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Low-cost living in Cañon City, Colorado
Old 01-10-2015, 10:44 AM   #1
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Low-cost living in Cañon City, Colorado

I'm more-than-a-little ambivalent about posting here, given that most who share their stories here seem to have saved millions, have pensions and megacorp health insurance, etc., but perhaps there'll be some benefit for those hoping to retire (or having to do so, through no choice of their own!) on much less.

I want to make it clear at the outset than I'm most definitely not recommending the kind of shoestring early retirement described here to anyone. My wife and I exited the corporate world prematurely and would've stayed with it much longer if we had it to do over. Still I've run across enough people forced out of jobs in their late 50's or early 60's, or with health or family issues who have found themselves having to live on a Social Security-like income long before SS kicks in, and thought that sharing a few experiences might be of some use to that tiny handful of readers. Since like many here I'm a big fan of Mr. Money Mustache's blog, I'll just say that this is the "high class trailer trash" version of what he recommends, from someone with only a fraction of his assets and smarts!

Caffeinated Calm: (mobile) Home Economics
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Old 01-10-2015, 11:30 AM   #2
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Excellent article, Kevin. Thanks for that.

FWIW, I am sure there are many followers of this Forum that do not "have saved millions, have pensions and megacorp health insurance, etc" in their résumé. And, TBH, your views may actually be more valuable than you may imagine to this group.
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Old 01-10-2015, 11:40 AM   #3
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I agree with RonBoyd - I get a lot of value from the postings of some of the more frugal members here who are living on restricted budgets.

My big 'aha!' moment was when I realized that the key to early retirement (for me) wasn't just saving, it was reducing the spending. (Which saving a lot does - if you don't spend your income, but save it instead, you learn to live on the much smaller remainder)

Sure there are big income/big nest egg folks here - and I'm very happy for them. But I'm not one of them. I have a minuscule, non-cola's pension coming online in a few years that will *just* cover my utilites and internet bill... no health care from megacorp... and my savings is not "multi" million. For me - budget is the key to it all. And ways that reduce the spending without impacting quality of life are what I look for.
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Old 01-10-2015, 11:48 AM   #4
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Thank you for posting this link - there's a lot of good information in there. Whether or not we have savings and/or pensions I think many of us are very interested in low cost living options in various states and countries.
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Old 01-10-2015, 11:50 AM   #5
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FWIW, I am sure there are many followers of this Forum that do not "have saved millions, have pensions and megacorp health insurance, etc" in their résumé.
+1

This net worth poll from 2011 would indicate that to be an accurate statement:

Early Retirement & Financial Independence Community - View Poll Results
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Old 01-10-2015, 11:50 AM   #6
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Thanks for an interesting article.

Quote:
Setting costs aside there's the most important issue of all, at least for us, and that's quality of life.
It sounds like the authors are living a very nice life. Especially compared to the number of Americans who supposedly have little if anything other than a SS check to retire on. Compared to the world wide popluation they are doing very well.
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Old 01-10-2015, 11:52 AM   #7
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Looks like a beautiful area. Sounds like you are very happy in Cañon City. Your contributions have always seemed very honest to me and most interesting as your path is so different than ours.
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Old 01-10-2015, 12:27 PM   #8
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Seems like a very nice small town to live in. Nothing wrong with mobile homes, many are made very well. Get set up in a nice park, that is the key. Not a run-down section 8 type place. My grandparents were orange farmers and sold the farm to retire and moved into a mobile home. This enabled them to take their travel trailer and be gone traveling around the country for 17 months! This was back in early 80's, long before the ease of electronic payments and high end huge motorhomes. The mobile home they had was a great place for them to live for many years.

Good for you making it with limited income and still maintaining a high quality of life.
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Old 01-10-2015, 12:41 PM   #9
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I would consider Canyon City. I like Colorado and the climate profile for Canyon City looks good. State income tax isn't too bad. Lots of great outdoor activities and not to far from Denver for flying. While I know we wouldn't go the mobile home route, I just looked at house prices and they look very affordable compared to our area. Thanks for the post! Not everyone here is in the multimillion arena. I am finding that regardless of the size of the poster's portfolio, there is much to be learned here and I am glad to have the opportunity to take it all in and use what I can apply to our situation.
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Old 01-10-2015, 01:33 PM   #10
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Great article. I lived in a mobile home for the first 4 years of marriage. We bought one because we couldn't find housing in Odessa, TX in the 70's oil boom. We moved to another city and moved our mobile home. That was the easiest move I've ever had! We just taped drawers and cabinets shut and they pulled it to the new place! I have fond memories of that home.

My grandma used to take me to Canon City as a child. What a nice area!

We will certainly have a more modest retirement financially than some, but not having the stress of working is with a fortune to us!


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Old 01-10-2015, 01:36 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by 38Chevy454 View Post
Seems like a very nice small town to live in. Nothing wrong with mobile homes, many are made very well. Get set up in a nice park, that is the key. Not a run-down section 8 type place. My grandparents were orange farmers and sold the farm to retire and moved into a mobile home. This enabled them to take their travel trailer and be gone traveling around the country for 17 months! This was back in early 80's, long before the ease of electronic payments and high end huge motorhomes. The mobile home they had was a great place for them to live for many years.

