Author Topic: Retire in Denver? Info wanted from those who are in the know.  (Read 3771 times)

Trudie

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1648
I previously posted a similar question about other locations (Washington, Oregon) but have ruled those places out due to weather concerns and distance from our families who are in the upper midwest.  But I wanted to re-post this question specifically to get info about the Denver area:

I would like to get opinions from the community about Denver and possibly Fort Collins, Colorado as places to retire.  I know there is a lot of variation depending on what type of town you choose, but it's interesting hearing others' motivations.    I specifically would like advice from people currently living there and why (not) they chose one place over another.  Before I start doing more "objective" analysis of COL, taxes, health care, activities, and lifestyle I'd like to hear from the people on these boards -- particularly if they located there from another area of the country.

Here's my "wish list" (somewhat in priority order):
(1)  Mild climate with significant sun (ability to spend most days of the year outdoors).  I am fine with some winter and some summer, just not the extremes.
(2)  Access to good health care and health insurance programs/exchanges.
(3)  Access to the great outdoors -- for running, biking, walking, golfing
(4)  Urban amenities with a smaller town feel.  I do not have an inherent dislike for suburbs, especially if well connected by public transport.  We don't need to live in the middle of it all, but would like access to it.  Urban areas with a strong "neighborhood ethic" could be appealing.
(5)  Reasonable taxes for retirees.  Decent cost of living.
(6)  Laid back attitude.  Progressive values.
(7)  Access to major airport.

We're visiting Denver this fall (and have spent much time in Denver, Frisco, and Fort Collins in the past.)

At present, we live in the upper midwest.  It's too cold to really enjoy year-round, and the winters can be downright depressing.  (I think snow is beautiful, it's just not seeing the sun day after day or having long stretches of sub-zero temps I can do without.)  We've always lived in University towns so are used to those amenities, albeit with a small town feel.  We would not want to give that up.  Our interests are:  running, biking, golfing, gardening, reading, using the public library, and we value being part of an active church (liberal Christian) community.  We have more interests than that, but those are the primary ones.

gReed Smith

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 170
Re: Retire in Denver? Info wanted from those who are in the know.
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2015, 11:36:23 AM »
I have some very good friends who live in Denver, some retired some not.  I think Denver pretty well fits your requirements, as long as you also enjoy outdoor winter activities.  There is plenty of winter in Denver, it's just more bearable than in other places because it's sunny and broken up with some warmer days.  The higher up into the foothills you go, the more winter you get.

Trudie

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1648
Re: Retire in Denver? Info wanted from those who are in the know.
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2015, 11:40:21 AM »
I have some very good friends who live in Denver, some retired some not.  I think Denver pretty well fits your requirements, as long as you also enjoy outdoor winter activities.  There is plenty of winter in Denver, it's just more bearable than in other places because it's sunny and broken up with some warmer days.  The higher up into the foothills you go, the more winter you get.

I think I would be fine in Colorado in the winter.  I do like the outdoors.  I would run and walk in the winter (with some adaptations).  The challenge here is that there is just so much ice and not enough sun.  I don't mind cold either, just not sub-zero cold.  I love recreating in cool(er) fall and winter temps -- it's just not very possible here.

NorCal

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 657
Re: Retire in Denver? Info wanted from those who are in the know.
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2015, 11:53:26 AM »
That's a good list.  We're looking for pretty much the same (although progressive values aren't my thing).

I'm interested to hear what others come back with.  Colorado might be in our future too.

I have a cousin in Colorado Springs who loves it.  By reputation, you might look there (although I haven't been myself).  It's much smaller than Denver, but still seems to have access to the Urban amenities you're looking for.


Trudie

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1648
Re: Retire in Denver? Info wanted from those who are in the know.
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2015, 12:05:08 PM »
That's a good list.  We're looking for pretty much the same (although progressive values aren't my thing).

I'm interested to hear what others come back with.  Colorado might be in our future too.

I have a cousin in Colorado Springs who loves it.  By reputation, you might look there (although I haven't been myself).  It's much smaller than Denver, but still seems to have access to the Urban amenities you're looking for.

