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Old 01-22-2014, 05:16 PM
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I was wondering if someone with knowledge of the Rapid City SD and Lander WY area could give their opinion about which one they prefer. We are currently in Rapid City, have two small children and have been offered a job opportunity in Lander. We like Rapid city but Lander seems nice too. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks
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Old 01-22-2014, 05:42 PM
Location: Wyoming
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I get to Rapid City pretty regularly so know it as a visitor. I first came to Wyoming (from Alaska) for a job in Lander. When I got here for the interview I was told there was no job in Lander but I could have my choice of similar jobs in Gillette, Cody or Greybull. I turned them all down originally, but after moving back to Iowa for a few months (same kind of job), I was missing the mountains too much, and when the prospective employer for the Wyoming jobs called to up the offer I jumped on it and moved to Gillette. Lander would still have been my choice. It's beautiful there if you like the outdoors. The town itself is nice too -- small, MUCH smaller than Rapid City, but if you can live without the offerings of a "big city" like Rapid, I'd jump at the chance.

I strongly considered Cody, but I wasn't sure if I'd like the summer tourist traffic. Lander doesn't have much of that either. It's close enough to Jackson Hole and Yellowstone that you can make the trip for on a long weekend, but it's enough off the beaten path that it just doesn't get many tourists.

I haven't been to Lander for a few years so can't give you an update on what's available in the town itself, but I don't think it's changed much. It is pretty isolated for shopping. Riverton, just up the road a bit, has a little more shopping such as a Walmart, otherwise it's a couple hours to Casper (similar to Rapid for shopping, etc.) and then another 3-4 hours to Denver.

But the mountains! Oh my!
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Old 01-22-2014, 05:54 PM
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Thanks for the feedback. We visited Lander and thought it was beautiful. My main concern is that the limited housing market seems to drive the prices up and seems like it may be a little tough on my husbands government salary.
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Old 01-22-2014, 06:38 PM
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I've spent a lot of time in both places ...

there's little basis for comparison, IMO ... except for the ready access to exceptional outdoor recreation

RC is a sizable city, with all the amenities that go with that ... shopping, medical, services, restaurants, entertainment, large retailers, heavy industry, gov't agencies, transportation hub/commercial airport service. The choices are numerous to fulfil virtually any need that you might have, and the residential areas surrounding are very nice. With ready access to the Black Hills attractions (minutes away from downtown to be there), and towns like Spearfish, Lead, and the area lakes (have camped a lot at Angostura) ... this city and the surrounding region are very livable, affordable, and enjoyable. Simply one of my favorite areas to call upon for my sales trips .... and I really look forward to the restaurant options in RC compared to so much of the territory that I travel (WY, NoCO, WeNE, WeSD). I've not seen weather extremes like show up in WY ... I've been "stuck" in RC when the roads homeward to SeWY were impassable ... and I can't think of too many other places that I'd like to be stranded in for a few days.

OTOH, Lander is a sea change apart. Surrounded by excellent outdoor recreation opportunities, it's essentially at the end of the road for isolation. The population base isn't big enough to support all the retail, medical, shopping, restaurants (although Svilar's and CowFish do stand out), and the massive complex of commercial/industrial activity of an RC locale. The pace of life is perhaps a bit more low key here ... and wintertime is noticeably slower than the ongoing pace of RC winters. You'll most likely need to travel for many purposes ... from shopping to medical to entertainment needs, and the distances aren't trivial.

Lander is one of my top choices for a place to live in Wyoming ... but, then again, when I was in the marketplace for a farm/ranch to buy, I couldn't afford it there. When the day comes that I lease out our place and have the freedom to live in other places ... we'll most likely buy a house in the Lander area on some acreage where we can have a large garden for 4 months of the year. That's how much we like the area; put this in perspective ... I already own SFH's in CO resort areas that are paid for but except for a few skiing days in the winter ... I'd rather spend my time in Lander.

Last edited by sunsprit; 01-22-2014 at 06:48 PM..
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Old 01-22-2014, 07:33 PM
Location: Spots Wyoming
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I grew up in Rapid City, but now live in Northern Wyoming. If I had it all to do over again, I would have gotten out of Rapid City a whole lot sooner. The two states are miles apart in taxes, and wages. The Property taxes in Rapid or should I say Pennington County, are rediculous. We lived about 3/4 mile West of Johnson Siding. When I moved to Wyoming and they told me what the Property Tax was on a place, I told them, No, I don't want the monthly cost, I want the annual. It is that much of a difference.

