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Old 10-14-2015, 06:36 PM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
199 posts, read 179,595 times
Reputation: 269

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Hello!

Both my husband and I are born-and-raised Floridians and we are incredibly, regionally depressed. We are 39 and 40-years-old and are empty-nesters who are ready to explore the other side of the country and Colorado seems like an area with a wonderful quality of life. Our daughter will graduate college in April and is considering the move with us. We are from Port Saint Lucie, Fl. (about 45 minutes north of West Palm Beach). Through my research via the forums here and other resources, the cost of living does not seem too much higher, although it is a bit. There seem to be areas where we could make it happen, but I cannot get a handle on commute versus rental prices versus job market.

I have a few questions on which I am hoping I can get some feedback:

1. We are a fairly liberal couple. We have a bit of a strange situation in that we are somewhat " young" and are already empty-nesters. We are looking for an area that has exciting activities (outdoor, dining, museums, small shops, local businesses, etc). I am vegan, but it's never hard to find food...even in our non-veg friendly area. The more I look at areas, having never visited, the more I go down the rabbit hole. I have NO IDEA where to begin. What areas should we avoid? (Please see income below). We are willing to pay a decent amount for a nice place to rent, but we don't want to be "house-poor" either. We want to move to Colorado for new adventures, so that will take some budget as well.

2. I'm still trying to get a feel on the job market. I am a 6th-grade Language Arts teacher with a K-6 certification and my husband is a commercial plumber by trade, but has been working as a plumbing estimator at a South Florida large-construction solar company for the last six years. I currently make $39,000 yearly, my husband makes $58,000 yearly. We pay $1100 a month rent for a 3/2 house. We both drive hybrids, so that saves a lot on gas. What is the state of the teaching market? I know I need to begin applying in February. I teach in a Title 1 school where 98% of my students are low-income, so I have no problem teaching in a challenging school. Are there any districts I should avoid entirely, however? I am still wrapping my brain around how CO districts are organized. Florida's districts are arranged by counties. Will my husband have any issue finding work as an estimator or plumber (20 years experience...journeyman's license expired)?

3. Neither of us have ever visited CO, but I am a relentless researcher and I am preparing for the shock of altitude, cold, etc. And, quite frankly, it looks like a nice change from Florida. Although I don't expect perfection, at least it will be different...and that is incredibly exciting. I have never lived outside of my home state and I think it's time to give it a try. So...any other advice or reality check you all see fit is most certainly welcomed.

THANK YOU SO MUCH! I am diligently searching the forums, so please forgive me if I asked already-answered questions.

Last edited by Shellybug; 10-14-2015 at 07:47 PM..
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Old 10-14-2015, 07:52 PM
 
Location: The Berk in Denver, CO USA
13,941 posts, read 20,184,988 times
Reputation: 22559
1. Your housing costs will double.
2. School districts were organized by the roll of the dice by angry Norse gods.
3. We have lots of Bernie not actually socialists in Denver.
4. Colorado is dry. Skin splitting, bloody snot dry.
5. In Colorado, we have open-air patios and not screened-in containment areas.
6. Vegan nut jobs are plentiful here, sadly.
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Old 10-14-2015, 08:06 PM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
199 posts, read 179,595 times
Reputation: 269
Thanks for some honest insight, davebarnes. Surely, we vegan "nutjobs" aren't that terrible . I'm not the "throw blood on your fur" type of vegan. Maybe plant-based sounds more friendly? Yes, I can see what you mean regarding the school districts. The dryness...well...I'm not sure how that will work out; but, is it worse than living in the humidity of Satan's armpit?

Last edited by Shellybug; 10-14-2015 at 08:58 PM..
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Old 10-14-2015, 10:04 PM
 
3,793 posts, read 3,982,404 times
Reputation: 2561
Do you teach Spanish or other languages? If you teach Spanish I would guess there will be a lot of positions to compete for basically everywhere. Other languages, I'd guess would generate jobs mostly in the biggest, most urban, richest districts?

If you both start applying for jobs, you either can look to live within commuting distance of the first or best one landed or try the more difficult get both ahead of time and near each other. Either way jobs often come before picking housing. If you pursue any place besides the front range, the job search will be tougher.

Your brief description of desires for place mostly suggest Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins or near them. You will likely have to raise your rent budget 50plus% unless you'd consider places like Greeley or Littleton. Even in this tier a 3BR will probably cost a bit more. If you could get by with 2BR you might save $300-600 per month. If you want non front range suggestions, you need to specify size of community you would consider. Only about a dozen non front range places with over 10,000 people and only about half that over 25,000. One over 100,000.

