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Old 04-19-2009, 01:54 PM
 
7 posts, read 15,468 times
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I have scoured the threads here and have learned a lot, but there's so much here and still want reassurance, answers, personal communication from people who either live in Denver now or have lived in Anchorage and Denver.

My husband and I are mid-30s and live in Anchorage right now, getting ready to relocate to the Denver area at the end of August this summer (2009). This move is voluntary, not job related.

We have 3 children, but only one will be with us all year round and he's a baby. Mother in Law lives with us and is relocating with us.

1. The first item that I want to talk about is housing. We are renters and need 4 or 5 bedrooms in a good neighborhood with a community pool (it's the only way my other two kids will let us leave the state). We have been picking through Rentals.com and craigslist. The houses that look like they will fit our needs for space, pet requirements, and quality seem to be primarily in the SE Aurora area. I've been told by a friend who has lived in CO that Aurora is not known as a good area, but the houses I’m seeing do NOT look like houses that would be built in a bad neighborhood, so I’m thinking that these developments East of 470 are newer, high-end neighborhoods? It looks like they may be built on a plain so I wonder if you can see the mountains? Is it very dry and not green there? Is the wind bad? Is the drive to Denver long?

We don’t know enough about the area to have a specific preference on where we live, but we do want a nice house, big enough for our extended family, no more than 20 minutes to the city, that’s green in the summer, with a community pool and all in a good neighborhood for kids. Our rental cap is $2500 per month and we have cats that will eventually join us and a very small dog <10 lbs.

2. My primary occupation is in the legal field. I have my own business here temping legal secretary, contract paralegal, and legal billing and bookkeeping. I’ve been a legal administrator, legal secretary, and paralegal since 1997. I’ll be looking to get a job as a legal secretary or paralegal with a firm to get the Colorado rules, formats, etc. down, but will eventually want to start my business back up down there if there’s a market for it. I would love to communicate with anyone who has experience with legal support in Denver so I can get an idea of job availability/pay/benefits. My husband will most likely be looking for a retail management position. I’d like us to have jobs to move into when we get there. Can anyone recommend a placement/employment agency to communicate with?

3. Our secondary occupation is our band. The catalyst for this move is that our drummer is from CO and is moving back. The band is ready for new challenges and so we’re all going. We are a heavy gigging band in Anchorage – usually about 3 nights a week, covers mainly. We’ve got a full rock setlist as well as a complete country setlist. Pretty versatile. I’m the singer, husband is guitar player. We will want to pick up gigs as soon as we get settled. If anyone has information about the Denver music scene from an insider’s perspective, I would love to get as much information as possible on clubs that offer live music, who to contact, what bar gigs and private parties generally pay, etc.

4. Weather – I’ve researched Denver weather, but still want the perspective of someone who lives there. We are used to winter lasting from October through April, with temps from -10 to 25F for most of the winter. It isn’t actually spring here until mid to late May. Breakup is actually our spring season and it is UGLY after 9 months of accumulation of road sand, garbage and dog poop. Summer is maybe June, July and August if we’re lucky, but July and August can be very rainy. The hottest temp we see in the summer is MAYBE 75, but usually 65 (last summer we were 55 average, it seemed like). The winters are very hard because they are so dark with daylight from maybe 11 to 3 at the worst. I HATE Alaska weather. I have to have a SUMMER and heat. I want 4 seasons. I want a normal light/dark pattern. I need sunshine! Usually our summers are beautiful, but last summer was so awful, it’s almost like we didn’t have one. Neither of us are huge fans of outdoor winter activities, so I really need a good understanding of what the winter means. I know about the freak winter storms from the news, but what does that really mean? Is it like a normal heavy snow day for Alaska? How many inches? Does it melt right away? Do you have snow accumulation in the city? Are the summers lush and green, or does it get hot and turn everything brown?

5. My last topic for this thread is the economy. I have friends that tell me their friends just moved to Colorado and told them the economy is horrible. Nothing that I read says that’s true. I want to know if jobs are hard to come by in the fields of expertise I’ve mentioned.

Thanks for any information that anyone can provide that is specific to my information needs. Even a link to a thread that I may not have seen in this information jungle would be appreciated.
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Old 04-19-2009, 03:05 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 16 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
86,988 posts, read 102,554,590 times
Reputation: 33053
You really do want a lot of information all at once. I think this is more than any one person can tell you.

