Poll

Where should our 4-person family move for good QoL at a great price?

Longmont, CO - The 'stash capital
6 (15%)
Colorado Springs, CO - Bigger and lower cost?
12 (30%)
Bend, OR - Small and friendly
10 (25%)
Prescott, AZ - Don't know much about it, but it's near mountains!
6 (15%)
Other - Type in a suggestion...
6 (15%)

Total Members Voted: 39

Voting closed: January 05, 2015, 05:16:03 PM

Author Topic: Where to move? Longmont, CO; Prescott, AZ; Bend, OR; Colorado Springs, CO; etc??  (Read 13252 times)

jngreenlee

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Hi Mustachianas, I'm looking for any experienced or data-based input on where to relocate.

Short version:
We're looking to cut costs and live a 'stashian lifestyle. We like sun and outdoors activities to make us strong and give us things to do with the kids. We also like city parks with playgrounds and good internet service (for my job). Although not an everyday thing, we like good restaurants, coffee and activities to be nearby.

I work from home, so I need a quiet office. We have two children that need a small room of their own. Combined, looking for a 4-bedroom house in a city where $1200-$1800 per month (rent or mortgage) can keep us within biking distance of food and a community.

Any recommendations for cities to investigate? I've put some known locations in the poll, but please do add suggestions!

Backstory for those who like to hear about us:
We're a family of 4. My name is Jay, 32, my wife is Ann, 36, and we've been together for 3.5 years, during which we've rapidly grown with the addition of a little girl and a toddler boy. We also have a large German Shepherd that likes to act like she's fierce but really just wants to play. I know we've already violated two mustachian principles, but I can't kick anyone out of the house yet.

I have the pleasure of working remotely for a nice group of people. My team is located all over the US-West, from Texas to Cali, so as long as I'm west of the Miss., I'm in good shape. We currently live in Portland, OR while Ann finishes some school. we also have a primary residence in Austin, TX.

We want to change our lifestyle and start a high savings rate. This means forgoing the pleasure of living in either of our current houses (rented out at a profit), and finding somewhere low-cost and bike-friendly for a 10 year timeframe. Fortunately, my job allows this. So, it's sort of a decision paralysis.

We live in a cash tsunami, earning around $140k Gross Annually. After benefits and taxes, but before 401k, its around $120k. We want to start saving $80k/year, and live on $4ok/year. I don't know why we aren't already!!

Ask me anything to help, I'll be around.



jngreenlee

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Wanted to add a reply with some numbers about the poll cities:

CityAvg Annual HighAvg Annual LowAvg Annual RainAvg Annual SnowAvg Home Sale PriceDowntown WalkscoreArea Walkscore
Longmont, CO64.733.214.13??$265k8835
Co Springs, CO62.135.81739$202k8633
Prescott, AZ69.639.817.913$242k8723
Bend, OR59.633.411.323$280k9531

I also looked into Santa Fe, NM but housing prices are crazy there ($400k+ average)!

Ready2Go

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I'm going to follow this with interest as my family is considering the same locations.  We pulled Bend out of the mix because it appears to be relatively difficult to fly in and out, and there is limited number of flights.  Something to consider if you'll be doing much traveling.   Fort Collins moved onto our short list as a replacement.

Christof

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Bend has become extremely expensive over the last few years. Many people are actually moving to nearby cities like Redmond (where the airport is). If you depend on fling RDM is indeed somewhat limited, Seatle, Portland, San Francisco and Salt Lake City are the major destinations served by United and Alaska. But it is a very efficient airport. I'm usually at the gate within five minutes.

With Bend you have to accept that the values people in Bend share (bicyclist, environmentalist, liberals) are not necessarily the same the people around Bend share (farmers, investors).

jngreenlee

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I'm going to follow this with interest as my family is considering the same locations.  We pulled Bend out of the mix because it appears to be relatively difficult to fly in and out, and there is limited number of flights.

That's pretty cool! Prescott also? Hope the discussion helps.

I fly infrequently enough that I don't mind being an hour or two from an airport. I used to think I was missing out on an important status symbol...frequent business travel. Now I'm glad!

jngreenlee

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Bend has become extremely expensive over the last few years. Many people are actually moving to nearby cities like Redmond (where the airport is).[...]With Bend you have to accept that the values people in Bend share (bicyclist, environmentalist, liberals) are not necessarily the same the people around Bend share (farmers, investors).

I'm seeing a lot of Bend votes! I think the presence of Crux could decimate my low spending goals. How do you all cope?

Christof

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To few votes yet. I like Bend, I've friends in the area, I'm there regularly, but I do live far away near Hamburg, Germany. Bend has a great brewery. Haven't found anything similar yet in Germany.

