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Old 09-02-2010, 01:10 PM
 
Location: Front Range
210 posts, read 414,826 times
Reputation: 206

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I am looking to make a move. We wanted to move closer to my husband's family (CA). We are currently in PA, but a move for us will be much more difficult than the average person because of our financial situation. I am recently disabled (on SSDI) and my husband is in college (2 year currently looking to transfer to a 4 year). We have 2 daughters and a cat coming with us so we will need 2 bedrooms (preferably 3), and need to find somewhere that can support us on my SSDI and my husband working part-time while attending college.

We are finding a sort of price shock when finding something comparable to where we live. Currently we pay approximately $ 1,000.00 a month for a 2 bedroom and utilities in a community that is still somewhat safe. We have escalating violence but it tends to be limited to certain areas of the suburb. We are in a suburb of Pittsburgh, but neither of us are happy here. Don't get me wrong, Pittsburgh isn't horrible...if you can afford to live in the better areas. If you can't you are limited to places like where I live which borders a really bad neighborhood and the violence spills over.

My husband relocated here for me and we have no family here (my mother and sister just recently and unexpectedly passed away) so now we have no desire or ties to keep us here. CA is not an option financially for us so we are looking to move towards CA (his family is outside of Los Angeles).

Our preferences are as equally small as our budget. We need a 2 and 4 year college within driving distance (1/2 hour tops). A job market that my husband can find a part-time job (even if it's just stocking shelves). The ability to live relatively safe and find housing within our budget. A reasonable school district and a choice for cyber school (which is what we opt for here). We would prefer a state on the West side of the country. Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona are our preferences, but we are open to other ideas.

This is how we came across Fort Collins. I have posted in this forum because it is the area I have researched most, but I have some questions:

One question I have not seen answered is there is a large mobile home community there. What are those communities like? Are they (the parks or any specific one) known for raising their site rates yearly, and/or are dangerous and should they be avoided? (I was viewing Timber Ridge, for example) They do seem like they pack them like sardines there, but the idea of having my own space (if you will) is divine having lived in apartments for the past decade especially on our budget.

Utilities? What is the norm (particularly in the winter)? Right now we only pay electric and water (which runs about 125 month for both). If we bought a mobile home how do taxes on one work (I read that some states register them through the DMV in lieu of property tax).

Are there other cities you would recommend to me to research instead or in addition to Fort Collins?

While I keep reading about the snow I wonder how comparable the climate and snow would be to Western Pa (I'm in Pittsburgh)? Would I be completely out of my element there?

Because of our unique financial situation is why I decided to post. The average person who has employment or will be able to find employment can change their situation faster. He can't quit college and have loans come due on a Walmart salary. That would not help us in the long run so, for now, we are going to make it work with what we can handle (he currently works 30 hours). What we need is housing that will cost us no more than $ 1,000.00 a month with utilities so we will have money for food, car insurance, etc. Is it even doable in Fort Collins? It appears to be and housing seems to be in great supply there, but I'm not there and all I can do is make my best guess. My biggest fear right now is I will use the little resources we have and regret my decision. We do intend to make a trip this month to check out the area we are seriously contemplating.

Any help, tips, advice, or anything else that can point us in directions would be much appreciated. Right now I feel like I'm spinning a roulette wheel and hoping it lands on my chip and since I'm not a good gambler so that's why I'm posting. Thanks in advance for any help or suggestions.
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Old 09-04-2010, 09:10 AM
 
Location: Front Range
210 posts, read 414,826 times
Reputation: 206
I've noticed some people have viewed the thread but is there anyone who would kindly respond? We are heading to check the area out today and I had hoped for some type of feedback.

We will be checking out Fort Collins, Pueblo, Colorado Springs, and Denver.

I did receive one PM and will be taking what they have said into consideration.
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Old 09-05-2010, 03:17 PM
 
20,841 posts, read 39,059,222 times
Reputation: 19075
You have a lot of territory to cover.

Pueblo is cheapest cost area, then COLO SPGS, then Denver metro area.

I'm in COLO SPGS and here you CAN get a SFH for $1k/month, plus about $200/month in utilities. The ppar.com website shows 85 rentals at $1k and below, area wide. It can be done.

Any of your listed cities will have both 2 and 4 year colleges.

Biggest issue is finding a job somewhere, once you do that, the rest should be easy.
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Old 09-06-2010, 08:22 PM
 
Location: Quincy, Mass. (near Boston)
2,177 posts, read 3,668,295 times
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As far as mobile homes, you can search the Colorado areas of Craigslist by typing "mobile" or "manufacturered" in the search box. I live near Boston, but checked out these options on CL this summer. A fair number of listings appeared, esp. on the Boulder site.