There is lots and lots about housing, Aurora, etc on these forums. You will do best to come out and take a look at these places yourself. Plan to stay in an extended-stay type place when you get here and look around. The general consensus on this board is that there are good and bad parts of Aurora, like just about everywhere else in CO. Your rental cap is not out of line for here, but you may have a problem with the cats and dog. A letter of reference from a previous landlord about your pets would be a good idea. You can see the mountains from just about everywhere.

Topics 2,3, and 5 are all related. All I can tell you is that the recession is here, just like it is most everywhere right now. Hopefully you have some savings, b/c my educated guess it that it will take a while for you and DH to find jobs. I think we have a few people on this board in the fields you are in (not so sure about the band), and perhaps they can be of help.

There is a ton of information about Denver area weather on these boards. You will get 4 seasons (though some years not much of a spring), "normal" dark/light patterns, and lots of sunshine. You may be getting a hotter summer than you bargained for. The average high in July is 89 degrees, which means a lot of 90+ degree days. The natural vegetation does not stay green very long, and lawns and the like will dry up if not watered. It can snow in September and it can snow in May. In the 29 years I've been here, I've seen it snow twice in June. Winter storms are usually interspersed with weeks of warm, sunny weather, especially in the spring and fall. It is not unusual to get snows of 8" or more. Such snow generally melts in a few days to a week, faster in the spring and fall. Yes, the snow falls in the city as well as in the suburbs.
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Old 04-20-2009, 01:54 AM
 
Location: Arvada, CO
13,236 posts, read 24,412,267 times
Reputation: 13004
Quote:
Originally Posted by heathermist View Post
I've been told by a friend who has lived in CO that Aurora is not known as a good area,
I think I'm going to start a counter for the amount of times I've heard this exact thing said.

You are lucky number 2,074.

Quote:
Originally Posted by heathermist View Post
It looks like they may be built on a plain so I wonder if you can see the mountains? Is it very dry and not green there? Is the wind bad? Is the drive to Denver long?[/color]
Yes, SE Aurora is on rolling plains/hills. If you look off to the east of there all you see is ugly (IMO) yellowish-brown plains. If you look off to the west, you get a nice panoramic view from Longs Peak to Pikes Peak. Denver overall is dry, and not green. That is, unless you live in a more established area with tall trees/evergreens. The western half of the metro is best for that.

The wind here only sucks during snowstorms, otherwise I find it quite unremarkable.

The drive to Downtown Denver or the Denver city limits is longer than it needs to be, and there are no freeways between SE Aurora and Denver. Learn to love Smoky Hill and/or Arapahoe Road. I would say about 35-40 minutes without any traffic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by heathermist View Post
We donít know enough about the area to have a specific preference on where we live, but we do want a nice house, big enough for our extended family, no more than 20 minutes to the city, thatís green in the summer, with a community pool and all in a good neighborhood for kids. Our rental cap is $2500 per month and we have cats that will eventually join us and a very small dog <10 lbs.
Green Mountain? West Arvada? Bow Mar? Littleton? Greenwood Village? Western Centennial? You might to extend your commute to at least 30 minutes though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by heathermist View Post
I know about the freak winter storms from the news, but what does that really mean? Is it like a normal heavy snow day for Alaska? How many inches? Does it melt right away? Do you have snow accumulation in the city? Are the summers lush and green, or does it get hot and turn everything brown? [/color]
I doubt it. I think you might laugh at our winter storms. We get anything from a dusting to a foot. We got about 10-12 inches on Friday. Only about 1-2 of those inches remain (on the grass) now on Sunday night. The whole northern half of the metro is currently snowless from that storm, while the south side is still holding on to it. Snow doesn't typically stick around for any longer than three days. It snows in the city. Summers are not lush and green, and Denver/metro will look like a desert compared to AK.

Right now, considering all the rain/snow we've gotten in the past few days/weeks, the grass looks really green, but I wouldn't expect that to last long. Summers are hot, high 90's-low 100's aren't out of the question.

