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Old 01-20-2016, 09:12 PM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
199 posts, read 178,956 times
Reputation: 269

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So, I have been lurking for a while and have been posting for about two months. My husband and I have been very serious about a move to CO. I am a teacher and applied for my CO teaching license, my husband has been applying for plumbing jobs, we have been looking for homes, etc. Our tentative moving date was July 1st.

We just visited for the first time this last weekend 1/16-1/19. In that time we set up a "base camp" in Golden and drove to and around the following areas: CoS, Golden, Lakewood, Denver, Five Points, Cherry Creek, LoDo, Cap Hill, Stapleton, Aurora, Louisville, Lafayette, Westminster, Boulder, Broomfield, Fort Collins, and we even fit in a trip out to Garden of the Gods. We literally did nothing but drive and drive for three days, through cities, through neighborhood after neighborhood, etc.

Now, I am treading lightly here, and please, please forgive me if any of this comes across as crass or impolite. I certainly don't mean for it to be and just want to be honest.

On paper, CO looked ideal for us. Everyone goes on and on about the quality of living in the area, etc.

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!

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.

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!!!

Last edited by Shellybug; 01-20-2016 at 09:39 PM..
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Old 01-20-2016, 09:33 PM
 
20,811 posts, read 38,977,896 times
Reputation: 18994
Great write-up and IMO very truthful.

What you saw was the usual winter brown of the landscape. It gets green in the spring and that lasts into the summer depending on rainfall.

We lived in the DC area for many years and never saw many people in suburbia who were out and about, except to clog the roads with their cars. Rarely even saw people using their decks. Much the same here, people seem to be cocooned inside their homes and on-line.

I live in a nice newer area of COS, easily described as cookie cutter, but that seems the way things go these days in most suburbs in most cities. Many areas of this town look rundown and I'm sure Denver has that too.
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Old 01-20-2016, 09:45 PM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
199 posts, read 178,956 times
Reputation: 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike from back east View Post
Great write-up and IMO very truthful.

What you saw was the usual winter brown of the landscape. It gets green in the spring and that lasts into the summer depending on rainfall.

We lived in the DC area for many years and never saw many people in suburbia who were out and about, except to clog the roads with their cars. Rarely even saw people using their decks. Much the same here, people seem to be cocooned inside their homes and on-line.

I live in a nice newer area of COS, easily described as cookie cutter, but that seems the way things go these days in most suburbs in most cities. Many areas of this town look rundown and I'm sure Denver has that too.
Thank you so much, Mike! I was worried my observations wouldn't translate well. Do you have any suggestions for more modern, developed areas? I'm still open if I can find a neighborhood we feel happy in. We just drove and drove and the only place we saw ourselves was hiking in the mountains and we can't really live up there! I just read in another thread that people give up on there lawns after a while because of the high desert climate. Maybe that adds to the disheveled appearance of the neighborhoods. I didn't realize I was so spoiled here with all of the beautiful green and manicured lawns with shade trees everywhere. But, man, those mountains won my heart...
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Old 01-20-2016, 09:50 PM
 
20,811 posts, read 38,977,896 times
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Green lawns are disappearing here due to water costs / scarceness and since the state ruled that people didn't have to abide by HOA covenants to have 50% grass, thus more lawns with rock landscaping as in much of AZ.

Lots of areas in the USA look downtrodden these days as wages fail to grow but prices keep growing.
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Old 01-20-2016, 09:57 PM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
199 posts, read 178,956 times
Reputation: 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike from back east View Post
Green lawns are disappearing here due to water costs / scarceness and since the state ruled that people didn't have to abide by HOA covenants to have 50% grass, thus more lawns with rock landscaping as in much of AZ.

Lots of areas in the USA look downtrodden these days as wages fail to grow but prices keep growing.
So very true! How about Grand Junction? Is it hard to travel that pass when you want to visit the Front Range?
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Old 01-20-2016, 09:59 PM
 
Location: Las Vegas
166 posts, read 151,481 times
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For the past couple years, the husband and I have visited CO in varying parts of the year. CO is one of our possible places to retire to, and our visits are to make absolutely sure which areas we like, don't like, etc. Thus far, we've been to Fort Collins, various parts of Denver, Manitou Springs, Breckenridge, Alma, and driven through various cities and towns in the NE quadrant. We obviously do not have the same perspective and views as folks that live there, but I thought I'd offer my view

Parts of Denver we have stayed in are not walkable, other parts definitely are. I seem to remember the Capitol Hill being very walkable. In Fort Collins, really only the one downtown bit is. Now, I will say that Fort Collins downtown in winter seemed to be fine at night. All the lights were pretty, it was very walkable, and there were lots of friendly people. Breckenridge was really walkable, Alma not so much. Boulder I liked the scenery better than the town for some reason. No clue why, vibe was just ... odd to me, but the scenery was pretty

Winter is brown. Very brown. And yes, somewhat to very dreary. People go out only when they have to. The energy oddly picks up when it snows, and you will see more people out.

