Should I move to Colorado?
April 30, 2009 7:18 AM   Subscribe

Advice: Do I move to Colorado? My wife and I live in Boston. She is going to change jobs. I have a good job. Almost all of our college friends live nearby. We are very happy. However, we feel like we'd really like to move out west, where some other friends and family are, just to try something new. I'd rate Boston an 8/10, and my Job here is an 8/10. Colorado would be a 10/10 location. I don't know if I could find an 8/10 job out there... So the question is: "Is it worth sacrificing a good job for perfect location?" (I know every locale has its warts, but I've wanted to live in CO since I was about 5, and visit about 3 times/year already). Thanks for the advice! Rob
posted by rselover to Work & Money (27 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There's an old joke about Denver...My car was stolen there, Ifound it ruined; they installed an 8-track player.

Denver is probably the most 'cosmipolitan' of the western cities. However you better get used to country music...
posted by Gungho at 7:34 AM on April 30, 2009

you gotta give a bit more information for anythign anywhere near a meaningful answer: why do you love colorado, where in colorado, how old (ish) are you (22? 32? 42?), and how about a little about your life. otherwise, there's no way you're getting anything out of this.
posted by alkupe at 7:43 AM on April 30, 2009

Nah, we don't need more information. You've been wanting to since you were a kid. Do it. Do it for the rest of us schmucks that are too scared to do it.
posted by notsnot at 7:51 AM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]

It depends, in part, upon what your industry is. Are you tied to the Route 128 corridor? Or do you work in an industry that has a presence in CO as well?

Or, are you looking to move into an entirely different industry?

Aside from the job-specific considerations, I would say this: (1) Colorado's business environment (regulation and taxes) is better than Massachusetts'; (2) its climate is more varied than Massachusetts'; (3) its geography and topology are more varied than Massachusetts'.
posted by dfriedman at 7:52 AM on April 30, 2009

My wife and I moved to Taos, NM, five hours south of Denver, from Massachusetts in 1989, and we've been very happy here. The biggest change from Boston: People live more in their bodies, less in their minds. But be prepared to adapt to an irony-free culture.
posted by markcmyers at 7:57 AM on April 30, 2009

Financially, will you two be okay if you go a little while before finding work? If so, go for it. If it doesn't work out, you can always move back to MA.

Have you broached the subject at your current job of possibly working remotely from Colorado?
posted by inigo2 at 8:07 AM on April 30, 2009

Denver seems like an awesome city. I have friends and family members who have moved there from the East coast and are VERY happy. The city itself has great weather, super friendly people, more diversity than you'd expect, a healthy relationship to bodies and the great outdoors. After visiting folks a handful of times this year, I was surprised at how much I love it there.

Can you find jobs there? Or work remotely? Or be financially OK not to work for x number of months? Because right now is not a great time to ditch an amazing job for unemployment...but if you can get that squared away, do it!

Your college friends will come visit. And you'll make new friends out there.
posted by barnone at 8:27 AM on April 30, 2009

Don't think. Do it. If you don't, you'll always wonder, "what if...". If you do move and don't like it there, you can always move back or try somewhere else. The longer you wait, the older you get, and the harder it will become to do this.
posted by qurlyjoe at 8:35 AM on April 30, 2009

Here's a question from out of left field; how old are you?
Are you at the stage where your career and climbing the ladder is fading slightly in importance, and your general quality of life is growing in importance? If you're not ready to tilt the scales in that direction, this doesn't sound like a great move for you.
posted by browse at 8:41 AM on April 30, 2009

I did it (Boston to Denver) many years ago and here is what I found:

The overall climate is way, way better in Denver.

You will miss the ocean, but after time you will find the mountains a very good substitute.

People are more hip, hale (as in health) and happier here.

The economy is pretty good.

More sunshine, less humidity.

Did I mention the climate was way better?
posted by Rad_Boy at 8:44 AM on April 30, 2009

Where do you want to move in CO? It's large and very varied. What do you see as the desirable characteristics that you are looking for? Metro/arts/music? Hippies? Small mountain towns? Uni/college towns?

