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Old 01-20-2016, 11:52 PM
 
Location: Arvada, CO
13,227 posts, read 24,320,982 times
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Proof that it's all in perspective, OP.

We came out here for our scouting trip in December 2006. My wife and I were both originally from Southern California, me from the Los Angeles urban mess, and my wife from a small/isolated town in the desert were we were both living.

Thus, Denver and Colorado Springs looked green to us. Even in December. There was a thick blanket of snow for our entire trip, with bright blue skies, and comfortable high temps in the 20's for virtually the whole trip.

I was smitten the whole trip. It was the "paradise" I perceived. My wife needed a few days of convincing, mostly due to urban things she wasn't familiar with (diversity, paying for parking). She was smitten by day 3 or 4 of 7. On day 7, we did not want to leave. We packed our bags, and were here less than 6 months later, in June 2007. Been here virtually ever since (we had a work transfer/transfer-back in 2009).

Now, for what you saw. My nearly 9 years (and especially the last 6 or 7) has jaded me on this place. My wife still loves it, and I *like it*, but it's not Shangri-La for me by any stretch or definition. There is plenty to not like about this place, as there is with anywhere.

Housing: did you visit SE Aurora, Parker, Highlands Ranch, etc? These places have more cookie cutter architecture, which more decidedly would be considered modern, same for the shopping areas. They don't compare to drab old Lakewood, Arvada, Wheat Ridge, Thornton, SW Denver, etc. The value (per dollar) in housing has taken a big dip due to our thriving economy.

IMO, the prettiest months to visit here are May and September. It tends to rain quite a bit (relatively) in May, but everything is greened up as much as it will ever get here. Summer is a summer style of drab, greener than winter for sure, but kind of sucked/dried/burnt out. September and early October are almost postcard-like.

The draw for me was living in a big city with snow. Yes, I know there are a lot of those, but there were cultural things I was worried about many of the other ones not having at the time (I was young/naive, and had an unhealthy fear of racism before we moved here, which I ultimately did not avoid by moving here {long story}). The mountains were an afterthought for me, as I had always lived near mountains, and wasn't particularly into snow sports (still am not).

I really don't know why you didn't find more reasons to like Colorado Springs. I like it more every time I go.

-Signed, another person that Colorado is perfect for "on paper", but not necessarily in reality. On paper ($$$) I'm happy here, but emotionally/spiritually/feeling-wise, I am lacking.


P.S. Good news: there's a whole lot of the west for you left to explore.
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Old 01-21-2016, 01:38 AM
 
Location: USA
1,024 posts, read 788,272 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Aguilar View Post
Proof that it's all in perspective, OP.

We came out here for our scouting trip in December 2006. My wife and I were both originally from Southern California, me from the Los Angeles urban mess, and my wife from a small/isolated town in the desert were we were both living.

Thus, Denver and Colorado Springs looked green to us. Even in December. There was a thick blanket of snow for our entire trip, with bright blue skies, and comfortable high temps in the 20's for virtually the whole trip.
This is what I'm thinking too. (The part highlighted in red.) It is all about perspective. I sometimes forget when I read these threads—that it's likely that the people complaining about "dry" are from more lush, "green" places.

I, like David and his wife, am from Southern California, so "dry" is normal for me.

When I took a visit to Colorado in the summer of 2014, yes, I could tell it was dry (parts of it—other parts were spectacularly green!) but I thought, "This is familiar and normal. I don't mind this, dry is an old friend to me."
Quote:
The draw for me was living in a big city with snow. Yes, I know there are a lot of those, but there were cultural things I was worried about many of the other ones not having at the time (I was young/naive, and had an unhealthy fear of racism before we moved here, which I ultimately did not avoid by moving here {long story}). The mountains were an afterthought for me, as I had always lived near mountains, and wasn't particularly into snow sports (still am not).
This is another interesting thing.

The mountains are NOT an afterthought for me! I have also lived in flat places, away from mountains, and I no longer consider mountains an afterthought! I didn't realize this before. It's maybe not something you think about, until it's gone. (I'm speaking more to myself than to anyone else on this thread right now.)

I don't always think people who grew up and/or spent most of their time in a non-mountainous area can identify with how it can feel to grow up with mountains, and not only that, to LOVE them (as I always have) and then not have them around for long stretches of time. It gets to you. At least it gets to me. I will consider the mountains a major selling point.

Quote:
I really don't know why you didn't find more reasons to like Colorado Springs. I like it more every time I go.
I drove around Colorado Springs a lot (well, considering the limited time I had there) and I really liked the houses. Now bear in mind, I guess I'm on a different wavelength (in what I like and don't like) but I LOVED that there were as many houses as there were with a Spanish influence. It reminded me of California in a nice way.

