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Old 12-27-2013, 06:33 AM
 
18 posts, read 69,137 times
Reputation: 26

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Hello! We are looking for a smaller town in Colorado to finish raising our four kids, boys ages 9,8,7 and girl age 5.

Looking for:
Great schools
In the mountains/foothills
Around 5 acres, zoned for horses
Nice, big house for around a million

It would be great to be moderately close (within an hour or so) to the Denver airport for my husbands' work (outside medical sales) and around an hour to the ski resorts. Evergreen seems to fit this bill, but the homes are so expensive that a million pretty much buys a fixer-upper, so we are broadening our search and including Conifer and Pine Grove. Still excellent schools, but further out. Looks like we would take the 285 to 9 for Breck skiing. How does the 285 ride in to Breck compare to 70? We are aware that 70 can be a bear in winter and summer because everyone in Colorado loves to get out there! Any insight living off 285 around Conifer or Pine would be awesome!

Looks like schools in Jeffco are excellent, and that is important. We don't mind being far out there, in fact, that is what we are looking for. We are originally from Wisconsin, so used to driving in snow and cold, but we have been in Florida for 13 years. That has been a pretty great experience, but Orlando's sprawl is out of control and now that the kids are all a bit more self-sufficient there are so many more experiences we would like to have with them that you can't get here in Florida. We are not driving distance to anything but Disney and beaches and we are tired of living right on top of our neighbors. The endless summer, which used to be thrilling, now feels a bit like Groundhogs Day. Do you have any idea how miserable our summers are?! We have had many vacations in the mountains and my sister lives in Alamosa, so I know the state pretty well and we would also be closer to family. Too bad Salida is so far from a major airport. It is really cute!

I love Breck and we would consider living there, but for the large number of people who own homes there that are not their primary residents. Summit County is also typically 10 degrees colder than Evergreen/Conifer highs any time of the year. That's a huge difference. Although, I do like that Breck gets so much more snow. Should I be worried that Evergreen and Conifer get less snow? What good is winter without snow?! Steamboat sounds great, but also much colder. We've been watching highs in Evergreen this December and they are getting days in the 50's! We never had that in Wisconsin. So, while we are going back to winter, it does not seem as extreme as Wisconsin. And AH! The mountains! The proximity to all the national parks out west for family vacations!

Thank you so much for any insight!
Jen
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Old 12-27-2013, 09:21 AM
 
Location: Evergreen
403 posts, read 759,217 times
Reputation: 485
Hi Jen ~

It sounds like you want to live a very similar lifestyle to the one I live with my husband and 3 boys (12, 11, and 7). No little girl for me though...

Anyhow, we moved to South Evergreen 5 years ago from NYC and live on 6 acres which is zoned for horses. Our budget was what you are looking to spend. Our 6 acres are fairly flat which is great for the kids. We are situated about 5 minutes off the 285 corridor and we ski at Breckenridge almost exclusively. The commute out 285 is fantastic as far as traffic is concerned (virtually none), but it can get a bit scary in bad weather. It's a two lane road most of the way and when you hit Jefferson/Fairplay the wind can whip and the snow drifts can cause very icy roads. Hoosier Pass which you take down into Breck isn't too bad. There are much worse passes in CO. The luxury that you have when you choose to take 285 to Breck is that you don't have to leave at the crack of dawn in order to beat the traffic. So, ideally you can check the weather and take your time hitting the road if conditions aren't great. There are plenty of days that we get to Breck around 11 a.m. and ski hard until the lifts close at 4p.m., eat dinner in Breck and then drive home. We're home with the kids around 7 p.m. and haven't spent anytime sitting in traffic on I-70.

The schools in Evergreen, Conifer, and Pine are considered very good. All three of my boys attended Marshdale Elementary which is a great school. You really can't go wrong with any of the elementary schools in the area. I know tons of people who have kids in just about every school up here and they are all happy. My two older boys now walk to West Jefferson Middle School from our house everyday with a bunch of kids from the neighborhood. Evergreen, Conifer and Platte Canyon High Schools have all been recognized as great schools in the state.