I started a thread a few months ago asking about the wisdom of buying a mobile home if I move to CO.. I posted either on the Boulder or Denver (can't remember) C-D forum, but did get some responses.
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Old 09-07-2010, 04:11 AM
 
Location: Front Range
210 posts, read 414,826 times
Reputation: 206
Thank you both for your responses. I will look for your post about mobile homes, btw, thanks! We are in Fort Collins right now and looking around. We have spent the majority of our time just talking with local people around here. My husband already has a job lead because he is fluent with Spanish and has good work experience. Job wise he isn't picky as long as he's employed and that seems to be 1/2 the battle here as there appears to be lots of lower paying jobs. He's not above working at Wal-Mart or traveling to a surrounding area (like Loveland) to help pay the bills.

The hotel clerk, very sweet lady, is a transplant from Nebraska and has been here a year and didn't mind us picking her brain. She's given us a list of places to check out and we've spoke to some people at the mobile park we were interested in (very nice folks as well). She's making it here on $ 10 bucks an hour (with a roommate) so she has given us hope.

Tomorrow we are checking out the college campus. We drove up to the resevoir and overlooked the city tonight (amazing view btw), hit up the Wing Shack for some wings, and got lost in all parts of Fort Collins. We had expected some rudeness, but, surprisingly, everyone has been very welcoming and even encouraging us to have faith and that it is do-able. There's something totally freaking awesome about sharing the road at midnight with a fox (which we saw), a young lady running, and multiple people on bicycles. Sorry, where I live now, none of that would you see. You'd be more apt to see people you wouldn't want to hang out with in the day, let alone at night!

I know that every place has it's negatives and that those negatives will be harder to see than the positives here. I've never moved (outside of locally before) and I'm not sure if I should be trusting my gut. If I trusted my gut I would never return home for it's screaming, "Stay! Don't leave! Have them mail you your stuff!!!" We are looking at our first place tomorrow and I'm excited. I promise, Jane, that I will take a deep breath and step back and look at the whole picture, but Fort Collins really knows how to romance us. With hubby looking to finish college (2-3 years) this place seems like a great place to live. Even broke.
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Old 09-07-2010, 05:46 AM
 
Location: Southeast US (for now)
21 posts, read 51,332 times
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It would be great if you could post your findings regarding mobile home parks around the FC area. That might be an option for us as well. Thanks.
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Old 09-07-2010, 07:53 PM
 
Location: Front Range
210 posts, read 414,826 times
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Hi Snow! We looked at 4 places all within the Timber Ridge mobile home park. 2 properties that were converted from rentals into sales and 2 that are private sales.

Private sales would be the way we would have likely gone if we had more time because there was a much larger selection. One that was 30K had skylights, separate shower/bath, the works. We looked at properties in both the North and South sections and preferred the North section more. The South section was further from the office and just felt a little less monitored. Mind you this was my perception only. We visited the park both late at night and in the day to get a feel for things. I know of one incident in the park:

Affidavit: Stabbing at Fort Collins mobile home result of argument about ex-girlfriend | coloradoan.com | The Coloradoan

From what I was told (not verified) one of the guys was with a renting family and another was with a homeowner family and they evicted both. They do appear to have a low tolerance for drugs and violence and they do a background check to verify that sex offenders and felons are not permitted into the park (I don't know if it is all felons or just specific felonies they do not admit).

We found that we liked the staff and the layout of the North section. We liked that if you decided to move you could rent your home. The staff did admit it was not something they liked to do, but provided the new occupants passed their criminal background check and you stayed on the title they would approve it. They seem very open to you improving you home (carport, deck, etc). While we were there it was easy to see some people had spent good money on improvements to their home. The neighbors we met were all friendly (we met multiple and asked them how they like the community) and we liked the community plans events and there are security guards patrolling.

Some notable things to consider are that mobile homes are registered through the DMV. I guess that is their version of tax. The going lot rental there is $443 but they are always running specials. You are responsible for water, gas, electric. I viewed the water bills of the property (ranging in the $ 30.00 range per month). You are responsible for the pipes connecting to the lot. They do have rental property, but I do not know anything about how that works. Their sign advertises a 649-999 range. I asked if they raised their lot rates each year and was told they charge the market average. Which means yes IMO. I asked how much each year and was told on average 10-15 bucks.

We're going to check out the other parks in the area tonight and see what we come across.

Last edited by feanix; 09-07-2010 at 08:12 PM..
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Old 09-08-2010, 01:45 AM
 
Location: Front Range
210 posts, read 414,826 times
Reputation: 206
Okay, we drove around and looked at some mobile home park communities. All the communities with the exception of one was quiet with no one roaming the roads.