This list of vegan / vegetarian stores & restaurants might interest you. http://www.happycow.net/north_america/usa/colorado/

Last edited by NW Crow; 10-14-2015 at 10:27 PM..
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Old 10-15-2015, 05:46 AM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
199 posts, read 179,595 times
Reputation: 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by NW Crow View Post
Do you teach Spanish or other languages? If you teach Spanish I would guess there will be a lot of positions to compete for basically everywhere. Other languages, I'd guess would generate jobs mostly in the biggest, most urban, richest districts?

If you both start applying for jobs, you either can look to live within commuting distance of the first or best one landed or try the more difficult get both ahead of time and near each other. Either way jobs often come before picking housing. If you pursue any place besides the front range, the job search will be tougher.

Your brief description of desires for place mostly suggest Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins or near them. You will likely have to raise your rent budget 50plus% unless you'd consider places like Greeley or Littleton. Even in this tier a 3BR will probably cost a bit more. If you could get by with 2BR you might save $300-600 per month. If you want non front range suggestions, you need to specify size of community you would consider. Only about a dozen non front range places with over 10,000 people and only about half that over 25,000. One over 100,000.

This list of vegan / vegetarian stores & restaurants might interest you. Vegetarian Restaurants Colorado - Healthy Food Stores by HappyCow




Unfortunately, I speak very little Spanish, but the majority of my ELL students (English Learners) are hispanic, so I have plenty of resources available. I definitely would not be able to teach Spanish. We are perfectly fine with downsizing to a 2/2, even a 2/1 in the right location and are hoping to keep rent costs at about $1300 since it doesn't appear like I am going to make much more than what I am making in Florida and the cost of living is higher in CO. I found a lot of apartments in that price range on pad mapper.com, but I am overwhelmed with which neighborhoods or school districts on which to focus. I will definitely check on Greeley or Littleton.

Our current city is 76 square miles and the population is 167,000, just to give an idea of our current living situation. We would be okay with having access to all of those amenities within a short drive. I'm in the process of applying for a CO teaching license, so I will be able to move forward with applications once that is completed.

Thank you so much for the link. We have very little vegan options here and have to drive 2 hours north to eat at my favorite restaurant (husband is not vegan ), so it is very exciting to have some options.

Last edited by Shellybug; 10-15-2015 at 06:01 AM..
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Old 10-15-2015, 08:13 AM
 
Location: Texas
3,940 posts, read 3,235,139 times
Reputation: 6672
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shellybug View Post
Thanks for some honest insight, davebarnes. Surely, we vegan "nutjobs" aren't that terrible . I'm not the "throw blood on your fur" type of vegan. Maybe plant-based sounds more friendly? Yes, I can see what you mean regarding the school districts. The dryness...well...I'm not sure how that will work out; but, is it worse than living in the humidity of Satan's armpit?
I'm from Houston, so I know humidity. I lived for Denver for 3 years. Everyone complains about living in humid climates, but few people realize the effect a dry climate has on your body unless they experience it. In Denver, I had cracked, bleeding hands 5 months of the year. My oldest daughter had nosebleeds several times a month.........but, my hair looked fantastic (I miss that).

And, you can do things to try and mitigate the dryness like hydrate often, use lots of lotion and essential oils on your hands etc, whereas there's just no escape from humidity and it makes you feel disgusting, as I am now familiarizing myself with again back in Houston.
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Old 10-15-2015, 08:25 AM
 
Location: Black Forest, CO
1,510 posts, read 2,223,708 times
Reputation: 1480
Since you have never been to Colorado, its time for a visit. Come out and spend at least a few days driving around to different areas you are considering. And look at places from the perspective that you might live here, rather than as a tourist.
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Old 10-15-2015, 08:40 AM
 
1,822 posts, read 1,389,155 times
Reputation: 2087
There's a lot I could say, but will try to keep it short. First of all, despite the "excitedness", you probably need to instead exercise caution. I can relate to the living in one state all my life, and being excited about a change and new area, etc. but that can be a recipe for getting into trouble (been there, done that). I wouldn't worry about the idealogy and vegan stuff; though those are important to you, they shouldn't be turned into a necessities for a new location. Necessities are along the lines of work/jobs, cost of living, and budget. Many from elsewhere - including the south - find CO to have a high cost of living. The bar is set very high too, and people compete with the cream of the crop, the best of the best. Translated: super high competition over jobs.

