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Alternatives to Santa Fe?
Old 02-19-2017, 10:24 PM   #1
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Alternatives to Santa Fe?

I've had Santa Fe on my radar as my retirement home for a long time.

On another thread regarding pre-Medicare health insurance, a current resident of NM strongly urged me to think about places other than NM, citing in particular the high property crime rate.

So, I'll throw it open for suggestions. Santa Fe hits most of my musts:
  • western state
  • in the mountains with true four seasons, including snow (yes!) and without a hot humid summer
  • well-educated retiree community, very active in outdoor activities
  • lots happening in the arts
  • colleges and universities locally
  • culturally and historically interesting
  • within a reasonable drive of a major airport (ABQ).
I don't like large cities, and Santa Fe is just pushing the brink of my size limits.

So, other ideas? I've thought about Durango. Carson City? Colorado other than the Denver area and Summit County? Flagstaff? Or northern California's mountainous areas?

Me: FIRE'd, 59, solo, no dependents. Travel quite a bit so access (within a couple of hours) to a major airport is good. Do not like humid climates, and do like snow. (I lived in NJ and NC for a couple of years each for w*rk and hated 'em). I lived in the Willamette Valley (OR) for more than a decade and liked it, except that the long bleak grey dreary winters started to really get to me, though the summers were glorious.

Ideas, anyone? Let the creative juices flow!
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Old 02-19-2017, 11:30 PM   #2
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Not sure what to make of crime rate stats. I've used neighborhoodscout.com in the past to look up crime rates of various cities and some of the results were very puzzling. It list the crime index of Tucson AZ as 1, it means Tucson is safer than only 1% of US cities. I doubt any NM cities are rated that low. I don't live in Tucson but very familiar with it, I know people who live there and there are certainly many neighborhoods in the city I would have no problem living in. I live in SE AZ and it also isn't rated very good (crime index of 18) but if you were to ask myself and most residents that live here they would tell you it's a very safe place to live and one of main reasons we live here.

Seems to me if Sante Fe ticks most of your buttons then spend some time living there and check it out, I'm sure there are some good neighborhoods to live. You might want to add Prescott AZ to your list, a better choice than Flagstaff IMO.
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Old 02-20-2017, 01:01 AM   #3
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I know Silver City was on a friend's radar, home of Western New Mexico University. Durango is nice too but you would have always connect if you fly. I would say Taos but it might be too expensive. Salida, CO or Buena Vista, CO are nice too.
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Old 02-20-2017, 01:32 AM   #4
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Many transplants to New Mexico love it but a good many hate it. There is a saying in my state that "You don't get to pick New Mexico, New Mexico picks you."

There have been lots of good suggestions here although it would be difficult to find a town that meets all the items on your musts list. Sedona and Boulder meet many of your criteria but Boulder is in Denver area. If you are going to consider northern California, you might consider Bend, OR but it is far from a major airport. Truckee, CA is supposed to be nice but small and lots of snow. All of these towns are expensive but so is Santa Fe. I liked the Prescott suggestion but it may be too much of a retirement community for your liking and the climate is more similar to ABQ than Santa Fe. Somewhere in Colorado could be your best bet.
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Old 02-20-2017, 01:59 AM   #5
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Thanks, all. Some very interesting suggestions.

I am, by the way, a native New Mexican, though I have not lived there as a post-high school adult and no longer have family there. But I do have a strong affinity for it and for the other Four Corner states.

Santa Fe real estate is relatively expensive, but otherwise the cost of living isn't especially high.

Now Boulder -- that's a really expensive place to live!

When I lived in Oregon in the late 1990s/early 2000s, Bend was the new home for lots of "California equity refugees" as they were called, and housing prices shot up, shutting many locals out of the market -- a story we have seen elsewhere (Austin, anyone?) Portland and Eugene airports are only a couple of hours away, if the roads aren't snowed in.

Sedona ... Prescott ... hmm.

Salida and Buena Vista, CO are interesting suggestions; I drive through them every couple of years on my way to camp near Leadville or elsewhere in Colorado, and have a burger joint that I always stop at in BV.

What I really need is a less expensive version of Breckenridge!

Truckee, or something on the Nevada side of Tahoe... Hmmm. It has been a few years since I camped/explored around there. May be time for a roadtrip this spring.

Even if I stick with the Santa Fe idea (for starters) this conversation is making me re-examine my position -- always a good thing.