The economy sucks most everywhere. We've got applicants at my company (transportation) that are only asking for minimum wage, so I know there's some desperation out there.
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Old 04-20-2009, 12:33 PM
 
Location: Aurora, Colorado
2,212 posts, read 4,606,217 times
Reputation: 2363
Quote:
Originally Posted by heathermist View Post
1. The first item that I want to talk about is housing. We are renters and need 4 or 5 bedrooms in a good neighborhood with a community pool (it's the only way my other two kids will let us leave the state). We have been picking through Rentals.com and craigslist. The houses that look like they will fit our needs for space, pet requirements, and quality seem to be primarily in the SE Aurora area. I've been told by a friend who has lived in CO that Aurora is not known as a good area, but the houses Iím seeing do NOT look like houses that would be built in a bad neighborhood, so Iím thinking that these developments East of 470 are newer, high-end neighborhoods? It looks like they may be built on a plain so I wonder if you can see the mountains? Is it very dry and not green there? Is the wind bad? Is the drive to Denver long?
Don't know a lot about your post, but I will answer things I know for sure. Your friend who said Aurora is not a nice area has likely never been on this side of the city. Aurora is a huge city. It takes up nearly the entire east side of metro denver. SE Aurora is a great area, with middle to high-middle class income residents in one of the best school districts in the state (Cherry Creek). We get this question at least once a week here on these threads and if I answered every one and spoke about my neighborhood (here in dreaded Aurora), I would have carpal tunnel syndrome. I'd suggest searching through the threads and you will find what you're looking for. There ARE bad parts of Aurora (near Colfax) but the SE area of Aurora is very nice and probably what you and your family is looking for (not too expensive, but in a great school district for your kids). One thing, however. If you or your husband is planning on commuting to downtown Denver, you do not want to live out here. The commute is totally unncessary as there are plenty of areas closer to the downtown area with decent schools. It's at least 35 minutes on a good day, with light traffic and no snow. Add any of those things and it's probably closer to an hour for commuting. Not reasonable.
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Old 04-20-2009, 02:20 PM
 
7 posts, read 15,468 times
Reputation: 15
Default Thanks

I appreciate the information on Aurora. I have read the posts, and what I've seen and what you are saying confirms what I thought. Anchorage is geographically SO different from a big city that it's sometimes difficult to wrap my mind around. I need to remember that Aurora is a city in itself with good/bad areas, not a "neighborhood" or "part of town" like what I'm used to here.

I'm learning that I'd better get a job first then figure out where to live. Putting the cart before the horse.

Thanks too for the information on the weather. That helps. I do like green, but I like snow that sticks around for 9 months far less, so I can take a little (or a lot of) dryness to be warm. Sacramento was on our radar for awhile and it pretty much complete dies in the summer. Speaking of that does Denver have big wildfire problems in the summer?

Can someone tell me about whether you have to pay for water by how much you use? Here we only pay a set monthly amount. Are there ever shortages?

Thanks!
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Old 04-20-2009, 02:44 PM
 
Location: Aurora, Colorado
2,212 posts, read 4,606,217 times
Reputation: 2363
Quote:
Originally Posted by heathermist View Post
I appreciate the information on Aurora. I have read the posts, and what I've seen and what you are saying confirms what I thought. Anchorage is geographically SO different from a big city that it's sometimes difficult to wrap my mind around. I need to remember that Aurora is a city in itself with good/bad areas, not a "neighborhood" or "part of town" like what I'm used to here.

I'm learning that I'd better get a job first then figure out where to live. Putting the cart before the horse.

Thanks too for the information on the weather. That helps. I do like green, but I like snow that sticks around for 9 months far less, so I can take a little (or a lot of) dryness to be warm. Sacramento was on our radar for awhile and it pretty much complete dies in the summer. Speaking of that does Denver have big wildfire problems in the summer?

Can someone tell me about whether you have to pay for water by how much you use? Here we only pay a set monthly amount. Are there ever shortages?

Thanks!
In SE Aurora, we have watering restrictions for our yards. It was the same when I lived in the city of Denver. We are allowed to water 3 times per week, between certain hours of the day, for 15 minutes on each station (we have a watering system that turns on certain sprinklers throughout the yard...most do that here). We've never had a lack of water for household stuff...bathing, cooking, etc. Our water bill runs between $50-$125 per month (more in summer when we water), and that includes a $25 charge for homes in my area to pay for a water development project called the North Project. You turn off and on your watering system each year (before the winter) so your pipes don't burst. You'll get tons of flyers on your door by companies who do it. It costs around $50 or you can do it yourself if you're handy and know what you're doing.

