Affordable small/medium towns in CO (low crime, unemployment rate, school)
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What people don't seem to get is that when there isn't a certain business (like a tea room) in some small town, it is very likely because there is an insufficient customer base to make that business economically viable. A pretty simple rule of thumb is whatever take-home before-tax income you intend to make in a retail-type business, you need to have gross sales of at least ten times that. So, if you want an income of, say, $30K per year--which is just about a minimum to have any kind of material comfort in most Colorado small towns--then you have to gross $300K in the business--that is one hell of a lot of cups of tea. A failure of people to grasp that pretty simple math is why so many people go broke in "foo-foo" businesses in rural Colorado every year. The other issue in many Colorado towns is that businesses that cater to tourists often have to make nearly all of that gross income in 3-6 months per year, while their fixed expenses run year-round. So, when the casual tourist sees some trinket shop busy as hell in July, they make the mistaken assumption that the level of business they see is typical for the whole year, when--in fact--there may be numerous months where the owners sell practically nothing. The other downer for those business owners is that they are usually working 10-14 hours per day 7 days a week during the tourist season to maximize their gross income--that being during the time that is best for recreating in the place they live. So, the business owner's customers get to enjoy a great time goofing off in "paradise," but the business owner is working his or her a** off and doesn't have time to enjoy those amenities. That is the harsh reality of living and working in rural Colorado. Unlike most of the other posters on this forum who have never had to make a living in rural Colorado--the guys who don't have to rely on a local income and most who have never even lived in or tried to make a living in rural Colorado--I have. However beautiful rural Colorado may be, it's a damned hard place in which to make a living--and it is going to get a lot harder as we go forward. The "easy" days--such as they were in rural Colorado--are OVER.
Pretty much the reality as it is, but that doesn't mean business opportunities don't exist, but for this type of business I think it's going to be a tough sell unless you can line up the traffic to make it happen, when you might only have tourists for a few months of the year. It's a hell of a lot of cups of tea to turn over to make a living.
The problem with rural Colorado is the places with the people traffic are extremely expensive.
Indian/Middle Eastern/new age concept might only be able to thrive in very specific (wealthy) pockets of Colorado such as Boulder or Aspen but I suspect that those markets are already tapped to the max with such services. Others on this forum could advise better than I could on that. Plus they would not be at all affordable in terms of rent.
All that new agey/yoga/crystalpower/chai thing has been totally overcooked in places like Aspen and Boulder.
A good portion of rural Colorado, none of that would be appealing to the local population and the tourist demographic that visits.
You were reading my mind about Manitou Springs, which sounds so amazing! They have a teahouse though and I'd never want to compete for business in that small of a town unless their business is thriving, so we actually have thought of getting in touch with the people who run it, it's sort of a commune-run shop it appears, so we're definitely interested in getting ahold of them. Manitou Springs also has a Nepali restaurant, which we'd love to try when we visit.
As far as price range, we'd love to find a place that has retail space rent between $800-$1200 a month for a good location and if we could, a building with an apartment included would be great and that would bump up our budget to $2,000, otherwise our housing budget would be something around $650 or less a month and we'd need a larger studio or 1 bedroom and would also be open to living in a mobile home if the park wasn't too scary. We've done it before. The only real housing challenge is that it would have to be pet-friendly because we have a small dog and a cat, but I suppose it's a little early to be worrying about that.
We're not looking to buy at the moment, we own a house in Mesa AZ and we'd rather rent for awhile because we're already paying one property tax here and have a friend lined up to rent this house, so at least for the first couple of years we'd rather rent in case the business does fail, so we're not in debt with no way to pay.
All that said, if what you're saying is true, Colorado might not be the right place for us. We're looking into Washington State quite a bit, and it seems it might work better for us. I didn't realize Colorado didn't have the diversity we're looking for. I've only been to Aspen, Denver and CO Springs, but a friend who lived there told me there were a lot of towns there that had a more "hippie" vibe and I figured there might be some places that would enjoy what we have to offer. I think sadly it may not be the case, though I definitely plan on visiting anyway to see for myself.
andromeda_k, I've been following this thread w/interest and admiration for the way in which you've been envisioning and planning your business. I am a tea-drinker and researched ideas similar to yours about 3-4 years ago. Even though I live now in cattle-ranching country in a tiny teeny town, I would not be surprised to find (and enjoy!) your business in LaVeta, Westcliffe, Salida, Buena Vista, Manitou Spgs, Durango/Mancos, Lyons, Pagosa Spgs, Glenwood, up around Hot Sulphur Springs, and even Alamosa or Trinidad.
I would look for areas that are near Hot Springs or otherwise have a health/fitness orientation, along with lots of conscious tourism traffic. Some people like to set up shop in a place that already has the vibe -- and others enjoy being early-adopter types who dare to go where others will not, and then become the creators who activate the vibe. Ultimately, it's up to you!
If you have any interest in checking out Trinidad, I'd be happy to help guide you to some like-minded businesspeople. T'Dad is certainly not Boulder or Durango, but it has some aspects that may surprise you. (And I, of course, would LOVE to be able to get a rooibos chai with almond milk - and would even drive 50 miles each way for the pleasure!)
Trinidad seems like a nice town, thanks for bringing it to my attention! We definitely would love to live near hot springs, we live about 40 mins from El Dorado hot springs here in AZ and we go all winter long! I'd absolutely love to check out some of the towns listed, I'm sure CO would be a bit more of a challenge than WA, our first choice, but I kind of thought of it as a wildcard addition, and since we've been wanting to visit CO anyway, this gives us the perfect excuse!
And BovineDivine, I'd love to make you a good rooibos chai! We make our own almond milk with raw almonds and madagascar vanilla beans I must say, it's quite delicious. Thank the gods for whoever invented the Vitamix! We also make hemp and cashew milk! Oh, here I go, plugging a business that doesn't exist yet...
Truly, if/when you come to the Trinidad area, I'd love to hook you up with the folks at the Trinidad Community Co-Op, who are also some of the same movers and shakers behind the Farmers' Market, CSA, Community Gardens, and other sustainable/local food projects. Please feel more than welcome to send me a Private Message if you like.
I'll get in touch with you for sure! We are thinking late Autumn or early-ish winter, so I'll let you know, I'd love to meet some people and we're really interested in the co-op! If we did move there, we'd definitely join. We wish there were things like that here, just got back to AZ from spending a couple months in Oregon and we miss the farmer's markets and co ops sooooo much.
I would love to live somewhere with those things nearby!
Just browsing the boards for decent places to think about moving to someday.
Are there any specific towns/cities in Colorado that you'd recommend moving to?
It would have to be a place that has a good school system, plenty of opportunities for decent paying jobs, low crime and teenage pregnancy rates, and not be too expensive to live.
I'm a new mother, or will be come December, to a little girl. I want to find decent and affordable place to move to and was interested in the Colorado area. I currently live with my bf who is on SSI for disability and am the one working. I need a place that will be safe to raise my daughter without having to work so much that I don't get to spend much time with her or be afraid to let her hang out with friends or walk around the block.
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