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Old 10-29-2019, 12:28 AM
 
Location: Silicon Valley
18,460 posts, read 23,948,192 times
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I don't know if you've ever lived in a small town, but I have. It's really, really, really , really - have I made my point yet? - difficult to impossible to integrate into a small town's culture, as an outsider. Small towns I've lived in still called people outsiders who had lived there over 20 years.

Don't expect them to embrace you. In fact, expect exactly the opposite.

You'd have a better experience, in my opinion, moving to a bigger city.
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Old 10-29-2019, 11:37 AM
 
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I'm also interested in what people think of Bellingham, WA? I realize this is not a halfway point at all, but it is close to SEA, which would be a direct flight to BOS.
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Old 10-29-2019, 11:43 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluescreen73 View Post
I like Grand Junction, but the airport is rinky-dink and expensive to fly out of. That being said, if OP is willing to consider Junction, then somewhere in the Black Hills (Rapid, Custer, Hot Springs, Hill City, Spearfish, Sturgis, or Deadwood-Lead) is a wild-card.

I'd check out Canon City, Colorado. It's a little milder in the winter. It's an hour or so from Colorado Springs and a couple hours from Denver, but it's located close to both the Sangre de Cristo and Sawatch ranges.
I haven't considered Grand Junction at all.. I know it's hard to tell from pictures, but it looks to be more of a drier, high desert climate with less greenery/trees as compared to Durango?
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Old 10-29-2019, 12:37 PM
 
Location: Aurora, CO
6,728 posts, read 10,606,953 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmcgrath View Post
I haven't considered Grand Junction at all.. I know it's hard to tell from pictures, but it looks to be more of a drier, high desert climate with less greenery/trees as compared to Durango?
Correct. It's semi-arid bordering on arid, and not as lush as Durango. Some really great mountain biking nearby, though, and the COL is lower than Durango or Salida.
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Old 10-30-2019, 04:36 PM
 
Location: Bellingham, WA
1,152 posts, read 1,143,313 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmcgrath View Post
I'm also interested in what people think of Bellingham, WA? I realize this is not a halfway point at all, but it is close to SEA, which would be a direct flight to BOS.
I might as well chime in, since the last several places I've lived have been Western NC, Front Range and Western Slope CO, and now, Bellingham....

I didn't want to sound like a shill for the place, so I didn't suggest Bellingham, but it may be worth adding to your list. And some may debate whether it's a mountain town, per se, but depending on where you are in the city, it can definitely feel like it. The geography here is complex, with mountains, bodies of water, and islands everywhere.

Anyway, I'd be happy to answer additional questions you may have, but regarding the criteria you listed....I'll go down the list...

-close to an airport (preferably a major airport) in order to be able to fly to Oregon/Mass at a relatively affordable price
Alaskan and Allegiant fly directly out of Bellingham, Everett/Paine Field is now a reliever passenger airport 1 hour from Bellingham with mostly western US connections, Sea-Tac is the main airport I use for most flights, 1.5-2 hours but plenty of nonstops and connections anywhere. Also, if you have a NEXUS pass and passport, Vancouver Int'l is 35 miles north and has tons of international flighst

-mountainous area (we can't live anywhere flat)
Bellingham is the only place where the Cascades touch the sea. Specifically the small but gorgeous Chuckanut Range butts up to the eastern and southern side of town. Beyond that, the main spine of the Cascades starts about 30-40 miles east of town. West of Bellingham, you have smaller mountains on the San Juan (an other) islands, Olympics to the Southwest and Vancouver Island Ranges to the NW, and Canadian Coastal Ranges to the North.

-small town/small-town feel
It depends on your definition of small. For some, it's 5,000 people. We've done that in CO (No Name, outside Glenwood Springs- roughly 9,000) and after a while it was too small and isolated for us. Bham has about 90,000 people, which is a small city/large town. But it is it's own thing, and NOT Suburban (or to be confused with Bellevue, as often happens). Much more of an old Asheville/Boulder feel. In fact, when we were moving from CO, we looked at Santa Fe, Eugene, Bend, Missoula, Bozeman, Olympia, and Bellingham. We've been very pleased with our decision and have no intention of leaving anytime soon.

