Everyone says I’d love Colorado… but where exactly?
October 10, 2017 5:24 AM   Subscribe

I need a change from the East Coast (DC, specifically). It’s too stressful, too hot, too muggy, too congested, too depressing. Everyone says I'd love Colorado, but where, specifically?

I am a single female with enough savings that I can likely retire (with some occasional side work) and just want to move somewhere peaceful. I’d like to live in a place that fits the following:

- private, but not isolating - easy driveable access to dense areas with people and businesses
- <450k for a small home (single family or detached)
- beautiful, serene views from home
- some snow is fine, but prefer winters to be not as long and harsh as in the north east
- I don't mind the cold - I can tolerate it far better than heat and humidity
- safe, obviously
- I'm an introvert, but I like people and come across as very friendly - a location that provides opportunities to be social, but also some solitude
- I have considered adopting or fostering, so a place that is family friendly would be nice - particularly if it offers at least a little cultural diversity

Based on the above, what specific places should I look into?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
So I live in Colorado. I live in the Denver/Boulder metro area. And I love it. I lived in North Carolina and the Midwest before coming out here and man, the sunshine and lack of humidity are amazing.

That said, there are a lot of people moving to Colorado, so if you are concerned about congestion, it's a challenge.

Hmm. Check out Longmont, particularly on the outskirts, I think you can tick most of your boxes there. It has a pretty nice downtown, and is close to Boulder. Denver is a bit of a haul but not out of the question unless you're daily commuting.

Housing is expensive here compared to many areas but if you're coming from DC it shouldn't seem too bad.

Colorado Springs is very conservative, as are the areas around there. Boulder is on the surface not conservative but it's a wealthy, image-conscious place. Leaving Denver/Boulder will give you a red-state feel, Denver/Boulder is more blue-state feel.

If you want warmer, you can look at more southern places like Pueblo but they are not as close to Civilization. Also maybe consider Santa Fe?
posted by rachelpapers at 6:39 AM on October 10

The outskirts of the Denver metro area are nice, but growing. Pretty much anywhere along the Front Range is wonderful. From Trinidad in the south, to Ft. Collins in the north. The farther south you go, the warmer it is. But do not also discount some of the more western towns. Grand Junction sits between many mountain ranges and the colorful, vast Utah deserts, and hosts a nice university. Alamosa, Gunnison, and Durango are nice mountain towns, but a little colder.
posted by nickggully at 7:09 AM on October 10

Salida might be a good fit. It's located in this lovely little banana belt where you're surrounded by mountains (lots of 14ers- spectacular views) but it's actually quite sunny and relatively mild. It's definitely growing, but it's very small compared to the Front Range and I think you could get a decent home in your price range in town. It's about a 3 hour drive to Denver, 1.5 hours to Colorado Springs, 3 hours to Santa Fe. Diversity-wise there is a large Hispanic population, but more on the outskirts.
posted by shornco at 7:39 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]

Denver and the front range are basically Chicago or LA or Baltimore with mountains on one side. Crowded, lots of traffic, and expensive. Nice enough if you like cities, but why come to Colorado for cities ?

Going west from the front range, things get more interesting. Glenwood Springs, Durango, Montrose, Grand Junction, Salida, etc etc etc. These are all smaller towns that have reasonable access to the front range, great scenery and can be inexpensive. I live in GJ, and love that I can be anywhere from Denver to the Grand Canyon in a few hours. I have a great view of the mountains from my front porch, and hiking, biking, and water sports and so on are all within a easy reach.

Winters in mountain towns (Aspen, Telluride, etc.) are not bad at all - lots of snow, but not very cold, generally. Winters in GJ, Durango, Montrose, etc. are ludicrously short, and made better by near constant sunshine (300+ days). GJ gets ~4 inches of snow per year. But, I can go 30 miles and play in 400+ inches in the mountains. Micro-climates FTW.

Point is - look to the west of Denver/Springs unless you want to live in a city. West Slope = Best Slope. :-)
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:07 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]

Salida really is beautiful.

And a lot of Colorado Springs is conservative, sure, but the downtown area and the west side (huge trees! quirky century homes with front porches! people with happy dogs!) are typically more progressive and without the Denver/Boulder cost of living and traffic. We're by no means a teeming cultural mecca (I used to live in NYC) but we have theaters and art classes and some music. And Denver's an hour away or so, so there's always something to do. It's kind of what you make of it.

Colorado in general has beautiful, dry weather. The winters aren't as terrible and enduring as they were in the Northeast. It's rare to have a day without at least a little sunshine. Yesterday we had a snowstorm that started out looking pretty ferocious and by early afternoon it had completely melted. You can often sweep the snow away with a broom instead of dragging out the shovel.
posted by mochapickle at 8:24 AM on October 10

It's probably best to ignore me - I live in London and the only time I've spent in Colorado is a couple of days in Denver 15 years ago. But rachelpapers mentioned Longmont and I've thought that in another universe in which I move to Colorado, that sounds like a place I'd at least investigate, having read Mr Money Mustache's enthusiasm for it.
posted by fabius at 8:28 AM on October 10

I have considered adopting or fostering, so a place that is family friendly would be nice - particularly if it offers at least a little cultural diversity

This is going to limit your options, as Colorado is an overwhelmingly white place. I would say Denver proper, Aurora, maybe up at Fort Collins are going to be it. Boulder is going to be out, the Springs are going to be out. There are absolutely resources and pockets and organizations that can help you on this, but I want to be realistic: diversity isn't something Denver currently does well, and it takes work. (I'm also an adoptive parent and my son is a different race than I, so feel free to MeMail with any specific Qs.)
posted by hijinx at 9:39 AM on October 10

I'm moving back to (downstate) New York next week. I like to tell people that it's because the traffic and the cost of living aren't as bad in NY as they are in the greater Denver metropolitan area. Draw your own conclusions.
posted by scratch at 12:27 PM on October 10

I was going to say Montrose or Grand Junction too, although those kind of fail the "easily drivable to dense areas" test. Longmont is a possibility but it's much more of a bedroom community for Denver than it used to be, and the housing prices have gone up a lot in the last few years. I haven't spent any time in Salida but it sounds intriguing. You probably also shouldn't rule out Denver proper. There are neighborhoods where you can get a house in your price range. Those are also likely to be the most diverse, although the issue there is that the traditionally Latinx and African American neighborhoods are getting an influx of priced-out white people, which poses its own set of issues to wrestle with.

I moved to Denver from NYC because it is my spouse's hometown and I wish we'd done it 3 years earlier. I love it here. The weather alone has made a huge difference to my quality of life. The traffic doesn't particularly bother me since I don't have to commute on highways or even arterial streets every day, and it sounds like it would be the same for you.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 8:43 PM on October 10

Denver Suburbs would fit many of your requirements.

Centennial/Englewood are good places with some cultural diversity - I have seen many Asians there. Centennial is ranked as the 15th safest city in the US, the mountains are close by, there are many hills, creeks and open spaces (with recreational facilities).

Most of the big national chains are located within a 10-mile radius, schools are some of the best in the country and while traffic can be bad at times, its not NY bad (25% at peak times, which is couple of times in a year).

As others have mentioned, it can snow for 2 days continuously max, but I have not lived in the northeast, so cannot compare the cold levels.

Lakewood, Broomfield and nearby suburbs are also decent.
posted by theobserver at 10:59 PM on October 11

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