Here are the communities we looked at. All of the communities are North of Old Town (exception of Timber Ridge). The communities are a couple miles away from CSU (and Old Town). Personally, I found Timber Ridge to be the most accessible to what we wanted. I don't know how many more there are around here but here is the small collection I found. I ranked them from places we liked best to our least favorite one:




Timber Ridge
  • (see my prior post)
Poudre Park
  • Many trailers w/ fencing (which is an uncommon privilege)
  • May allow motorhomes (there was one there in use that appeared permanent)
  • Large community (I'd guess >200)
  • Open spots
  • Speed bumps are problems for low riding cars (we had problems no matter how slow we drove over them)
  • Homes for sale
  • Paved roads (they would be the only other site I would consider)
Blue Spruce
  • Small overnight and permanent lot community
  • Permanent homes were nice and well maintained in general
  • No places listed for sale and it sat the furthest from the city (couple miles North of Old Town)
Due to location I wouldn't consider it


Terry Lake
  • Had places for rent
  • Small community <25 lots
  • Appeared to have a couple open spots
  • Dirt roads with no obvious amenities
  • The homes and park appeared run down
Stonecrest
  • Dirt Roads
  • Older model homes and every one we saw appeared run down and in need of repairs
  • Small community less than >50
One of them, I can't remember if it was Terry Lake or Stonecrest had a little strip of what appeared to be efficienciy apartments. I think it was Stonecrest, but anyway, that little strip of about 5 rooms appeared to add to the seediness of the community. There was activity around the rooms and it was not a place I would want to call home.

I hope you'll find the info useful. I'll look up some more tomorrow if I have time and I'll post the info.
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Old 09-08-2010, 10:55 AM
 
Location: Bend, OR
3,296 posts, read 8,423,223 times
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Fort Collins is a great place to live and will be way safer that what you are describing your current situation to be. It's a great town to raise kids in and you are still relatively close to Denver and all that the city has to offer. I imagine you've considered this, but just thought I would mention it too. Since you stated your husband is a student, if you move and he enrolls in school right away, you will be paying out of state tuition, which is extremely high. If your husband has a lead on work, you might consider moving and having him take a year off to establish residency before he transfers.
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Old 11-18-2010, 12:02 PM
 
Location: Front Range
210 posts, read 414,826 times
Reputation: 206
I just wanted to post an update. We did move to Fort Collins and love it here. I also wanted to mention as I had not prior that there are a large number of mobile home parks in the Loveland area as well for anyone searching. I would suggest anyone on a budget check out that area as well. Timber Ridge does have some mobile homes for rent starting at around $ 700.00 a month for a 3 br / 2 ba + utilities. I think the $ 700.00/month range is about the average low for an apartment/mobile home for 2-3 bedrooms. I'm sure you could find +/- but this has been about the average I observed so I hope that helps those on a budget figuring out if FC is a viable option.

Areas thus far we have been to and like outside of Fort Collins is Loveland and Berthoud. Fort Collins is still hands down our favorite but Berthoud is worth checking out if you like a more rural setting and the views are fantastic. I do notice a cost of living difference compared to the metro Pittsburgh area but we have also experienced an increase in family and individual happiness that makes the cost increase worth it (and I consider this area manageable on a limited budget).

The community has been largely accepting of us newcomers even though we have ballooned their city numbers. We haven't ventured to Denver yet as everything we've needed has been right here. Our biggest struggle thus far is finding a low cost grocery store (outside of Wal-Mart and Sam's Club). We were used to Aldi's, so living without them has been a hard adjustment.

My husband, who is Hispanic, is happy to be back in an area where his ethnicity is represented in a large enough number he can see. The grocery store carries a large portion of what was easy to come by in CA (where he's from) but next to impossible to find in PA (where he relocated to be with me). CO is the middle of the road representing both of us, which has been another plus for us. My husband rarely ever spoke Spanish in PA and here he speaks it almost daily (out of choice not necessity). In the month I've been here I have not felt unsafe and I have not missed my hometown. I'm not sure if feeling homesick happens immediately or takes time, but I haven't felt an inkling of desire to go home since arriving here. I go outside everyday amazed with the gorgeous mountain backdrop that is viewable in most of my activities.

Of course, it hasn't been all rainbows and sunshine (nor do I expect it). Mornings are an adjustment at just how cold they can be. Getting anywhere takes longer than expected even though it could be just a couple miles away. Food and beer costs more, there's a tax for everything, and hubby is still looking for a job.

But, we've been to an Eagles game (we're already fans), we picked up *free* bikes off Craigslist (and lots of other stuff because there is a lot of great free and low cost stuff to be had here), we have played floorball, went trick-or-treating (and had a GREAT time in Old Town doing so), have awesome neighbors, and love seeing Horsetooth Rock when we walk outside (it makes me smile at how great a name it is for it), and love the view from Horsetooth Reservoir looking down on Fort Collins. In the one month we've lived here we've been more active and social than we have been in years prior. The biggest bonus is that it has opened up various options to visit his family in CA (car and bus are now reasonable choices) and his mother/grandmother (who won't fly) have already made arrangements to visit and we now have the room to host them.

So, for us, we've had huge increases and we feel at home here. We see the appeal of the town and hope that our excitement never fades, but if it does we'll move. Now that we've done it once we know we could do it again if need be. Yes, financially it hurts to move, but what we traded off mentally trying to stay where were were wasn't worth it. Our life lesson in all of this has been life is too short to be stuck somewhere you are miserable! We are fortunate to live in a country that affords us 50 different opportunities and no one should ever settle. We know we won't ever again!

Thumbs up from Fort Collins!
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