-access to mountain biking, hiking, and skiing opportunities
We have mountains, rivers, coast, lakes- all within close proximity. In fact, Bellingham is a huge mountain bike destination, and you can literally access Galbraith and Chuckanut Mountain trail systems in the city itself. For skiing, Mount Baker is a little over an hour away (there's no traffic) and it has extreme terrain and insane annual snowfall. Whistler is about 2.5 hours away, and there are a number of WA resorts, like Stevens, Snoqualmie, Crystal, Mission Ridge, etc. 2-4 hours away.

-dog-friendly
Absolutely, though ridiculously low vacancy rates makes finding a dog-friendly rental challenging.

-four seasons
This one's probably debatable for some. You DO get all four seasons, though at sea level the winters aren't very cold, and the summers aren't hot. If you're a fan of Fall (as we are), you'd likely love this place. Summers are sunny and dry with cool nights, winters are short, lightwise, with occasional snow (and MUCH more at elevation). Overall, there's a reason all the grunge musicians made flannel popular- it's comfortable to wear for much of the year. Along with a waterproof shell, of course.

-lakes/ponds that freeze over in winter for skating/ice riding (not the most important)
Most of the more accessible lakes here in town on the western side of the Cascades range from near sea level to 1000' and occasionally freeze over during cold streaks, but for more consistent nordic

-near tracks for motorcycle track days (again, not the most important)
I can't speak to track days, but we have several friends who ride and love the area. I think there's a track near Seattle. I can confirm, however, that many of the roads in the area are fun to drive on and lead to amazing views along the coast or in the mountains.

Hope that gives you a little insight. Also, I post regularly on Instagram, and if you want to see some area pics I've posted, check out my account @bartonizer. Also, look up #bellingham to see more pics from the area.
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Old 10-31-2019, 01:15 PM
 
Location: Colorado
1,904 posts, read 3,564,142 times
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Durango would be a great fit. I'm a former Bostonian who's been in Colorado for a little more than 12 years. My wife and I are in the process of moving to Durango. We live in a small town West of Colorado Springs but fell in love with Durango over the years and are finally making the move. We've done a some research and have started looking at houses but I am by no means an expert.

The biggest drawback for you will probably be the airport. It's very close to town but it is small and you'll have to connect almost everywhere. You can get a United flight that will connect through Denver and then on direct to Boston. I travel a lot and it isn't that big of an issue for me. I currently drive 2 hours to DIA almost every week. Salida is a great mountain town but that drive to Denver would be close to 3 hours; probably an hour and a half minimum to COS and you'd be connecting from there to get to PDX or Logan.

Durango is a true mountain town. You've got Purgatory about 30ish minutes north of town for skiing/snowboard/mountain biking. Plenty of hiking and mountain biking within a couple minutes from town. The Colorado Trail terminus is just outside of town. The town itself is about 6500 feet but some areas within the 'metro' region get to 8k. The Animas River runs right through town as well. Options for kayaking, paddleboarding, tubing (very popular) and fishing.

The estimated population for 2019 is about $18-19k. It definitely has a small town feel with enough amenities so you don't have to drive to a larger city for that. Lots of local restaurants downtown. Technically, a college town as well as Fort Lewis College is there. I personally like that aspect of it. It brings a lot of vibrancy to the town.

Definitely dog friendly and definitely get 4 seasons. Although much of Colorado is missing out on fall this year (as I look out at the 12" of snow that fell this week.

Lake Nighthorse just opened last year. It's a man-made reservoir that offers lots of activities from kayaking, swimming, stand-up paddleboard, some recreation boating though I believe it is limited on certain days/times. Going off memory so not 100% sure. I'm not 100% sure if they allow winter activities on the lake at this point. I think they are still figuring that out.

Can't really help with the motorcycle aspect though we were there over labor day and the 4-corners motorcycle rally was there. In talking to a few of the folks, it seems a popular place. The Million Dollar Mile from Durango to Ouray was apparently a popular drive for a lot of them.

