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Old 03-04-2014, 10:57 PM
 
45 posts, read 83,276 times
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Hi there!

My family and I currently live in Northern Virginia and we are considering relocating to Colorado Springs this summer. I noticed that there are several transplants from my area to Colorado Springs on this forum. Could those of you who know Fairfax-Loudoun counties well please answer some questions about the changes I could expect after moving to Colorado Springs?

1. Areas to consider for home purchase. It seems from perusing the forum that the most desirable and expensive areas are the very southwestern part of the city near the Broadmoor Hotel and the Cheyenne Mountain Nuclear Bunker as well as the northern parts of the city all the way to Monument. What are some of advantages and disadvantages of these areas? Right now, we live in Oakton, so that would be a good reference point if you know it well.

2. Safety/crime rates. I did notice also that the crime rates for both violent and property crimes are substantially above the national average. I get the sense that the southeastern quadrant of the city has the worst crime rates for a variety of demographic reasons. How safe is the rest of Colorado Springs compared to areas like Ashburn, Reston, Oakton, Vienna and so on?

3. Natural hazards. There was some news this past summer about brush fires in Colorado Springs. Do these occur regularly there? What areas were most affected? The news mentioned the Black Forest area, which I gather is one of the more desirable areas to live. How serious is the risk from forest fires overall?

4. Defense/military presence. How does the presence of large defense bases and installations affect the area? Does it have a vibe like, say, Newport News-Norfolk area in Southeastern Virginia?

5. How easy is the drive between Denver and Colorado Springs, especially during bad weather? How long does it typically take?

I have many more questions, but these five should get me started. I sincerely appreciate any information/advice.
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:23 AM
 
Location: Pikes Peak Region
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MF001 View Post

3. Natural hazards. There was some news this past summer about brush fires in Colorado Springs. Do these occur regularly there? What areas were most affected? The news mentioned the Black Forest area, which I gather is one of the more desirable areas to live. How serious is the risk from forest fires overall?
The Black Forest Fire wasn't just a brush fire. It was a forest fire as well. Black Forest is a very desirable part of town but less so now that several hundred houses have burned and several thousands of acres of forest are gone. It was a devastating event for this area as was the Waldo Canyon Fire the year before. That one scarred our hillsides just to the west of town and destroyed several hundred homes in another desirable neighborhood, Mountain Shadows. That's not common around here, we've just been hit hard two years in a row. Followed by awful flooding this past fall.

The result of these fires puts us on edge every time thunderstorms develop in the area. The burn scars don't absorb the rain like the forests did and flash flooding is a major concern in the areas of the fires. Manitou Springs lost several houses because of flood runoff.

These events were terrible for the Colorado Springs area. But in my opinion, they show exactly how resilient the region is and what an amazing community we have.

I'll leave the rest of your questions to people with a better frame of reference for comparison. The fires/flooding were just a bit more personal for me because they affected me directly. I hope you get to move to Colorado Springs and experience what a wonderful city it is!
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Old 03-05-2014, 07:55 AM
 
Location: Black Forest, CO
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Most of us avoid driving to/from Denver in bad weather. It is not advisable to have a job that requires that commute unless you cannot avoid it. Use Google maps to find drive times in good weather and maybe double that for bad weather. Once in a while, they even close the interstate around Monument Hill (Maybe once or twice every 5 years - not real common). In good weather, the drive to Denver is a nice scenic drive and there is some scenic open space between Colorado Springs and Denver.
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Old 03-05-2014, 01:23 PM
 
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
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The commute is largely dependent on where in the Springs you're starting out and where in Denver you're finally parking. I drive (fortunately, just twice a week) from the Garden Ranch area (near Academy Blvd and Austin Bluffs) to the Denver Federal Center in Lakewood. 95% of the time, it takes me an hour and a quarter. But, I leave COS at 6:00, so I beat the heavy, rush-hour traffic. If I left home at 7:00, it would easily cost me an extra 30 minutes.

In bad weather, that can easily double, or even triple. I have flexibility enough to heed the traffic/weather guys on TV. When they say to avoid the roads, I do. Still, every once in a while, you can get caught up in some traffic.

Obviously, if you live further South in COS, or commute further North into Denver, the drive would take longer. Similarly, the commute from, say, Briargate to the Denver Tech Center (South part of the City) would be about 20 minutes shorter.
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Old 03-05-2014, 01:56 PM
 
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Thank you all for the answers.

Wow, that fire sounded horrible. It must been absolutely terrible for the folks who were affected by it. Is this something that can occur with regularity? What measures are in place to combat the possibility of this recurring?

The Denver-CS drive question is just for visits. I have friends in Denver area. NOT for commuting. Work will be in the middle of CS, so I can live SW or N.

My housing budget is about $650K-$1 million, but I'd really like to cut back from what I have in Oakton, VA (it's seven figures here). Income will be about the same or more there than here in VA, but I'd really like to cut back and live more modestly. I am looking to live in a less "competitive" area where people are more traditional and harmonious. I miss chatting with neighbors on the porch regularly. Also, I am itching to do more outdoor, mountain activities, so CS sounds great to me.

