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Thread summary:

VT or CO ? Comment on: amenities, reasonable cost of living, stable job market, cloudy winters, outdoor activities and mountain biking.

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Old 01-09-2009, 12:01 PM
 
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
11 posts, read 30,152 times
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I'm sure there is going to be a bit of a bias on this topic, so I'm going to Xpost this in the VT and CO forums. Also, I apologize in advance for the lengthy post, I just want to provide as much info as possible so people can make the best, most informed suggestions.
My GF and I have long been deliberating on where to move this summer. The top contestants have been the Burlington area of VT, or the outerlying areas of Boulder or Denver. I know there are huge differences between these areas and very different styles of life. We definitely want something that will be more of a small town (def not a problem in any part of VT), but would like access to at least a somewhat metropolitan area for increased job options, entertainment, etc. We are sick of the city, traffic, crowds, etc. We are both from Northern VA (essentially the suburbs of DC, overcrowded, stressful, rude and/or stressed out people, $$$, consumerism, etc), and currently live in Harrisonburg VA in the Shenandoah Valley. Harrisonburg is a pretty small town, but it is also a college town so that makes it a little more interesting. We've liked the change living down here, but we'd like to try a little bit smaller, and more progressive town (not in the Bible-belt). We are late twenties/30, myself with a bachelors in graphic design and a teaching license (or at least I will have one in May) and her with a degree in art history and archaeology. We may not necessarily pursue jobs in our areas, so type of job is not quite as big of a deal as availability of jobs. And I'm sure we won't be rich doing whatever we end up doing, but we really like the idea of starting some sort of business at some point. We've been leaning towards VT, we like the abundance of art-focused communities, less consumer-based lifestyle, and generally slower pace of life, but I'm sure its possible to have this in other places as well. I have not been to CO but I was in Whitefish MT this summer and then drove down to SLC and loved the area. Personally I would probably move out west somewhere, but my GF would rather move to VT, but I'm good with VT as well. Eastern Washington and Oregon have been of some consideration as well. Of course we'll visit and spend some time wherever we are considering, but if anyone has experience with VT and CO and could offer some input I'd really appreciate it, especially if they have also lived in or visited Northern VA to help give me a bit more perspective, because I realize that much of what I hear about areas is relative to what the person has experienced. Or if there are some other places we should check out please let me know. Here's a list of some pros and cons of what I've come up with in my research as compared to where I live now. Oh yeah, good snowboarding and mountain biking are a must, and a good music scene is a major plus. And I know this is going to be tough time to move, we'll have a tough time selling our house so we may need to rent it out, but its a good time to buy. We're realistic that it will be tough wherever we go, but we need a change so we're willing to find a way to make it work.

Harrisonburg VA
Pros:
-Close to great mountain biking and outdoor activities
-decent music scene
-college town so it has a little more lively feel
-cheap cost of living (property taxes are very low)
-close proximity to several large cities (2hrs)
-small town, but still has a good selection of ammenities
-beautiful area
-very mild winters, lots of sun, not super hot in summer
Cons:
-Chicken factories (smells like dog food outside when it rains)
-polluted rivers/streams
-lack of jobs, lack of opportunities
-increased gang activity
-overcrowded (especially when college is in)
-lots of not very open-minded folks (Bible-belt)
-just been here long enough, need to move on
-no snow

Colorado (Front range most likely, but open to suggestions)
Pros:
-Great snow, great mountains, great mountain biking
-smaller towns with access to metro area (I've had friends that have visited or lived in Denver and said it was dead compared to Northern VA, but I consider that a good thing)
-reasonable cost of living
-more stable job market
-more jobs
-progressive communities
-less developed than VA
-relatively mild winters with lots of sunny days
-strong presence of art within communities
-much different than where we live now, so big change
Cons:
-overcrowded, at least in metro areas
-farther commute to ski resorts, and traffic getting there (but much better resorts and snow)
-lack of water
-affordable rural areas are pretty much desert, and small lots in more suburban areas (we have 2 dogs so a yard in necessary)
-some crime and gang activity (but is it really even close to as bad as Northern VA? Which I don't think was all that bad)
-far from family (but hey, that's what they make airplanes for)

