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Old 09-16-2012, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Smithy11 View Post
My wife and I are considering moving to Colorado, but we're not sure what would be a good place. We would like to live out in Nature and have access to beautiful forests, streams, and some kind of lake for swimming and maybe boating.

We're not so much into a dry, desert-like environment, favoring something more green.

I think this picture pretty much tells most of the story of what we're looking for: http://www.rockymountainmagazine.com...ional-Park.jpg

In addition to the beautiful nature, we would also like to be within 45 minutes or so of a major population center (preferably 100k+ population). Honestly, I think I'd like to be within an hour of Denver so that we can enjoy some of the amenities of the big city.

I should say that we're looking to live in the country somewhere: We want to buy some land and build a cozy mountain cabin in a wooded area, and we're not really into suburbs or having neighbors close by.

Can anyone suggest some places that might fit the bill?
Colorado is not a big water state. It has very few natural lakes of any size and most of what you will find is reservoirs, which don't always look attractive when they drain of water. The high mountain peaks act as catcher mitts for moisture, so most of it falls at high elevations and then runs off in the spring down the mountains and also evaporates. A lot of reservoirs, especially those in the mountains, have restrictions also on motorized boats. There are also few options for swimming as well.

What you depicted in the photo you posted is what you will have a hard time finding. Most of those areas that do have water or green, are at high elevation, which means 2-3 months of summer where it all looks pretty and 8-9 months of the year of winter. The government also owns much of that nice land, which is why prime real estate in Colorado costs $$$.

In order to get something somewhat "green", that means pushing up over 8500-9000 ft near Denver. So that means you'll be living in a winter climate where night time temperatures will rarely climb over freezing year round. You'll get "green" for about 2-3 months of the year. What you will need to remember when you build is fortifying the building enough to deal with the harsh weather, wind and high UV radiation.

Also if you don't want neighbors you can see that likely means living off the main highways and off of a county road. So you'll need to keep a few things in mind when you build up here. Such as road access and how to keep it cleared in winter. Water, as most places up in the mountains it is very expensive to drill a well and wells have very low flow rates, so you will likely need to live in a homeowners/property association. Tap fees and other costs to tap into a HOA's water can be tens of thousands of dollars. Utilities are also expensive to get fed into more rugged remote properties.

Personally I would look between Blackhawk and Estes Park. Realistically to get more what you want you'll need to live beyond an hour from Denver.

What I would recommend, especially if you have never lived in the area, is to rent for 6 months or a year. There are plenty of rentals available and an excess of real estate on the market. And that is because many have dream like ideals(like in your picture) but you don't grasp the difficulties of living at 9000 ft until you have done it, so there is a ton of dream homes and cabins on the market, because the reality is different from the fantasy. By renting for 6 months or a year, you'll better be able to pin down the right piece of land and determine a course of action for building a mountain home in rugged terrain. And of course you'll better be able to determine if it is really right for you.
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Old 09-16-2012, 06:44 PM
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Check out rural Boulder County.
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Old 09-16-2012, 06:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Smithy11 View Post
Price isn't really an object. Also I should say that there is a little bit of flexibility with city proximity. We're looking for a beautiful idealic area and will buy land and build. Are Evergreen, Conifer and Estes Park good places for that?

Thankfully, boating isn't a huge thing for us. The Lake Granby / Grand Lake area does look promising (just from the perspective of having some large bodies of water), but the amount of dead trees sort of gives pause to that excitement. Is there somewhere in that general area that doesn't have that problem?
The dead tree issue isn't going away for decades as the pine beetle has leveled several species of pine in Colorado. Those trees will eventually burn and rot and new growth will replace it, but that is a decades long cycle and isn't going to change overnight.

Evergreen and Conifer might be too close to Denver for your tastes and most of the "forest" there is ponderosa pine, which is probably not people's idea of forested, wet Colorado from those dreamy pictures they see of the national park.
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Old 09-16-2012, 07:33 PM
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Wink Really out in the woods?

The picture of your ideal home setting appears to be Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park; the river in the foreground the Big Thompson.

Quite lovely area, although as green in that picture as surely taken in the spring. It will look appreciably more brown before the first snows. Good luck getting the Park Service to allow the building of a home in the park—although there are a number of small private cabins in that valley, on both sides of the valley but principally to the left of the picture and beyond sight. They remain private as grandfathered in; RMNP was officially organized only in 1915. With enough financial inducement one of the owners might be willing to sell. Some of the downsides would be more tourists wandering around than one might prefer; also having to accept the outside shell of the cabin as is: my understanding only the insides can be remodeled. I also believe these are supplied with park water, being turned off in winter, so other provisions need be made as a year-round residence.