You're probably looking at the Front Range maybe, which is a tiny slice of CO.

The climate is quite good, apart from melanoma worries. It's dry, and too dry for humans, perhaps. One downer is that all lawns tend to look like shredded wheat by about mid-June, unless you soak it with scarce water. East coast is much lusher and greener.
posted by carter at 9:04 AM on April 30, 2009

I've always thought that where I live matters more to me than what I do for a living. Hence, I'd be willing to live in a 10/10 place even if I had only a 6/10 job.
posted by King Bee at 9:12 AM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

We moved from Los Angeles to Denver five years ago and we LOVE it. The weather is great (although we actually would like more snow), people are nice, there is good food to be had, and there is definitely more on the radio than country music! You can see the Rockies from just about anywhere in this area and they are truly wonderful. Rush hour can get bad, but it is NOTHING compared to traffic in bigger cities.

As you mentioned, every place has its warts and Denver is no exception. One thing I missed after moving here is the varied culture and large alternative communities that can be found in bigger cities.

If you've always wanted to do it and it feels right to do it I'd so go for it. Just make sure you have a little bit of a cushion as others have said so you have some time to get settled.
posted by Kimberly at 9:25 AM on April 30, 2009

Speaking as a Denver native, I have only this warning to consider before you move:
What's you definition of "culture"?
I ask because Denver's answer is "sports!" There is an arena/stadium for nearly every team sport you can imagine (football ('European'), football (American), Baseball, Hockey, Basketball).
However, there's no professional symphony any more, no resident opera company, no resident ballet company, no resident professional theater (i.e. no equity house), an okay art museum, a provincial (at best) local visual arts scene, and a fair literary 'scene'. So if those things matter at all to you - think twice.
I moved to Seattle over 20 years ago, and have found it much more to my liking (with the added benefit of less leathery skin along the way). YMMV.
Oh, one other thing - many (most?) people who visit most areas of CO also want to move there - this leads to slightly depressed wages, and slightly (or extremely, depending on location) elevated housing and other costs. Again, YMMV. But the labor market is usually pretty tight, unless it's during one of the many 'booms' that tend to prevail on the Front Range.
posted by dbmcd at 9:32 AM on April 30, 2009

I've always thought that where I live matters more to me than what I do for a living. Hence, I'd be willing to live in a 10/10 place even if I had only a 6/10 job.

And Front Range employers know this ;) You should tell them that you have to relocate to CO because of family ties - and not because you think it's a really cool place.

Seconding Kimberly, Denver metro is often pretty much out of the loop with regard to cultural stuff going on elsewhere in the country. It's also not very diverse - and it is the most diverse place in CO. Boulder etc. are pretty much Anglo.

Hopefully you'll be too busy hiking to notice!
posted by carter at 10:05 AM on April 30, 2009

Your...friends will come visit.

Speaking as somebody who made an analogous Canadian move (from Toronto to Calgary in 2000), I'm sorry to report that this was not true at all for us. Everybody SAID they'd come visit; the vast majority have still not done so. Life gets in the way. And we (meaning my partner, really, whose time in Canada/Toronto was a lot longer than mine even though we both are immigrants) had very close friends in TO. They almost all disappeared and the onus for visit has almost all been on us- to visit them in Ontario. Part of this is just that YOU decided to move, YOU do the visiting.

NB this is how if works in my family of origin too. Point is, don't count on friends visiting.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 10:06 AM on April 30, 2009