My husband travels to DIA from our house on a weekly basis and on most days it takes him an hour and 10 minutes to get there, park and walk into the terminal. He checks traffic before he leaves and either takes 285-470-I-70 or 285-C-470-E-470.

I know all of the towns you mentioned extremely well if you have any questions. It took my husband and me about 2.5 years to find the ideal piece of property for our family and hundreds of miles in a rental car going up and down everyone of these mountain roads. We custom built our home which was what we wanted to do from the start so we were looking for vacant land. Feel free to DM me if I can be of any further assistance. I can already think of a number of 5-10 acre properties that are zoned for horses which are within your budget.

Cheers!
Allison
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Old 12-27-2013, 07:21 PM
 
18 posts, read 69,137 times
Reputation: 26
Default Negatives to evergreen/conifer/pine?

Thank you! That is some great information! I would have thought the drive to breck on 285/9 would be longer, so that is good news. Are there any drawbacks or negatives to the area? I think the lack of green is probably one of the worst as I read the forums, but that is more than offset by the plethera of things to do. Florida is lush, but our summers are a beast and everyone here spends a small fortune maintaining those man-made landscapes and controlling pests/bugs.

My boys and girl are so excited to move out there. We are just trying to get everything with my husbands work in order first. We would love to be there for our boys spring baseball season and meet people. Are neighbors and people friendly? The hardest part for us will be leaving an area with good friends and where we know everyone. Would love to get in a book club again and maybe teach some yoga.

Thanks!
Jen
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Old 12-27-2013, 10:09 PM
 
Location: Evergreen
403 posts, read 759,217 times
Reputation: 485
Hmmm...drawbacks or negatives...The first thing that comes to mind is the food. There aren't really any amazingly good restaurants in Evergreen or Conifer and definitely not in Pine. I say that because I was used to the first 35 years of my life in NYC where you had access to world-class food. Don't get me wrong, the restaurants are all pleasant enough. Plenty of good breakfast/lunch joints, but for a really good meal a trip "down the hill" is often required.

As far as greenery is concerned, there are plenty of Ponderosa and Lodgepole pines and Aspen trees to look at. In general though, it is pretty brown. There are a lot of meadows which brown out by mid-summer. Most homes in the area are on wells for their water. A majority of those homes have 'Household Use' only permits which restricts watering anything outside of the walls of the home. Hence, the lack of landscaping.

The lack of huge, pesky bugs more than makes up for the lack of landscaping. You will be guaranteed no mosquitoes or Palmetto bugs if you move to Evergreen, Conifer or Pine! Another bonus is the ability to live with your windows open in the summers. Air conditioning is just about non-existent up here at 8,000 ft.

There's plenty of book clubs and Bunco groups. There are numerous neighborhoods where there are block parties or community get togethers. The neighborhood adjacent to mine has every 3rd Thursday craft beer tastings and appetizers at the ball field. They also offer an Easter Egg Hunt, Summer Family picnic and other events. Other neighborhoods offer progressive dinners and similar activities.

If you want to teach yoga, there are plenty of options. I am good friends with a woman who owns a great fitness studio in Evergreen and she's always looking for great instructors (Spark Fitness). I also am friendly with a few other women who teach at Core Power Yoga and True Yoga.

Hope this answered your questions!
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Old 12-27-2013, 10:37 PM
 
1,180 posts, read 3,126,337 times
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My sister and her husband raised 5 kids in Conifer. It's a great place to grow up. And one advantage is its proximity to Denver.
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Old 12-28-2013, 06:09 AM
 
18 posts, read 69,137 times
Reputation: 26
Yes, I know about the food. Orlando (of course) has amazing food given that we unfortunately get 52 million visitors a year. We are quite spoiled. Similar, probably, to someone from NYC. We sampled the famous Little Bear in Evergreen at lunch with the family over Thanksgiving and were underwhelmed. I guess it would a cozy/unique bar for drinkers at night, but that's not really us. We strolled up the way on the walk and the coffee house was really cute and there looked to be some smaller restaurants there. I told one of the patrons that we were going to move to area and had lunch at the Little Bear to try out the local restaurants and he said, "starting at the bottom, eh?" LOL

We have a couple favorite, but pricey, properties in Evergreen that we are looking at, and just recently thought to expand the search to Conifer/Pine (Grove). There are a couple nicer properties there for less than Evergreen. I guess we will have to just check them out and see. Just my husband and myself are coming in again at the end of January for a brief ski vacation before we head to Cabo and we will try out the 285 drive in to Breck to see how long it takes in person.

