What is Fort Collins, Colorado like? (Denver, Colorado Springs: transplants, for sale, real estate market)
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I have been checking out Fort collins for a potential place to move. Does have open spaces to run dogs? What is the cost of living like? How is the employment rate? Is it a nice college town? My son has been going to school for Civil/Environmental engineering degree. My husband and I would be moving with our son and our whippets! Thanks for any information about Fort Collins. We have been living in Southern New Mexico for the past 27 years.
Fort Collins is a gem. We moved here two years ago from SoCal. Ft. Collins is a clean, safe town with lots of parks and lakes. The college is located near downtown where the tree-lined streets and old buildings make it a delight to walk. I always feel safe here day or night. There are lots of bike and walking paths where you can walk dogs. But, I believe that like most places the dogs need to be on leashes. There is a large dog exercise area on our end of town (Lemay south of Harmony) where dogs can run free. There may be other places like this elsewhere in town.
The only drawback for us to living here has been the city government. Ft. Collins government has taken on a liberal slant in recent years. It's not as crazy as Boulder, but it does have a reputation for being anti-business. We need to expand our company and are moving it out of Ft. Collins to an adjacent city to escape Ft. Collins taxes, building fees and silly regulations.
Also if you come from a major metro area you may miss some of the cultural and fun things that come with higher income areas. Other than that the town is a very exceptional place.
You will probably find Fort Collins more "cosmopolitan" than southern New Mexico. Fort Collins is getting more and more distant from its agricultural roots as it has explosively grown in the past 10 to 20 years. Still, CSU has some of its "aggie" heritage left.
Like all of Colorado, Fort Collins is suffering from the effects of uncontrolled growth and sprawl. I still like the "core" city of Fort Collins, though, and it has some very nice older residential areas. The downtown still functions as a downtown, though the suburban malls nip at it constantly. Like most of Colorado, the real estate market in Fort Collins is probably overheated. Neighboring Weld County has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation, and I would not be surprised to see that spill over into Fort Collins. When I was there last week, there sure seemed to be a lot of "For Sale" and "Price Reduced" signs popping up. A lot of employment in Fort Collins is in the high-tech sector. That took a hit a couple of years ago. I don't know how well it is recovering. I have a friend who works down there in high-tech. He's at his third company in three years, as companies continue to have to restructure, downsize, or outright close up. He now has to travel outside Colorado on his job about 50% of the time.
Fort Collins is clean and quaint. There is not much industry here, but there are some high tech jobs, and of course retail. This is dog lovers city, as it seems everyone has one. There are a couple of nice trails in and around town. One is the Spring Creek Trail, and the other is the Poudre River Trail.
There quite a few ponds and lakes in the area, but many of them are
private, which I find discouraging. The poudre valley river is mostly low flow. I personally miss
having a sizable river in my midst. There are many nice natural areas
in and around town. The natural areas often are near ponds, or reservoirs,
but not necessarily.
The North part of town, north of Vine Street is the seedest part of town.
It is largely the Hispanic part of town. It is a striking contrast between
the rest of the town. The South part of town is where you will find most
of the new growth. Shopping and beautiful expensive homes. If I were to
buy a house in Fort Collins I would want to live in this part of town. I would
also want to live closer to the East side than I would the West side. The
former has quick access to the interstate highway. The latter would require
a lenghty drive across town to get to the highway. Of course the mountains are on the West side of town. We have one dog park in particular that I find quite beautiful. It is on the west side of town at the end of Horsetooth road, up against the foothills. Apartment housing is favorable to the renter. There
is an abundance of supply of apartments so prices are not too bad. The cost of buying a home on the other hand is quite expensive. You might be able
to find a home for under 200K, but it wouldn't be much to look at. To find a decent house in Fort Collins expect to pay 225K and up.
Fort Collins is a great town, perhaps the best overall quality of life in the state. CSU is a centerpoint of the community, but I don't think it's really true to say FC is a true college town since there's quite a bit of life that doesn't revolve around campus. FC the town has a little bit of everything: quaint old town, historic neighborhoods, an active campus area, suburb-style subdivisions, and access to relatively uncrowded mountain playground to the west. Public schools are generally excellent. Housing is about average there but I'd say a decent value, cheaper than Denver Metro but a bit more expensive than Colorado Springs. Transplants that move to FC generally love the town and refuse to leave.
The problem that I experienced in Fort Collins while I lived there is that there's fewer options for employment and salaries tend to be a bit lower than the Denver or Boulder areas. Since I work in the high-tech field, that's my experience but I think that that extends to other fields as well. Fort Collins has gained something of a reputation among employers as an excellent place to find highly-qualified, loyal professionals for relatively cheap salaries. The professionals that live there simply refuse to relocate out for a pay raise, though some do choose to commute. While that's great for attracting new employment growth, at the moment unfortunate from a job-seekers perspective.
Still, I can't say enough good things about Fort Collins. If you get some good job prospects there, I think it'd be a perfect living situation for just about anyone.
You are in luck, since just last weekend I was in Fort Collins, looking at CSU as an option for grad school. Most of the pictures I took were of the campus rather than the town itself, but this should give you an idea. Compared to Denver, I thought FC was very flat, very green, full of trees, and slightly lower elevation. It felt like I was in a midwestern town. It is really close to mountains (I went up Poudre canyon, really beautiful) but you don't have mountain views on every corner, since the city is overgrown with trees. Other than for the northern part of the city (which wasn't really that bad), most of the city was really clean, really new, really attractive looking. The downtown area is fairly large, with tons of restaurants and coffee shops. I'm not sure if CSU has what I want, but I would definitely not turn down a chance to live in Ford Collins!
College Ave, just across from campus:
View of a neighborhood right by the campus:
Another scene along College Ave:
Lory Student Center:
Bad picture, but shows what the mountains behind the town look like:
How much snow does Fort Collins get? My husband can't handle too much cold, even though we have been living at 5,000 elevation. When it does snow here, it is pretty much gone in a couple of days. How long is the summer growing season. I love to garden. Is it really true that there are water problems? We have always had our own well. I cant stand the thought of having to restrict my watering (even though I am very water conscious).
Snow varies a lot; this last season being one of the worst in recent memory. Normally, snow melts or evaporates quickly. Wintertime is generally a dry and sunny time of year, albeit with occasional bitter cold. However, you should expect at least one 12"+ storm to blow through every winter or spring, and sometimes more than that, as this last season demonstrated.
The summer growing season is also relatively short due to early/late frosts -- it's not unusual to have a late spring (early May) or early autumn (September) frost, so you have to pay attention to the weather and cover your vegetables. Surprise nighttime frosts can even occur during periods of otherwise warm weather. We're not a gardeners' paradise for that reason.
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