close to them, so they can share their remaining years together.

2. Independent Living

More often than not, those who retire to the Brainerd Lakes Area and even further north also happen to be confident, independent people. These kinds of retirees aren’t sentimentally attached to their current location, or have no problem flipping their entire lives to uproot and move to a new place.

They, instead, focus on enjoying their new-found free time in a way they haven’t experienced before, or would like to experience again. Perhaps they always wanted to live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and they figured there’s no better time than the present. There is plenty to see and do during all seasons here in Minnesota—and certainly something for everyone.

3. Minnesota Healthcare

For some, the financial burden of healthcare alone on aging residents can be a stumbling block, especially if you’re retirement savings isn’t as fleshed out as you’d like it to be. The good news is, Minnesota has been ranked as one of the healthiest states for adults, aged 65 and older by AARP.

The Brainerd Lakes Area is abundant with many quality health systems to choose from: Essentia Health in Brainerd/Baxter, Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby, Lakewood Health System in Staples, Riverwood Healthcare Center in Aitkin—each of them with outlying clinics in various smaller communities.

Not to mention, we also boast many specialty clinics, such as a cancer center, pain specialists, cardiologists, specialty surgery, and more. So, while you’re working with a qualified financial advisor in Minnesota to address your retirement planning needs, you can also be getting the great quality care you deserve.

4. Outdoor Recreation

Not everyone loves Minnesota’s outdoors, particularly in the winter. But for those who do, the Brainerd Lakes Area is a haven. With plenty of snowfall each year (roughly 44.3 inches, to be exact), snowmobile enthusiasts typically have an abundance of the white stuff to work with.

But that’s not all. With miles of bike and park trails, or outdoor recreation areas such as Brainerd’s Northland Arboretum, those who love to walk, cross country ski, or snowshoe can take their pick. Plus, there are lakes and parks for ice skaters and even downhill slopes for the more adventurous and active seniors. And have we mentioned tons of locations to test your ice fishing skills? All of this is just in the winter.

Summer offers a unique beauty and splendor not found in many other states. All of which can be experienced by simply getting outside. There are state parks and forests and a wealth of biking and hiking trails simply waiting to be explored. The Paul Bunyan Trail and Cuyuna Recreation Area are just a few to name. And yes, while we might be in the middle of the country, Minnesota is definitely not lacking in the water department. With technically 11,842 lakes, retirees have ample opportunities for boating, swimming, fishing, and more.  

If lake recreation isn’t your thing, maybe a visit to one of our many area golf courses is. Minnesota has over 400 of them to choose from. Seniors all over the state can get out to enjoy our 70-degree average summer temps by heading to their favorite course. Perhaps all of this recreation is another piece to the puzzle as to why Minnesota’s seniors are healthier than most.

5. Family Traditions

Others yet envision their home as a beacon for family and friends to gather for holidays, or as a summer vacation destination.  Retirement doesn't have to mean the activity and excitement ends.  Picture it: the lazy days of summer have descended, but your home is still a flurry of activity.  Friends, children, and grandchildren make it a point to come to your home on the weekends and holidays to relish in some lakeside rest and relaxation, all while enjoying being in your company.  Who wouldn't love that?  Or maybe you can't imagine yourself without a white Christmas and envision yourself in a cabin on the lake with plenty of wildlife to entertain you.  Minnesota has it all.

6. Distance to the Twin Cities and Duluth 

Northern Minnesota offers a great escape for those looking to unwind and relax from a previously hectic career. Our roads aren’t nearly as congested as bigger cities, but there is still plenty to do.

However, it’s also nice to know more entertainment choices, such as those found in the Twin Cities or Duluth, aren’t more than a couple of hours drive away. The possibilities for starting a new daily routine are endless. Plus, it helps that people in Minnesota really do live up to their “Minnesota nice” labels.

7. Travel Opportunity 

All that said, while some people may purchase their retirement home up here, it doesn’t mean they’ll stay all year round. A few of these retirees will still travel south for at least some of the winter months. Or perhaps even hit a new winter destination each year; all while maintaining their homestead in Minnesota. This way, they can focus on travel during those colder months; all the while not being tied down to a second home investment in Florida or Arizona.  

Regardless of your retirement mindset, if you are thinking about retiring here in Minnesota, I promise you, it can be a phenomenal investment. From the gorgeous setting, to the opportunities and options available to you in finance, healthcare, and more, northern Minnesota is a unique place to live. Sure, Florida and Arizona have a certain appeal—but do they have all of the wonderful amenities I’ve listed above? I think not.

Plan Your Northern Minnesota Retirement 

Are you considering bucking conventional thinking to retire in north central Minnesota?  If so, you don't have to go it alone.  Reach out to one of us in the Wealth Enhancement Group office in Brainerd.  We're an advisory team ready to tackle all of your retirement and investment questions, including those tough ones — like which lake would suit your personalities best.  Chat with one of us by calling 1-800-492-1222 or request a free financial review meeting today.

Meet the Brainerd Area Team
Mark Parrish

Mark Parrish

Senior Vice President, Financial Advisor

Mark Parrish has been with Wealth Enhancement Group for more than 15 years. He strives to build trust and confidence in clients to allow them to enjoy life without the burden of managing their finances.