Incidentally, having lived in Arizona, Colorado and Florida, I think it's interesting that the cheapest water bill I ever had was in Arizona.
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Old 04-20-2009, 02:44 PM
 
Location: Arvada, CO
13,236 posts, read 24,412,267 times
Reputation: 13004
Quote:
Originally Posted by heathermist View Post
I appreciate the information on Aurora. I have read the posts, and what I've seen and what you are saying confirms what I thought. Anchorage is geographically SO different from a big city that it's sometimes difficult to wrap my mind around. I need to remember that Aurora is a city in itself with good/bad areas, not a "neighborhood" or "part of town" like what I'm used to here.

I'm learning that I'd better get a job first then figure out where to live. Putting the cart before the horse.

Thanks too for the information on the weather. That helps. I do like green, but I like snow that sticks around for 9 months far less, so I can take a little (or a lot of) dryness to be warm. Sacramento was on our radar for awhile and it pretty much complete dies in the summer. Speaking of that does Denver have big wildfire problems in the summer?

Can someone tell me about whether you have to pay for water by how much you use? Here we only pay a set monthly amount. Are there ever shortages?

Thanks!
Just a little tidbit: Anchorage and Aurora are about the same population-wise, as far as the actual city-limits go.

Snow never, ever, sticks around here for nine months, and hardly ever even nine days. In 2006-2007, I know snow stuck around without melting for about two months, but that was pretty exceptional. But snow can occur in at least nine different months of the year.

Colorado can have some wildfires during spring, summer and fall, but nothing like California (especially Southern California). California has a true fire season between September-November (every year), where seemingly random hills/mountains are on fire.

The least I've paid for water here is $90. The most is $140. Very high if you ask me. Colorado is chronically water starved, there are plenty of threads about this, so I'll just shut up now, as it's a very controversial topic.
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Old 04-20-2009, 02:47 PM
 
Location: Arvada, CO
13,236 posts, read 24,412,267 times
Reputation: 13004
Quote:
Originally Posted by the3Ds View Post
Incidentally, having lived in Arizona, Colorado and Florida, I think it's interesting that the cheapest water bill I ever had was in Arizona.
Yeah, I think it's funny the cheapest water bill I ever had was in CA's high DESERT.
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Old 04-20-2009, 02:48 PM
 
Location: Denver, Colorado U.S.A.
14,174 posts, read 23,277,518 times
Reputation: 10428
Quote:
Originally Posted by heathermist View Post
I appreciate the information on Aurora. I have read the posts, and what I've seen and what you are saying confirms what I thought. Anchorage is geographically SO different from a big city that it's sometimes difficult to wrap my mind around. I need to remember that Aurora is a city in itself with good/bad areas, not a "neighborhood" or "part of town" like what I'm used to here.

I'm learning that I'd better get a job first then figure out where to live. Putting the cart before the horse.

Thanks too for the information on the weather. That helps. I do like green, but I like snow that sticks around for 9 months far less, so I can take a little (or a lot of) dryness to be warm. Sacramento was on our radar for awhile and it pretty much complete dies in the summer. Speaking of that does Denver have big wildfire problems in the summer?

Can someone tell me about whether you have to pay for water by how much you use? Here we only pay a set monthly amount. Are there ever shortages?

Thanks!
Denver is located where the high plains meet the Rocky Mountains, so you only have mountains on the west and SW part of the metro area. If you head east out of Denver, you soon find yourself in a high plains landscape, which means desolate, few trees, lots of prarie grass, yuccas, some cactus, prarie dogs, and big Cottonwood trees along any creeks. Aurora is on the east side of the metro area, so if you're out in the newer area, you won't find many large, mature trees as they only grow where they've been planted, for the most parts. Older parts of the metro area have lots of big, green trees though. The mountains do get wildfires - I think there was one in the foothills this past January or February. But if you're not living in the mountains/foothills, it's not really an issue for you, unless wind blows smoke your way.
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Old 04-20-2009, 03:29 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 16 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
86,988 posts, read 102,554,590 times
Reputation: 33053
Quote:
Can someone tell me about whether you have to pay for water by how much you use? Here we only pay a set monthly amount. Are there ever shortages?
In Louisville, we pay by useage. I don't have an old water bill to check, but it's much higher in the summer if you're watering a yard. We have had occasional watering restrictions here, as the others have said, different days of the week you can water for certain amounts of time. Depends on the summer, how hot it gets, how much rain we get, lots of different factors.
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