Exflyboy

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Bend is expensive.. relative to anything on the other side of the mountains anyway.. Lots of $1M town houses.. :)

Rental market extremely tight.. if your buying it might be OK.

Frank

Murse

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Consider taxes, oregon has income taxes that can go up to 9.9% but no sales tax, I am unsure of what taxes the other states do/don't have.

AlexK

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Reno, NV is nice and no state income tax. There is 8% sales tax but I don't pay much of that. Lake Tahoe, Mountains and skiing are here as well as casinos with cheap and good restaurants. Housing is cheaper than the places you mentioned. Very bikeable if you stay within the McCarran loop. I live a pretty extravagant life here with 80% savings rate and I make less than you do.

jngreenlee

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Reno, NV is nice and no state income tax. There is 8% sales tax but I don't pay much of that. Lake Tahoe, Mountains [...]

Thank you AlexK! I'm adding that to the analysis list...

jngreenlee

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Bend is expensive.. relative to anything on the other side of the mountains anyway.. Lots of $1M town houses.. :)

I don't disagree that there's a lot of expensive stuff selling there. I think it's possibly a temporary bubble. Bend aside, we start to look much further east/south, as opposed to the Willamette Valley. We've found it's too rainy and dark for our abilities to spend most of our time outside with kids  :(

jngreenlee

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Can anyone say anything good for CO Springs? I feel like it doesn't get much love compared to the rest of CO, in general.

C-note

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We have lived in Colorado Springs for 12 years and absolutely love it.

For us, the outdoors is the biggest benefit.  We hike almost every weekend (Microspikes or snowshoes in winter) or find something to do that's outdoors even if it's a walk/jog through Garden of the Gods or our neighborhood.

Weather is great as long as you don't mind snow and cold every now and then.  Most days, the snow that fell one day is gone by noon the next day although we do have our cold snaps.  It's arid so lotion, chapstick, and maybe a humidifier should always be handy.  No bugs - at least it seems like that.

I'm a public school administrator so I'm pretty familiar with the school districts in the area.  Our children are all out of K-12 public education but they all received good educations and have been successful in their post-secondary pursuits.

Threshkin

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I voted for Colorado Springs.  I lived there for about 10 years and loved it.

But I would also like to suggest you look into northern Colorado: Berthoud, Loveland, Fort Collins, La Porte.  These are all very nice towns with different characters and attributes.

Vilgan

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Throwing out my personal favorite: Port Angeles, WA. In one of the most beautiful areas of the country, housing is very affordable for western washington, and you pay no income tax as a resident of WA. Victoria is a quick ferry ride away, and you have amazing hiking/fishing/etc all around.

One thing to be aware of, depending on how long you have lived in Portland: If you like to get outside, the PNW is hard to beat. I've flown to CO a variety of times recently for work and while it is nice and one of the better places to live in the country, I am always eager to leave and get back to WA. CO is sunnier, but as a result it is a LOT less green/vibrant than the PNW. I didn't realize how much I would miss the green until I moved away and now that I'm back I'll never leave.

jngreenlee

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But I would also like to suggest you look into northern Colorado: Berthoud, Loveland, Fort Collins, La Porte.  These are all very nice towns with different characters and attributes.

Thank you Threshkin. Can you explain if the prevailing winter weather/micro-climates get worse further north towards FC? For example, is there a noticeable difference between Longmont and Loveland?

I'm starting to think this of this differently, where by focusing on CO, we can have a list of 4-5 front range communities, then watch the market, and let the price at our time to strike make the decision for us.

Threshkin

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But I would also like to suggest you look into northern Colorado: Berthoud, Loveland, Fort Collins, La Porte.  These are all very nice towns with different characters and attributes.

Thank you Threshkin. Can you explain if the prevailing winter weather/micro-climates get worse further north towards FC? For example, is there a noticeable difference between Longmont and Loveland?

I'm starting to think this of this differently, where by focusing on CO, we can have a list of 4-5 front range communities, then watch the market, and let the price at our time to strike make the decision for us.

These four town are listed south to north.  In that direction there is minimal difference in weather.  The bigger weather differences around here are more commonly east to west.  The closer you get to the foothills, you may get more snow due to up-slope conditions.  Elevation has a big impact on snowfall as well.

The bigger differences between these towns are housing costs and atmosphere.  Others may disagree but this is my take:
  • Berthoud - Quiet, Small town atmosphere, lower housing costs
  • Loveland - Bigger but still comparatively quiet, artsy, moderate housing costs
  • Fort Collins - Biggest town of the set, college town, lots of activities/events, highest housing costs of the set, most employment opportunities
  • La Port - Quiet, Small town atmosphere, close to Ft Collins, more of a blue collar vibe, low housing costs
Each town has positive and negative attributes.  It really depends what you are looking for. 

