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Old 11-06-2006, 07:24 PM
9 posts, read 78,335 times
Reputation: 13


Hello! My husband and I are considering relocating our family from California to Colorado. Last summer, we had a wonderful road trip which took us through Grand Junction, Delta, Montrose, Telluride, Ouray, Glenwood Springs, Leadville, and Ridgway. That was the only time I've ever been to Colorado, but the dazzling scenery and pleasant towns more than met my already-high expectations. We are very excited at the prospect moving within the next 10years, but this is a big leap and I have plenty of questions and concerns. I am hoping someone familiar with western Colorado might be able to offer some advice about the best place for us to land. Some background:

1) My husband grew up in Palos Verdes, California, which is where we now live. The housing prices are astronomical, and we have an interest-only mortgage which his salary doesn't even cover. Since I am a stay-at-home mom (left my job at a fine university to be with baby), we are bleeding our savings account to be here. Why? Because we wanted a safe, clean place for our children, with outstanding schools and kind and gracious neighbours. It's sad that there is a price tag on decency, but there seems to be one in southern California. If we bought in a neighborhood we could honestly afford, we'd be dealing with graffiti, drugs, gangs, etc. on a daily basis. Very sad. Not the California I grew up in. Since my husband is in law enforcement, he has to deal with crime and misery every day, so we needed an oasis for him to come home to. This is not financially sustainable, however.

2) I grew up in Berkeley, California. Loved the old houses, rambling gardens, used bookstores, coffeehouses, cultural diversity, intellectual stimulation; got weary of unwashed, opinionated people. (No offense intended to my hometown of Berkeley). One reason I'm intrigued by Colorado is that it's not a "red" or "blue" state. However, I've learned that it's not exactly a "purple" state either, that is, it's not filled with moderates like me. It's more like: liberal Boulder vs. conservative rest-of-Colorado. Is that right? I'm curious, but not concerned. I don't mind being surrounded by people with political views view that differ from mine... if I did, I wouldn't have married my DH!

3) We don't need to be anywhere for jobs, probably. Selling off our California real estate and adding my husband's pension to the mix, we might be able to retire in 10 years. That is, I'd be home-schooling our daughter, and he'd be taking the Land Rover out on Imogene Pass. Nice life we're daydreaming about. I don't like being idle, so I'd also like to find ways to contribute to whatever community we join. What kind of volunteer opportunities might there be in Colorado?

4) Now to the wish book... I LOVED Ouray! The mountain air was refreshing, and I felt so happy there, and so completely at home. Then again, it was July. What's it like in winter?

Leadville fascinated and unnerved me. It was one of the oddest places I've ever been. The sense of history there was palpable, and the feelings of loss, and danger, too. Has anyone else felt that Leadville is odd? Maybe it was the eyeball house... or the house that had "redrum" scrawled across a window... or the guys in the pick-up truck that nearly ran into me and baby as they were heading to the bar... or the layers of dust in the bed and breakfast where we stayed... or the chimera of the long-gone ice palace...

On a more prosaic note, Montrose looks like a good investment. Seems to be booming. However, will fast growth cause it to lose or gain attractiveness?

Ridgway was beautiful, but perhaps isolated? Expensive? What about Ophir?

Grand Junction, we loved. We keep talking about getting a place in the country, but when we think we might miss being around people, restaurants, art, culture, then we think that Grand Junction might be a good city. Is it true they have a serious drug/crime problem?

What's Salida like?

Any other ideas that might be good for a young retired off-roading cop, nature-loving teacher/writer wife, and young daughter?

Thanks so much,

Blue Hyacinth
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Old 11-07-2006, 01:00 AM
26 posts, read 184,423 times
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Default Interesting

Well, sounds like you guys are hooked up! Palos Verdes, come on! Switch the darn interest loan over to a fixed one already!

My wife and I moved from Huntington Beach a few months ago where we couldn't ever have hoped to own a home, let alone something in your neck of the woods. We certainly spent a great deal of time on that elevated piece of ground you now reside, but seriously if you sell now or ten years from now providing that mountain doesn't slide away, you will be very well off.

The areas that you described are gorgeous. My wife and I live in the Denver Metro area, but we did spent the night and a portion of a day where you described. If you can see the other areas such as Denver Metro or Colorado Springs areas you might be surprised to find a lot of people from California here. As far as crime, drugs well it isn't too bad. I don't know you personally, but Palos Verdes has had its share of incidents in the past.

Law Enforcement, well I know a thing or two about that since I was a Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputy for a year and a half and decided that despite doing my dream job (Not LA County) I could do it somewhere else.

