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-   -   Move to Colorado? (https://www.early-retirement.org/forums/f29/move-to-colorado-105202.html)

BigMoneyJim 08-20-2020 08:22 PM

Move to Colorado?
Hi, I retired 10 months ago.

I had intended to sell my house in Irving, TX, and move to an apartment in Kitsap County (West of Seattle) to start the next phase of my life. I wanted a cooler climate, scenery, and plenty of choices of what to go see and do.

But my approach to the pandemic has been to halt those plans and hole up in my TX house until it's all over.

But now I'm considering other possibilities. I still don't feel comfortable moving 2200 miles for various reasons, mainly I absolutely want to avoid air travel during the pandemic, and there's always the "what if"s of family. (I'm single but have family in the DFW area.)

Colorado is getting some serious consideration now. It should be cooler, more scenic, and within a day's drive of DFW.

Colorado Springs is a place to which I wanted to someday move 25-30 years ago for both then-job prospects and scenery. Durango was another brief place of interest, but that was when I was toying with the idea of becoming a ski bum after meeting a raft guide who did odd jobs in the area including ski patrol and archaeological dig helper.

But now that I'm retired, job prospects aren't important. I'm more interested in ensuring I have all or most of the services I'm used to in suburbia, and plenty of medical care access. And of course non-scorching climate, and scenery.

Beyond that, I'm not even sure what I need to look for in a place to live as a retiree. Especially a single mostly-introvert who plans to hide from the pandemic for probably at least another year.

I drove through Colorado Springs in November, and the big thing I remember is that I-25 traffic was crazy. (And that it's still pretty.) But then I don't necessarily care about traffic now as long as I live far enough away from it. I don't need to commute to work 5 days a week anymore.

I suppose I could also consider Denver and really anywhere "along" I-25 next to the mountains. Maybe even Grand Junction. I also drove through there in November, but I had never considered living there before and didn't think of it as a possible future destination at the time. So all I remember is that it was there, on the West side of the mountains.

So I'm not even sure what I want to ask here. I went to reddit, but most of the "Denver vs Colorado Springs" threads were focused on things to do for younger people who want to socialize and meet other young people. (Denver is apparently way better there.)

I guess I want a view, the comfort of suburbia not too far away, and good Internet. And drivable access to restaurants (for after-pandemic) and stores and some various things to do and see (mostly after-pandemic).

So, anybody with any thoughts? On Colorado Springs, Denver, any city along the I-25 corridor, or Durango or Grand Junction?

More specifically where in Colorado Springs might I look? Probably for a corporate-owned apartment complex, but because pandemic maybe a small house, townhome, or even a cabin (all rentals, not ready to buy again for probably a decade or more)?


Edit: For what it's worth, legal pot is not a concern of mine at this time. I always wonder if all my talk of wanting to move to Washington or Colorado makes people think "oh he wants pot". Nah, my career was not drug tolerant, and while I don't plan to go back to work, I'm still early enough in retirement I want the ability to step right back into work if needed. Heck, I hardly even drink. But at some point once I'm really confident in my not needing non-drug-tolerant employment I may see what all the fuss is about. But that's no near-term consideration of where I live.

Edit 2: If there are any healthcare items to know, that might be useful. I'm on COBRA now but will need to get something else in early 2021. As I currently understand it, WA has better options than TX, and at first glance it looks like CO is reasonably friendly with health care plan options, although I haven't dug into the whole scene yet. I do have a couple of chronic conditions and will need regular checkups, labs, and meds.

davebarnes 08-20-2020 08:38 PM

Colorado Springs (I lived there, now live in Denver) is fine.
Just make sure you are comfortable with the political atmosphere.
They hate taxes in the Springs. Even when it means turning off half the street lights.

mh 08-20-2020 09:17 PM


Originally Posted by davebarnes (Post 2474165)
Colorado Springs (I lived there, now live in Denver) is fine.
Just make sure you are comfortable with the political atmosphere.
They hate taxes in the Springs. Even when it means turning off half the street lights.

You should probably post some more criteria . Personally Durango and grand junction would probably appeal to me more

Retire52 08-20-2020 09:24 PM


I grew up in C/S and wanted to retire there, but DW had other plans. Since she wears the pants in the family, we now live in FL.

If you are considering living in C/S, I like the Broadmoor area, Manitou Springs, or North West area. The Broadmoor is an older, upscale community very close to Cheyenne Mountain. Great views.

