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Old 01-25-2012, 07:57 AM
 
Location: Barkhamsted CT
11 posts, read 43,842 times
Reputation: 15

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Hello - my family and I are looking at moving up into the mountains of WY, MT or CO. We'd prefer a small mountain town where the neighbor helps neighbor mentality is still intact. I dont mind a commute of up to an hour one way. I am an executive assistant so I'd need to be near an area with corporate possibilities. My husband is a medically retired Marine looking to work in the wildlife sector. Can anyone suggest a few mountain towns for us to raise our kids in? We live in CT and it's too expensive, arrogant, and has completely lost the small town feel. I would much rather sit in traffic because of cattle crossings than some jerk who couldn't obey the laws and caused an accident. We are moving away from everything we know in order to give our kids the life they deserve, which we can't afford to do here in CT and all I can find online is conflicting information on statistics (schools, jobs, houses). I've printed out maps, looked for the largest cities with work possibilites and then searched the surrounding towns and am running in circles. If someone from the area could name a few neat little mountain towns...Id appreciate it more than you know! We like woods, mountains and cabins...not so much the plains, even though they're beautiful. We feel more comfortable tucked into the woods. We just need a starting point. WY is SOOOOO much bigger than CT...we are overwhelmed and dont know where to begin. Thanks SO much in advance!!
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Old 01-25-2012, 08:19 AM
 
Location: Littleton, CO
2,190 posts, read 2,170,631 times
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I can think of a ton of small mountain towns but they usually aren't near big cities, how small is small? Would a city of like 40-50,000 be the area with corporate possibilities?
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Old 01-25-2012, 09:27 AM
 
8,089 posts, read 15,924,428 times
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Three main choices in Colorado:

1. The Front Range metroplex. Just like big metro areas everywhere. Where most of the decent jobs are. Mountain small towns nearby are still suburban in their mentality. Not "real" small towns sociologically.

2. Farming and ranching communities, mostly on the Eastern Plains, and a few remaining on the Western Slope and in the San Luis Valley. These are "true" small towns, with tight-knit communities of the type you say you seek. Very few jobs of any kind, and even fewer that pay well. Great places to live if you don't need to live near the mountains, don't have a need for a lot of money, or if you bring a bunch of money with you. It take often take outsiders years, if not decades to be truly accepted in some of the communities.

3. Mountain resort and retirement communities. Expensive living costs with generally substandard-paying jobs. "Cartoon" towns filled with a lot of phony people trying to show how "cool" they are by living in a resort town--many of them part-time. I would never recommend them as a socially healthy place to raise kids. The illicit drug culture has been entrenched in many of the towns for decades. Contained within most of the resort towns is an underclass of "worker bees," many of them immigrants--a lot of them illegal. Sadly, they are often the most "comfortable" towns for outsiders to relocate into, because they tend to turn those towns into exactly what the outsiders say they wanted to leave behind. Go figure.

Wyoming and Montana have similar mixes of small towns. What those states lack (happily) is a large metroplex like Denver/Colorado Springs/Fort Collins. Of course, they lack all the job opportunities and cultural attractions that the metro areas offer, too.

New Mexico is also similar, but with a dominating metro area of Albuquerque, though Albuquerque pales in size compared to the Front Range. Much of rural New Mexico is very impoverished, and the dominant native Hispanic ("Nuevo Mejicano") culture, especially in northern New Mexico, can be a real shock to newcomers moving from elsewhere.

There is NO rural area in the Rocky Mountain West in which it is easy to make a living, unless one is willing to relocate to one of the oil and gas "boomtowns" and work in the gas or oil fields. Many of those are not very pleasant communities in which to live, and the jobs, though paying well, are demanding and rigorous. My opinion of the general rural job market is that, difficult as it has been even during the "boom" days until the last couple of years, it is going to get much worse going forward. The people who are moving into the rural areas of the Rocky Mountain West today are people that are financially independent of it and bring their money (and it generally takes a lot of it) with them. A lot of those people will spew about how great rural Colorado is on this forum, but they aren't having to try to make a living here. And, a lot people who spew about how great it is with the "C'mon out, you'll love it" crap don't even live in rural Colorado and really don't have a clue about what it does take to live here. I've leaved in rural Colorado most of my life, and I know firsthand what the challenges are. And even I had to leave it for a period of years in order to make a living.