Doing online research of Colorado Springs, it sounds like they have a lot of amenities, culture, enough to keep me happy, were I to move there. Though I am leaning more towards Grand Junction or Montrose at this point. (It is still early, early days for me! )

Quote:
Signed, another person that Colorado is perfect for "on paper", but not necessarily in reality. On paper ($$$) I'm happy here, but emotionally/spiritually/feeling-wise, I am lacking.
This is a thing that does concern me, as I think you can't really know how things will work out in that area until you spend some time in a place. A few days/weeks visiting isn't necessarily going to give you that.

I thank the OP for her perspective. I always want to read good and bad impressions, and then read the responses. It really helps.

Last edited by elvira310; 01-21-2016 at 02:13 AM..
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Old 01-21-2016, 05:42 AM
 
Location: Colorado Springs
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Sometimes we get a wet spring/early summer. I remember a few years when it rained about every day in June. The place looked like Ireland. We had tons of columbines in the park. The Peak was snow caped. What a beautiful view.

However, I admit that Dec-Feb is usually brown and when it's 31 degrees outside that's too cold for a comfortable walk. So I'm stuck inside. But I don't think that's a whole lot different than the June-Sept period in Phoenix, our previous place when I'd sit inside to avoid the 110 degrees outside.

There is no perfect place.
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Old 01-21-2016, 06:20 AM
 
Location: Arvada, CO
13,227 posts, read 24,320,982 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elvira310 View Post
The mountains are NOT an afterthought for me! I have also lived in flat places, away from mountains, and I no longer consider mountains an afterthought! I didn't realize this before. It's maybe not something you think about, until it's gone. (I'm speaking more to myself than to anyone else on this thread right now.)

I don't always think people who grew up and/or spent most of their time in a non-mountainous area can identify with how it can feel to grow up with mountains, and not only that, to LOVE them (as I always have) and then not have them around for long stretches of time. It gets to you. At least it gets to me. I will consider the mountains a major selling point.
I've only not been near mountains (within sight) a few times in my life, on trips to Upstate NY, the Great Plains states, Toronto, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Chicago, etc, and none of those trips were longer than a week. I never felt like "man, these places suck because they don't have mountains", in fact, I don't recall ever even thinking about mountains during any of those trips.

Now, an extended period of time may be different, but then again, it might not (for me). The Midwest has an almost magical appeal to me (I don't know, can't explain it), so I could possibly adjust if I ever wanted to, I'd at least be willing to give it a shot.
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Old 01-21-2016, 07:02 AM
 
Location: Colorado
722 posts, read 505,617 times
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I've been thinking about this a bit more and I think it really does come down to perspective and expectations of a place. Someone from the desert like me thinks this place is very green, but if you are from anywhere that have decent precip, it will probably be brown to you.
Another thing is expectations of a place. When I first married my husband I was in love with all things Boston and Mass. We planned a trip out there and I was sure I would fall in love with it, heck I wanted to move there. I liked how it looked in pictures, I loved that it had major sporting event teams, the food, the American history. But when I went, it just didn't "feel" right. No matter how hard I tried. While it was beautiful, the humidity got to me (I love green but can't handle humidity well). It did have the amenities I like but I wasn't feeling the city or even burbs as my true home. I was pretty bummed out because I really wanted to like it and live there.
Once I stsrted really examining what I wanted in a place, including the reality that I just can't do humidity, I was able to narrow down better where the best place was. The harsh reality was when I excluded states with humidity, my list left got pretty small. I was always drawn to colorlado and hated leaving every time I visited. Even though I knew there were locations of greener places with more American history which I really, really wanted to love to live in. So I narrowed my searching colorado and knew I needed a place close to good hospitals for our son but a smaller city since I like and am use to that. Found the Colorado Springs forum, talked their ear off for close to a year, went on various trips there during different times and liked it each time. And now we are here. And it feels right.
My point is, I think you can find the right place. Don't love colorado just because you want to love it. Explore other places and see if their vibe gets into your blood. What about the forested areas around Berkeley? Or some place in Oregon or Washington like Olympia? Plus you can always come here to visit in the green months. I visit my sister in Florida in the winter when she is freezing there. I'm thrilled at that time because of low humidity and even when it's super cold, it feels normal to me.
I wish you the best again. Good luck.

