Is Colorado still the place it once was? If even a little.
September 10, 2007 6:44 PM   Subscribe

Considering relocating to Colorado with girlfriend. Lived there 8 years ago but things change.

(Note: I know there's a lot of moving questions, this one's more specifically directed toward Colorado. The best I'd found were short snippets on either Boulder or Colorado Springs, I'm seeking info as a whole.)

We currently live in SE Michigan. I lived in Colorado between 1991 and 1999 around Littleton and Englewood. I was 19 in 99 and I know things change over time. The last time I visited was in 2002, January but wasn't looking at it as a moving option at the time.

Basically what I'm looking for is; how much has the place I think about so much changed? How's the economy? Are the people still friendly? - Where (what cities) are there friendly and open minded people, arts, music, etc.. (example: they don't yell at you or give you a dirty look when you say "to your left" like they do here) Overall social climate.

I'm going to be going back to college to get my teaching degree - English, preferably Creative Writing. Hows the teaching job situation?

I'd prefer not to live in or near my old towns. Mostly I miss the mountains, Red Rocks, that place where there's a field of gigantic white boulders that stretches as far as you can see that I don't know the name of or where it is. Things like that.

I envision myself someday buying a chunk of land and building our house. The backyard being either a forrest or a mountain or both. I'd like to be near a decent sized city but not in one. My girlfriend needs water, I need altitude.

I'd considered Colorado Springs until I saw Jesus Camp. Please, I don't mean to be offensive to anyone but.. After doing a little more digging, I don't think it's the place for us. - I'm completely open to being wrong on this one.

Sidewalks that don't roll up at 6 is a plus (yes, later is better), we're past the major party hardy days but like walking along lit main streets and shops that have signs on their doors that say "open."

We're taking a road trip in Feb or sooner to check it out in person along with some other places for consideration. Any reccomendations as to where to look to get a better idea of things?

So, that's about it. Thank you for any and all of your responses.
posted by madmanz123 to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you looked into Manitou Springs? It is outside of Colorado Springs but is less Jesus-Campy.

If you don't mind the city life then Denver's art, social, and music scene is quite decent. There is an active artist community participating in gallery openings every month and of course a new wing to the Denver Art Museum. They have been working on green spaces, etc but still have a way to go and of course it is a little removed from the mountains.

Another town that may be to your liking is Fort Collins which is a nice mix of a college town and near nature. It has a quaint downtown area and is pretty lively.

The town with the Red Rocks is Morrison. Good luck and enjoy looking around. Colorado is getting better with public transit and is starting major renewable energy initiatives, etc if you are into that kind of thing.
posted by occidental at 7:07 PM on September 10, 2007

I just recently moved to Denver, so I can't really compare it to the place it once was, but I can tell you that I've previously lived all over the midwest and my Denver neighbors are the friendliest I've ever had.
posted by scottreynen at 7:22 PM on September 10, 2007

Seconding the Manitou Springs recommendation, although I don't know how pricey it's become. I lived in Colorado Springs in the late 80s/early 90s (when it was just on the cusp of becoming Jesus Central). Manitou Springs, which is like a suburb of Colorado Springs but worlds away in terms of having a much more friendly and laid-back atmosphere, is beautiful. It has a "small town" feel, but with the convenience of being close to all of the "big city" stuff you might want or need.
posted by amyms at 7:28 PM on September 10, 2007

You've probably already read my comments on the Springs. I find the city's politics reprehensible, but I also find that I can avoid many of the extreme Christians by living and working downtown, which has a concentrated liberal population.

I'm going to be going back to college to get my teaching degree - English, preferably Creative Writing. Hows the teaching job situation?

College-level? I believe we rank 48 out of 50 for higher education funding. The average teacher salary for k-12 ranks dead last among the states. I teach at a community college, and I'm making significantly less than I would in most other states; in some cases, the difference is 10-15K. (Did I just admit on the internets that I make no money?). I think the situation is the same at many of the public four-years as well. And adjunct pay is even more insulting, even more so than normal. We had to cancel some writing classes because we could not find enough teachers willing to work for what we can pay. I never thought I'd see the liberal-arts MA market tapped out.

Colorado has one of the highest educated workforces in the nation, but it has one of the lowest high school graduation rates. We've got a large percentage of the population that does not want to fund education (thanks, TABOR), and an attitude of "why bother" as long as highly-qualified people want to move here because of the state's natural amenities. We had an amendment pass last year that increased education funding but a)every politician in the Springs publicly decried it and b) the state diverted the funds to highway repair.

The upshot is - yes, we need writing teachers here. As long as you're not hung up on the whole financial compensation part .
posted by bibliowench at 8:03 PM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Wow, thanks for all the input so far. I was shocked to see comments this soon out of the gate.

I'm rather glad I decided to include the teaching thing in there, I'm aiming for grades 11 or 12.

Money isn't a huge issue for me, I never had plans on being rich. As long as have enough to pay the bills. I think I'll go check out the salary rates on the subject. Might add some isight if I'll be able to afford a home, particularly building my own.

