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Old 01-25-2013, 12:46 AM
 
Location: Pluto's Home Town
9,995 posts, read 11,639,042 times
Reputation: 5579

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Greetings Coloradoans! I could use some advice.

I have heard a lead on a faculty job at Fort Lewis College, and in initial consultation, I look to be very qualified for the slot, and have been strongly enncouraged to apply. Durango is a place very close to my heart as I moved there 30 years ago, spent a winter, and left. I had the opportunity to do fieldwork in the area again about 15 years ago, when I live on the Front Range. The San Juan country is one of my favorite regions on earth. My wife and I are avid hikers who love the outdoors,books, and living pretty simply. We have a school age son. Durango would be a terrific match to our lifestyle.

The position looks quite attractive and the pay ok (about $55-60k/year). This would be a bout a $30k hair cut from my current job, with less security. My wife is a civil servant administrator earning about $25k / yr 3/4 time, and hopefully she could find something similar there. We currently live in Ashland, Oregon which is a lot like Durango in many respects (good and bad), but I don't care for my job (long story). It is very stressful and regimented. I need out, and it breaks my heart to leave Ashland, to be honest, but so be it. I have been conducting a nationwide academic/research job search for 5 years with no luck so far, but a few leads, so it was a very pleasant surprise to see something promising in Durango.

Here are the concerns. It is a large pay cut, Durango is terribly expensive, and I am no spring chicken (49). Like many late boomer/Gen X. folks I was swiped by the housing bubble. My Oregon house that I bought ten years ago is still worth $30k less than I paid for it, and I would likely sell it for a wash, but I have been frugal and I have paid off student loans, credit cards,etc. and have low six figures retirement account.

I am considering pursuing the Durango job for my mental health, but I worry that I will not be able to make it. I am very hard working, with a PhD, initiative, vision, and great refererences. Still, the way my financial life has played out, I am very concerned about moving to another very expensive area, with a cut in pay, and not much financial leverage. And after 10 years with a family in a 900 sf house, I don't want to live like a college student anymore. Ideally, I would be able to buy a 2-2500 sf 4 br/ 2 ba home where my retired mother could eventually move in with us at least part of the year.

I welcome candid assessments of how to make it work. I love the area, and the job looks great, but my fear is that Durango, like Ashland, is a place for wealthy retirees, not local workers. Am I being too dour?

Are there commutable areas that are more affordable, or has it all been Aspenized?

As an aside, are there kids in Durango? Here in rapidly aging Ashland, we have closed two of our five schools due to the loss of affordability for families.

I don't mean to sound paranoid, but the economy has not been kind to folks over the last decade, and it has made me very cautious. That said, I am delighted to be posting this thread, as I never thought a viable position would pop up in Durango, which as I have said is a nearly hole in one for our life style, and I know my family would love it.

I look forward to learning more about lovely Durango.
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Old 01-25-2013, 11:01 AM
 
20,836 posts, read 39,046,511 times
Reputation: 19073
IIRC, Bayfield is a less expensive place to live but does have a bit of a commute to face.

Look at prices on realtor.com for Durango and nearby towns to see what's available at what prices.
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Old 01-26-2013, 10:18 PM
 
Location: Pluto's Home Town
9,995 posts, read 11,639,042 times
Reputation: 5579
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike from back east View Post
IIRC, Bayfield is a less expensive place to live but does have a bit of a commute to face.

Look at prices on realtor.com for Durango and nearby towns to see what's available at what prices.
Thanks Mike. I used to live up near Hermosa, which I liked. What is Bayfield like?

Any thoughts on whether Durango is affordable for a family on $60k?
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Old 01-27-2013, 07:18 AM
 
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
14,131 posts, read 27,013,351 times
Reputation: 6824
You should go ahead and apply for the position and also check to see if the college offers some type of housing assistance. Many colleges in high cost areas do. If offered the job you should take it and rent something while your wife finds employment. This is the type of thing you'll look back on years from now thinking what a great decision it was you made or if you didn't do it, wishing you had. Follow your bliss.
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Old 01-27-2013, 07:29 AM
 
1,059 posts, read 1,634,577 times
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If income is a concern, then focus your search efforts for housing outside of Durango. Bayfield or other unincorporated ares within LaPlata county would provide you with considerably lower priced housing options. Trying to live in town is difficult given the 20% premium that seems to be attached to any housing within the town.

And good luck with your decision.
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Old 01-27-2013, 08:42 AM
 
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
14,131 posts, read 27,013,351 times
Reputation: 6824
Keep in mind property taxes there are pretty low, which likely contribute something to the higher home prices, along with low interest rates. Looks like it's about $100 a month on a $500,000 home in town. Where I live we pay over $400 a month on a home of that value. You should consider your actual prospective mortgage payment rather than just the asking price of the house.
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:24 PM
 
Location: Pluto's Home Town
9,995 posts, read 11,639,042 times
Reputation: 5579
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoButCounty View Post
If income is a concern, then focus your search efforts for housing outside of Durango. Bayfield or other unincorporated ares within LaPlata county would provide you with considerably lower priced housing options. Trying to live in town is difficult given the 20% premium that seems to be attached to any housing within the town.

And good luck with your decision.
Yes, I was looking at Florida Mesa / Bayfield, as well as out toward Mancos. The latter would no doubt be a scenic commute, but over an 8,000' pass. Not sure how much of an issue that would be. Florida Mesa seems a little easier. What would $200-300k buy there?

When I lived in Durango many moons ago, I lived in a very ratty trailerr up near Hermosa, which was very beautiful. I recall seeing the train chug by each day. I would be making periodic trips to Silverton, so being to far south, east, or west would weigh in to that.
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Old 01-28-2013, 09:56 AM
 
19 posts, read 31,707 times
Reputation: 45
Default Horse>Cart

Gotta get the job first. You may be the best qualified bit unlikely to be the only candidate.
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Old 01-28-2013, 01:28 PM
 
Location: Pluto's Home Town
9,995 posts, read 11,639,042 times
Reputation: 5579
Quote:
Originally Posted by fromalderaan View Post
Gotta get the job first. You may be the best qualified bit unlikely to be the only candidate.

Sure. As an academic, I know this very well.

But I generally don't like to apply if I cannot see the whole thing working at least in a general sense. Durango is a high cost, low wage kind of place.
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Old 01-29-2013, 12:17 PM
 
Location: Bend, OR
3,296 posts, read 8,421,317 times
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If you are currently working in a job that is slowly eating away at you, then I would absolutely advise you to look at this as a potentially great opportunity. Yes, Durango is expensive, but I don't think it's a whole lot more expensive than Ashland. Yes, you will be taking a pay cut. But, it sounds like you know how to live frugally, and even if you don't find that dream home, you may be happier living in a 900 sq.ft. home if you appreciated the work you do. Bayfield is definitely commutable, and many people do it. However, you have to decide whether a commute is worth it for you to have a bigger house.

I just drove through that part of Colorado this past fall and it has grown quite a bit. No doubt the growth is way more than what you saw 15 or so years ago. It's a great community though, as you know, and if you have a job prospect and the area is calling you, I'd go for it. It sounds like you've been looking for 5 years and this is one of the better prospects. I think Durango is totally doable on $60K a year. I'd apply and at least see if you can get an interview! Best of luck!
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