Boulder/Longmont or Grand County (Denver, Aspen: transplants, real estate, for rent)
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For our retirement home we are torn between Longmont and Grand County, particularly Fraser/Tabernash area. We plan to be active retirees, bicycling, XC skiing, sledding, hiking, etc. We are small town people but have always been close to a city of some size; somewhat concerned about the remoteness of Grand County. But it sure is beautiful up there.
Would appreciate any input on quality of life, climate, friendliness of people, etc. We wouldn't want to live in Vail or Aspen even if we could afford it; we are pretty unpretentious fairly liberal professionals
Thanks; I had seen that before. But while there are similarities there are a lot of differences between Central City/Black Hawk area and the Fraser Valley.
I certainly agree. Besides, Forrest Whitman is a humorist. There is truth in what is written, but some of it must be taken with a grain of salt.
I know people who have summer homes/cabins in Grand County and love it. But as for living there full-time? The remoteness would certainly get to me. The Fraser Valley is notably one of the coldest spots in the state and the winters are very cold and long.
I can't really comment on your questions about quality of life and friendliness of people as I have only spent time in the area skiing at Winter Park/Mary Jane.
As a woman "of a certain age" myself (though still working, for the moment), I'd suggest Boulder/Longmont. It's less remote, and there are health care facilities and such that a retiree might use nearby.
I lived in Longmont for 3 years, and spent alot of time in boulder for the 'amenities'. Longmont is a nice little town [be aware of the train; it runs at night, as well, and with no gates through many residential streets, the horn must be blown] and being 'downwind' from agriculture to the east, and the turkey factory 'turkey rendering plant'-in longmont itself, as far as odors! ie, choose your location/real estate w/in town accordingly. The train noise is year round; the odors are particularly strong in the heat of summer.
There are, however, several different parts of town; it's a pretty good sized little city-so you have options. The planned community 'Prospect New Town' is interesting to check out. We have friends who live/own there, and it's won many national awards for design and community building. [It's not a sterile suburbia planned community, nor is it co-housing-but it's sort of a combo of the two-but not really-you might want to research it, out of interest, at least.]
Longmont does have a sizeable retiree population; it gets a fair amount of sun, as does most of the front range. You've probably researched, but the winters are mild relatively speaking. Wind is a significant issue in CO, during the winter (very strong wind, affects some more than others), but it's not a daily occurrence. Snow and bitter cold in the Longmont/Boulder area are minimal, compared to east coast, midwest,etc. Snowfall often melts by afternoon, on warmer days. And, yes, the 'dry air' means the cold does not quite chill your bones as it does elsewhere. [I was born and raised in new england, where the humidity indeed makes things feel either hotter or colder.]
Regarding summer heat, not sure where you live now, but the front range is HOT in the summer. Yes, it's a 'dry heat', but it's also at 5k feet, which makes the sun something like 20% stronger. And you definitely feel it!
When I lived there, Longmont and surrounds experienced a record number of above 100 degree days, and a particularly strong period of summer fires [air quality issues that are noticable to your health]. I'm sure the summers vary, just like the winters. But just mentioning that generally, you can plan on some 100 degree days. [I remember driving to denver on the interstate, on sept 15 and the thermometer we drove past read 105 degrees. I still remember the date, lol. The summer that would never end!]
None of this is meant to paint a negative light, only to inform of my own experiences/realities in the area. I figure the OP already has lots of info about the great things in the area, so I would mention the less-than-great, depending upon the person, list of things.
Being so close to Boulder was truly essential for us in enjoying Longmont. Sure, alot of boulder transplants live in Longmont; but Longmont doesn't have the same vital, college town/liberal feel that boulder or fort collins would have. It's more conservative [but a mix of people] in feeling, and the last I checked, had not yet seen the downtown accomodate it's full potential. [Long. has a GREAT old downtown area, as you know if you've visited.] So, being able to head to boulder for a night out, was a real plus; Denver's not far, either.
I am not familiar with the other area you are researching, but if isolation is a factor, then Longmont probably offers the best of both worlds-a nice small city and proximity to great culture. [Also, Niwot is a sweet small town between Longmont and Boulder.]