I moved to Denver in 1989 to go to school. At the time, it was a really depressed place. Since then, it has been on rather constant climb to urban excellence. dbmcd is underselling the local cultural life. It's certainly not a major city. On the other hand, my wife and I are constantly surprised by the vitality of the creative culture of this place.
Seconding the "in the body" comment. Life in the Rockies is about skills (Skill are important!). Be prepared to invest time and money in useless pastimes. It's what we do.
Finding work can be a bitch. Old Denver money can be really insular. The native Coloradans can be pissy about newcomers (they still make those hostile "native" bumper stickers).
I'd recommend Denver, hands down, unless you want to be a farmer. The superficially attractive places (like Boulder, Aspen, Steamboat) are all about entitlement. Unless you want to live in a white, sporty and wealthy ghetto, stick to Denver (Colorado Springs is hard right, white and Christian).
Don't be tempted to live "in the woods". At some point, your house will be destroyed in a forrest fire.
This place is great. Do it. If you want specific advice about Denver (neighborhoods, restaurants etc.), email me.
posted by Carmody'sPrize at 10:30 AM on April 30, 2009

I moved from Denver to Cambridge a little more than a year ago and, while I enjoy being out here, there is much to miss about Denver. I won't stay here forever.

The weather is so much better in Denver. About as hot in the summer, but much less humidity, so it doesn't feel like you're walking around in a sauna. Unless it's actually precipitating it's sunny, which is a lot nicer than the overcast weeks in winter that go by here. Not being as far north you get more light in the evening in winter, which I liked for being able to bike later, contrasted to Boston, being more north and being very east within the time zone, gets really dark really early. Good access to world class winter activities, although that diminishes every year as traffic into the mountains for skiing/boarding gets worse and worse. Great access to nature in general, any season, if that's your thing, especially in the mountains: camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, etc.

If you like water activities, though, Denver isn't your place. There are people that own boats and use them on the few lakes/reservoirs, but it's a pretty pathetic scene compared to Boston, outside of kayaking/canoeing.

Denver has outdoor activities in spades over the Northeast but there are fewer cultural activities: concerts, opera, symphonies, museums, galleries, and so on. You can still find them, of course, just with fewer choices. Related, Boston gives you easy access to NYC if you run out of things to do. But Denver is the biggest city within a day's drive.

In terms of sports the Broncos are about as big in Denver as the Red Sox are here, and there's also basketball, hockey, and baseball. One (possible) perk of not having a great baseball team: you can see the Rockies for about the same price as you can see the Pawsox.

Denver is also significantly cheaper: housing/rents, food, utilities. If the 8/10 Boston job is primarily due to salary you'll find you can maintain a similar standard of living in Denver with a lower salary. But there are a lot of fields that are smaller or absent in Denver: tech, biotech, healthcare, and academia immediately come to mind.

And if you've always wanted to live in Denver move to Denver. Worst thing that can happen is you don't like it and move back.
posted by 6550 at 10:36 AM on April 30, 2009

It matters not one whit what anyone in this thread says or thinks about Denver or Boston.

It matters not one whit about the relative merits of the climate in either city (You didn't mention that as an issue anyway.)

The salient phrase is,..."but I've wanted to live in CO since I was about 5, and visit about 3 times/year already".

That is what matters. So now let's replace CO with n. * You have always wanted to live in n since you were 6. Should you move to n?

Yes to live your dreams especially if your sig oth is also willing and wanting to move to n.

Perhaps now a follow up question should be
given money, career prospects, job situation etc., how can I realize my dreams and move to n? Then you can make the evaluation, the cost-benefit analysis if you will about whether or not the cost of leaving home, security, and a good job is worth moving to n.

*n can mean almost anyplace, except for perhaps Mogadishu or the Swat valley.
posted by xetere at 10:56 AM on April 30, 2009

Great answers everyone!

A bit more background, but I feel like my question has been answered...

I'm 28, married. I work in the green energy field, which is very strong in MA right now, but only budding out west (so far as I can tell for my specific field).

My question really was "How important is my job to me?" The answer is 'Kind of important,' but it sounds like most people agree that work sucks anyway, so might as well just find a new decent job out there.