Thanks, everyone!
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Old 02-20-2017, 04:37 AM   #6
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I think Nevada would be hot. I've been to Portland, Sedona, Durango, and Colorado Springs, which might work.
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Old 02-20-2017, 05:08 AM   #7
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Palisade/Grand Junction Colorado
Mild weather, lots to do. Big enough without being big. Jet service airport right in town. National Park right out your front door. Close to Moab and it's national parks. Foodie and wine scene.
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Old 02-20-2017, 06:11 AM   #8
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COcheesehead -- what a good suggestion! I'll put it high on my "investigate" list.

I'm a great fan of Moab as a place to visit off-season -- but not to live. I had a w derful10 days there in early December when the town was quiet.
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Old 02-20-2017, 06:16 AM   #9
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COcheesehead -- what a good suggestion! I'll put it high on my "investigate" list.

I'm a great fan of Moab as a place to visit off-season -- but not to live. I had a w derful10 days there in early December when the town was quiet.
I wouldn't live in Moab either, but it's a great destination 90 minutes from Grand Junction. You are also a hop, skip and a jump from Gateway Colorado. Interesting area as well.
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Old 02-20-2017, 06:21 AM   #10
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Bellingham, WA is another option.

My parents lived in Santa Fe for a few years, but left three or four years ago. Health care was a problem. Small, isolated, wealthy cities have expensive HC, limited Medicare options. My mother had to drive to ABQ to see a dermatologist who took Medicare.
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Old 02-20-2017, 06:22 AM   #11
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Boise, Cheyenne, Spokane, Bozeman
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Old 02-20-2017, 06:27 AM   #12
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Boise, Cheyenne, Spokane, Bozeman
If you're going to investigate these, throw Ft Collins in the mix. Really nice college town. 90 minutes to an international airport and on the doorstep of the mountains.
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Old 02-20-2017, 06:30 AM   #13
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Palisade/Grand Junction Colorado
Mild weather, lots to do. Big enough without being big. Jet service airport right in town. National Park right out your front door. Close to Moab and it's national parks. Foodie and wine scene.
Just drove thru this area on the way home last week and it's a great little town. However the cultural aspect might be a bit lacking. I would also throw Cedar City UT into the mix, the Brian Head area is top notch..

though in fact any area that meets all of your wish list, will be pricey.
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Old 02-20-2017, 06:53 AM   #14
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Tying back to the healthcare discussion, Ft. Collins/Loveland Colorado would give you more healthcare options than Cheyenne. The health insurance options in Wyoming are limited.
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Old 02-20-2017, 07:38 AM   #15
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Have you been to Gardnerville / Minden / Genoa in Nevada? They're close to Tahoe and Reno. You have mountains and snow in the winters while summer is not too hot. Those and the other similar towns in Douglas County NV might suit you.

One thing to check is whether they're high enough up to escape the polluted days that come with the inversions that can plague Reno.
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Old 02-20-2017, 07:45 AM   #16
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Does Santa Fe still have the commuter train into Albuquerque?

Renting someplace for a year or 2 is always a good suggestion. Makes it cheaper and easier to move if things don't work out like you expected.
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Old 02-20-2017, 07:47 AM   #17
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We were in Silver City NM last year and really liked the town - lot of old buildings, lots of up and down streets, the college has the best and largest collection of Mimbres pottery in the world. Don't think the airport desire is met. Went to college in Santa Fe and loved it - but that was decades ago. St George Utah and surrounds is beautiful country if you like multi-colored rock faces. Prescott AZ was my first pick before we ended up here in SoCal. Big weather, big rocks; too cold? drive down the hill an hour and you are in Phoenix.
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Old 02-20-2017, 07:52 AM   #18
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I found your new location....Montrose, CO!
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Old 02-20-2017, 07:56 AM   #19
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Tying back to the healthcare discussion, Ft. Collins/Loveland Colorado would give you more healthcare options than Cheyenne. The health insurance options in Wyoming are limited.
I'm renting in Fort Collins right now (my job is here). We sold our house last year in the Denver area in preparation for retirement this Year. (we are moving to the ABQ area in June). We might have stayed longer in the Denver area, but is just too big and congested any more for living, much less commuting to Fort Collins. Fort Collins is like a breath of fresh air compared to Denver. Fort Collins has all the amenities, including several hospitals. Real Estate has become pricey, however.

On weekends we get lots of people down from Cheyenne to go shopping, so that says something about what services are like there.
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Old 02-20-2017, 07:56 AM   #20
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  • western state
  • in the mountains with true four seasons, including snow (yes!) and without a hot humid summer
  • well-educated retiree community, very active in outdoor activities
  • lots happening in the arts
  • colleges and universities locally
  • culturally and historically interesting
  • within a reasonable drive of a major airport (ABQ).
Boise
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