If you want, look at my bio and shoot an email to me and I will try to answer any other questions you may have being that I lived not far from where you currently live!
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Old 11-07-2006, 03:42 AM
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Blue Hyacinth, Montrose, Delta and GJ are nice places. You might also look up toward Grand Mesa, it is very pretty with pines and many small lakes. Montrose home prices are rising and quite high, but coming from California, it won't seem bad to you. Ridgeway is really nice, but it is getting to be a wealthy only town, like Telluride. Ouray is very beautiful and one of my favorites towns, but the winters are very snowy. It isn't bone cold like up north but you do have lots of snow. Leadville is one cold, windy place. Yes, it has a silent haunting feel to it. I am not sure why either, but it just does. Maybe being so isolated?

Grand Junction seems like a nice city to me, but some have said it has lots of crime. It is in a desert area and you need to like that, but I really think it is a nice place to live. Again though, I haven't lived there, so I can't give you a personal insight.

I don't know a lot about Salida. Of the places you mentioned, Montrose sounds like the best, in my opinion. You might look over at Cortez too, since you like Grand Junction. It is more of a western town with ranches and cattle. Horses and cowboys - that type of town.
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Old 11-07-2006, 02:47 PM
9 posts, read 78,335 times
Reputation: 13
Default Thanks!!

Thanks so much for your replies, corndog and Crackerjack (... hey, now I feel like having snacks at the county fair! ) Truly, thank you for your clear and helpful replies to my rambling post.

I'm not a desert person, but Grand Junction at least wasn't as desert-like as Palm Springs. I'd much prefer mountains and aspen trees, though. Ouray really was wonderful and more to our taste as far as landscape goes. Good to know it's not horrifyingly cold there. I like snow; we had a little cabin in Big Bear (8,000 ft elevation) for a couple of years. We should also take a look at Colorado Springs and Cortez when we visit again, I think.

corndog, my husband just finished year 13 as a LASD deputy, and is trying to hang in there until year 20. He's worn out all the time, and we really need a change. I'll drop you an e-mail. I'm sure there's a lot we could learn from you!

Thanks again,

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Old 11-08-2006, 05:53 AM
827 posts, read 4,626,117 times
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Blue_hyacinth, since you love the mountains, aspens and pines like I do, look at Hesperus. A small town west of Durango. It is beautiful little town and not far from Durango. Author Louis L'Amour had a place there. You can go up La Plata Canyon. Really beautiful. Another place is at Pagosa Springs. If you go to Pagosa, be sure and visit William's Creek Lake if you have an SUV. It is remote, out if the way, but really beautiful. It is not too far from Pagosa, but the roads aren't great to the lake. And be sure and ride the Durango-Silverton train in Durango, to get to see all the mountains going up to Silverton.
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Old 11-08-2006, 08:55 AM
51 posts, read 210,884 times
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Default Colorado is great!

My Grandparents moved out to Colorado with my Dad back in the early 70s from California (orange county) and NEVER went back again! They loved it and still do! I've lived in Colorado all my life. We take our jeep to Telluride every year and go over Imogene pass! We also jeep up in Ouray and love it there too. Both places are VERY snowy in the winter and cold cold. We hold season ski passes to Telluride and there's a LOT of snow!

I have to tell you that it is AWESOME that you are choosing to stay home with the baby- you just can't put a price tag on that! You are doing the right thing- even though it's expensive to do so...good job!

Yes, Boulder is so liberal...as is Durango and Telluride. The rest of Colorado is not super conservative though- I don't think- kind of a mix everywhere else.

There's lots of volunteer opportunites everywhere- schools, boy/girl scouts, libraries, highway clean ups (we have super clean highways!)

In Ouray- you are pretty much snowed in for the winter, if that's okay with you!

I grew up in Leadville...hee hee hee... I do know what you are talking about- I hated it- I was harrassed every day as a little girl in school. Just being honest- and not racist- the mexicans up there do not like the white people. A group of mexican girls used to beat up a white girl every day in school. I even had my winter coat taken off by this group, punched in the stomache, they put my coat in the trash can- and mind you- I was in FOURTH grade! Okay, my own little problem w/ Leadville obviously, but it's a very depressed town...and gets TONS of snow in the winter.

My Dad married a gal ten years ago and all her family was from Montrose, from what I understand there is major Meth problems there (but that's everywhere anymore it seems like).

Ridgeway...lots of cold cold, snowy winters- again!

