FARGO - Snow or no, Fargo is on the Forbes list of The Best Places To Retire in 2020..

Indeed, it is the only city to have made the list all 10 years that Forbes has compiled the annual top 25 list.

Can we get a “You betcha!” there?

This northern prairie burg, nestled next to the sometimes cantankerous Red River, earned its spot among the you-kids-get-off-my-lawn elite with low housing costs (a median home price of $228,000, 20% below the national median), and a high number of doctors per capita. The cost of living is 8% below the national average, air quality is good, it’s very bikeable, and it’s ranked high on the Milken Institute list of best cities for successful aging (No. 14).

“We’re a great place to retire. … We have a fair amount of people who come here to retire to be near the kids and grandkids,” Mayor Tim Mahoney said Friday, Aug. 14.

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“You have a lot of restaurants you can try, you have a variety of wellness centers and different types of activities that people love to get into. ... and parks are wonderful, I think it’s an inviting community for a lot of people,” Mahoney said.

People also feel safe here, Mahoney said.

“I just tell them to ignore the movie ‘Fargo,’” he said.


Melissa Brandt, president and CEO of the Downtown Community Partnership, said Fargo is a great retirement home base, with lots of restaurants and housing options in its revitalized downtown.

“We’re safe. It’s a great place to live. You’re close to the lakes. You’re really close to everything you need,” Brandt said, calling Fargo “a hidden gem.”

The chief “Ope!” for Fargo is its cold winters, but this town of 125,000 - part of a mini metro area that includes West Fargo, Moorhead and Dilworth - also got dinged for a serious crime rate slightly above the national average, and North Dakota’s income tax on Social Security.

Other retiree-friendly Upper Midwest towns on the Forbes list include Rochester, Minn., Sioux Falls, S.D. and Des Moines, Iowa.

Forbes compiled its list after comparing 750 cities with populations above 10,000 in the 50 states. Money issues were big factors, including median home prices, cost of living, any income tax exemptions for Social Security and other retirement income, and state inheritance or estate taxes.

“Our list has always aimed first and foremost to identify retirement value—places that offer a high quality of life at an affordable price.” the Forbes story said.

Forbes also looked at quality of life indicators, such as crime, air quality and health data.

The list includes cities in 18 states, covering all of the continental time zones. More than half of the picks are in temperate regions.