Hunting and fishing opportunities are a lot better in Wyoming. When I left the Black Hills, if you wanted to hide behind a tree while hunting, you had to bring your own tree because all the other trees were being used. When I go hunting here, I might go all day and not see a single sole. Outdoor opportunities are astounding.

I left Rapid City, and never looked back. I have absolutely no desire to ever return, other than to visit friends and then I do it quickly.
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Old 01-22-2014, 07:48 PM
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I'm a Lander native, but was last there 2006~2009. Don't worry about medical needs, Lander has attracted top flight doctors for at Least the last 4 decades (which is when my parents moved there, mother was a life-flight/ER/ICU nurse who went on to be the director of the nursing program in Riverton). I don't see that it's going to change anytime soon given the amenities/quality of life available in Lander.

It's true that "shopping" isn't major amenity in Lander, but there's no daily-use items that can't be bought there. And for the rest, Amazon delivers everywhere.. But, there's a significant presence of local artists in Lander, more than I've seen everywhere else I've lived and most places I've visited. Into the outdoors at All, and you have specialty shopping right there (be that hunting, climbing, fishing, camping, etc...) I can't think of any real reason we ever went to Riverton (30 min drive) to shop, with the exception of "well, while we're over here".

Lander sets the bar for good food options as far as I'm concerned. Even in big cities, it's just a fight to find good food and we have completely given up within the past 2 years. But driving back to GA from my folks place in MT about a month from now, we're going through Lander specifically to eat at a couple of our favorites there. Never mind that it adds a day to our drive and the nights hotel cost, it's worth it.

I don't know thing one about RC, I've driven past dozens of times but never bother to stop. You have to wonder about a place that Constantly has write-ups like this (seriously, every few years since at least the mid 1980's):

Lander named a "Great Place" by Mother Earth News magazine - County 10

Housing IS tight. Lander is in a valley, there's limited land available within the town and the "pretty" stuff just outside of town (Baldwin creek road) are bought up by million/billionaires. My County Gov job paid plenty enough to cover living expenses, including owning a home in town. Granted, it was easy to shop since there were a grand total of 6 homes on the market within my price range that Weren't trailers.

My wife is kicking herself for moving us away. Oh well, it's done now.... we'd both move back in an instant should employment open up there for me (and I look, frequently).
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Old 01-23-2014, 12:01 PM
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Thanks for the input. It seems like a good opportunity and we did enjoy our half day visit there although I don't feel like that was enough time to get a good feel for it. I guess our main concerns are the housing prices and me being able to get a job when I'm ready to go back to work in a couple years. It does seem that there are a fair amount of government jobs in the area and being a veteran, that might be an option for me. Again thanks for the feedback it has been helpful
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Old 01-23-2014, 01:32 PM
Location: Idaho
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Love Wyoming but housing is tight and that drives up prices.

I tried finding a rental in Cody last spring but it just wasn't turning loose so ended up back in Montana.

Look closely at anything that is available, especially if it's been on the market for awhile or is priced lower cuz there may be some 'poison pill' involved with it.

Good luck!
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Old 03-26-2014, 04:03 PM
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I've lived in Lander for many years. If you're willing to buy instead of rent, you should be OK. Riverton is cheaper, but not as pretty and housing all over Fremont County is pretty scarce. Usually, you're going to end up with something that was built in the 60's or 70's and needs major remodeling, unless you are willing to pay above $300,000. It's a beautiful community but if city amenities are important to you, I'd locate elsewhere. I think it's nicer than Rapid City and the climate is better, though still cold. Employment is pretty tight too unless you're willing to work in the energy industry or have some type of self-employment skill. It's been a boom/bust economy in my years here, so if you move here, have your emergency fund saved. Big discount stores (Walmart/K Mart) are 27 miles away in Riverton, but the closest Target, Macy's or whatever is 2 l/2 hours away in Casper. It's beautiful and full of great outdoor activities, but it is remote. Like I said, if city stuff isn't important to you, you'll love it.
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Old 04-17-2014, 11:15 PM
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Well thanks for the input... Lander is looking like a good option for us, we are finding rapid city a bit too crowded for our liking and my husband is in the final phase of the hiring process out there... Thanks again maybe I'll see some of you when we get there
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