Regarding friendliness question: People are nice, in my experience, you will find some overtly friendly and some keep to themselves; it's really a mix of 'types of folks' in town. I honestly have no recollection of common courtesy one way or the other, which is probably a good sign! I think people use appropriate ettiquette in daily interactions. [Which, if coming from a large metro area or some parts of the country, is now a rarity]. The city services are a complete BREEZE to use; this was true in boulder, as well, where we lived for several months first. In Longmont the DMV, library, hospital, etc. are extremely small town in feel-ie, easy to use, access information, get assistance, etc. I rate them highly based on my experiences there. One other thing: Most people we met, loved living in CO! There was civic pride, for sure, and whether people were from Longmont, or had moved there for retirement, to raise a family, etc., there was a sense of 'aren't we living in a great place?', vibe around town. We actually did not love it-lol-but I still rate both the state and Longmont area very highly in terms of quality of life.
Regarding outdoors: Great parks, trails, hiking-it's CO, after all! You can very easily be active, and most people in the boulder/longmont region are.
Hope this personal perspective is helpful. Enjoy your move and good luck w/the decision!
Last edited by lrmsd; 03-14-2012 at 10:32 PM..
It's actually something a new friend mentioned to my spouse, after we moved there. He said "And another thing they don't tell you about, is the wind!" lol. But really, it's not something always mentioned; it's a good piece of info to have, however. [At least in my mind.]
over 7 months now...
Still loving Boulder!
I'm surprised by:
1) the wind (don't remember reading a lot about the wind prior to coming so it came as a bit of a surprise
2) How much I love the public transportation. Don't get me wrong, I love having my own car at my disposal, but the bus system here is pretty decent. Bikers can store their bikes (never saw that before), buses on the main lines run pretty frequently, and riders are VERY polite (everyone greets and thanks the drivers upon entering and exiting the buses! LOVE THAT!).
3) How unpretencious many of the people I've met have been. I meet people all the time with advanced degrees and they neither look or act the part. Very refreshing.
4) At one point, it seemed like we were getting a snow storm once a week; people still had smiles on their faces while clomping around in their Sorell boots. The weather IS as tolerable and variable as people say and I think I like this. The sun and blue skies have made all the difference.
LOL. When I first headed west from the East Coast after college (waaayyy back in the 1970s), I was talking to someone in Boulder who said, "You should go check out Estes Park. It's windy and there are no jobs."
I did, it was, there weren't, but I moved to EP immediately. I found a cabin in town for rent for about $75/month (!!!!), spent a few dollars putting an ad in the local paper and found some work that was just right for me.
Out of the past 37 years or so, I have lived in Colorado for over 25. Some things -- like wind and the relative paucity of jobs -- never change. Can't imagine living out my days anywhere else...
My girlfriend worked at Sol Vista (in Grandby) one winter, so I spent quite a bit of time in the area. I also was a season pass holder at Winter Park, and mountain biked there a lot in the summer. Frasier and Tabernash are both VERY small, like one stop sign blips on the state highway. Winter Park and Grandby are the closest "towns" used loosely. It's a pretty remote area, that is almost exclusively driven by tourism any more. It is very pretty though, and is significantly less busy than most of the more famous/post resort areas up I-70 that you mentioned. Winter is long there (Oct-May) with cold days, and a lot of snow. There are great outdoor possibilities (as I am guessing you already know), and from my experience the towns are pretty friendly among the locals. But it is a very small area, so you will probably know each other's business pretty easily.
I guess the question just comes down to how remote you want to be living. Are you okay with having Berthoud pass closed for a few days, and having no access to Denver? Are you okay with occasional horrendous driving conditions? Are you okay with spending a lot of time alone together? Do you have the money to move up there, as real estate is still pretty expensive?
One recommendation for when you go up there (even the visit). Timberline Thai in Fraiser, right on the highway in an old drive in building, you won't miss it.
Some of the locals we knew, liked it up there. Many of their kids did not, and were gone to Denver as soon as they turned 18. It's definitely more of a frontiersman adventure, which I know some people would embrace, you just have to ask yourself if you are those people.
Are you okay with having Berthoud pass closed for a few days, and having no access to Denver? Are you okay with occasional horrendous driving conditions?
We've experienced that pass in winter. It was by FAR the most hazardous road we've taken in our brief journeys in the area.
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