I just can't really think of too many drawbacks aside from the ones mentioned. Although, it would be hard to imagine commuting into Denver on a regular, daily basis. My husband would be covering Colorado and Wyoming, I believe, for his territory, so he would work out of the house and travel as needed. I stay home with the kids and hustle them to activities and just enjoy watching them grow-up. I would just love to get out from on top of our neighbors and enjoy expansive views out my windows when I wake up, and not stare at my same four walls for the next 10 years.

Since we have four kids, they pretty much have playdates everyday of their lives with their siblings. I am not too concerned about them not being able to walk next door to neighbors houses, although that one aspect of our community here has been really nice. I will miss being able to walk outside barefoot any day of the year, although I will not miss 100 degree humid days for 3 months solid and another 3-5 months being equally miserable. If I never hear another lawn mower again, it would be awesome! No more ruined naps and obliterated peace and quiet!

Thank you so much for insight on the area!
Jen
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Old 12-28-2013, 09:31 AM
 
Location: Evergreen
403 posts, read 759,217 times
Reputation: 485
Hi Jen ~ sending you a DM!
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Old 12-28-2013, 11:57 AM
 
3,105 posts, read 3,832,197 times
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Little bear is pretty ho-hum IME.

There are some good restaurants in Evergreen. I really like Bo Thai and One World Cafe. Wild Flower Cafe is also awesome for lunch/breakfast.

Over in Conifer, you have to check out Golden Sticks (Chinese) for incredible lunch deals.

Noise travels far in the mountains and Evergreen and Conifer can get noisy at times with barking dogs, chainsaws, log splitters and snow-blowers.

To me Conifer and Evergreen are great if you want to be close to Denver. But they feel like suburbs rather than true mountain/rural living.

You could checkout land near Salida/BV and go grab a pizza and beers at Amica's. Bring a cooler and stock up on meat and cheeses at Scanga Meat Co. I don't know what the schools are like in the area, but I'm sure Google could help with that. Good luck! Colorado is AWESOME!
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Old 12-28-2013, 04:48 PM
 
18 posts, read 69,137 times
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Default Salida

I know Salida! Every time I visit my sister in Alamosa, I demand to head up to Amica's! Ha! There are two bottles of their hot pepper oil sitting in my pantry here in Windermere at this very moment! I would consider Salida, but I would like to be closer to the resorts included in the Epic pass and not just Monarch. Plus, those guys at Monarch took my sister's beer (San Luis Valley Brewing Company) off draft for a more macro (micro)brew. Wolf Creek still has hers though, so check it out! Love Wolf Creek. Durango is pretty cool, nice and closer to Moab. Who doesn't love Moab?!

We want mountains, but not too far from a major airport and somewhat enroute to the ski resorts for winter play. I want land so we can entertain the idea of horses one day, but not right away. We are a really close family who just enjoys hanging out together. We hike, ride bikes, take care of our two dogs, bearded dragon and parrot, or just hanging at the house playing games and reading. We try to limit tv and video games because I find both mundane. I can wait for movies on amazon, and I hate theatres. Malls break me out in hives and I'd rather drop heavy things on my toes all day than go shopping. As long as I'm 1/2 hour or so to a Costco and I have two fridges and a large pantry, we should be good to go. The rest I get from Amazon Prime delivered!

But we are not unhappy here totally. I think it is a dangerous thing to say "I am unhappy, it is my location that makes it so." It's more of us looking around and thinking, "how did we get here" and "where else do we want to go?" I'd love to be able to drive to my sisters for holidays or any family without having to jump on a plane. I'd really like not to be on top of my neighbors. We've done little kid stuff at Disney and beaches while our kids were little. It was like living a dream. Now that they are older and can dress themselves in warm stuff, Colorado will be way easier than 5 kids under 5 would have been in snowpants!

