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Old 01-10-2013, 11:49 AM
49 posts, read 118,049 times
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Hello All,
I need some locals help on obtaining information about areas in Colorado. I live in Wisconsin and hate it. Once my husband is done with school in 1 1/2 years we are planning on making a move somewhere out west. We have focused mainly on Cali and Arizon, but over the last year or so it just seems like it may not be the right place with prices to high for a family of 6. Here is some info on what we are looking for if anyone could pass on some insight that would be greatly appreciated. I have a degree in paralegal and business management. My husband is going for Electrical Engineer Tech.
We are looking for a "hippie" type area with farmers markets, co-ops and healthy living lifestyles, a living off the land type of life style where we could have our own garden. We would want an area where they have good schools (Waldorf?) and lots of recreational things to do( not in the cold though - and we don't like skiing)More like biking, swimming, hiking trails, parks, sports like b-ball and volley ball. Now one of the reasons we hate Wisconsin is because it is freezing and the snow. While I know Colorado may still have winter like weather, I am wondering what it is like there in the winter months- temp and amounts of snow. I don't mind the cold so much, but mind you I'm in Wisconsin where we can get 10 to 15 in. of snow and wind chills of below 30 degrees. We need a change please help! Any insight on the state and suggested areas would be helpful. THANKS!
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Old 01-10-2013, 12:03 PM
Status: "Looking forward to President Harris" (set 11 hours ago)
Location: Berkeley, Denver, CO USA
15,533 posts, read 23,337,938 times
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Old 01-10-2013, 12:27 PM
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Stay in Wisconsin. You really do not know what you have and have very little idea of living in the Southwest.

Wisconsin offers much more fertile land with WATER that is much less expensive where you can grow better fruits and vegetables. You can then possibly live your youthful naive delusions about living off the land and your idealized misconceptions of the "hippie" lifestyle.

It is very difficult to grow a quality garden here in Colorado than what you will find in a more verdant place like where you are now living. Look around and see all the farmers stands and markets where you are and know that does not exist here in abundance.

There are just as good or better schools where you are now living in Wisconsin. This area will offer you no advantages in schooling at both the grade school or college level.

The areas around the great lake offers much in recreation; you just need to look around. Colorado is not a warm place and there is absolutely no place that offers you the swimming and water resource recreation that you will have near the Great Lakes.

Keep in mind hot weather all the time does not always mean the best place to live; It does not mean it is the best land; it does not mean that it is better agriculture; it does not mean that there are other hazards and annoyances of living and there are problems with severe weather in this area. The Southwest and the Rocky Mountain areas offer much but it does not offer all that is the best.

I know much of what I am talking about as I grew up near Buffalo, near Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. I have been here for decades and I am very happy. However, I do not delude myself and make Colorado out more than the reality of this area and I know there is much that I left behind.


Last edited by livecontent; 01-10-2013 at 12:37 PM..
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:35 PM
Location: Littleton, CO
3,134 posts, read 5,305,129 times
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There are a few areas that would qualify as "hippie-vibe" areas in Colorado (depending on your definition of "hippie"), especially Boulder, Nederland, Ward, Manitou Springs, Crestone or even Salida. Most of these areas have a high cost living compared to other places in Colorado. They are also smaller communities (Boulder excepted) and have limited job opportunities. It takes real money to be a hippie in Colorado.

Living off the land in Colorado isn't going to happen. The area is too arid to grow your own food without owning quite a bit of land. Arizona is even worse. You would be best served to jump in the VW Van this summer and drive aimlessly around the country to find an area where you might want to live.

Good Luck.

Last edited by davidv; 01-10-2013 at 02:19 PM..
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:37 PM
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Ditto the "not here" opinions of the other posters.

COLO is too cold, too dry, and has too short of a growing season for much gardening. Some do it, but it's really hard to do.

What few bodies of water we do have are ice cold due to being filled with snowmelt and aren't fit for swimming or much water sports.

There are some year round sports along the I-25 corridor but most of the state is way too cold in the winter and since you don't like skiing or the cold there's not much here for you.

The Ozark Mountain areas should work for you, as would eastern Tennessee with it's Smoky Mountains and wetter climate.

California is brutally expensive in many places, though some inland places might be okay on price and climate.

Arizona is brutally hot in summer and probably too dry for gardening.