Thanks a lot guys n gals (it's always hard to tell with the screen names - gender that is)
posted by madmanz123 at 8:30 PM on September 10, 2007

I was just in Manitou Springs this summer, and it was a beautiful place. The traffic, though, was pretty bad -- narrow streets, iffy parking, and some confusing intersections (we were on the way to the Pike's Peak cog railway, though, so it's possible that just those areas are bad).

University of Northern Colorado is a pretty good teaching school, as long as you don't mind Greeley. I'm currently in the undergrad teaching certification program at Colorado State and I think it's okay. The classes I've had so far haven't been super change-my-life awesome, but the teachers have been good and I think Poudre School District is a good place to train/learn.

South Fort Collins definitely has 'suburbia' scrawled all over it. You won't find many Mom & Pop restraunts/shops, and it's not very pedestrian-friendly. North Ft. Collins (the Old Town/CSU area) is a little better, but it can get a little frustrating sometimes. The buses shut down at 6 and most places in the southern part of town are closed by 10ish. Still, it's only a few minutes from the mountains and everybody's pretty friendly. There are definitely some super-conservative people, but it's not too oppressive.
posted by lilac girl at 9:16 PM on September 10, 2007

Fort Collins was voted 'Best city to live in" by Money magazine 2006. (I'm currently living in Greeley but signing a lease in about a week in Fort Collins.) There has been alot of growth along the I-25 corridor in the past 10 years, so traffic has definitely gotten worse. Although the one thing I notice alot in Fort Collins is the number of people on (pedal)-bikes.

Fort Collins has good yearly festivals (downtown in old town), plenty of night life, and my perception is a good balance of social/age groups (college, working class, etc). Its not overly hip/eccentric like Boulder, but its also not overly working class and boring like Greeley.
posted by jmnugent at 2:16 AM on September 11, 2007

I'm more familiar with denver area so that's where I can focus on. I've lived in Colorado for 30 years. I grew up in the suburbs, schooled in Boulder and lived in the cherry creek area for the last 7 years.

-Cherry Creek Area: sure, it gets written up for being snobby and the restaurants are on the high end, but it definitely has a nightlife. The outdoor mall is a good place to walk around, there's a lot of little galleries (catering to the wealthy). Its not too bad. There's lots of little gems hiding out too: Irish Hound is a great bar.

-Uptown: Has been through a major development phase in the last 8 years or so. Lots of shops, lots of places to hang out. I'm not sure if its walking friendly because there's a lot of high rises which make the walks a little long.

-17th Street: Also has gone through major redevelopment. This is one of my favorite places to hang out. Uptown tavern, Steubens (!). There's a few gay bars (JR's, hamburger mary's, denver wrangler). Not my cup of tea but they bring in a more relaxed atmosphere (liberal) and some nicer corner markets.

-Highlands: I don't hang out here as much as I should, but this is a pretty nice neighborhood as well. Slightly bohemian, there's a lot of little galleries, cafes, bars and coffee shops. 'Paris on the platte' was a fun place to go when I was in HS, its a 'beat' bookstore/coffee shop. I would definitely take a look here if I were you.

-Take a look at the Lowry area as well. Its not as big and I'm not really into the 'community' developments but it seemed pretty cool when I was there.

-Washington Park/Bonnie Brae

That's about it as far as Denver 'hotspots' goes. I will tell you that a lot of people thought Denver was going to be the next Phoenix in terms of real estate and there's A LOT of development going on , even though we have some of the highest foreclosure rates. I think that's because the deals take 5 years to get rolling. That means there are deals to be had. Granted, its still dropping a bit and most of the people who are in the new developments are speculating and holding tight. I think in a year or so you should see some real bargains in terms of Denver real estate.

Places you may want to avoid (because of your specific requirements):
Highlands ranch.
the new 'community' developments. They put in a bunch of houses/condos and then a little strip of commercial zone. Like they're trying to forcefully create an organic neighborhood like the ones I described above. It feels concocted to me, like there's a formula: 2 starbucks look alikes, a gallery, a bistro and voila! hip neighborhood people should be dying to live in.
posted by kookywon at 10:34 AM on September 11, 2007

I lived in Monument, CO just north of Colorado Springs in 2001-2002. Right across the valley from the US Air Force Academy. It was always fun to see them flying their yellow gliders around as I drove in to work every morning.

It is a fairly conservative area, but I never had too much of a problem with people getting in my face about that kind of thing. There are more liberal pockets people (downtown CO Springs near CC), plus the area and weather are so beautiful that I'd move back there in an instant if I didn't have family/friends where I'm at now.

Colorado Springs also had one of the best independent newspapers I've ever read, the Colorado Springs Independent, and I've lived in Seattle and Minneapolis; 2 cities known for their indy newspapers.

I left because the tech market out there had a meltdown with the dot-com bust as well as all of the telecom businesses running into trouble (worldcom, mci, qwest, etc). I've heard that the economy is better now, and that probably wouldn't affect you in your field that much anyway.
posted by freshgroundpepper at 7:44 PM on September 11, 2007

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