All of this is why most people wind up living in the "big-box" sprawled automobile-dependent suburban blobs of the Front Range that, aside from the view (maybe) out the window, could just as well be in LA, Chicago, etc.

Finally, as far as wildlife-related jobs, unless your husband has a college degree and experience in that field, forget it. Rocky Mountain region universities disgorge far more graduates in those fields than there are any available jobs. In the federal sector, there are many people already working in the field who covet a transfer to the Rocky Mountain region, as well. People already in the system almost always get preference for any job openings that occur in this region. I know a number of people who work with the Forest Service and BLM and that is how most all of them wound up in Colorado.
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Old 01-25-2012, 10:39 AM
 
Location: Western Colorado
5,218 posts, read 4,457,184 times
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I've only lived here for two years and not supposed to have an opinion, but I don't know of anything that would fit your criteria. I've discovered on the western slope where I live, well paying career type jobs go to relatives and friends. My recommendation would be to pick out the mountain towns you think you'll like on your map, Google them, and spend time this summer visiting them. Go to the cafes and coffee shops the locals hang out at, and ask tons of questions. Also, mountain towns equal tourists, thousands of tourists, which are entertaining and amusing at times, but can get on your nerves pretty fast when you live there.

Anyway, good luck to you and your family.
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Old 01-25-2012, 11:19 AM
 
Location: Na'alehu Hawaii/Buena Vista Colorado
2,842 posts, read 4,669,313 times
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OP, it's going to be next to impossible to find a small mountain town near corporate possibilities. Like Jazz says, most of those are going to be Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins (Front Range cities) or perhaps Grand Junction. You may find something that meets your criteria in the Pueblo area, such as Colorado City and Rye. In the Denver area you could look at Bailey. Otherwise you are looking for the same thing that everyone else in the world is looking for, which is why it doesn't exist.

And the hour drive to work is not because you are waiting for the cattle to cross, it's because you are driving a very long way. Which gets even longer in a raging snowstorm.

There are some great areas in the suburbs of Denver that still have the small town "feel" such as Littleton, Wheat Ridge, and Arvada. Just getting from Littleton to downtown can take an 45 minutes in good weather.
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Old 01-25-2012, 11:28 AM
 
Location: Littleton, CO
2,190 posts, read 2,170,631 times
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It depends on what the OP considers corporate possibilities I guess, the entire front range is out.

A small town near like Grand Junction, Montrose, or Durango would be a possibility, but those are like 20-100k people towns
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Old 01-25-2012, 01:05 PM
 
9,713 posts, read 12,279,030 times
Reputation: 7080
Quote:
Originally Posted by looking2goWest View Post
Hello - my family and I are looking at moving up into the mountains of WY, MT or CO. We'd prefer a small mountain town where the neighbor helps neighbor mentality is still intact. I dont mind a commute of up to an hour one way. I am an executive assistant so I'd need to be near an area with corporate possibilities. My husband is a medically retired Marine looking to work in the wildlife sector. Can anyone suggest a few mountain towns for us to raise our kids in? We live in CT and it's too expensive, arrogant, and has completely lost the small town feel. I would much rather sit in traffic because of cattle crossings than some jerk who couldn't obey the laws and caused an accident. We are moving away from everything we know in order to give our kids the life they deserve, which we can't afford to do here in CT and all I can find online is conflicting information on statistics (schools, jobs, houses). I've printed out maps, looked for the largest cities with work possibilites and then searched the surrounding towns and am running in circles. If someone from the area could name a few neat little mountain towns...Id appreciate it more than you know! We like woods, mountains and cabins...not so much the plains, even though they're beautiful. We feel more comfortable tucked into the woods. We just need a starting point. WY is SOOOOO much bigger than CT...we are overwhelmed and dont know where to begin. Thanks SO much in advance!!
You got that right, soooo much bigger, but there are no people in much of these areas and no people means no cute towns or fancy jobs.

You are confusing the Rocky Mountain west with New England and it's apples and oranges. The population density is different and it is huge in comparison so the distances involved are extreme compared to New England.