IMO you want the south-central states.
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Old 01-10-2013, 02:44 PM
49 posts, read 118,049 times
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Thank you for the input thus far. I didn't want to rule Colorado out when looking to move west, but I really do want warmer whether and farmers markets for fresh produce if I can't grow my own. Livecontent where I live in Wisconsin is not what I am seeking. I live in the southwest corner of the state and gardening here is only vital for about 3 months. The winter is brutal and accounts for most of the year. Last year the ground was frozen until late May early June and many farmers lost alot of crop cause they planted too early and didn't expect a frost in May. Prices here for produce are high and we only have one farmers market with around 10 vendors. There are not many like minded individuals here who have beliefs in organics and good farming practices. I have been here for 35 years and I don't see things changing anytime soon.I have family that lives in Oregon and the Eugene area seems like an area we many be interested in, but it does get cold there so we were looking more south. Any other info on states would help out. Thanks
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Old 01-10-2013, 07:23 PM
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Wink Gardening out West

I've seen where a small but quite verdant home garden produced a cornucopia of corn, beans, potatoes, etc. This in Colorado, at nearly 8,000 feet. Results will vary with location. But it is possible, even if the growing season is short.

It isn't all that cold around Eugene, OR, doesn't much snow, and would otherwise satisfy with lots of local produce and a general hippie vibe. The town and greater metro area are not all that small anymore, although one could live at a slight remove. The ambience of towns in the Willamette Valley of Oregon vary, with Eugene and Portland two of the more liberal, but basically it could all be suitable. To varying degrees this lifestyle exists near the coast all the way from Vancouver, BC to San Diego, CA.

The weather is more variable. Anything much north of the California Bay Area can be susceptible to snow, and guaranteed it in more mountainous areas like the border of California and Oregon. Further north, around Portland or the Puget Sound of Washington, expect a fairly temperate climate with rare snows closer to sea level. With a LOT of snow in the mountains. Throughout winter Seattle and environs generally experience a steady diet of 43º something day after day, with most usually minor variations, and even nights not much colder. But it is more humid than in Colorado, so will feel colder for the same exact temperature. Also, distinctly different, with little of the sun that Colorado is justly renowned for. Out there, expect gray cloud cover most usually in winter, only occasional glimpses of the sun, and a steady immersion in drizzle off and on. Although the summers are basically dry and glorious. Eugene would be a little drier and warmer; it can also experience weather inversions at times trapping smog.

If gardening is high on the agenda, the Willamette valley would be a good choice. Colorado, not as much. But many crops are nevertheless grown here, commercially—and even in one's own garden. But do insure the water rights to do it.
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:56 PM
Location: Na'alehu Hawaii/Buena Vista Colorado
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redhotcrystal, you aren't going to find much fresh produce at farmer's markets most of the year. The farmers who sell at farmer's markets have the same growing season as you do. So they will usually be opening late May/early June and closing in late September/early October. The average last day of frost in Denver is April 30 and the average first frost in the fall is October 4.

I really think you'd be doing better in Oregon.
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Old 01-11-2013, 09:59 AM
Location: Bend Or.
1,126 posts, read 2,633,872 times
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I would agree with IDUNN, the Willamette Valley of Oregon sounds like a good fit for you. Boise could be another choice, a little colder and less rain but might work. The job Situation is rebounding but slowly.

The west slope of Colorado is warmer, but still dry. But has many fruit Orchards and Vineyards so growing should not be a problem. Check out Palisade or Grand Junction.
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Old 01-12-2013, 11:06 AM
Location: Bend, OR
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I agree with the other posters recommending Eugene, Or and other areas of the Willamette Valley. I'm not sure what constitutes cold for you, but I would imagine being from WI, that Eugene would seem super mild, especially in the winter! Why do you think Eugene is cold? It can get cold, but rarely below freezing. The rain and overcast skies do make it feel colder, in general, but winters are usually in the 40s and even low 50s. It rarely snows on the western side of the Cascades, maybe a few times a year, and it's measured in a few inches, not feet. Here in Bend we get vegetables that are grown year round in the Willamette Valley. I live on the eastern side of the Cascades, just a few hours west of Eugene, and if you are looking for gardening, hippie vibes, and a relatively mild climate (not hot and not cold), it would be a good bet. You can also look further south into Ashland and parts of N. California, but then the cost of living goes exponentially up. Of course, Oregon unemployment is pretty high, so it may be difficult to find jobs, but it's possible. Oregon also offers much more in terms of water, with plenty of rivers, lakes and the Pacific (although too cold to really swim for long, but people surf off the coast all the time).

I will agree that Colorado will be hard to fulfill your expectations. I grew up in the Denver area and lived a few years in the high mountains and then almost 7 years on the Western Slope in Grand Junction before moving to Oregon. Gardening isn't as difficult in GJ or the Denver Metro Area as the mountains, but it's because of irrigation. You will also have to deal with potentially damaging hail and wind storms, especially along the Front Range. In terms of water recreation, save a few reservoirs, there just isn't much. You can go up to the high country, but swimming isn't much of an option, unless you are a polar bear.

The suggestions of the south fit climate wise (unless you hate humidity), but probably not politically unless you look to a few liberal enclaves like Asheville, NC.
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