Last edited by DoodlemomCoS; 01-21-2016 at 08:30 AM..
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Old 01-21-2016, 07:37 AM
 
Location: Western Colorado
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Well Denver and the front range blob isn't all of Colorado. You should have visited the western slope. Main Street in Grand Junction, Main Street in Montrose, Cedaredge, Paonia, Crested Butte, Gunnison, Ridgway, Ouray. Sad you missed the beauty of the west.
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Old 01-21-2016, 08:48 AM
 
Location: Denver, CO
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I would say your experiences are pretty normal.

It's strange though, when I think about my progress in my move out there (in process with transfer), I really don't think about the city of Denver itself. I only think about the mountains and the rest of the state. To me, Denver is just a homebase for the outdoor activities, and that is why people move out there. The people who seem disappointed are those who move to Denver thinking it's the next Portland, Brooklyn, etc...and it's not, and that is why I love it. I read a story about some girl who move to Denver from the Chicago suburbs, and she complained about the lack of fashion and night clubs. Some asked if she ever did any mountain sports and she said she never actually went outside of the city. Even more recently, a friend of mine went out there for a work trip. He was all excited because I always talked his ear off about how much I love it there. He came back disappointed, and it turns out he only ventured a few blocks away from his hotel.

I view Denver as the best urban environment, with the best access to mountains. It's a good mix. I don't need some mega/flashy city to be happy, but I do want live somewhere that is home to like minded people, with enough to do, and close to mountains.

As the Denver boom continues, I think more and more people will move out here without doing research, for the wrong reasons, and leave disappointed.
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Old 01-21-2016, 09:23 AM
 
Location: The Berk in Denver, CO USA
13,949 posts, read 20,201,871 times
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Default Water and Population

As a supporter of my adopted state of Colorado, I feel obliged to chime in.
I moved here from Massachusetts over 35 years ago and have now spent 52% of my life here.
I love Colorado for:
• weather (4 seasons and no February slush month) and no bugs
• good government
• reasonable taxes

Two of the three above cannot be seen by a visitor.

Here are 2 aspects of greater Denver that I think that non-Mountain states' people just don't grasp.

1. Population size in the past.
Before the explosion of automobile ownership in the 1950s, very few people lived here. That is why we don't have nearby towns and villages with quaint commercial centers. The northeast is filled with villages every few miles because you had to live close to a shopping area. Many places also grew up around railroads.

Just look at the data below.

Population
Florida - 1950: 2.8M (Winter Park, FL had 8250 people in 1950)
Colorado - 1950: 1.3M (Castle Rock, CO had 741 people in 1950 and Littleton had 3378)

2. Water (or lack of).
We (living on the prairie) just don't have much. It rains 1/3 as much as most of the east coast. This means that trees only exist outside of riparian zones because Man planted them and watered them (for their entire lives). We have to bring water from far away.
We don't have surface water. Our rivers are a few feet wide. Compare the Platte to the Connecticut. Most Northeasterners would call the Platte a stream, not a river.
We don't have sub-surface water. Just look at the disappearing aquifers in Douglas County.
Water Law is a foreign concept to anyone living within proximity to the Appalachians.

Just look at the data below.

Water
Precipitation
Orlando - average annual rainfall in Orlando is 50.6 in
Denver - Average precipitation 14.3 in
Surface (aka lakes, ponds, swamps)
Orlando - myriad
Denver - close to zero

P.S.
I think it completely non-sensical to compare any part of greater Denver to Saint Augustine (established in 1565) or to NYC (Manhattan has 1.6 million living 33 sq miles)
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Old 01-21-2016, 10:15 AM
 
Location: Colorado Springs
3,051 posts, read 2,079,489 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shellybug View Post
The excellent: The mountain views are to die for. They really are. We loved the weather. It honestly felt colder here in Florida at 45 degrees than CO's 34 degrees felt. It was the most amazing, wonderful, strange thing. The snow on the ground made me giddy. There wasn't a whole lot of it, but I sought out what I could and stared in awe. It is light and fluffy and beautiful. We bundled up appropriately and had no issues at all. It was very enjoyable.