Manitou Springs is just west of the Springs--cant really tell where CS ends and MS begins bc they are contiguous-- and is a popular tourist area, for its Natural springs and old town vibe (great little shops and restaurants). Also nestled in the foot of the mountains, so great views with an added bonus of being walkable.

just south of the airforce academy is NW CS, this area is more open and has great views. bit more family friendly, bigger houses and lots but this may not be as important as it was for us with a 6 person household.

If you want to get further away from the city, just north of the AF academy is Monument. it is a small town, but minutes from CS with spectacular views of, you guessed it, the mountains[emoji16]

All of the above are west of I-25. I am big into views as well and if you pick the right house, or apartment, you will have awesome trails you can walk, hike or bike while enjoying the mountain views.

Traffic, i wouldnt worry too much about. i go back to the Springs for a week or so every year and the traffic is nothing compared to DC or Miami. it can be a little rough on I-25 during rush hour, but that's about it.

FreeBear 08-20-2020 09:26 PM

We're moving 2000 miles right now, 4000 miles round trip. Maybe we'll make the drive 4-5 times over a period of a year. Tons of furniture, toys, and just stuff. Think 5 bedrooms worth...

I envy the fact the you can live in just an apartment. Just pick up and go. Seems like you can't go wrong. Maybe start with AirBnb or VRBO to check out neighborhoods, then pick up a lease. If it doesn't w*rk out, you can try someplace new the next time!

Colorado Springs was on my short list for years, for the reasons you mention. DW vetoed it because wanted warm winters. So have warm winters in SE Arizona, but it is now almost as hot as the surface of the sun. But it's a dry heat, it does make a difference.

A few things that helped us. How do you currently spend you time (pre Covid too)? Where do you shop? Socialize? Church? Recreation? Outdoor stuff and good views? We listed all these things and looked for neighborhoods near them on Google Maps/Earth.

Next we looked at various crime maps. We like the one buried in Trulia the best. Not sure about the Springs, but this will knock out many neighborhoods in larger cities!

Finally, we were down to a few neighborhoods. We looked at real estate on Zillow and cruised the local streets on Google Maps street view. We narrowed down to our final neighborhood because the others had crappy streets for biking and walking outside of the little subdivision.

We also know the general area and vibe from snow birding here for several weeks over the last 2 years, but the Google-fu really helped sort things out in terms of the specifics.

Oh, for healthcare, we're on ACA before Medicare. Check out healthcare.gov as if you we're buying a plan in these various areas. ACA is a whole other world if you've grown accustomed to corporate Cadillac, or even Buick, insurance. Limited networks, few true PPO's, mainly HMO, huge deductibles/max out of pocket, income management for ACA subsidies...

strobot 08-21-2020 12:02 AM

You can't go wrong with the Northeast too. We visited Maine last year and I was completely sold on settling somewhere along the coast up there. If you stay within a certain amount of miles of the coast you barely even get any snow. SHOCKING amount of retirees up there.

BigMoneyJim 08-21-2020 12:15 AM

Thanks all!

@mh : What's good/better about Grand Junction? It's the place I know the least about. I drove through it in November, and its general location and city-ness stuck in my head, but I don't even recall how close the mountains are. I just remember it's on the other side of the mountains from everywhere else I'm thinking about. It seems like it might be a good jumping off point for short driving trips West-ish in addition to being near-ish the mountains. If I'm on the East of the mountains or even in Durango, I'm not sure if I'd have anywhere scenic different enough to be compelling to drive to.

@Retire52 thanks so much for the detailed CS-area details! That should give me some good starting points for research.

@Freebear I spent my 'me time' in recent years recuperating from work, so I'm almost blank-slate on "what do I do?" I definitely enjoy travel, scenery, and non-scorching weather, but I was going to do a lot of exploring and self-discovery post-move. With the pandemic I guess I'm now looking for a better place to ride it out. A place I would actually care to go outside and walk around or drive and just hang out in the car. After-pandemic I still have some figuring on how I want to structure (or not) my retired life. I just know I don't want to put anchors down anywhere for at least a decade. I don't think I actually want to go nomadic, but heck I might give it a try eventually.

I feel so sorry for those of you whose spouse requires warmer winters! I've dealt with hot summers and cold winters, and I'll take the cold winters every time, especially now that I don't have to get out and go somewhere 5x/week.

JDARNELL 08-21-2020 03:01 AM

Well I just left the Springs after 23
Years to move to the mtns of Tennessee. People from left states tend to like The front range more right now people on the right are looking at other options. Demand for housing is very strong and prices continue to rise. Donít underestimate the impact of legalized 420 on the area. It certainly changed things. Itís all relative depending on your views. Just do your homework.