Threshkin

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I noticed that I focused on snow.  It is very cold here today (0F) and we have had on and off snow since Christmas day (5-6" total).

This kind of cold weather happens here a few times each winter but it usually does not last long.

The really heavy snow and cold temps generally stay up in the mountains where they belong.

Summers are very nice with temps in the 60-80s and occasional spikes near 100.  Usually the summers are very dry and sunny with occasional monsoon rains or hail.

I have lived up and down the east and west coasts.  If you like winter and sunny days, Colorado is one of the nicest places to be.

Spondulix

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The vibe between Longmont and Colorado Springs is totally different. CO Springs is a military town, more conservative, and more established as family-oriented. Longmont is more an up-and-coming town, so a lot of new growth and enthusiasm - almost a little hipster-ish. I was shocked to see the largest Artisan cheese store I've ever seen in my life in Longmont. The town was just a small farm community when I was growing up!

If you're highly considering either of the CO towns, I'd really suggest taking a 3 day weekend and drive from CO Springs up to Fort Collins. CO is an extremely broad state politically (extreme conservative to extreme liberal) and the vibe and feel between cities that aren't that far apart and similar sizes can be very different (just look at NoCo - Greeley vs Windsor, Loveland, Fort Collins). That's not to say that it's about living where you fit in politically, but that it does reflect in the culture, arts, night life, schools, churches, colleges (and students), etc.

jngreenlee

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I noticed that I focused on snow.  It is very cold here today (0F) and we have had on and off snow since Christmas day (5-6" total).
[...]
I have lived up and down the east and west coasts.  If you like winter and sunny days, Colorado is one of the nicest places to be.

Ann is from NJ, spent through 18 there. I'm from Iowa, spent 28 years there. We're both used to 30"+ of snow through the winter, that doesn't ever hardly vanish until April (at least in Iowa). NJ had lows in the 20/30s, Iowa would routinely be single digits or less.

So we don't mind snow, but have been in snow-free places for a few years. I think cold bothers us more. In fact, having kids now, I think snow could be a lot of fun.

Based on my rambling here, does it help with a recommendation? (Hopefully not "Don't even try CO!")

Frankies Girl

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Just curious - What's wrong with Austin? You say you have a residence there already, Texas is a no state tax state and in general can be low cost of living and Austin is a beautiful, vibrant city filled with tons of things to do free or low cost.

jngreenlee

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Just curious - What's wrong with Austin? You say you have a residence there already, Texas is a no state tax state and in general can be low cost of living and Austin is a beautiful, vibrant city filled with tons of things to do free or low cost.

It's a fair question, and one we're asking ourselves!

  • If we use our house, our housing budget goes from $1200/month to $3200/month. Does not help towards FIRE
  • We'd like to use that house again, but only after we've got a medium stash and can lower our savings rate
  • Living low-cost, we'd like to be closer to the big outdoors, for free entertainment and exercise
  • Austin is fun in many ways, but it's an AC heavy, car heavy environment, esp to get to any significant patches of outdoors

What do you think? Is my analysis troubled?

BMEPhDinCO

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I vote for Longmont - reasons:

1. Friendly city
2. Outdoors easily, hiking, biking, walking, skiing close, etc
3. Dog friendly city
4. Housing not too expensive
5. VERY family friendly - we always have parades, etc for events throughout the year
6. WE GET GIGABIT INTERNET!!!! (Sorry to shout, super excited about this coming) - AND for a limited time, if you get it within three months of it being available, it's only $50 a month!  Up and down!!

A few other thoughts...
Colorado is very "purple" - that is, politically the spectrum varies and so if you lean one way or the other, you may want to live with those similar to you.  Most of the cities mentioned here are in the north (CO Springs being the exception - other places in the south include Pueblo and Castle Rock) and along the "Front Range" (ie, close to I-25) and are more liberal areas.  Taxes are nice here, although Boulder county (where Longmont is) has higher taxes for a lot of things - but you do get some benefits of those as well.

I think if you are only planning on a 10 year stay, any of the cities mentioned are good, although I do think your family will enjoy a "smaller" place - once you get over 500k people, it just doesn't feel the same.  But the opportunies are bigger in a larger city, and you can always live "near" it (IE, Longmont is about 45 minutes from the "big city" of Denver).

Also consider your wife's job - what are her prospects/plans?  What are her skills? Other places to consider are... Raleigh NC, Charleston SC, the DC area in VA, the Austin "area" in TX, Phoenix AZ, Albuquerque NM...