What about the other questions? Would anyone with knowledge of both CS and NoVA care to comment? Thanks again.
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Old 03-05-2014, 02:16 PM
 
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MF001 - Having lived in NoVA for 28 years before moving here 3 years ago, I think I can answer some of your questions. You indicated you live in Oakton and your other points of reference are Vienna, Reston and Ashburn. Those are all relatively affluent areas, so I think you're pretty much on point with comparable communities you identify in Colorado Springs. Some of these areas were threatened by the fires, as they are in the foothills. Other neighborhoods/developments you might check out are Cedar Heights, Peregrine and Kissing Camels. I'm sure the developments with Broadmoor in their name along with the others I just noted all would have quite low crime rates, though I didn't check any stats. The Monument, Woodmoor, and Black Forest areas are all desirable areas, but as others noted, are heavily forested. Black Forest was hit very hard with the fire last year. Monument and Woodmoor were threatened but not burned. The threat of fires is high everywhere in the West. We, along with all the other western states get fires every year. It's a fact of life, just like tornados and hurricanes are a fact of life in VA. Colorado Springs has a heavy presence and reliance on the military and military contractors. We have several Air Force installations, including the Air Force Academy, and a very large Army base (Fort Carson) in the immediate area. That said, while the presence here is significant, I wouldn't necessarily characterize COS in the same vein as Newport News, which I would classify as a "Navy town." You didn't indicate whether you'd be commuting to Denver. If not, the typical non-rush hour drive is about an hour and a quarter to an hour and a half (downtown to downtown), depending on traffic, of course. Others have already commented on the commute times.

Hope this helps. Welcome to town. One of these days, we have get all us NoVA expats together. There does seem to be a number of us.
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Old 03-05-2014, 02:22 PM
 
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Thirty year NOVA expat here.....

I'd add the Pine Creek area to those other areas mentioned, some homes are on the golf course; look in zip 80920 on ppar.com or realtor.com

Lots of the Rockrimmon area is nice too, that's over on the west side of town, west of I-25.

Yes, avoid the S.E. part of town, our least nice area.
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Old 03-05-2014, 02:40 PM
 
Location: Pikes Peak Region
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I have a good friend from your area that I fielded a few of your questions to for better comparison. He was pretty helpful so here's what I got from him:

1. The Broadmoor area is one of the best parts of town for your housing budget. Honestly, you could live anywhere in the Slrings for that but the Broadmoor area is one of the nicer parts of town that hasn't been affected by the fires or flooding. Compared to Fairfax County, it's similar but not quite as suburban. It's the money side of town, for sure.

2. Crime in Colorado Springs is sporadic but nothing to fear. The southeast side of town is higher crime, primarily because of the larger concentration of cheaper apartments. I've lived in that part of town and had no problems. Crime anywhere in Colorado Springs is nothing compared to crime in many larger cities.

I went over number three already. The Springs is close to forested mountains so there will always be a danger. Honestly, the Broadmoor area is close to the forest/urban interface so there is a real threat. Nature is fickle and hard to control.

4. The military is a huge influence here. I like it, it creates diversity in the city. My friend tells me that Ft. Carson in Colorado Springs is very similar to the Newport News area in that it's a lot of enlistees. If you live near Ft. Carson, it will be similar to Newport News. Living near the Air Force Academy is different. The Air Force bases are smaller and far enough east they don't influence day-to-day living as much, comparatively.

Number five has been covered by others that nailed it pretty well.

Colorado Springs is seen by most of my east coast friends as incredibly friendly. You do get to know our neighbors here, if you want, and the outdoor activities always help in making friends. I always end up chatting with strangers on the trails. I hope you get to experience it!
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Old 03-05-2014, 05:18 PM
 
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Carrera32 and Mike from back East, thank you for the suggestions about neighborhoods. I don't play golf and I don't think I'd ever live on, or near, a golf course. I am more hunting, shooting, fishing, hiking kind of a guy.

I like a lot of things about where I live now, but I don't get to do much of what I really love to do. Plus whenever I go into wooded areas in Northern Virginia, I come back horribly covered in ticks, many of which probably carry Lyme disease. Ugh, the hours I spent taking ticks off my kids and dogs here... I heard that there is very little in the way of fleas, tick and other critters in and around Colorado Springs. If that is true, that would be much welcome... though I guess I'd better teach my kids and dogs to avoid rattlesnakes and mountain lions.

What is it like to commute from Monument to Colorado Springs? Also, how is it that CS gets only 30 inches of snow a year but Monument gets 110 inches (!) only 10-15 miles away? Is there a drastic difference in elevation?

Anyone live a bit out of town on a ranch/farm-type property? What's that like?

Littlekw, thank you also for additional information. What does crime is "sporadic but nothing to fear" mean? Could you elaborate on that a little please? Where I live in Northern Virginia now is EXTREMELY safe despite relatively high density and proximity to DC/the Beltway. My family has gotten very used to this kind of safety. Many of my neighbors don't lock their doors and young women jog alone at night in my neighborhood (I know that's not advisable even in very safe areas, but that's what other folks do). I don't expect to find that kind of safety everywhere, but I'd like to be able to gauge just how much higher the prevalence of crime, especially violent crime, is in Colorado Springs, so I can make an informed decision.

Parts of Newport News and Norfolk are extremely dangerous with frequent murders and armed robberies during broad daylight. If anywhere in CS is similar to those areas, I will be staying far away, at least from that part of CS.
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Old 03-05-2014, 06:06 PM
 
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Very few ticks / fleas here.

Monument is at a higher elevation and that makes a difference determining where the snow line is when we get precip.

Typical drive from Monument to central COLO SPGS should be ~20-25 minutes, more if snowy.
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