DrRoy 08-21-2020 04:47 AM

I suggest that you spend a month or so in each location to find out from experience which you like better. Consider the year round weather. In the Denver area you might try Boulder.

braumeister 08-21-2020 05:10 AM

I lived in Colo Spgs for a few years back in the 70s, and I loved it. Being a skier, I've been to Colorado probably 200 times since then, all over the state. Unfortunately, I've watched as many places grew so much that I lost interest in living there.
If I had to pick one place I'd consider in the state, it would probably be Fort Collins. But as others have said, you really need to go live there for at least a week to size up a town. Once you've narrowed your choices down to two or three places, spend another week or two there at a different time of year.

The Cosmic Avenger 08-21-2020 06:10 AM

I was looking at Colorado Springs recently, as a really nice listing came up, and I saw it was in a walkable part of town (something I'd like in retirement), and between the local airport and Denver, I figured it would be a decent location for travel (another item high on my list for retirement). But we definitely need to spend time in a few places (PNW, Maine coast, CO, MN) before we buy.

pjm-7 08-21-2020 07:28 AM

I recently left the Denver area for Grand Junction. I like the Loveland-Fort Collins area but they have tried into the ex-burbs , the same with CS. The front range is not what it was in the early 1980's.

GJ does have the the outdoor activities both western CO and into Utah. There are choices with healthcare and retail. I am not the most social creature and moving during a pandemic has had its challenges. I have gotten involved with a few volunteer activities which I enjoy.

The marketwatch.com website has a relocation calculator under the retirement tab. You put in the parameters that are important to you and see if any of the results help with your decision.

Mark1 08-21-2020 07:34 AM

BMJ enclosed is a few Grand Junction comments for your review based on what your post.

- Elevation is fairly low for CO standards (~4,500 ft), so summers are warm hot. Nothing like Seattle area.
- Not much rain. We have gotten maybe 0.5 to 1 inch of rain since June 1st. Again, nothing like Seattle area.
- Limited employment opportunities if you are planning on going back to work as there are not a lot of industry out here on the western slope.
- Long boring drive to DFW area (maybe 15 hours)
- Not sure about your health care options, although, this is the first place I have ever had to "apply" for a primary care physician.
- Smaller metro area which limits the amount of good restaurants. Nothing like a big metro area in terms of selection.
- Wildfire smoke can be bad in late summers like much of western US. Right now it is horrible with two fires in area (Pine Gulch and Grizzly Canyon).
- Inversions are a problem in Junction in the winter in Dec/Jan maybe a total of 5-20 days a winter on average. Not too many days, but it can get old quick.

- No traffic issues of any real concern.
- Still has small town character.
- Lots of mountains in area, so lots of views from valley.
- Winter skiing is about 45 minutes from town, but winters in Junction are relatively mild.
- Hot in summer, but it is a dry heat.
- Have never been bitten by a mosquito in our yard. Sometimes we do have gnats for a few weeks in June, but that is extent of outside insect issues.
- CO Monument is like a National Park without the people and buses. Also lots of public land in area for outdoors activities.
- Non-tourist town.
- Plenty of local medical as Junction is central location for most of western CO. Largest building in town (10 stories) is a hospital.

Based on your reasoning for eliminating Seattle area, I would just wait out COVID and move to WA as original planned. By next year COVID will likely be mostly behind us.

nobody 08-21-2020 07:55 AM

Move to WA, too many people here in Springs already ;D

intent 08-21-2020 09:51 AM

I've lived in or around Co Spgs most of my life. Grew up in Manitou Spgs in the 70s-80s. Also lived in Denver for a few years (too big, busy for our taste), and even in TX (Corpus Christi - too hot and too many bugs) for a few years.

In addition to the areas already mentioned, you might consider checking out the areas "up the Pass." Heading NW out of Manitou Spgs, Hwy 24 goes up Ute Pass and there are several small communities that are at a slightly higher elevation and more rural (but still an easy drive down to the Springs). Cascade, Chipita Park, Green Mountain Falls, and Woodland Park are all areas I would recommend exploring. We live just outside of Woodland Park and find, especially now that commuting to the office isn't a thing, we rarely need to drive down to the Springs, as Woodland is a town of about 8K-10K with plenty of grocery stores to keep us stocked. Ute Pass is sort of a gateway into the mountains for Springs residents, so there are also quite a few restaurants up here - though you would need to take a 30-45 minute drive to the Springs for better variety.

Something to keep in mind that we've noticed some who move from out-of-state miss is that if you're planning to move here full-time you'll likely want to invest in an AWD vehicle. The weather isn't as bad as a lot of Texans fear, but there will be snow days, some of the roads are steep, and we've helped many a stranded 2WD vehicle of people who moved here in the spring/summer not realizing how it can get.