The good: The roads were not difficult to drive at all either. The traffic seemed on par with South Florida. We were terrified of driving in ice and on the winter roads, but there were no weather events (in snowed lightly the last day there), so we had no issues at all. We just drove at a decent speed as not to annoy the other drivers and drove cautiously and it all worked out great. We didn't get any beeps or gestures thrown our way...so that is good! We also adjusted to the altitude fine. Everyone was very friendly and eager to answer questions. Most people we talked to were transplants, some for 25 years, some for 5 years. My hair looked amazing with the lack of humidity !!! I know...not a reason to move to a place!
This is a very typical response. Views actually improve the further into the mountains you go. Roads here also are reasonably good. Locals all complain about pot holes and ice, but overall things could be much much worse than they are. I'm also not surprised that most people you spoke with are transplants. Depending on the source as much as 40-60% of the front range area is comprised of transplants.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shellybug View Post
The okay: The weather is indeed dry, dry, dry. We definitely had to drink lots and lots of water. We huffed and puffed a little more that normal with the altitude, but that was not a problem. I hope that the skin adjusts to the dryness because that could be rough if it never let up. I hoped for a better vegan food scene as CO seemed to be more progressive in this area. It was okay, but definitely not at the level I thought it might be. That is the norm for me, though, so no biggie.
Like others have said, this is the driest part of the year so it does improve some, but you will still want a lot of moisturizers year round. Vegan food...we certainly aren't at the forefront of that movement. It is improving some, but these establishments are not front and center by any means. There are enough mid-west and Texan transplants out here to make this beef country.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shellybug View Post
The not-so-great: Okay...everything in this section is all about perspective. I honestly expected to go crazy over CO and was ready to confirm that I was right and start packing my bags. I was very depressed to leave there not feeling sure about packing my bags at all. Despite all of my research and questioning, I suppose there is no substitute for visiting somewhere to be sure. I live in an area in Florida where most of the development was built circa 2000 or later. I like this style. I do, however, LOVE a great historic neighborhood. Saint Augustine, FL (kinda old) and Rome (really old) are two of my favorite places on Earth, so I do not snub-nose antiquity by any means. CO, however, seemed to be frozen in the 60s and 70s with much of the urban design. It seemed there weren't a whole lot of developed shopping areas (or at least they weren't as common). The neighborhoods reminded me of either rural Florida here (Fort Collins, Golden, CoS, etc) or NYC borough style neighborhoods (Denver). I suppose to some, that is wonderful, but it is very different than what I am used to, I guess, so it threw me off a bit. I don't even like Florida's cookie-cutter homes, but I just didn't understand the high cost of housing there with the level of what you get. No one was out at all, either, and the neighborhoods honestly looked dismal. What was I missing? Is it possible to make such a judgement in a mere drive-by? Is CO about the feeling of the people and not the modernity of the home? It seemed like the majority of new construction was apartment complexes being plopped onto open plains that jutted out of the horizon with no atmosphere to make the harshness of their presence appear more mild.

We loved Louisville and Fort Collins, although Fort Collins might be a little too north for us. Also, does the brown subside in the summer? All of the homes had hordes of dead bushes and potted plants all over the front yard and entryway, which just added to the dull, sad environment. Is this just the perils of winter? I know I come from the tropics and cannot expect the same, but I was hoping there was a happy medium. Even some of the very modern, expensive-looking homes had garbage littered on the embankments (beer cans, plastic grocery bags) Although the weather was cold, but lovely, there was barely anyone outside. This seemed strange since this is part of the pull to CO. And we were there Sat, Sun, Mon, and Tuesday.

Boulder...gosh, I did not get Boulder. I'm a liberal vegan and I thought this place was going to be paradise. It reminded me of Gainesville, Fl... a local, dated college town that has great people vibes, but terrible atmosphere vibes. I just don't get why people pay so much to live there. Is it because of the proximity to the outdoors? Is that the case with all of the Front Range? What did I miss? Did we not drive far enough into the interiors of the cities?

Denver...I find this city odd. I guess I was expecting a very walkable, vibrant city like NYC, but the streets were barren and it seemed more like Denver is just a downtown, primarily business district. It seemed as though most of the "city" of Denver is really suburbs. Much of the homes surrounding Denver looked very rundown as well. Again...was this just the appearance of winter?

I want to find every reason in the world to love CO. It just seems that the quality of neighborhoods and homes don't justify the exorbitant prices (rent and own). Or is it ALL about the mountains and that is why the sacrifice is worth it? Everyone I have talked to says they LOVE Colorado. What am I missing? My husband and I want the fantasy back. We really do. We considered that maybe we should look at a town in the foothills. Maybe this would suit us more, but the job market seems as though it would be lacking.

Did anyone else feel surprised by the reality when they first visited? We are having a hard time letting go of the dream of having the mountains there to hike and rocks to climb, etc. We really wanted that, but we also want to love the home and the neighborhood we live in. We don't need large or fancy, but definitely something more vibrant. We live in a very modest 3/2 home here in Florida and it is even too big for us. We are not fancy AT ALL, but I don't want to pay $2000 for a 1/1 downtown or $1500 for a 2/1 with shag carpet and wood paneling in other CO cities. Are there any areas that are affordable with more modern amenities? CoS was more affordable, but it honestly looked like a depressing place to live. I am so sorry if that sounds jerky! I'm just being honest.