Visiting is very important, and you do need to see the area, but I'd caution that you need to go much further. Keep in mind that with Florida, you would be used to a green, lush, and essentially tropical environment (I came from a similar environment). I'll bet that you will miss the moisture and greenness, and be disappointed by the dryness and distance from water and the ocean. There's also the culture matter. If FL is all you've known, I think it will be hard to adjust and connect with a culture so different. It's something many don't seem to talk about. Despite the "grass is greener on the other side of the fence" phenomenon (note the irony!), you might end up finding out that there are lots of great aspects about where you are currently, and that that is truly home (and don't overlook family and friends). Sometimes we can't see how great we have it until those things are gone. Living 40 years in one region will be deep down and essentially "in one's blood". I'm sure many who have lived in this state would feel very out of place if relocated in FL. Ultimately, only you can say what is right for you based on your background. Others can only speak from their perspective.

Good luck, and ask more questions! You can message me directly if you want for even more specific information.

Last edited by Sunderpig2; 10-15-2015 at 09:46 AM..
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Old 10-15-2015, 10:47 AM
 
Location: CO/UT/AZ/NM Catch me if you can!
4,697 posts, read 4,328,991 times
Reputation: 10277
You really need to come out here for a visit first. It's great to research a place from afar, but there's no substitute for first hand experience. I don't know how you may be visualizing Colorado, but I can guarantee that the reality of it is not going to align with whatever you may be imagining. For example, for many if not most, life in Colorado does not equal life in the mountains. You can't even see the mountains from many of the suburbs on the Front Range. Also, keep in mind that you are going to have to learn how to drive in snow and will often be facing an icy commute on busy highways come winter. I have lived here all my life, but even for me, it got old having to come out early every morning, chipping the ice off my windshield, warming up the car, then hitting I-25 for a commute to work packed in with semi-crazed drivers, half of whom are ignoring road conditions and driving like rats trying to win some pointless race. I worked in the educational field here in Colorado (10 years as a librarian at a state college, 10 years in the public library system in Colorado Springs). You can't depend on funding from year to year, since if there's a budget shortfall, public education always seems to get the deepest cuts. There were years when our library book budget went to zero thanks to spending cuts. How can you provide an education for your students without books? And that's only one example. Acquaint yourself with the realities of TABOR before becoming overly enchanted by the idea of being a teacher in Colorado. Are you avid skiers? Love the great out-of-doors and going for long hikes on trails above 8,000 feet in elevation? Great! Come out here and drive I-70 from Denver to Vail on a couple of winter weekends and see if the Rockies still call out to you in quite the same manner. Yep, you'll be out of the humidity, but is the trade-off really going to end up being worth it to you?

If you decide it is, I'd suggest you check out Colorado Springs. Your paycheck will be smaller there, but the cost of living is lower, and the city is much more scenic than Denver or Fort Collins. Check out Air Academy and Cheyenne Mountain school districts in the Springs for starters. I don't want to be "mean," but you are considering a very radical change in life-style and you've never even visited here. Make a couple of trips to Colorado - one in the winter - drive around on the Front Range from Fort Collins on south; maybe even take I-70 all the way out to Grand Junction on the Western Slope. See our state up close and personal, and if you still want to make the move, I welcome you and wish you the best of luck. Spanish is no big deal, BTW.

Yours,
- Rambler
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Old 10-15-2015, 12:22 PM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
199 posts, read 179,595 times
Reputation: 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas Ag 93 View Post
I'm from Houston, so I know humidity. I lived for Denver for 3 years. Everyone complains about living in humid climates, but few people realize the effect a dry climate has on your body unless they experience it. In Denver, I had cracked, bleeding hands 5 months of the year. My oldest daughter had nosebleeds several times a month.........but, my hair looked fantastic (I miss that).

And, you can do things to try and mitigate the dryness like hydrate often, use lots of lotion and essential oils on your hands etc, whereas there's just no escape from humidity and it makes you feel disgusting, as I am now familiarizing myself with again back in Houston.
Yes, the dryness seems to be an interesting topic. I can imagine this can get incredibly annoying! I've consigned myself to the idea that there are going to be positives and negatives no matter where we choose. We are casually checking out Austin and surrounding areas as well.
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