VT (Burlington area)
Pros:
-beautiful
-close to ski resorts and great mountain biking
-strong presence of art within communities
-available ammenities but also in/near extremely rural areas
-lots of snow
-lot of lakes/rivers
-affordable houses (in comparison to where we're from at least), many with large lots/acreage
-small towns
-less consumer-focused
-liberal
-no billboards!
Cons:
-really high cost of living
-really cold
-lots of snow, but also lots of ice on the slopes
-extreme lack of jobs
-long, gray winters (but that does mean longer snowboard season)

These lists could go on and on, so I'll spare you any more, but you get the idea. Again, sorry for the novel, just wanted to provide as much info as possible. I'd appreciate any advice or suggestions and would entertain ideas of other places to look into that may fit some of our criteria.Thanks a lot.
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Old 01-09-2009, 12:20 PM
 
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
7,810 posts, read 17,915,055 times
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Many years ago ( mid '70's ), I was strongly attracted to live in Vermont, New Hamshire, Maine, or upstate New York. So, I took the next logical step which was to spend some time in the area in the middle of winter to see wether or not it would really appeal to me. During the month I spent there, I think I saw the sun 3 or 4 times. I also remember the cold being an extremely bone chilling cold. The combination of gray and cold, killed my dream of living in that part of the country. That alone was enough to generate a desire to live in a sunnier place, because I was living in Pennsylvania at the time, which was in my mind, already too gray and quite cold enough for my tastes. Living in a place that was even grayer was out of the question.

Currently I'm living in Grand Junction in western Colorado, which probably won't work for you becasue it is located in the desert, on the edge of the red rock canyon country. Although it's just as cold here temperature wise as it is in Vermont, it is far sunnier. The abundant sunshine, along with the much drier air, makes the winters feel much warmer and comfortable to me than winters in the east.
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Old 01-09-2009, 12:49 PM
 
Location: O'Hare International Airport
351 posts, read 589,886 times
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Burlington, VT. No doubt about it. Just going on what you said, I don't think you would like Colorado all that much.
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Old 01-09-2009, 01:12 PM
 
Location: Earth
1,471 posts, read 3,905,936 times
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Portland, ME is pretty cool, as are Belfast, Eastport, Bar Harbor....BUT the price to pay for those unbeatable summers and fall colors is enduring bone-chilling cold, snow, and overcast skies during Winters.

I was all set on moving to the Knox County area (couple hrs North of Portland) after I'd spent time there, but later figured out that despite it's beauty, relative unspoiled-ness, and affordability, it is not without challenges such as:

- high taxes, and being taxed on damn near everything
- lack of amenities (not a bad thing most of the time)
- no jobs, and a struggling economy based on timber, fishing, and tourism
- about 98% of land is private, and no hunting on Sundays
- No dirt biking, very limited mtn biking and pretty lame at that
- poor road cycling (bad roads, too many friggin' hills)
- a snobbish, wealthy subset of part-timers from the E. Coast who have coastal homes they flock to in Summer
- not enough sunshine, esp. in Winter...I just got back after a couple weeks there and it was mostly cloudy...ugh. And the sun is really low in the sky this time of year when you're that far East. It's a different kind of light even when it does shine (if that makes sense)
- more precip than I like...and humid and buggy
- skiing that cannot compare...it can dump snow one day and rain the next....NO THANKS!

I think we've got it pretty good here by comparison....I figured out I wouldn't be happy in Maine and will be in CO for the forseeable future. Every place has it's challenges, and CO is in no way immune to some pretty huge problems steamrolling toward us. Just set your expectations accordingly...this is a rough time to be making major decisions like a big move, but life is an adventure...
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Old 01-09-2009, 03:55 PM
 
Location: Road Warrior
2,015 posts, read 5,274,531 times
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There seems quite a list going on ... best advice I can give you,check out the places and with the current economy find a job before the big move.
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Old 01-10-2009, 11:19 AM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
90,377 posts, read 111,959,206 times
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I'm not sure which small towns you're looking at that have access to the metro area. Most of those are actually suburbs. It's not like the east (I am from Pennsylvania) where there are lots of small independent towns within say, 50 miles of the cities (at least in the Pittsburgh area).
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Old 01-11-2009, 01:11 PM
 