When it comes to Colorado most people live on the I-25 corridor in a blob from Ft. Collins down to Pueblo. The reason for it is the weather and altitude is more liveable than up in the mountains and the flat, open space makes it easier for development and transportation.

Outside of that corridor, there are few towns of any size. Grand Junction is the largest metro area outside of that and it's 90000 people, 4 hours from the nearest city and it's in the high desert.

To find trees in Colorado, in most cases you have to go above 7000 ft, realistically above 8000 ft and there are very few communities at that elevation. Most of what exists is very expensive ski towns and a few isolated old mining towns. Corporate type job opportunities are nearly non existent, because those towns don't have any corporations. Even Vail, with it's Vail Resorts that runs the ski area, moved it's corporate offices down to Denver a few years ago. We are talking about towns that have 2000-4000 people that might be an hour or two away from the next town that has 2000-4000 people.

Probably the best thing to do is to look to live in the foothills above Denver or Co Springs and then commute to the city, much as you would living in small town Connecticut and commuting to Hartford or New Haven. The foothills to me isn't really the mountain lifestyle though and those foothill areas have their own issues as well.

I think a lot of people have this dream of rural mountain lifestyles on the cheap, with a great job and income and with all the amenities of the city. It doesn't really exist unless you can forgo at least one of the 3 above. Pretty much you have to bring some wealth with you or your own business income exclusive of local work to be able to do that.

It's a tough deal which is why almost no one does it and almost no one lives in the "real" mountains in Colorado.

Wyoming is even worse for your needs. For starters the state is like America's version of the Australian Outback. The whole state is nearly empty except for a few population areas in high desert/prairie areas on the interstate highways and any mountain real estate with trees is very isolated from most of civilization.

What I would recommend before you get ahead of yourself is to come out and visit and I think you'll see you have limited options in regards to population centers and job opportunities and that a huge percentage of real estate in these states is prairie and high desert and that the mountain areas with trees and burbling streams are inhospitable and inaccessible to most people due to 9 months of winter.
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Old 01-25-2012, 03:24 PM
 
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
7,509 posts, read 11,227,327 times
Reputation: 8393
jim9251 wrote:
I've only lived here for two years and not supposed to have an opinion,
No worries Jim. 30 years will fly by before we know it, and THEN we'll be almost fully qualified to have an opinion. But we'll always be transplants; old transplants, but transplants nonetheless. But give us credit. We've already transformed from being mere Colorado wannabees to Colorado newbies ( anyone with less than 30 years in Colorado! ).

Last edited by CosmicWizard; 01-25-2012 at 04:07 PM.. Reason: typo...what else is new!
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Old 01-25-2012, 03:35 PM
Status: "Fall is almost over!" (set 15 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
69,637 posts, read 59,609,548 times
Reputation: 19958
Mountain towns within an hour of Denver: Evergreen and environs.

Mountain towns within an hour of Boulder: Nederland and environs.

I am not familiar with mountain towns outside of Colorado Springs or Ft. Collins.

Something to keep in mind is that the snow can really impact the drive and a 1 hr drive can easily become 3 or 4 hours in a bad snowstorm, especially out of Boulder.
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Old 01-25-2012, 03:59 PM
 
590 posts, read 1,042,134 times
Reputation: 386
I think your best bet is to visit Colorado and see what it's like here so you can manage your expectations. If you need a corporate job, you will need to live near a major population center, though you may commute to it. The population centers that may come close would be Durango and Montrose in the western part of the state and The Front Range (Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Denver, Boulder, or Fort Collins). West of Colorado Springs you head across Ute Pass and find small towns like Green Mountain Springs which still has dirt roads except on the main drag through town. Outside of Denver you have more options with places like Evergreen and Idaho Springs not that far away. Between Boulder and Golden there is Coal Creek Canyon. Northwest of Boulder you may find places such as Nederland and areas near Lyons.

I am not sure if you considered conveniences such as being able to get back to CT for family events. Hopping on a plane isn't that easy or cheap in Montana. The largest cities near mountains that may have some corporate jobs would be Bozeman or Missoula. The job market isn't that great.

If Colorado doesn't fill your bill, you may want to expand your search to include the Idaho panhandle. There you can work in CdA or drive into Spokane, WA. Also consider parts of Utah such as the Northeast side of SLC.
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