We visited Fort Collins and really loved it too, but I've not been to Colorado Springs.  The "values" stuff is complex, and all the more reason I think it's good to immerse yourself in a place for awhile before you take the leap to buy property.  I'm not wanting to provoke ideological sparring or anything in my comment (and take no offense at yours); these questions are complex.  My husband and I are pretty conventional people and aren't "in your face" about our politics or religious views.  I just know where we feel most comfortable.  I think all of us know it when we experience it and feel it and when we don't.

waffle

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 286
Re: Retire in Denver? Info wanted from those who are in the know.
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2015, 01:29:32 PM »
I currently live in Aurora, lived in fort Collins for a few months (in laws live there), and have visited Colorado springs a few times. I really like Fort Collins. It has a decently small town feel, but has all your normal amenities. Colorado Springs seems nice, but I haven't really explored that much of it. Denver/Denver area is pretty diverse so I'm sure you could find the kind of neighborhood that fits you best pretty easily. As a small town farm boy from Washington my one big complaint with the Denver area is traffic.

Trudie

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1648
Re: Retire in Denver? Info wanted from those who are in the know.
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2015, 12:03:05 PM »
In preparing for our trip to Denver in October I looked up the website for Denver public transit and noticed they're adding several commuter train lines in the next 1-5 years.  This made me do cartwheels and makes Denver all-the-more appealing. 

BMEPhDinCO

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 75
Re: Retire in Denver? Info wanted from those who are in the know.
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2015, 12:38:00 PM »
Fort Collins is great, but it is far from the airport (1.5 hours, a bit more or less depending on route).  The prices right now for housing though are really high and houses are going very fast.  Also, the University does charge for events (concerts, shows, etc).  Old Town is a great area and walking distance to it would be nice (but expensive, and near lots of students).  There is a new "bus" route (MAX) that goes through town and can make it more convenient to get around if you live near one of the stations or drive and park at one. 

Denver is much larger than FC and you'd need to pick the area carefully - balancing price vs. amenities can take a bit of juggling and compromise. 

Weather is not too extreme, but we have had many cold, cold winter days and recently have been in high 90s, low 100s for the summer. 

I do like being out here and as a place to retire I think it should be on anyone's list. 

OttoVonBisquick

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 123
  • Age: 25
  • Location: Denver
  • Eisen und Blut und Pfannkuchen
Re: Retire in Denver? Info wanted from those who are in the know.
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2015, 02:36:00 PM »
I've lived in Boulder/Denver for the last 4 years, and I grew up in a suburb of Chicago, dealing with all the weather, amenities, etc. that are involved with living there for 18 years.

Here's my "wish list" (somewhat in priority order):
(1)  Mild climate with significant sun (ability to spend most days of the year outdoors).  I am fine with some winter and some summer, just not the extremes.
"300 days of sun a year" is probably increasing. There are a couple of weeks where its straight rain or snow, but it's pretty much always sunny here. The snow doesn't last long and rain dries up incredibly quickly.

(2)  Access to good health care and health insurance programs/exchanges.
I'm on Medicaid here, and I get free operations up to $1000 (I think), plus there's always someone around here who takes it. I'm not sure about how good other health care is, but it could be an option.

(3)  Access to the great outdoors -- for running, biking, walking, golfing
Denver is both a) always sunny, b) very "planned out" in design (meaning lots of biking/running/river trails) and c) very wealthy (meaning tons of golf courses all over the denver area!)

(4)  Urban amenities with a smaller town feel.  I do not have an inherent dislike for suburbs, especially if well connected by public transport.  We don't need to live in the middle of it all, but would like access to it.  Urban areas with a strong "neighborhood ethic" could be appealing.
I grew up in a "neighborhood ethic" town in the suburbs of Chicago, and my god does Denver do it well. Western denver, Englewood, Southeast Denver (near DU) are all very "neighborhood"-y areas but within 10-25 minutes of every possible destination you want. Lots of events, culture, etc.

(5)  Reasonable taxes for retirees.  Decent cost of living. not sure, I'm only 22
(6)  Laid back attitude.  Progressive values.
Definitely every type ever in Denver, but nearly 100% of the people I've met are all cheerful and kind, and either support non-traditional mindsets or simply don't care. Very liberal, by and large, socially-speaking.

(7)  Access to major airport. DIA (Yes, the I stands for International)

We're visiting Denver this fall (and have spent much time in Denver, Frisco, and Fort Collins in the past.)