Yeah, the fact that Evergreen and Conifer are largely suburbs is probably not ideal, but ideal or perfection is a tough thing to chase. If we can hit most of our criteria, with good schools and activities for the kids, I think the rest will be ok. I am sure there are awesome people everywhere. I mean, aren't most people awesome for the most part?

I am very appreciative of any insight/alternate locations to look at/positives/negatives on Evergreen and Conifer. Especially anything about kids.
Thanks!
Jen
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Old 12-28-2013, 05:23 PM
 
599 posts, read 953,258 times
Reputation: 585
Quote:
Originally Posted by turtlebaggins View Post
Yes, I know about the food. Orlando (of course) has amazing food given that we unfortunately get 52 million visitors a year. We are quite spoiled. Similar, probably, to someone from NYC. We sampled the famous Little Bear in Evergreen at lunch with the family over Thanksgiving and were underwhelmed. I guess it would a cozy/unique bar for drinkers at night, but that's not really us. We strolled up the way on the walk and the coffee house was really cute and there looked to be some smaller restaurants there. I told one of the patrons that we were going to move to area and had lunch at the Little Bear to try out the local restaurants and he said, "starting at the bottom, eh?" LOL

We have a couple favorite, but pricey, properties in Evergreen that we are looking at, and just recently thought to expand the search to Conifer/Pine (Grove). There are a couple nicer properties there for less than Evergreen. I guess we will have to just check them out and see. Just my husband and myself are coming in again at the end of January for a brief ski vacation before we head to Cabo and we will try out the 285 drive in to Breck to see how long it takes in person.

I just can't really think of too many drawbacks aside from the ones mentioned. Although, it would be hard to imagine commuting into Denver on a regular, daily basis. My husband would be covering Colorado and Wyoming, I believe, for his territory, so he would work out of the house and travel as needed. I stay home with the kids and hustle them to activities and just enjoy watching them grow-up. I would just love to get out from on top of our neighbors and enjoy expansive views out my windows when I wake up, and not stare at my same four walls for the next 10 years.

Since we have four kids, they pretty much have playdates everyday of their lives with their siblings. I am not too concerned about them not being able to walk next door to neighbors houses, although that one aspect of our community here has been really nice. I will miss being able to walk outside barefoot any day of the year, although I will not miss 100 degree humid days for 3 months solid and another 3-5 months being equally miserable. If I never hear another lawn mower again, it would be awesome! No more ruined naps and obliterated peace and quiet!

Thank you so much for insight on the area!
Jen
Horses are a problem in the mountains unless you have huge acreage. You can't even sustain one horse on 5 acres without ending up with a totally denuded landscape and spending a fortune on hay. When you visit, be sure to check out the pastures that have horses, it is ugly. You also are not technically allowed to have any livestock with a residential well, and this includes horses, although some people get away with it.

This is not Florida. You didn't mention gardening, but you can forget about gardening outdoors if you have a well, which you will likely have. You are not allowed an outdoor garden if you have a well unless you have the proper well permit, which is rare, and which usually goes with properties over 35 acres. The growing season is too short anyway. In fact, you are not allowed *any* outdoor use of water. You cannot legally fill a hot tub or wash your car if you have a residential well.

Be sure to budget a new car or two, because living in the hills, you will need 4-wheel drive. Period. No one who has spent more an one winter will even attempt 2WD. You'll hear a lot of "in the old days" stories about people getting by with 2WD and tire chains, but almost any car made in the past 20 years doesn't have wheel well clearance for a proper set of chains, even if you wanted to do that. BTW, the license plates on a new car will run $800-$1200. No, I am not pulling your leg.

Be sure to take into account the way the house is situated and how it is heated. Under *NO* circumstances do you want a house with no southern exposure if it is above 6000 feet. Trust me on this. Many people coming from southern climes don't think of this, but a house on a north-facing hillside or totally engulfed in trees is hell in the mountains. Also, if the house uses propane for heat, you will be shocked at how much that is going to cost you. Coming from Florida I assume you want the house to be at least, say, 68F? A large house will take $500/mo to heat with propane if the thermostat is at 68 constantly, even if it is well insulated. You want natural gas or all electric over propane.

Good luck.
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