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Old 06-02-2012, 12:21 PM
 
Location: Inis Fada
16,685 posts, read 27,882,078 times
Reputation: 7177

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Thinking in terms of retirement. Schools aren't a concern. I would be looking for a safe area with relatively easy access to fishing, snowmobiling, off-roading and camping, but with easy access to grocery shopping, general shopping, good medical care, activities, and access to an airport for flights back east.

I currently live on Long Island, and can handle dealing with tourists. I am prepared to give up the ocean for the mountains. Neither my husband nor I have any particular need for the salt water. We stopped in Durango last summer and liked the area we saw. We are aware that the winters can be snowy and the summers cooler than what we have here on LI. We welcome that.

Real estate is less expensive than where I currently live -- I would get more house, outbuildings and land. One house is listed for $350K with taxes of $948 a year. Here, I could sell my house for $500K which has taxes in the $10K range. I could walk away with money in the bank and a savings of $9K on property taxes annually.

What would be an average electric bill there? Here I pay $260/month for lights, computers, appliances. I have oil hot water heat and that is several thousand dollars a year. Water bill averages $15 per quarter. Homeowner's insurance $2,800. Auto insurance is almost $4600/year (includes a 20 year old in assigned risk)

Is there anyone on here who lives in that area and wouldn't mind sharing info such as costs, quality of life, pros and cons to living in the area?

Thank you in advance.
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Old 06-02-2012, 02:04 PM
 
Location: OKLAHOMA
1,778 posts, read 3,478,323 times
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Where do you recommend? As you know when this cattle ranch of mine sells I have Chama, Pagosa Springs, and Trinidad on my list. We would need no job. Healthcare is a consideration.
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Old 06-02-2012, 02:37 PM
 
8,317 posts, read 25,091,437 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debbie at bouontiful View Post
Where do you recommend? As you know when this cattle ranch of mine sells I have Chama, Pagosa Springs, and Trinidad on my list. We would need no job. Healthcare is a consideration.
Your most constraining potential requirement is health care. For routine medical needs, most moderate size Colorado towns have a hospital. BUT, if your needs run to the more specialized, being relatively close to a metro area is a necessity, unless you are willing to make multi-hundred mile trips on a regular basis for that specialized medical care. I was in that boat for awhile--thankfully when fuel was cheap.

Of the three communities you list, Trinidad probably makes the most sense from the medical standpoint. You are only 128 miles from Colorado Springs or 85 miles from Pueblo, both of which have extensive medical facilities, especially Colorado Springs. And both are accessible on I-25, a 75 mph Interstate that minimizes travel time.

Chama, New Mexico, ironically, would be second on that list. As you know, its local medical facilities are extremely limited, but it is only 165 miles from Albuquerque, which has all medical services. Unlike Trinidad, though, the drive to Albuquerque from Chama includes about a hundred miles of two-lane highway that can be both slow anytime and also treachorous in the winter. Pagosa does have a small, decent hospital and is 60 miles from Durango.

As for Durango, it has a pretty good hospital for rural Colorado. Still, a lot of specialized medical treatment will take someone going to a metro area--and they are all a long ways away over roads that can be problematic in the winter. Albuquerque is the closest and easiest to get to--about 220 miles. Anything else is 300 miles+, with big doses of winter driving challenges on all of them.

And, if you have to be medivac'ed by helicopter out of any of those places (and that happens VERY regularly--I live near a rural Colorado hospital and seldom a day passes that the medivac helicopter is not in and out of there at least once), you had better have either damned good health insurance or a very big wallet because the charge is around $200 PER MILE.
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Old 06-02-2012, 03:40 PM
 
20,301 posts, read 37,784,136 times
Reputation: 18081
Here's the story on COLO SPGS, which may or may not be comparable to Durango, but probably is close enough.

House is 3800 sq ft, two cars, no young people, we're in our sixties.

Utilities here are city-provided, average in 2011 was $240/month total, for gas (range, hot water, heat, fireplace), electricity (oven, microwave and A/C), water (includes lawn sprinkler system), and sewer.

Cable TV and internet is $150/mo. (Comcast, digital).
Land line phone is $50/month (Qwest).