Best of luck. Maybe I'll see ya around town!
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Old 10-31-2019, 01:35 PM
 
Location: The High Desert
7,347 posts, read 4,036,171 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmcgrath View Post
I haven't considered Grand Junction at all.. I know it's hard to tell from pictures, but it looks to be more of a drier, high desert climate with less greenery/trees as compared to Durango?
I don't find Durango much different from Grand Junction in terms of green-ness. GJ has a warmer micro climate than other parts of Colorado which enables the orchards and wineries to do so well. Grand Mesa, visible to the east is the largest flat-topped mountain in the US and is peppered with many forest lakes. That is where you will find the pine forests within an hour or so. Colorado National Monument, to the west, is a stunning escarpment of canyons and colorful rock formations, Arches National Park is a few miles further west in Utah. Book Cliffs is the grayish escarpment to the north. Black Canyon of the Gunnison is to the south a ways. Fruita is a small interesting place (suburb sorta) just outside of Grand Junction. The Colorado and Gunnison rivers meet at Grand Junction so it is more of a farming/ranching community than it might first seem. It had a music scene at one time but I haven't kept track. I was going to move there but chose New Mexico instead. I go fly fishing on Grand Mesa every few years.
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Old 10-31-2019, 01:51 PM
 
Location: The High Desert
7,347 posts, read 4,036,171 times
Reputation: 13972
Quote:
Originally Posted by NoMoreSnowForMe View Post
I don't know if you've ever lived in a small town, but I have. It's really, really, really , really - have I made my point yet? - difficult to impossible to integrate into a small town's culture, as an outsider.
I lived in a town of 35,000 and many or most of the longtime residents were related. Some were actually close cousins and you would never know it. If you get crosswise with one you might start to have issues with another and not know why. There were a lot of transplants but many only stayed a few years. Most of the young people left town when they could. Some came back to raise their kids there. I lived there 35 years and was only being accepted toward my last few years (first name basis with bankers, pharmacist, librarians, etc.). It is hard to fit in if that is what you want.

There were some pretty big families which adds to the family connections. I had a friend who moved to a neighboring smaller town and went to the PTA meeting and complained about the poor turnout. People looked around and counted 22 noses and said "this is it, everybody is here". She had two kids and everyone else had six or seven all in school.
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Old 10-31-2019, 02:59 PM
 
5,903 posts, read 3,174,837 times
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Many lakes in CO do freeze enough that access is restricted to the warmer seasons. To make things worse, with the spread of AIS, preventive measures that cost big bucks have shortened the season even more.

The water might be liquid, but you can’t drive to the launch. If you don’t know what AIS means, look it up and consider the ramifications of them on water access before moving to CO or UT or WY or or or or or...you get the idea. It ‘s a big deal.

Lake Nighthorse closes on Nov. 14 and opens in spring. Similar schedule to other reservoirs in CO.

As for Durango, yes there is a regional airport. Better study the actual flights offered from there (and all the connections involved), thoroughly. It is in no way a major airport. The fares are very high and flights often are delayed or cancelled. My husband stopped using it for business travel because it was not reliable enough, schedulewise. Now he does what many Four Corners people do: drive to ALB airport (4-5 hrs away) and get a direct/more direct/greater choice of flights from there.

Oh...if you take Internet access at an airport as a given, forget Durango. I’ll never forget two women travelers from a big city repeating in disbelief, “I’ve never been to another airport that had no Internet!”

CO is green if winter and spring are wet. It is nothing like the green of coastal PNW or New England, though if you can stomach very cold winters in high-altitude towns such as Leadville, there will be more green...and frozen white.
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Old 10-31-2019, 05:36 PM
 
11 posts, read 1,155 times
Reputation: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by bartonizer View Post
I might as well chime in, since the last several places I've lived have been Western NC, Front Range and Western Slope CO, and now, Bellingham....

I didn't want to sound like a shill for the place, so I didn't suggest Bellingham, but it may be worth adding to your list. And some may debate whether it's a mountain town, per se, but depending on where you are in the city, it can definitely feel like it. The geography here is complex, with mountains, bodies of water, and islands everywhere.

Anyway, I'd be happy to answer additional questions you may have, but regarding the criteria you listed....I'll go down the list...