I think I'll try to bring the job with me if I can... Otherwise, I'll just forge ahead on my own.
posted by rselover at 11:05 AM on April 30, 2009

You said: "We are very happy." That is very clear to me. I would not move if I were you. (I have moved all over the world and US. I wish I would have stayed in one of the places I was happy in. And moving is so much work.)
posted by Slenny at 11:47 AM on April 30, 2009

I lived in CO most of my life (40 yrs old living now in CA--Bay Area) so here's the info:

Denver is a great city. If you're looking for "green energy" a good place to look would be somewhere between Denver and Boulder. The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR--might be called something different now) and NOAA are very near Boulder. There is also a Solar Energy Research site on top of South Table mountain in Golden (Denver metro). Country music is definitely NOT that prevalent especially compared to some place like TX.

Shopping, eating and "consumer" stuff is really pretty excellent in Denver. Culture has declined a bit, however, Colorado Springs has an excellent symphony (better than what Denver's used to be) and the ballet is good too.

C. Springs has been expanding very quickly in the past several years. It's very windy. Shopping and eateries are improving (both are better than in the SF Bay area if you can believe that). It is a very technical town with a lot of military space jobs, techie jobs and perhaps green energy jobs (haven't checked on that one recently). You'll get a LOT of house for your dollar in Denver, C. Springs and most places in CO compared to Boston.

Boulder is absolutely gorgeous. Very hip college town. Pretty expensive though but still cheaper than Boston. All along the front range you have beautiful views of the mountains with Pikes Peak (over 14,000 ft) in C. Springs and the Flatirons in Boulder (gorgeous granite cliffs sticking out of mountain faces).

I love and miss CO. If I were you and I were looking for a green energy job I'd hit the corridor between Denver and Boulder pretty hard but I'd keep an open mind about C. Springs as well (C. Springs is a great place to raise kids but not very 'cosmopolitan.' It is the HQ of Focus on the Family for what it's worth). Given a choice, I might pick Broomfield--close to Boulder but with cheaper and bigger housing.

Next time you're there: take a stroll down Pearl St. Mall in Boulder, check out CU campus, drive to Denver, eat at Pappadeux's, check out Coors Field and downtown, maybe drive to C. Springs, eat at Jack Quinn's (order the large bread pudding) and work job interviews in there somewhere. Best to take a few days there so you can go to the mountains. Colorado is most definitely an "outdoors" state.
posted by Lord Fancy Pants at 11:48 AM on April 30, 2009

Oh and by the way--I'd definitely move! You already know the place! I'd be optimistic about finding a very good green energy job.
posted by Lord Fancy Pants at 11:52 AM on April 30, 2009

Carmody'sPrize wrote: I'd recommend Denver, hands down, unless you want to be a farmer. The superficially attractive places (like Boulder, Aspen, Steamboat) are all about entitlement. Unless you want to live in a white, sporty and wealthy ghetto, stick to Denver

I don't know what this is supposed to mean, but I moved from big city to big city to Steamboat and have never been happier. White? Yes. Sporty? Absolutely. Wealthy ghetto? WTF does this mean?

We have an opera, a symphony, and the best skiing in the world. If you can bring your job here (I was able to), it's worth looking into. Carmody has a bug you know where for some reason. If you want to live in the mountains, live in the mountains! Skip the front range. (but, of course, I'm biased)

Boulder is also wonderful (but too big for me anymore). Also consider Fort Collins. Beautiful college town, north of Boulder.
posted by pkphy39 at 4:03 PM on April 30, 2009

The National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden (just west of Denver Metro, on the way to the mountains) is getting some big stimulus money. Maybe they'll be hiring soon.
posted by dr. fresh at 5:53 PM on April 30, 2009

Nobody's mentioned Fort Collins yet, and I'd encourage you to look into that area. It's very suburban, but it's consistently rated one of the best places to live in the nation. The school district is fabulous. The weather is less extreme than most other places along the Front Range -- while Denver is shutting down from snowstorms the sun's usually still shining up in Fort Collins. Colorado State University & the city government is very involved in the green movement, and Vestas Wind Company is one town over in Windsor (though I'm not sure if they're hiring).
posted by lilac girl at 6:45 PM on April 30, 2009

Let us know when you get here and we will have a meetup! Denver is great.
posted by fieldtrip at 7:44 PM on April 30, 2009

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