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
11 posts, read 30,152 times
Reputation: 10
Thanks for the input folks. Just curious why some of you say I might not like CO that much? Grand Junction actually is a place of some interest to me. I don't have any problem with more of a desert-like environment, in fact I really like the cool geological features in some of those areas. I just don't particularly want to live in a barren wasteland. But yeah, the job thing will probably be the deciding factor. I've heard that Seattle and Denver seem to be weathering this "recession' better than most areas, which is another reason CO has a bit more appeal than VT, which has a major lack of jobs, and those that are there are very low paying, with an extremely high cost of living. Are there any areas closer to the resorts that might actually have a somewhat thriving job market without a ridiculously high cost of housing? I hope to make it out there either in April or June for about a week to check things out, so I'm trying to gather as much info as possible so I can do some planning. Thanks again.
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Old 01-11-2009, 01:33 PM
 
Location: O'Hare International Airport
351 posts, read 589,886 times
Reputation: 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by g-bus View Post
Thanks for the input folks. Just curious why some of you say I might not like CO that much? Grand Junction actually is a place of some interest to me. I don't have any problem with more of a desert-like environment, in fact I really like the cool geological features in some of those areas. I just don't particularly want to live in a barren wasteland. But yeah, the job thing will probably be the deciding factor. I've heard that Seattle and Denver seem to be weathering this "recession' better than most areas, which is another reason CO has a bit more appeal than VT, which has a major lack of jobs, and those that are there are very low paying, with an extremely high cost of living. Are there any areas closer to the resorts that might actually have a somewhat thriving job market without a ridiculously high cost of housing? I hope to make it out there either in April or June for about a week to check things out, so I'm trying to gather as much info as possible so I can do some planning. Thanks again.

You're looking for an affordable, progressive, tight-knit sort of hippie town. You won't find that combo in Colorado. There is nothing like Burlington, VT in Colorado except for Boulder--and Boulder is so cost-prohibitive it ends up looking very yuppie and bland to a lot of people. As Katiana mentioned, most areas around Boulder are just plain, old middle American suburbs.

Grand Junction is a great place. Fantastic weather. But it's also very conservative. Culturally it's very bland. If you want a town like Grand Junction but with an artsy vibe, Sedona, Santa Fe, and Moab are much better options.

There are kitschy little towns like Nederland, Glenwood Springs, Telluride etc. in the mountains--but they are very small and pretty expensive.

Along the Front Range you can look at Golden and Fort Collins--but don't expect Burlington.

Denver hasn't exactly weathered the recession, either. Our economy tanked with the when the tech bubble burst several years ago. It has never completely recovered and the current recession isn't making things any easier. The job situation is rough and our government is suffering from a major budget shortfall. But it's not as bad as many other parts of the country so if you want to call that "weathering" the recession, then I guess that's what we're doing. I have no clue how the job situation is in New England, but it's not exactly peachy here.

The problem you're facing with Colorado is that you won't find any quint, mountain-y, liberal community with a great cultural scene. Denver ends up looking a lot like NoVa--we even have a stinky dog food factory that could rival your chicken factory! The Pacific Northwest and New England would be a good fit for you. I've spent some time in Oregon and I think you would love Eugene.
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Old 01-11-2009, 02:19 PM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
90,377 posts, read 111,959,206 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by g-bus View Post
Are there any areas closer to the resorts that might actually have a somewhat thriving job market without a ridiculously high cost of housing? I hope to make it out there either in April or June for about a week to check things out, so I'm trying to gather as much info as possible so I can do some planning. Thanks again.
To answer your question, no. The mountains themselves have limited population growth to the west of the Front Range to a few suburban enclaves close to Denver (Evergreen, Conifer, et al) and Boulder (Nederland, Ward, Jamestown, Gold Hill, etc). This is not the 60s, or even the 70s. I know Boulder County pretty well, and most people in these little mountain enclaves work in Boulder. Farther west, you are IN the mountains, and the resort towns. Oh, there are a few non-resort communities there, e.g. Idaho Springs, Kremmling, etc, but people in IS work in Jefferson County (suburban Denver), and people in Kremmling work in the resort areas, and for the ultility companies, and the like. Plus, look up the population of these places; they are not large.

Grand Junction is in far western Colorado. It is a job center, but not all that large, is in the desert, literally, and is quite a drive to most of the ski areas.

I definitely agree with the idea of a trip out here to see for yourself. A picture is worth a thousand words.
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Old 01-11-2009, 07:15 PM
 
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
7,810 posts, read 17,915,055 times
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g-bus wrote:
Just curious why some of you say I might not like CO that much?
In your initial post you listed: -affordable rural areas are pretty much desert, as a con for Colorado. The Grand Junction area in particular is in the desert, so I though you wouldn't be interested in Grand Junction.
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