Finally, do you like snow or hot or other weather issues more or less? Here in Longmont, we get pretty hot (100+ a few days, mostly 90sF high in the summer) and pretty cold (we've hit -25+F in the winter with wind chill) but for the most part it is in the 15-90F range most of the year.  We also get a lot of sun and the snow melts fairly quickly (full disclosure, Longmont sucks at clearing the roads after snow, they let it melt so the first few days can be hard; also, get a south facing house or risk a snowy lawn all winter).

Good luck!

Darrell

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I grew up in Longmont - just a few miles from where MMM lives! I still go up there during the summer as some of my favorite hikes are nearby. After leaving the state for a while after high school I ended moving back to the Denver area. There are some parts of Longmont that I could see myself living.

I never thought I would end up living in a larger city but since I have been living in Denver I have enjoyed it. There are many older neighborhoods with a lot of character that have affordable options that don't have a big city feel to them. If you find that you like the climate in the Denver / Longmont area you may find it worth your time to look at some of the older neighborhoods in Northwest Denver.

jngreenlee

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Hi All, so we came to an interim decision. I thought I'd share in case anyone liked this topic.

Given the variety of locations in the front range, we chose all of them! Well...sort of. We're going to see where my spouse can secure employment, in either:
  • Co Springs
  • Longmont
  • Loveland
  • Ft. Collins
  • NW Denver

This summer she will have her M.Ed in Montessori, she still has her professional HR certification, and she's prior military with a "10-pt preference" for federal jobs. This way, we will maximize income and savings further.

If no jobs opportunities arise prior to our move, then we will select on price/location out of the above, and then she will continue to search from there, staying home with kids (and me) as free childcare.

Threshkin

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Hi All, so we came to an interim decision. I thought I'd share in case anyone liked this topic.

Given the variety of locations in the front range, we chose all of them! Well...sort of. We're going to see where my spouse can secure employment, in either:
  • Co Springs
  • Longmont
  • Loveland
  • Ft. Collins
  • NW Denver

This summer she will have her M.Ed in Montessori, she still has her professional HR certification, and she's prior military with a "10-pt preference" for federal jobs. This way, we will maximize income and savings further.

If no jobs opportunities arise prior to our move, then we will select on price/location out of the above, and then she will continue to search from there, staying home with kids (and me) as free childcare.

Good choices!  I would be happy with any of these except NW Denver, unless it was way out.  But then I don't really like bigger cities.

jngreenlee

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Just wanted to followup and let everyone know we selected Old Colorado City in Colorado Springs and are making offers on a home to live in for the first 5-10 years of our FIRE journey!

SingleMomDebt

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Congrats on coming to a decision and moving forward on your new journey! Co is one of the states I have considered relocating to myself (in a few years). And this thread definitely has me craving it again. I've heard positives about Co Springs. Sounds like a great choice!

APowers

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Throwing out my personal favorite: Port Angeles, WA. In one of the most beautiful areas of the country, housing is very affordable for western washington, and you pay no income tax as a resident of WA. Victoria is a quick ferry ride away, and you have amazing hiking/fishing/etc all around.

One thing to be aware of, depending on how long you have lived in Portland: If you like to get outside, the PNW is hard to beat. I've flown to CO a variety of times recently for work and while it is nice and one of the better places to live in the country, I am always eager to leave and get back to WA. CO is sunnier, but as a result it is a LOT less green/vibrant than the PNW. I didn't realize how much I would miss the green until I moved away and now that I'm back I'll never leave.

Both my wife and I grew up on the Olympic Peninsula (PA and Sequim). Very verdant, amazing scenery, hiking, fishing, all that. We feel spoiled by all the gorgeousness sometimes. But. It. Is. Gray. And it rarely actually rains. It usually just sprinkles a little here and there, off and on, fall through spring, which is frustrating to me because I hate the fact that everything outside is wet-all-the-time. Want to go on a hike? You can bet all the underbrush is waiting to soak you. It doesn't get really cold, which means that all winter long it feels like the dreariest spring you've ever had, and everything is muddy, since nothing stays frozen longer than a few days at a time.

Port Angeles is really great in the summer, if we get a summer (usually we do, but some years...), and fantastic if you like gray and damp the rest of the year.

Threshkin

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Just wanted to followup and let everyone know we selected Old Colorado City in Colorado Springs and are making offers on a home to live in for the first 5-10 years of our FIRE journey!

Good choice.  I always liked the Old Colorado City area when i lived in Colorado Springs.

Bracken_Joy

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Just wanted to followup and let everyone know we selected Old Colorado City in Colorado Springs and are making offers on a home to live in for the first 5-10 years of our FIRE journey!

So cool when people update. I love seeing the decision making process people use!

Exhale

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Just wanted to followup and let everyone know we selected Old Colorado City in Colorado Springs and are making offers on a home to live in for the first 5-10 years of our FIRE journey!
So cool when people update. I love seeing the decision making process people use!
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