At present, we live in the upper midwest.  It's too cold to really enjoy year-round, and the winters can be downright depressing.  (I think snow is beautiful, it's just not seeing the sun day after day or having long stretches of sub-zero temps I can do without.)  We've always lived in University towns so are used to those amenities, albeit with a small town feel.  We would not want to give that up.  Our interests are:  running, biking, golfing, gardening, reading, using the public library, and we value being part of an active church (liberal Christian) community.  We have more interests than that, but those are the primary ones.

Added comments. That's my take. I'm in love with this state. Although it can be a grind sometimes (A freak entire month of rain in May, anyone?), the weather smokes the midwest by a mile, there's lots of booming real estate (people are scrambling for housing out here, great place to set up your mustachian real estate nest, if you want), and everyone here is healthy, happy, and almost always have outdoor or sports hobbies, in addition to all the coolest other ones (metal artworkers, painters, singers, board game players, woodworkers, craft beer breweries by the hundreds, etc.)

I don't know what your job or plans are for your retirement, but this is a hell of a place to do it. It's a great place to do nearly everything you want (even scuba diving and water sports, if you so choose).
« Last Edit: July 30, 2015, 02:41:32 PM by OttoVonBisquick »

nawhite

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1057
  • Location: An RV somewhere in the West
    • The Reckless Choice
Re: Retire in Denver? Info wanted from those who are in the know.
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2015, 02:52:37 PM »
I've lived in Denver for 4 years now and bought a house 2 years ago so let me see if I can help. First off, Denver is a big city. By every definition is doesn't fit that "small town feel." That being said, I think you'd love Golden or Longmont and maybe even Boulder. Other misconceptions people have about Denver.

1) Housing is expensive and getting more so every day. My 880 sq ft house on 1/10 of an acre is worth about $260k i.e. about 3x more than my friends with comparable houses in the midwest.
2) Denver isn't in the mountains. Expect to drive 30 minutes minimum to get to the foothills (Red Rocks / Golden / The Flatirons etc) and another 30 minutes minimum to get to Real mountains (Summit county/Nederland/Bailey) There are tons of running/biking trails within the city, a few nice rivers, and a couple state parks around reservoirs but it is not "The Mountains." It also has a number of golf courses down here but I don't golf and boo on you if you go to a course that irrigates. We don't have the water for that and it makes me sad that golf courses get a free pass on water use in people's minds.
3) The RTD light rail network follows the highways. I-25 South to Lincoln Ave, Santa Fe South to Mineral Ave, HW 6 West to the outskirts of Golden (no getting to downtown golden via light rail), and then next year they are opening I-70 East to the Airport and I-225 between I-70 and I-25. It is primarily designed to get you to downtown from a park and ride. There are a surprisingly few number of housing units near stations unfortunately. It also means that in almost all cases, if you have a car, it will be faster and cheaper (especially if you have more than one person in the car) to just use the Highway. That being said, I live 300 yards from a station and take the train downtown about 2x a month and use to commute via train. The system is in great shape and really nice to use, just not always the most effective.
4) The airport is 40 minutes away from downtown Denver even by car. Unless you live in Aurora (i.e. farther from the mountains) you'll live far from the airport.
5) We really don't have enough water. This year we got lucky but even the state government doesn't see how we can accommodate the expected growth between now and 2050 state wide from a water supply standpoint. Both the eastern and western slopes of the continental divide have said they expect the same water coming out of the Colorado River to be reserved for them. If you do move here, please be a responsible irrigator and let your grass go brown. No one will think less of you for letting your grass go brown.

Now that I've told you all the bad things about living here (you'll find most people from here try to encourage people not to come here b/c we're selfish that way :-) ) lets take a look at your wishlist:

(1)  Mild climate with significant sun (ability to spend most days of the year outdoors).  I am fine with some winter and some summer, just not the extremes. The front range will get a ton of sun, highs always below 105F, usually below 95F, very infrequent cold snaps where the high stays below 10 degrees F for a couple days, and winter storms that drop 8 inches of snow in 8 hours then it will all melt within 4 days.
(2)  Access to good health care and health insurance programs/exchanges. Colorado has one of the few state run healthcare exchanges that are resounding successes. My wife (28 non-smoker) has a gold plan through Kaiser for somewhere around $250/month. Premiums have been fairly stable and there is an upstart insurance Co-Op that is shaking up prices and keeping things competitive.
(3)  Access to the great outdoors -- for running, biking, walking, golfing See above, great trails in the city (the Cherry Creek trail, the Highline Canal trail, the South Platte River trail) even better stuff if you're willing to drive to the foothils.
(4)  Urban amenities with a smaller town feel.  I do not have an inherent dislike for suburbs, especially if well connected by public transport.  We don't need to live in the middle of it all, but would like access to it.  Urban areas with a strong "neighborhood ethic" could be appealing. This makes me think that Denver itself isn't where you should look. I think you'd like Golden especially, maybe Littleton, maybe Englewood, maybe Boulder, maybe Longmont
(5)  Reasonable taxes for retirees.  Decent cost of living. Other than housing, costs aren't that out of control. Milk is $1.99/gallon on sale. Gas today was $2.71/gallon. Property taxes are minuscule (I pay about $1700/year which is around 0.7% of appraised value). Beer is expensive b/c all you can get when you go out is (really good) craft beer but expect $9-$10 for a nice 6-pack and $4 for a happy hour beer out. Sales taxes in Denver are around 7% I think, outside city limits, its more like 4.5%
(6)  Laid back attitude.  Progressive values. Here is my scale of most liberal to most conservative. Boulder, Fort Collins, Denver, Golden, Morrison, Aurora, Parker, Castle Rock, Colorado Springs. Take your pick.
(7)  Access to major airport. DIA is close (and getting closer with the new light rail line) but never as close as you want it to be.

Let me know if you have any other questions.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2015, 02:55:44 PM by nawhite »

Beaker

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 336
Re: Retire in Denver? Info wanted from those who are in the know.
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2015, 03:12:04 PM »
I've been in Denver since 2003. I was going to post some thoughts, but nawhite mostly nailed it, so just +1 what he said. I'll add a few minor points:

  • There are some areas of downtown that have a strong neighborhood ethic. I live in Curtis Park (1.2 miles from the center of Denver) and I know a lot of people in the neighborhood. There are lots of strong neighborhood organizations if that's what you want. But plan to pay a lot for housing these days - lots of half-million dollar new builds going up. I worry a bit about a housing bubble if immigration dries up soon.
  • The temps feel milder than you'd expect due to the lack of humidity. "It's a dry heat" is a cliche for a reason.
  • Water is definitely going to be an issue. If you're committed to having an emerald green lawn, this may not be the place for you.
  • You may want to consider some of the foothills communities like Genessee, Evergreen, Conifer, etc. Colder and further from downtown, but more small-town and in the mountains instead of near them.
  • FWIW, the MMM family is in Longmont, which is either a northern suburb of Denver or an eastern suburb of Boulder, depending on your preference

Trudie

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1648
Re: Retire in Denver? Info wanted from those who are in the know.
« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2015, 05:32:49 PM »
For those in Denver (and surrounds) a real estate question:

We are just two people and could easily get by with a 2-3 bedroom house, minimal yard... as long as we have decent sized common areas within the house and access to parks.  I am not concerned about the water problem.  My parents live in Tucson and have dealt with Xeriscaping and water shortages for years.  I would gratefully give up mowing and dealing with grass (something I feel we have plenty of now and spend too much time maintaining.)

If you want a smallish property (1500 sq foot or less) can you find them in the 350K to 400K range?  Is anyone developing smaller eco-friendly housing?

PawPrint53

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 43
Re: Retire in Denver? Info wanted from those who are in the know.
« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2015, 07:26:56 PM »
I reallY loved Fort Collins when I lived there. It was a great size and it's easy to get to the national park. Hiking was awesome.

If we wanted a larger town, we'd visit Boulder or Denver. I walked two miles to work every day, even in the snow. The only time I didn't walk was when it was 20 below, the coldest temperature I've ever experienced.

Like others have mentioned, staying for a while in the area you're considering is always a good idea. Will be interested to know where you end up.

Beaker

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 336
Re: Retire in Denver? Info wanted from those who are in the know.
« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2015, 08:40:26 AM »
If you want a smallish property (1500 sq foot or less) can you find them in the 350K to 400K range?  Is anyone developing smaller eco-friendly housing?

Looks like yes. More so outside of town - probably also easier to find in Fort Collins, Golden, etc.