Help us choose a Colorado home
October 14, 2014 12:17 PM   Subscribe

We are moving to Colorado, primarily for extended family closeness reasons. Tell us about your favorite Colorado towns and cities!

We have a short list of things we're seeking:
- good, varied, local restaurants and bars
- natural beauty just minutes away, particularly of the water variety
- LGBT friendly
- diversity, however that gets expressed in Colorado
- we are in our 30s-40s, and would like to have a decent social life with people our age
We're willing to consider both smaller cities in the Boulder/Fort Collins size range, as well as Denver suburbs that have their own identity and aren't just bedroom communities for Denver. We'd also go smaller if there's a true gem that meets our other criteria. We currently live in Portland Maine, and other than the distance from extended family, we love it, if that helps.
posted by donnagirl to Travel & Transportation around Colorado (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Your question mentions suburbs of Denver but not the city itself. Do you not want to be in Denver city limits?

What do you mean by being near water? There are small creeks and reservoirs all over the front range, but if you want a big body of water for boating that's harder.

For LGBT friendliness, you really want Denver proper or Boulder. Avoid Colorado Springs and smaller cities. Aspen is pretty queer friendly but completely nutso in many other ways and super expensive so probably not what you want.

Denver will be the best place in Colorado for restaurants and bars, racial diversity, and social life. Living in Denver will be less good for natural beauty, close by, but you would have great views of the mountains. I'm not up on Denver neighborhoods but others can chime in.

Boulder fits everything on your list except for racial diversity - it's whitey white. It's good for sexual orientation diversity though.

Golden and Fort Collins might also be possibilities.
posted by medusa at 12:49 PM on October 14, 2014

We'd consider Denver proper if it's neighborhood-ish (in the way Chicago can be, for example) but would need a solid neighborhood recommendation where we could have a house with a yard.
posted by donnagirl at 12:53 PM on October 14, 2014

I really like Park Hill, very traditionally liberal. I've lived here for about a year, great neighborhood feel with plenty of older houses and yards. Its an easy mile or so walk to beautiful City Park with lots a great pond and the Zoo.

Now, the thing is, diverse for Denver is pretty disappointingly vanilla for big East coast cities in my experience, but its the best you'll do in Colorado.
posted by stormygrey at 1:03 PM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

How tied are you to the Front Range ? Colorado has lots of smaller towns that sparkle with vibrancy - Telluride, Ouray, Aspen, Vail, Grand Junction, etc etc etc.

The best part about living in those areas (i.e. off the front range) - especially if you like the outdoors - you already have a several hour head start on all those assholes people in Denver headed for the hills at 5pm on Friday and back to town on Sunday.

What I really love about living in Grand Junction is a decent selection of restaurants and such, but mostly, I leave work at 5 on Friday, an I can be at a campsite at 11,000 feet and near total solitude by 7pm.

The Colorado river runs right through town and meets up with the Gunnison river and later the Delores and Green rivers nearby (great rafting/tubing/kayaking). The Grand Mesa has over 300 lakes and is an hour or so out of town. The Colorado National Monument is right in town. The hot springs of Glenwood are 2 hours away, and Ouray is 3-4.

It's ~4 hours to Denver or SLC. 1 hour to Moab/Arches/Canyonlands. 6 hours to the Grand Canyon.

The politics here are complicated, sure - but that streak of Colorado Libertarianism runs true here. People like to be left alone and not meddled with. I feel better about telling people about my gay son here than I ever did in Wisconsin - there is a strong sense of live and let live here.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:06 PM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Chiming in that we need a bit more information about what part of Colorado you're considering - where do the relatives live? If it is east of the Continental Divide (AKA "front range"), then I agree that Denver is probably your best bet.
Otherwise, I'm with Pogo_Fuzzybutt about Junction - it's a fabulous place, and it's my second choice for a place to live (other than where I am).
Also in agreement about Park Hill - I grew up there, and although it's changed, in many ways it's still the same.
You'll need to adjust your expectations about "water" almost anywhere you pick - the largest body of water in Colorado pales in comparison to an average lake in the mid-west - and there's no ocean (duh).
posted by dbmcd at 4:05 PM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Telluride will be way too expensive unless you have more money than most of us.

My husband is from Colorado, grew up on the west slope, lived in many a little mountain town, and has a mom who lives a stone's throw from the Denver airport. I'm thinking the recommendations for Denver proper and Grand Junction would be spot on. If it were me I think I would choose Grand Junction between the two.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:12 PM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, Colorado is a big state. You're moving for family closeness; how far away from family do you want to be? If you're planning on driving from Grand Junction to relatives on the Front Range, it's at least a four hour drive. Our winters on the Front Range are not as harsh and snowy as many think, but I-70 in the mountains does get shut down by snow (and jackknifed semis) occasionally. On one of my winter road trips home from California, I got stuck in Glenwood Springs for three days. Which was not awful at all, but I didn't miss any work and could afford a hotel.

I have a lot of favorite Colorado towns and cities, but I live in central Denver because it is central. It's maybe 50 miles northeast of the geographical center of the state (which is in Park County, in the mountains) and all (major) roads go through it so it's easy to get to other in-state places. Denver is liberal; the suburbs, not so much. Boulder is militantly liberal, very very white, and expensive. Denver's diversity is similar to the national average, according to a recent study. It's got quite a few formerly sketchy neighborhoods that are rapidly gentrifying.

Also, while Denver is the biggest city in the state by population, it's not that big area-wise. The city and the county have the same borders. Denver neighborhoods are not like Chicago neighborhoods; we don't refer to the east, south, north, or west sides so much as we refer to neighborhoods by name. People who live in the suburbs would say that I live "downtown," but I say I live in Baker neighborhood.
posted by caryatid at 7:01 PM on October 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Thanks, everyone. We are looking primarily in the front range; family isn't actually in Colorado but we are just trying to be no more than a long day's drive away. Denver hits that easily but Grand Junction is a bit of a stretch. We were concerned Denver would seem too big and congested but are willing to be swayed on that point.
posted by donnagirl at 3:58 AM on October 15, 2014

Denver, except for right around the capital/downtown , isn't very congested or urban for that matter. It is full of cute and quaint neighborhoods. Do you have an idea of where you'd like to work? That'll help narrow some. Check out my question history for some of the responses I received when I was moving out here.
posted by stormygrey at 9:53 AM on October 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you are looking for diversity, I really don't recommend Boulder. Not only is it not at all ethnically diverse, it is also not politically diverse or really in any way diverse. As several upthread have said, it is very LGBT-friendly, but I think you'll find Denver or Fort Collins to be as well (not to exclude others!). I don't know all my Denver neighborhoods all that well, but you can definitely find many homes with yards within Denver, and the different neighborhoods I've seen have all had their own character and local restaurants, etc.
posted by freezer cake at 3:02 PM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

We were concerned Denver would seem too big and congested

It's really not. When I moved here ~20 years ago I was surprised and pleased to find so many nice walkable neighborhoods with lovely old houses (with yards!) that are so close to a vibrant downtown. There are some areas (streets/blocks) with higher crime rates but there are no actual slums or entirely awful neighborhoods. It's even better now with light rail connecting the more distant Denver neighborhoods with downtown and each other. Where you'll find more (traffic) congestion is in the suburbs.
posted by caryatid at 9:30 AM on October 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

« Older Sound off!   |   Post-Thanksgiving Family Entertainment Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.