Good for you making it with limited income and still maintaining a high quality of life.
I question I have: what keeps a building, or mobile park,. or a neighborhood free of section 8? The only thing I know of is that it is too expensive. I guess section 8 has some rules about just how much subsidy they can provide?

My girlfriend lived in a nice medium quality apartment building in a reasonable neighborhood. The residents were mostly young to middle aged working men and women, a few small families, but everybody respectful, the dumpsters not abused, the vibe good. Suddenly the owner repositioned and section 8 clients started moving in. A disaster! garbage was thrown around, unattractive things were happening in the halls, etc. Then the middle class single women started moving out. Others followed, and thankfully GF got an inheritance right about then and left for better environs.

People here frequently find these gems, that seem to have middle class people living in cheap housing. I have not ever encountered anything like this, anywhere, in my entire life. I have always been in or near big cities, but I do have country cousins who well illustrate just how awful rural life can get. For the most part, it has seemed to me that if you want reasonably safe and attractive surroundings you generally pay up.

Narcotics are no longer solely or even mainly a city problem. They are everywhere, and where they go lots of other bad things go along.

I have corresponded with Kevin, and respect his truthfulness, I just don't understand how these physically and socially attractive but cheap environments persist.

Ha
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Old 01-10-2015, 02:20 PM   #12
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Friends who are summer residents up here at the ranch are in the process of moving from Tuscon to Cañon City. I believe they happen to be in Cañon City today looking at a house. They put their house in Tuscon up for sale last week. They are on the progressive side, so it sounds like they will do well down there.

Cañon City has grown and changed quite a bit since I was growing up farther down the Arkansas Valley.

I went to a car show in Cañon City last summer. In the evening Flash Cadillac did a street concert. I think all the members live in the area. It was a fun small-town day.
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Old 01-10-2015, 02:45 PM   #13
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Thanks everyone for the kind words and insights.

Hermit as it happens we're in Tucson ourselves at the moment, enjoying some hiking in the desert and a brief escape from Colorado winter (though Cañon City does have the mildest climate in the state, our years in Mexico turned us into winter wimps!). To be clear, Cañon is very conservative politically, overall, but with a small and visible "alternative" community - much like Tucson, come to think of it. Politics aside, it's just a really down-to-earth place with a nice mix of working folks and retirees. It is well-known within Colorado as a retirement destination, but outside of the state when people think of the area it's either because of the Royal Gorge or all of the prisons in the area (SuperMax and a dozen others). It's never been featured in the likes of "Outside" magazine or even AARP, and we who live there like it that way. The town of Salida, an hour up the canyon from us, has been all over those publications - and their housing prices start at triple those in Cañon.

To your question haha, there are both nice and dumpy mobile home parks in our area but the overall cost of real estate is so reasonable that there's a much higher than usual percentage of homes owned vs. rentals, so the Section 8 stuff is mostly a few rental apartments. You can buy a very nice 3 bedroom house in the city for 125-145K, and property taxes are reasonable. We will doubtless go that route ourselves eventually (and have owned property in town previously), but at the moment not just the super-low overhead but the "lock it and leave it" aspect of our mobile works for us. I would say that about half of the residents in our mobile home park are either snowbirds or other avid travellers who see their mobiles as "home base" and have either second homes or 5th wheels.
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Old 01-10-2015, 05:31 PM   #14
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Thanks for explaining this Kevin.


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Old 01-10-2015, 07:22 PM   #15
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Nice write up. Good for you for finding a way to live inexpensively in such a pretty place.
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Old 01-10-2015, 09:52 PM   #16
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Canon is a nice town, and I'm really fond of Four Mile Ranch Golf Course just outside of town. With a little effort you can play 18 with cart for $30. This is the fourteenth green.

But I have to admit you picked a great time to head south!

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Old 01-10-2015, 11:50 PM   #17
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Canon City is a nice little town, it is the closest Starbucks to us. There are a wide range of restaurants and a nice little French bakery in town.
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Old 01-11-2015, 12:33 AM   #18
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Thanks for the link to your post Kevin. I like your writing style - honest and direct, with no attitude. You don't come across as having anything to prove - you are merely sharing your experiences. I really appreciate that approach. Incidentally, I have less than a million and like you, am also on Medicaid due to my low income. Life is calm and peaceful here.

It looks very much as if you have found a lifestyle that works for you, and I hope you continue to share your experiences with us.
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Old 01-11-2015, 01:43 AM   #19
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Excellent write up. My husband and I are also on Medicaid due to my recent retirement, at least temporarily. We are in the south of Denver, but we are pleasantly surprised that while taking some effort to find, there are sufficient number of doctors accepting Medicaid, including specialists.
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Old 01-11-2015, 01:52 AM   #20
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I enjoyed the article, Kevin. Thanks!

My mom and aunt/uncle live in the same mobile home park in Southern California and it represents great value and high quality of life. In their park, the owners own their homes outright and the land under the park via a corporation. The Board of Directors, who are elected and all homeowners in the park, decide on monthly space rates. My family's mobile homes are about 1200 and 1300 square feet, respectively, with an additional 120 to 200 square feet of storage in storage sheds outside.

Perhaps another class of retiree this appeals to is someone like me, who lives abroad with plenty of assets, but would someday like to have a light, inexpensive footprint in their home country for easier access to high quality medical care, the comforts of home, etc. (assuming ACA continues for early retirees).
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