Auto insurance is: $700/yr

Homeowners insurance is: $ 1200/yr

Property tax on $400k house is: $2300/yr

State income tax is: 4.63% NOTE: For retirees age 55-64, COLO exempts $20k from income tax, per taxpayer, or $40k per couple, per year. For ages 65 and up the exemption is $24k/year per retiree.

Sales taxes vary by location, a base rate of 2.9% for the state, and a local add-on.
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Old 06-02-2012, 05:36 PM
 
9,816 posts, read 19,014,998 times
Reputation: 7537
Quote:
Originally Posted by OhBeeHave View Post
Thinking in terms of retirement. Schools aren't a concern. I would be looking for a safe area with relatively easy access to fishing, snowmobiling, off-roading and camping, but with easy access to grocery shopping, general shopping, good medical care, activities, and access to an airport for flights back east.

I currently live on Long Island, and can handle dealing with tourists. I am prepared to give up the ocean for the mountains. Neither my husband nor I have any particular need for the salt water. We stopped in Durango last summer and liked the area we saw. We are aware that the winters can be snowy and the summers cooler than what we have here on LI. We welcome that.

Real estate is less expensive than where I currently live -- I would get more house, outbuildings and land. One house is listed for $350K with taxes of $948 a year. Here, I could sell my house for $500K which has taxes in the $10K range. I could walk away with money in the bank and a savings of $9K on property taxes annually.

What would be an average electric bill there? Here I pay $260/month for lights, computers, appliances. I have oil hot water heat and that is several thousand dollars a year. Water bill averages $15 per quarter. Homeowner's insurance $2,800. Auto insurance is almost $4600/year (includes a 20 year old in assigned risk)

Is there anyone on here who lives in that area and wouldn't mind sharing info such as costs, quality of life, pros and cons to living in the area?

Thank you in advance.
Your biggest change will be going from a metro area with tons of choice in everything to a relatively isolated "island" called Durango. Sure there is some shopping and other services there, but if that doesn't work for you or you get sick of that, the nearest city is 4 hours away. You are basically stuck with what you can get there.

It's also a very different lifestyle and different people and living in the mountains is a 180 degree turn from Long Island where the nearby ocean moderates temperatures and there is plenty of oxygen in the air.

I happened to find of all the people I dealt with, New Yorkers seemed to have the hardest time of anyone coping to life in the Rockies. Like I said many times, "This aint New York City!"

Sounds like you are a total newbie to such living, so what I would recommend is renting first for 6 months. You've got nothing to lose doing that, especially being retired. You'll discover what you like or don't like, what works or doesn't work and you'll improve your knowledge base so when it comes time to buy or build, you'll be much better prepared. You might even like Colorado, but might find a different, better town instead.

I've seen too many people drive through these towns as a tourist and think it's for them and then sink a big part of their life savings into a property and then realize very quickly this mountain lifestyle is totally not for them. Then that property takes forever to sell. There is a good reason why SO much real estate is for sale in Colorado. It's not uncommon at all for properties on the western side of the continental divide to take 4-5 years to sell, even in the good years.

I'll say it again, rent first, try before you buy.
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Old 06-02-2012, 05:45 PM
 
9,816 posts, read 19,014,998 times
Reputation: 7537
Quote:
Originally Posted by OhBeeHave View Post
Long story short, you cant answer my questions. Thank you for the long-winded diatribe.
While I don't agree with Jazz's apocalyptic viewpoint about fuel, much of what he says is spot on, because like I said:

"This Aint New York City!"

Air travel into Durango is expensive and can be a bumpy ride. Think Rocky Mountain Scareways.

Same with health care. Health care on the western slope is designed to treat boo boos and be the first line of defense for trauma or serious illnesses and then you are lifeflighted or sent to Denver or Santa Fe.