Grand Junction is nice- you would just HAVE to be in the right side of town- they do have crime/drug problems there. I have heard that Fruita is the place to be if you are in Grand Junction. If you are intersted in Culture- that is probably your best bet- aside from Denver.

My best friend lived in Salida for 2 years- her husband is a state trooper and that is where he was stationed. They really really liked it. I went and visited her a couple times and it seemed like a lovely town. They do get a fair amount of snow- but nothing too crazy. Housing for some reason is a little high in Salida...we could never figure out why....

I live in Cortez- right in the southwest corner of Colorado. My Grandparents on both sides have always lived here. The weather is very mild for Colorado- you are an hour and a half away from Telluride- 2 and a half hours away from Lake Powell- right next to Mesa Verde. There's not much for Art museums or that sort of thing, but the community really does have a lot to offer. Schools aren't very good, but since you'll homeschool- not a problem. THere is a great homeschooling group here. For $225,000- you can get a brand new 2000 sq. ft. home with a big yard in a nice neighborhood- or you could go out in the country for even less. Housing has skyrocketed here in the past couple years and is projected to continue to do so. My Grandma is a realtor and she's never seen anything like it in all her years here!

Take care!
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Old 11-08-2006, 03:11 PM
9 posts, read 78,335 times
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Crackerjack, thanks for the tips. We'll check out all those places. We have a very rugged, expedition-outfitted truck, so getting to the lake should be fun.

mariewendan, your post was so interesting and really helpful for me. I wonder sometimes how our daughter would feel being uprooted from subtropical, suburban Palos Verdes, to live in a beautiful, snowy spot in Colorado. Big change! I'm glad to here you like it there and that your whole family has no regrets about the move.

I am so sorry, though, to hear about your unhappy experiences in Leadville. Children are so vulnerable and it is awful to be persecuted/intimidated/beaten up by thugs-in-training. I empathize.

I'll look into Fruita, Cortez and Salida. It's encouraging to know there are homeschooling groups for support! Also fun to know about the volunteer opportunities. The roads in Colorado are beautiful, and I'd be glad to help clean up. I love children, so the scouting sounds good, too. As far as what you can get out there for $225,000... wow! In California that would get a you a condo in a crummy neighborhood.

Thanks again for all the info.

We'll probably be heading to Colorado to visit in June, but maybe we should try a winter visit, so I get a real feeling for how cold it can be.

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Old 11-08-2006, 03:15 PM
9 posts, read 78,335 times
Reputation: 13
Default Thanks

Mariewendan, thank SO much for your kind and supportive words about my staying home with baby. I feel in my heart that it is the right thing to do.
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Old 11-18-2006, 09:00 PM
2 posts, read 7,703 times
Reputation: 15
I am a native of Delta and now live in San Diego. I can give you my impressions of the towns in the Grand Valley. Grand Jct. is the largest with Montrose being the next largest. The rest of the towns are basically the same size. The real difference is the type of winter that you want. It is true that Grand Jct. is somewhat desert like , being on the edge of the Coloradro Plateau, but is close to very nice moutains and is has a cold, but not to snowy winter. Montrose is growing and the center of the eastern part of the valley. It has cold winters but not a lot of snow, it is still in the valley. Going farther east of Montrose you start going up into the San Juan Mts. Towns like Ridgeway, Ouray, Gunnison (Regularly the coldest place in the lower 48), Telluride. They are all cold and get lots of snow, they are bassically the same size, small. Going west and north from Montrose you hit Delta, Cedaredge, Hotchkiss, Crawford, Aspen... Aspen can speak for itself, prices there are worse than CA. The other small towns are just that. They are small farming and ranching communities with little or no industry to speak of. The Grand Mesa is the Star attraction in Delta County. The town of Cederage is on the slopes of the Grand Mesa and is very small, it is in the woods and only a few miles from the national park. Hotchkiss is on another road and is a just a small town. Delta is the county seat and is little bigger, but when I say bigger I mean 6000 people on a good year. My parents still live there and although housing prices have risen dramatically, they are still cheap relative to your area. It is a good place to rasie kids, and I would like to take my kids back a rasie them in Delta. But, jobs there are not what they are here in CA. I am an electrician here a could never do the same type of work there unless I lived in Denver or Colorado Springs. I think that it would prudent to have a job before you went there. Just a few thoughts about the are, I can give more if you want.
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Old 11-18-2006, 09:25 PM
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Deltanative, you did an excellent job describing the Grand Valley! You are right on! I also agree the star of Delta County is the Grand Mesa. A beautiful area. Cedaredge is a nice little town. You are also right that there aren't much in the way of jobs in that area. They would make great retirement places though.
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