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Old 05-28-2014, 09:28 AM
16 posts, read 35,212 times
Reputation: 10


I have lived in Northern Virginia (NOVA) for several years (originally from small-town PA). We started house shopping and realized that spending 500k + for an "OK-will need udpates" SFH seems insane. This may get me a home in Fairfax, VA only to deal with a horrible commute (current commute is 25 miles, 45-60 mins one way).

We have family in Denver and the reason we started to look there. I have read two great posts on this topic and decided to post myself.

About me. My wife and I are in our early 30's and have two children (3.5 and under). We are looking for a place to settle. We would rather not spend a large portion of our income on a mortgage. I was recently offered a job in Denver (with actually a 15% bump from my job in NOVA).

What we love about NOVA:
- Diversity/Culture.
- Public school quality.
- Accessibility to many jobs in my area (Information/Application Security). Gives a sense of job security.

What we do not love about NOVA:
- Cost of housing (property taxes on a 500K home will be around 5K/yr).
- Cost of child care.
- Traffic.

I feel that a dollar buys you a little more in Denver. I also feel there will be a bump in quality of life (since I would not be spending almost 2 hrs a day in traffic).

If anyone has made the move from DC Metro to Denver... I would love to hear your experience (especially if you have young children). It is a scary decision (leaving my comfort zone). What if the job does not work out (is the market there for me)? The idea of my 3 year old not being able to go ride here scooter with her best friend down the road kills me (though it probably would bother me more than her).
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Old 05-28-2014, 09:55 AM
Location: 5280 above liquid
356 posts, read 537,049 times
Reputation: 384
Denver is becoming more and more what you're trying to escape. Look at this article and you'll see that Denver closely relates to DC on many areas. Both cities are a hot bed for the 1% homebuyers which does not bode well for the true middle class. 2014 Luxury Report: Sales of Priciest 1% of Homes Climb

Also, child care costs- CO is ranked #5 as the least affordable requiring 15% of income. We pay almost as much for daycare as people in MA and NY and we make significantly less per household: Child care costs continue to climb - Nov. 4, 2013

Traffic is also a nightmare here and becomes increasingly so as the years tick by. You would be leaving the 10th worst traffic city for the 20th... some improvement but not much. Look to live near your work and daycare. 50 Worst Traffic Cities in the U.S. (PHOTOS) - weather.com

The point of my replay is to provide some realities to your view of CO being a panacea... because some of your "not loves" are an issue, if not more, in Denver.
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:05 AM
22,126 posts, read 40,987,817 times
Reputation: 21734
Does it have to be Denver? Talk to us about what kind of work you do. If it's defense-related, and you've a clearance, Colorado Springs is a great place to consider.

Colorado Springs is 38th on the aforementioned traffic list. IMO traffic here is a joke after we spent 30+ years in NOVA and doing the I-66 stop and go into DC (from Chantilly). Housing here is HALF of Fairfax or Loudoun Counties, and if you can find a job here you are only 90 minutes from downtown Denver, or 60 minutes to the southern end of the Denver metro area. Look at realtor.com for zip 80920 for housing styles and prices, you'll be blown away by how affordable it is and how much you could be getting for your $500k.
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:18 AM
11,695 posts, read 6,686,849 times
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I think your quality of life in Denver compared to NOVA will all depend on where you choose to live in Denver metro. For example, if you want to live in a popular neighborhood in Denver proper like Washington Park, $500K will be an extremely tight budget. On the other hand, if you choose to live in the suburbs, you may find that you can get a very nice home for $500K. Same goes for commute, if you can, live close to your work. Cutting a 2 hour commute out of your life will be heaven.

Out of curiosity, where will your job be in Denver?
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:45 AM
16 posts, read 35,212 times
Reputation: 10
@ELCO5280, Thanks for the links and info. I want to make sure I am comparing apples to apples. I don't know if I would compare Denver to a Fairfax County, VA. Fairfax is a suburb to DC, but considered DC Metro area (there is another county between Fairfax and DC). Probably like Aurora is a suburb to Denver (I'm assuming and have no idea). Would it be correct to compare costs to more equivalent areas? Say, Denver to DC/Arlington, VA (for a city comparable) or Aurora to Fairfax, VA (for a suburb comparable).