Another location idea might be Canon City. It's a small- to mid-size town west of Pueblo - a little further off I-25. It's warmer and lower elevation than the Springs, but has a nice smaller older town sort of feel, and is also close to the mountains. It's big enough that you can find everything you need there, and is close to Pueblo if you need specialized medical care.

Last but not least, I'll throw Buena Vista and Salida out there as towns to investigate. They're deeper in the mountains / further from big metropolitan areas. But they're both very nice and seem to be growing in popularity with more affluent retirees (who aren't affluent enough to live in Vail, Aspen, Breckenridge).

FreeBear 08-21-2020 10:26 AM


Originally Posted by BigMoneyJim (Post 2474159)


I guess I want a view, the comfort of suburbia not too far away, and good Internet. And drivable access to restaurants (for after-pandemic) and stores and some various things to do and see (mostly after-pandemic).

We were in a similar situation. We wanted something pretty to look at and visit, but we didn't want to live in the middle of nowhere.

Grand Junction, according to Wiki, has a population of only 50K, whereas Colorado Springs is half a million. Typically, this would mean a huge difference in terms of healthcare and suburban conveniences such as stores and restaurants.

We were looking at las Cruces in NM (pop. 100K) and Sierra Vista, but ended up in Tucson (1 million). These other places were just too small.

Also, keep in mind the Grand Junction is in the middle of nowhere, although it's certainly a pretty drive in. Google is showing a 15 hr drive from GJ to DFW, compared to 11 hrs from Colorado Springs. Neither is exactly easy, but that extra 4 hrs is just a killer at the end of an already long day!

I wouldn't worry too much about interstate traffic if you can find a neighborhood close to where go everyday. Plus, don't forget that you are retired and can avoid the weekend and rush hour traffic.

Since you already have been thinking of CS for decades, this seems like a good place to start. Since you plan to rent, you can just pick up and move, esp. if you don't have too much stuff.

Bamaman 08-21-2020 10:30 AM

A great source of info on moving can be found at City-Data.com

They have people that have made such moves and can provide great info on your question.

karen1972 08-21-2020 11:18 AM

I was actually struck by Grand Junction, went there for a wedding. It was not a place I would have ever considered until I went there. It had a super cute walkable downtown, went hiking, great views and close to Moab. However we couldn't get over the feeling we were 'stuck' in the middle of no where. If the closest major city wasn't 200 miles away we would have considered it, but alas that is not the case and I don't think I could live without the museums and theater, etc that come with being at least near a major city.

COcheesehead 08-21-2020 11:49 AM

We moved to Grand Junction from Denver.
We wanted to stay in Colorado, but in a location with less snow.
We wanted direct jet service to at least hubs, if not destination cities.
We wanted a house lot with a view.
We wanted good medical and hospitals.

We got all that and more.

A bonus has been plenty of good, local restaurants.

A good music scene, at least up until this year. There are touring acts that play the valley in a large amphitheater by the river and there are two smaller venues downtown that get the national acts on their way from Salt Lake to Denver.

There is theatre and museums.

A good local University keeps things vibrant as well.

Outstanding local fruit and produce. The valley produces much of Colorado’s fruit and a good portion of its produce.

Palisade’s wine district is right next store. 31 wineries that have bands, food trucks, special dinner parties and cookouts. A really fun option for entertaining. The wines are actually pretty good too, if you go to the right places.

We are within an hour or two of Moab, Arches, Canyonlands, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Dinosaur National Parks as well as short hops to Ouray, Telluride, Aspen and the Grand Mesa, which is a paradise of 300+ lakes. Colorado National Monument is literally in our backyard.

The city just started a large redevelopment project down by the Colorado River that will include a number of different housing options.


We were done with the traffic, bad air and general decline of the front range with crime, riots, homelessness.

We lived in Colorado Springs and Denver. We enjoyed our time when we were there, but they have changed, a lot.

I wish you luck in your search.

Callitaday2022 08-21-2020 04:52 PM

We live in CS and it's nice, but very, very conservative. Lots if military both active and retired. Good medical, most sports and concerts have to go to Denver. USAFA does have some good sports and inexpensive. We want to move to Golden, Longmont, Loveland area in 2 yrs when we retire. We just visited Grand Junction and Western slope and honestly not impressed. Some very beautiful areas, but small and just not our cup of tea. GJ is less expensive, and Denver area very expensive. CS used to be lower cost, but not anymore. Just saw Security/widefield #1 in America as 30% less than CS

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