-close to an airport (preferably a major airport) in order to be able to fly to Oregon/Mass at a relatively affordable price
Alaskan and Allegiant fly directly out of Bellingham, Everett/Paine Field is now a reliever passenger airport 1 hour from Bellingham with mostly western US connections, Sea-Tac is the main airport I use for most flights, 1.5-2 hours but plenty of nonstops and connections anywhere. Also, if you have a NEXUS pass and passport, Vancouver Int'l is 35 miles north and has tons of international flighst

-mountainous area (we can't live anywhere flat)
Bellingham is the only place where the Cascades touch the sea. Specifically the small but gorgeous Chuckanut Range butts up to the eastern and southern side of town. Beyond that, the main spine of the Cascades starts about 30-40 miles east of town. West of Bellingham, you have smaller mountains on the San Juan (an other) islands, Olympics to the Southwest and Vancouver Island Ranges to the NW, and Canadian Coastal Ranges to the North.

-small town/small-town feel
It depends on your definition of small. For some, it's 5,000 people. We've done that in CO (No Name, outside Glenwood Springs- roughly 9,000) and after a while it was too small and isolated for us. Bham has about 90,000 people, which is a small city/large town. But it is it's own thing, and NOT Suburban (or to be confused with Bellevue, as often happens). Much more of an old Asheville/Boulder feel. In fact, when we were moving from CO, we looked at Santa Fe, Eugene, Bend, Missoula, Bozeman, Olympia, and Bellingham. We've been very pleased with our decision and have no intention of leaving anytime soon.

-access to mountain biking, hiking, and skiing opportunities
We have mountains, rivers, coast, lakes- all within close proximity. In fact, Bellingham is a huge mountain bike destination, and you can literally access Galbraith and Chuckanut Mountain trail systems in the city itself. For skiing, Mount Baker is a little over an hour away (there's no traffic) and it has extreme terrain and insane annual snowfall. Whistler is about 2.5 hours away, and there are a number of WA resorts, like Stevens, Snoqualmie, Crystal, Mission Ridge, etc. 2-4 hours away.

-dog-friendly
Absolutely, though ridiculously low vacancy rates makes finding a dog-friendly rental challenging.

-four seasons
This one's probably debatable for some. You DO get all four seasons, though at sea level the winters aren't very cold, and the summers aren't hot. If you're a fan of Fall (as we are), you'd likely love this place. Summers are sunny and dry with cool nights, winters are short, lightwise, with occasional snow (and MUCH more at elevation). Overall, there's a reason all the grunge musicians made flannel popular- it's comfortable to wear for much of the year. Along with a waterproof shell, of course.

-lakes/ponds that freeze over in winter for skating/ice riding (not the most important)
Most of the more accessible lakes here in town on the western side of the Cascades range from near sea level to 1000' and occasionally freeze over during cold streaks, but for more consistent nordic

-near tracks for motorcycle track days (again, not the most important)
I can't speak to track days, but we have several friends who ride and love the area. I think there's a track near Seattle. I can confirm, however, that many of the roads in the area are fun to drive on and lead to amazing views along the coast or in the mountains.

Hope that gives you a little insight. Also, I post regularly on Instagram, and if you want to see some area pics I've posted, check out my account @bartonizer. Also, look up #bellingham to see more pics from the area.
Wow, this was so informative and helpful. I appreciate your input!

I had actually considered going to WWU for graduate school but decided on Missoula instead (a great town as well!), so I started thinking about it as an option again.

It seems like it has great proximity to airport(s), which would be great for flights to Boston, and it's actually only a 9-hour drive down to southern Oregon. I like that it's relatively close to bigger cities while being a town/small city of its own. Do you feel like it was easy for you to integrate into the community there? Is it a welcoming place?

Looking at pictures, it seems like such a dramatic and gorgeous location. I was looking into the mountain biking trails out there, and as you said, it has a lot to offer very closeby. Seems like there are a lot of outdoor opportunities in general there.
Also glad to hear it's dog friendly, though I'm not surprised! How is the area in terms of off-leash areas? Are trails very strict about having dogs on leash?

Thanks again!
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