Please tell me what we missed and what I'm not getting! We SO wanted to love CO!!!
This is a big section to address.

Old is relative out here. Our big population booms were the gold rush era, post WW2, early '70s, mid '80s, mid '90s, and now into the '10s. Building designs will fall into those primary categories. Obviously the latter eras will be the most obvious from simple numbers standpoint if you consider the entire gold rush era from 1850 to 1900 only brought 300k to the state, but we have been bringing in 30-100k annually since the '70s. I fear that in a 3 day whirlwind of a tour and the large geographic area you covered, you breezed through a lot of areas with easy access without getting into the core of some areas. This can definitely color a perception. Age of most Colorado cities are certainly like the rings of a tree and you can almost track the populations booms by the buildings styles as you move more central into them.

Colors, yes, brown is very normal for winter and even some times even the middle of summer in dry years. We do not have the lush, rich, wide spread greens of any place east of Kansas. What we do have is dark blue-greens of evergreens, the bright and pale green contrasts of native grasses, and a myriad shades of blue from a sky so intense its almost difficult to look at. Many places will have a broad range of browns, tans and reds in the exposed earth with crystal clear water running through streams that highlights those colors in the native rocks. Fall adds gold and oranges to that mix, but rest assured its no New England. FWIW, most transplants in Colorado come from California or Texas, so to them, things are are relatively green by comparison. Winters are extremely dry, how else would we get the champagne powder that skiers lover. It is also windy. That is why you can see trash nearly anywhere this time of year.

Boulder, in all honesty, a lot of us that live here don't get Boulder. Denver, yes it is a core surrounded by 'burbs, many of which are their own independent cities. Its also important to note that Denver is the Queen city of the plains. It is not a mountain entity in any way, shape or form. But you are correct, many who move here are willing to pay extra or give up things they were familiar with for the balance of what life here is. Colorado is usually at the top of list for fitness. This is a very active area to live, even if you didn't see many people out and about. They could have been at the gym, hanging out at home, and somewhere in the mountains. But even in the summer, weekends don't bring a mass exodus to the sidewalks everywhere. There are a myriad number of engaging activities to be found, and not just in the mountains. Personally, I'm am finding more things to do away from the mountains because of the weekend exodus that takes place on I-70 every Friday evening and Sunday afternoon. Despite all of this activity, most cities in Colorado are not major examples of walkability. To get to this layer of exposure, you need to get into specific neighborhoods and walk them yourselves or look at events that provide a lot of choice in where, when, and how you spend spare time.

Certainly living outside the front range brings an entirely different perspective, but it also brings with it additional challenges with employment, healthcare, and entertainment not hinging on the outdoors. Most people live and play in the front range area because that is where the most jobs are. But it is not the heart of the state by a long shot.

You made a broad brush stroke with this visit. If you are serious about moving here, then you might want to come back at a different time of year and concentrate on maybe just 2-4 places from you previous list to get past the obvious drive-by impressions. I'd also suggest a trip to the much coveted mountain areas you plan to visit regularly and see if they hold the recreation potential you hope for. If everything turns you cold on the area as a whole, then you have saved yourself hundreds of thousands of dollars and potentially years of heartbreak.
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Old 01-21-2016, 10:34 AM
 
Location: Washington Park, Denver
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shellybug View Post
I do, however, LOVE a great historic neighborhood. Saint Augustine, FL (kinda old) and Rome (really old) are two of my favorite places on Earth, so I do not snub-nose antiquity by any means. CO, however, seemed to be frozen in the 60s and 70s with much of the urban design.

Denver...I find this city odd. I guess I was expecting a very walkable, vibrant city like NYC, but the streets were barren and it seemed more like Denver is just a downtown, primarily business district. It seemed as though most of the "city" of Denver is really suburbs. Much of the homes surrounding Denver looked very rundown as well. Again...was this just the appearance of winter?

These are the only comments I really take exception to.

In my opinion Denver really distinguished itself from other similarly sized cities because of its abundance of great historic neighborhoods.

Did you get in to Wash Park, Congress Park, Country Club, Highland, University Park, Platt Park, Hillltop, Cheesman Park, Alamo Placita or Cherry Creek?

These are vibrant Denver city (non-suburban) neighborhoods that were built anywhere from 1900s to 1950s. Its very counter to the idea of Denver being just a downtown business district. It sounds like you missed most of the actual city.
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