I think if you always remember Durango as an island in the middle of nowhere and if you can't find it on the island, it's a long journey elsewhere, you'll be fine. I think if you come into this thinking and assuming you'll have what you have at your fingertips like Long Island, it's going to be a shocker.
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Old 06-02-2012, 06:20 PM
 
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
14,131 posts, read 26,246,015 times
Reputation: 6815
Quote:
Originally Posted by wanneroo View Post
Same with health care. Health care on the western slope is designed to treat boo boos and be the first line of defense for trauma or serious illnesses and then you are lifeflighted or sent to Denver or Santa Fe.

.

Unless you need something like a heart transplant, I'm pretty sure Mercy Regional can handle just about all medical issues. Keep in mind that nice places to live are a magnet for doctors ao there will be no shortage of them in any specialty.
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Old 06-02-2012, 07:59 PM
 
20,301 posts, read 37,784,136 times
Reputation: 18081
Quote:
Originally Posted by CAVA1990 View Post
Unless you need something like a heart transplant, I'm pretty sure Mercy Regional can handle just about all medical issues. Keep in mind that nice places to live are a magnet for doctors ao there will be no shortage of them in any specialty.
My wife's OB/GYN left COLO SPGS for Durango....tells ya something, eh.
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Old 06-02-2012, 08:16 PM
 
Location: mancos
7,044 posts, read 6,168,477 times
Reputation: 4532
Durango is a good place to die.Ignore all the posts about places that can keep you alive forever and bankrupt you. Me I die here without chemo and all the other treatments that kill you. I live 30 miles west of Durango and make a lot of money there but could never afford to live in that zoo. What a mess,It was cool 30 years ago but no more, AHH memories
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Old 06-03-2012, 09:40 AM
 
8,317 posts, read 25,091,437 times
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OK, I going to try to answer this again--without receiving snide remarks, or a deletion from an individual who has NEVER lived in rural Colorado (unlike me who has spent most of his adult life residing and and making a living in rural Colorado).

I'll confine my remarks here to electric costs, heating costs and costs for transportation fuel--all being major expenses for people living in rural Colorado.

Electric rates across most of western Colorado tend to hover around 9-12 cents per KWH these days, with "readiness to serve" and other base charges added to that amount. Rates are fairly low right now because most of Colorado's electricity is generated from either coal or natural gas, the latter pretty cheap right now. However, because of the region's heavy reliance on fossil fuel sources, those rates can change rapidly when fuel prices spike.

Heating costs. If one lives in town or in relative proximity to a town, then natural gas is likely available. It is relatively cheap right now because this region produces more natural gas than can be shipped out to external markets by pipeline. That may change, but likely not for awhile. You can check with the local gas utility to get the cost per BTU or Therm. Many transplant "dreamers," though want their "little piece of heaven" out in a rural area (the negative environmental impacts of that I have covered before and will leave to another discussion) and the heating cost story there is much different. Those places rely on truck-delivered propane for heat. The source of propane is fundamentally different than that of natural gas. Unlike natural gas, which is plentiful in southwest Colorado and produced directly from the well with relatively little post-processing necessary, propane is a by-product of oil refining. As such, it is much more costly both to refine and transport. So, the person living in a rural area that uses propane may pay as much as double or more per BTU or Therm as the guy living in town and heating with natural gas. The propane price tends to be much more volatile than natural gas, as well--propane prices tend to spike in winter and then again in late spring--the former caused by heating demand and the latter by agricultural demand during planting season. In order to soften the blow, many propane users tend to forward contract their propane purchases in the summer in order beat the winter price hikes--sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't. The irony in La Plata County is that an individual in a rural area may have a producing gas well literally next door (and potentially contaminating his water well), but will be paying through the nose for propane to heat his house.

Driving costs. As for gasoline and diesel, Colorado and the Rocky Mountain states currently have some of the lowest prices in the US. The reason for that is that the Rocky Mountain region is one of the few places in the entire country where there is actually sufficient local oil production and refining capacity to meet demand. That is unlikely to remain so over the long term. The oilfields in the region (unlike the gas fields) are predominantly old fields that have passed their peak of production. Similarly, many of the refineries are also old and past their prime. Several smaller refineries in the region have closed in the last 20 years.