Spring definitely gets a little more green, some other colors, more people out and about. Late Autumn is similar to winter; we've not visited during early autumn, yet.

Late Spring and all of Summer is when things shine. People are all out and about, colors are vibrant, there is energy. We truly loved Manitou Springs in the Summer. And Alma in early Summer was really lovely (even if there were still snow patches on the ground in the shade, hehe ... Alma is 14k feet up). The aspens were just starting to bud their leaves and the fresh light green against the white bark and the dark colors of the pines .... so refreshing. Manitou Springs in summer is super green and lots of trees with foilage.

Something to note: The greens of Colorado (a much drier state) are not exactly the same shade of greens in FL or GA, which is where we currently live. The first time I saw the more earthy/rocky(?) greens in person it was a culture shock. Now I think they are beautiful

Our next forays into Colorado will be Grand Junction and Durango, I think.
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Old 01-20-2016, 10:03 PM
 
Location: Aurora, CO
6,510 posts, read 10,151,127 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shellybug View Post
So very true! How about Grand Junction? Is it hard to travel that pass when you want to visit the Front Range?
If you're not big into the brownness of the Front Range I'm afraid you'll really dislike the Grand Valley. Grand Junction is high desert. Shades of brown and orange are prevalent there year-round. On top of that jobs are hard to come by.

I-70 typically isn't that bad. It's the main artery between Denver and the major ski areas. CDOT works to keep it passable all winter long. Occasionally it'll close briefly at Vail Pass and the Eisenhower Tunnel, but that's the exception.
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Old 01-20-2016, 10:15 PM
Itz
 
714 posts, read 1,916,336 times
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Just my two cents . It seems you had a good/great visit to Colorado and it there are MANY different things to adjust to and love or hate about it. I'm originally from Wyoming so Colorado to me is very similar - except taxes and politics.
Keep in mind that Colorado is ONLY about 100-150 years old in comparison to back east and Florida, so there aren't a lot of extremely historic areas. Those historic buildings and areas were built out of wood which have disintegrated. Mostly every neighborhood is going to be cookie cutter like.. Except REALLY expensive parts of Denver. I do want to point out - the history here is great if you enjoy that sort of thing, because Colorado is so "young" in comparison. I have spent a lot of time visiting places that were just amazing.

I'm fortunate to live in a neighborhood that is VERY clean and very active. In fact I love that in the summer time the kids are outside playing with their parents and the neighbors have get togethers (they are very respectful in the noise level as well).

Downtown Denver I have never found "walkable" even when I worked downtown. It is very... non-vibrant as you say, unless you are into the "club/bar scene". Denver is very hyped over their sports teams - especially Football.. which I enjoy the energy of it.

The dryness... oh dear lord... stock up on lotions! The summer gets better though.

The price of homes is about supply and demand.. so it is based on that. Homes in my neighborhood are sold as soon as they are on the market. That is just the market right now. I like CoS, a lot, but it seems like the job market seems to have been on the downside for quite some time.

The brownness does subside... for a few weeks. During these few weeks I'm just in awe at how green everything is. The fall is great with the GOLD of Colorado.

If you enjoy the outdoors.. you can't beat Colorado.. No matter what, there is something to do outdoors somewhere. The bad thing is - many hiking trails turn into Congo lines. I avoid the mountains at all costs during summer holidays.

If you want to or plan on moving, I would suggest another visit to the area, to just get out and look around at different things.
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Old 01-20-2016, 10:50 PM
 
Location: Colorado
722 posts, read 502,318 times
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Coming from where you are (Florida), I think your observations make sense. Colorado is much more arid then I think a lot of folks realize. My sister who lives on floridas east coast but grew up in New Mexico with me thinks Colorado is dry, dry, dry. I think many people think colorado is more like Washington state with lush blue spruce and forests with green wild grasses.
Technically we live in the "forest" but I'd bet if you saw our neighborhood it would appear dry and probably not as green as your idea of colorado although we are in one of the more wooded areas.
Visiting my sister and her subdivisions, houses seem brighter there, if that makes sense. And people are always out in the neighborhoods in her place although there are a fair amount of people walking where I am.
Not every place is for everyone. If it's not working, don't force it. There are too many places to explore in our country. I hope you find your right place.
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Old 01-20-2016, 10:58 PM
 
Location: CO
2,455 posts, read 2,600,559 times
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Good thing you didn't permanently move here in our beautiful summertime and were then shocked by the brown winter landscape! Honestly, there is nothing here to compare to your Florida expectations, we are truly a fours season climate with all that entails. You certainly got around during your visit but I see no mention of the southern suburbs of Denver which might have suited you better, but it does sound like the reality of Colorado doesn't fit your particular dream, which does happen.
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