From a small timber and fishing village, to a top destination in the West, Sandpoint, Idaho, located in northern Idaho along the shores of Lake Pend Oreille, has become both a tourist destination and a popular retirement community. With a population of just over 8,000, about 20% are retirees who enjoy the great outdoors with biking, fishing, boating, skiing and recreation for all seasons. Sandpoint is is the largest town and the county seat of Bonner County, and is surrounded by three mountain ranges, with the Canadian border just 60 miles away. The city boasts a beach, marina, art galleries, golf courses, and a popular ski resort. It is also a very bike-friendly and pedestrian-friendly community and has received numerous distinctions in the past several years including Sunset Magazine naming it a Top Small Western Town, and Rand McNally and USA Today both recognized it as the nation’s Most Beautiful Small Town. Photo of Aerial view of Lake Pend Oreille on the Pend Oreille River in 1993, courtesy of Wikipedia and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (public domain)
Watch this short Youtube video prepared by Visit Sandpoint:
Where to Retire in Sandpoint and Home Prices
There are a few communities here. Townhomes and villas are offered for sale at resorts, and there is a new, upscale golf community of single family homes. (see link at left). Zillow reports the median home value was $334,521 in early 2020, however homes on the lake, or a house at Schweitzer Mountain Resort can be priced much higher.
What Is Special about Sandpoint
The community is laid back but has a good economy, an artist's colony, all types of outdoor recreation, and all within a beautiful and very scenic spot; Sandpoint is home to Schweitzer Mountain Resort which is one of the most popular ski resorts in the West; the town's Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee encourages biking and walking as a major means of getting around, and establishes walkways and trails through out the town, it is also part of the Idaho Walk Bike Alliance.
What Is Not Special about Sandpoint
Sandpoint's draw is its beauty in the mountains and location on a lake, but it is isolated and not easy to get to. The nearest large airport is in Spokane, Washington, about 80 miles away. Winters are cold and snowy, and if you don't enjoy being outdoors, they will also be long.
Who Will Like Retirement in Sandpoint
Retirees who are active adults and like outdoor activities would enjoy living here. Sandpoint is a walking and biking community, has a library that offers lifelong learning, a hospital and medical facilities, an active senior center, and transportation. There are parks and trails, shops, museums and many restaurants.
Local Economy Is Driven by
The retail business is important to the economy here as is tourism, construction and health care. Wildwood Grilling, which manufactures grilling products is headquartered here, And Schweitzer Mountain Resort contributes to the area being a year-round travel destination.
Climate and Physical Environment
The average January temperature is 29 degrees, with July's average at 70. Sandpoint gets about 70 inches of snow during the winter.
Restaurants & Cultural Scene
This small town is home to several restaurants and pubs. Sandpoint hosts festivals and events throughout the year and has shops, museums and galleries. The Cedar Street Bridge Public Market is in the heart of the city and is a popular place with boutique shops, local artisans, bistro & coffee shops, and offers access to Sandcreek Trail and Sandpoint City Beach.
Sandpoint has a low crime rate, and the crime that does occur mainly involves theft.
Bonner General Hospital is located here.
Sandpoint encourages walking and biking with designated trails and bike lanes throughout the town. There is a public bus system, and Amtrak has a small station in town which offers service to Chicago, Seattle, and Portland, OR. There is a small airport in Sandpoint for private and chartered aircraft, but the nearest international airport is in Spokane, Washington, about 80 miles away.
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