In that context, Durango, like most tourist communities in Colorado, have some of the higher fuel prices in the state--despite being in close proximity to several New Mexico refineries. Why? Well, here's the dirty little secret. In most rural Colorado communities, the local wholesale fuel supply is controlled by a very few wholesale suppliers. Through "price leadership" or outright collusion, these "jobbers" effectively control the price of fuel in their area. One wholesaler I know, who retired as a multi-millionaire, openly admitted to me that he and the other wholesalers in his particular western Colorado community would meet weekly to decide what they were going to charge the retailers for fuel. They did this for over 30 years. Now, one would think that when the major food retailers got into the fuel business in rural Colorado (e.g. Safeway or City Market--the latter owned by Kroger), that they would have introduced price competition to the market. Well, they enjoy making money on fuel as much as anyone, so the result has been that they retail their fuel just a couple of cents under the prevailing local price that is set by the jobbers. The same has held true for the larger regional vertically integrated fuel retailers. The result: fuel prices in most rural Colorado locales are typically 20 to 30 cents higher than the metro areas. Also, most of the tourist towns (and Durango is one) will typically raise their fuel prices even a few cents more during the summer tourist season--some even going so far as temporarily raising their prices on holiday weekends. Gasbuddy.com can give a fairly accurate picture on local fuel prices at any given moment, though I've found that there county-by-county "gas price temperature" maps to be relatively unreliable for rural Colorado and New Mexico.

All of that may seem acceptable to a lot of uninitiated transplants used to paying higher fuel prices in, say, the urbanized East Coast, but automobile travel--and many, many miles of it just to meet basic living needs--is pretty much a fact of life in rural Colorado. Thus, one gets to "enjoy" paying a whole lot per month for fuel. Where someone might drive 6,000 miles per year on the East Coast, plus having mass transit available, that can easily mushroom to 20,000 miles per year or more in rural Colorado.

As an example of how all of this can crush a "dream life" in rural Colorado, I use the example of a fellow I know who retired to a rural area of southern Colorado from New York City. He had a comfortable pension, sold his NY home and used the proceeds to build his "dream" house in a beautiful rural area about 30 miles from the nearest community of size. Here's how it's turned out for him. First, he found out that heating his house with propane, despite excellent insulation, was costing him upwards of $300 per month in winter for a modestly sized house. He went to using a wood stove to reduce that, but found that purchasing wood (after he physically was unable to cut it for himself, anymore) cost nearly as much per BTU as propane. Second, he quickly found out that his wife was not satisfied to stay at home for a couple of weeks at a time. She got involved in events and hobbies in the town 30 miles away. Soon, she was essentially commuting at least 5 or more days per week to that town. Shopping for even food meant making the same trip. He also soon found it that she, in particular, simply HAD to fly back to the East Coast to see their grandchildren at least 4 times per year. After about 2 years of this, he figured out that nearly $20K of his $35K total annual pension income (he retired as a public employee) was being spent just on utility, vehicle and airfare costs. Adding taxes, other utility costs (satellite dish and internet, telephone, cellular, etc), and higher food costs into the mix left them with essentially no discretionary income. The tipping point occurred when he was diagnosed with a medical condition that required him to travel to the Front Range at least once every two weeks for a year for specialized medical treatment. The end result for him? He and his wife are now separated--she moved back to the East Coast. He is in failing health, but can not move because his home will not sell--he has had it on the market for 3 years. His savings are eroding every day and he has essentially stopped all unnecessary travel or discretionary spending to try to conserve his remaining financial resources. He has taken out a reverse mortgage on his home to buy some more time, but that erodes his remaining net worth, as well. His is a sad story, but not unique. Several other retired transplants in his rural subdivision are in similar or even more dire circumstances. Some of them have lost their homes in foreclosure.

Point is--most people transplanting to rural Colorado for retirement need to do a lot of DIRECT personal research to see if it is what living there is what they dream it might be. Frankly, most don't--they listen to the real estate slugs whose job it is to sell property, or they accept blindly the words of people who have never lived in rural Colorado (but are more than willing to spew their opinion and belittle the opinions of people who actually do live and work in rural Colorado), or they simply selectively listen to whomever will tell them what they want to hear to validate their dream.

Last edited by jazzlover; 06-03-2012 at 09:49 AM..
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