Even if not in the park, the town of Estes Park literally abuts RMNP in many places. If somewhat different in aspect, the very mountains pictured are visible from a number of places in town, and even a grand view of Longs Peak from the Safeway parking lot. Estes Park is an oft charming town enjoying a superlative setting. Its primary downside is the predictable inundation of tourists from late spring to mid fall, and then a few more present to round out the winter. If one can overlook that, then there are a lot of positives. Cost of real estate would not be one of them, but presumably this isn't much of an issue, with the good news it isn't nearly as expensive as a place such as Aspen. For having a wonderful view, and on the edge of a lot of great wilderness, that location actually has fairly decent access to the services of a larger town. Estes Park is large enough to offer most anything one might want on a daily basis. Beyond that a fairly easy drive of roughly an hour or less will put one in either Fort Collins, Loveland, or Boulder. But if insistent on Denver, then tack on a good thirty minutes plus to that CBD.

Boulder is one of the Front Range towns with more nature lovers than one might suspect living west of it in the mountains. Depending on the location, one could easily believe they do not have any neighbors near. One might be fairly close in, and literally from the woods into town in a matter of minutes; of join some of the others with a seeming predilection to drive forever on dirt roads to finally get home (or into town).

Evergreen and vicinity is popular because a more or less practical commute into Denver, yet decidedly out in the woods. One is unlikely to have as grand a view as in Estes Park, although that goes for a good many places.

But if driving as far, one might want to tack on about another thirty minutes and continue west of the Continental Divide to Summit County. One can have lovely views there, as well as the sizable Dillon Reservoir, being a fine place for sailboating, etc. One isn't going to get much more into the high country than that, if more than civilized and most all the amenities offered in the several small towns such as Frisco, Dillon/Silverthorne, Breckenridge, et al. The biggest complaint most have with the place is that they are not there: due the high cost of real estate and relative lack of jobs with a real income. When I-70 is clear and the tourists have not made a parking lot of it, about an hour to Denver, then add a bit more depending on where. That might be too far out, if one insists on being in the city all the time. Otherwise it might be a fine tradeoff, if one likes such places (think long cold winters), and can afford it.

My first thought when lakes were mentioned was a lovely one just off Mulberry Street in Fort Collins. It is an example of others in the area which can offer a modicum of privacy from neighbors and much else—with certain select homes. If wishing to build, one might have to remodel an existing one, or pull the California trick of tearing down a perfectly good house to build another. Something to consider, as in looking carefully towards location one could create a home with near excellent access to city services, and yet feel fairly removed from all else when there. That kind of thing takes serious money.

But first, when all is said and done, does one really want to be in the deep woods, or just near enough to them, with a lovely yard serving as necessary distance between any neighbor and the greater world?

Last edited by Idunn; 09-16-2012 at 07:50 PM..
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Old 09-16-2012, 09:10 PM
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
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If $ was no object for me and I was looking to buy a lot and build.... HWY 103 between Idaho Springs and Mount Evans. There are a few lots for sale in Arapaho National Forest along 103 that have the scenery you are looking for. It would be approximately an hour to Denver. There might be too much traffic for your liking when the road up the mountain is open but if you get a lot big enough you should be far enough from the road. It might be a pain getting to and from Denver when it snows though since the road up to Idaho Springs is steep.

6211 Highway 103, Idaho Springs, CO 80452 MLS# 1111495 - Zillow
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Old 09-16-2012, 09:41 PM
Location: Fort Collins, USA
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If money is no object and you want to be in a forest, I would look just west of Boulder. Boulder is just below the forest belt and so if you are willing to spend a lot you could move to some areas west of Boulder that aren't much higher and thus would still have a (relatively) mild winter. But you won't find lakes and the forest is a relatively dry (ponderosa pine - one of my favorite forest types but not lush). To get lush, you have to be much higher (8000 - 10000 feet) and as others have posted you'll have 9 months or longer of winter at that elevation.
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Old 09-16-2012, 10:44 PM
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One hour from Denver? In the winter or the summer? During the week or on a Friday night/Sunday afternoon?

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Old 09-17-2012, 07:58 AM
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I would look at Evergreen, you won't find the water your are looking for (although there is Evergreen Lake and lots of beautiful streams), but it can offer you the beauty and privacy with convenience to downtown. We just moved here and wake up every day wondering if we've hit the jackpot! Also, we're loving the small community feel.
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Old 09-17-2012, 09:01 AM
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Thanks everyone for your helpful responses. I think they definitely gave me a good "reality check". I'm not sure I'll be able to get what I want without some pretty serious trade-offs. Namely, getting a more "green and lush" experience without being pounded by a long and brutal winter. The large amount of dead trees and dry, brown landscape also makes me think twice.
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Old 09-17-2012, 09:28 AM
Location: Littleton, CO
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Originally Posted by Smithy11 View Post
Thanks everyone for your helpful responses. I think they definitely gave me a good "reality check". I'm not sure I'll be able to get what I want without some pretty serious trade-offs. Namely, getting a more "green and lush" experience without being pounded by a long and brutal winter. The large amount of dead trees and dry, brown landscape also makes me think twice.
Lush, no winter, boating

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