Regarding child care costs. That map says VA spends 10.6% of income and DC spends 14.1% (assuming its gross). We use an in-home family daycare which is significantly lower in cost versus a center. Our daughter does go to a church preschool two days a week in the morning. We are currently spending 16% of our monthly net income on child care costs. I wished CNN Money would have poled me and my neighbors.

Regarding traffic. I agree with @Mike from back east. I-66 is an absolute nightmare. And its not just during rush hour. If you want to go into DC or Arlington on a Friday evening or some random time on a Saturday... more than likely there will be moderate to heavy traffic (not necessarily as heavy as rush hour). If you work in DC, you are almost forced to take the metro because parking is very expensive. The Metro is nice, but only if your within a few miles of a metro station. Otherwise, you have more bumper-to-bumper driving to do.

@Mike from back east, I am currently in defense-related contracting. I work in the Software Security area. But I was actually looking to get out of the whole gov contracting type of work. This new offer I have does that for me.

Last edited by bjm243; 05-28-2014 at 11:05 AM..
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:49 AM
170 posts, read 197,163 times
Reputation: 107
The commute time here can be just as bad depending on the time of day you leave work. For example, currently I commute from DTC to Downtown and vice versa and if I left between 4-6 pm it can take me close to 45 minutes to an hour to go just 12 miles. Another thing to consider is that housing can be just as expensive here depending on the location although there are lower property taxes. For example, 500,000 can get you a fixer upper in neighborhoods like Wash Park, G.V..
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:58 AM
16 posts, read 35,212 times
Reputation: 10
@MissTerri, I know I am making a big deal about commutes. This new offer actually will allow me to telework from home most of the time. That would help one of my NOVA dislikes however, my wife also works/commutes and would not be able to do the same with the type of work she does.

Thanks for the info on house costs. Are property taxes about the same ($1.090 for every $100/assessed value in Fairfax)? I know I could look that up. I found this example on devergov.org (Actual Value x Assessment Rate x Mill Rate (Tax Rate) = Taxes / $225,000 x 0.0796 x $0.084071 = $1,505.71), which seems much lower.
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Old 05-28-2014, 11:44 AM
Status: "Trump is orange buffoon" (set 28 days ago)
Location: Berkeley, Denver, CO USA
14,950 posts, read 22,313,079 times
Reputation: 25298
Default Property taxes

Originally Posted by bjm243 View Post
Are property taxes about the same
Rule of thumb is 0.6% of market value.
Some areas are a tad more.
Some areas have special assessments and those can add up. Reunion is one of those places.
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Old 05-28-2014, 04:49 PM
Location: Midwest
238 posts, read 635,974 times
Reputation: 180
Hi bjm243!

I moved from Fairfax County to Arapahoe County a few years ago and most recently purchased a home in Douglas County. Personally, I found the move to be a fabulous decision...

My Reasons Why:
-Improvement of traffic compared to 495/66
-Lower cost of living (suburbs)
-More relaxed lifestyle and pace
-Over 300 sunny days a year. Beautiful!
-The state has their winter weather act together compared to back east
-Great outdoor culture including several national parks, designated open space, amazing trail system, bike friendly, etc.
-Fair housing prices. Able to purchase a large, new home in 'burbs here compared to a small and older townhome where I was residing in NOVA
-Dog-friendly communities
-Getting out of the rat race in DC
-Wonderful selection of local, national, and international beer

What I cannot speak to are the school systems although there are plenty of statistics online you can reference.

My List of Cons:
-More extreme weather in some portions of the state (tornados, wild fires, mudslides, etc.)
-Vehicle registration is on-par with DC/VA, i.e. expensive
-The diversity and culture is much more bland compared to MD/DC/VA area. Prime example: restaurant selection and options in the suburbs.
-Purchase of a humidifier as opposed to a de-humidifier back east. :-)

Feel free to PM me if you have any additional questions!
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Old 05-28-2014, 08:23 PM
16 posts, read 35,212 times
Reputation: 10
Thanks @Pequeño_Bonsai! Good summary.
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