Author Topic: Should I even be considering moving to Boulder County/Longmont CO?  (Read 18332 times)

erinladeeda

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My husband is flying to CO this week for an interview with Boulder County. We are seriously considering moving there but I am wondering if part of my interest in the area is influenced by 'drinking too much MMM kool aid'. It would mean a serious pay cut for him but I am envisioning a paradise of bike commuting, less expensive housing, biotech job opportunities for me and lots of outdoorsy activities and people.

Some background: Family of 4, kids are 6 & 9. Live in the expensive East Bay of San Francisco metro area. Current household income is $190 K, both parents work, both commute to SF from 'burbs. High housing debt, high daycare expenses (annually more than the entire MMM family budget last year, WTF!?!?!)

The hubby job possibilities:  He's interviewing for a position that would be in the 50-67K range (down from 97K currently), his territory would be Boulder County, he would have to drive a county vehicle all around but I'm trying to convince him to bike from home to office for daily exercise. The job would include benefits that his current job doesn't have. We do not yet know the cost of the benefits. It's a switch within his industry from private to public sector. He wants to make that switch.

The wife job possibilities: I currently work in Biotech IT making $105K. I historically hold down a full time job primarily because the benefits in this industry in our area are excellent and we have one kid with medical issues that needs good insurance. Also the extra income helps with affording a house in the Bay Area. I would love to quit or work part time if my husband could provide the benefits. There is a fairly good possibility that I could work for my same employer remotely or find a job in Biotech in Longmont. But this leaves my salary as an unknown 0-105K.

The elephant: The house is underwater. We owe $450K and Zillow estimate is $335. We are unsure of the true value of the house. Rumor has it that Zillow is under estimating our value. Demand in our neighborhood is high, inventory low, we have the 2nd largest lot in the area, but the house is small - 2 bed/1 bath. The house has been totally gutted and updated (all by us) over the last 10 years but there are very few 2/1 comps in our neighborhood so I don't know if we could sell and break even or not.

Other liabilities: student loan $15K, car loan $11K (I have no issue selling the car, especially if I can either work from home or bike commute)
Savings (401Ks not included): $3K cash, $21K brokerage account

I want a simpler life and this seems like a good time to just pick up and start anew. Some friends think we are crazy. What do you think?

Erin
(fairly new to MMM site but I've read all the archives, and lurk on the forum)

destron

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Re: Should I even be considering moving to Boulder County/Longmont CO?
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2013, 08:39:34 AM »
Hi Erin,

It seems like you have some difficult decisions to make. From a pure financial perspective, you seem to be doing okay (I'm guessing you have come to the MMM lifestyle lately and have not had a chance to fully implement the financial strategy). Making $190k is significant and could allow you to have a massive savings rate, even after your extra bay-area expenses like ridiculous child care.

On the other hand, if you and your husband are unhappy and think you can create a better life for your family in CO, it is something you should strongly consider. If you have good experience I don't see why you wouldn't be able to get a similar biotech job in CO (assuming they exist in great enough numbers) and go back to work full time. By starting over making sound financial decisions and setting up your life to not need as much commuting / expensive housing / etc... you can move closer to FI.

Ultimately it will come down to what makes you happy. I don't believe there is a correct answer here.

brewer12345

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Re: Should I even be considering moving to Boulder County/Longmont CO?
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2013, 09:44:24 AM »
No, you should not even consider moving from CA to CO.  Its too cold in the winter, hot in the summer, rattlesnakes, bears, coyotes, fracking...

Seriously, what I would do is get out a spreadsheet and figure out what you would need to make it work and decide if that makes sense for you given your goals and preferences.  You will have to figure out how you would deal with your underwater home (and make some conservative assumptions on the value), how much you would actually need to live in CO and where that money would come from (your hubby's salary plus whatever you might have/be able to earn), what life would be like in CO, and how you would deal with whatever specific challenges you currently have (kid medical issues).  If such a move either isn't plausible or would not leave you better off, don't do it.

CO is nice, but it isn't a paradise for everyone.  Have you visited the area?

Another Reader

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Re: Should I even be considering moving to Boulder County/Longmont CO?
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2013, 10:19:04 AM »
First, in your shoes, I would take a trip to the area to see if you like it.  The winter weather will likely be challenging to someone from the Bay Area.  There is traffic, air pollution, crime, and pretty much all the bad things you probably dislike about the Bay Area. 

Second, if you think after visiting you would like living there, start researching house prices and rents.  You are not likely going to be able to afford to live in Boulder.  It's not quite as expensive as the Peninsula or Marin, but it is probably more expensive than most areas of the East Bay.  Longmont is a drive, not a bike ride from Boulder.

Third, if all this does not change your mind, start looking at job opportunities out there.  Others here would have a better idea of what's doable in the Boulder area for someone with your background.

Fourth, call some real estate agents in your current market.  They will give you a much better idea of what your house is worth than will Zillow.  In the inner ring SF suburbs, modernization of older houses to current standards and tastes adds a lot of value that cannot be considered by Zillow's automated value model.  You may have to short sell your house or rent it out until the market recovers peak values.  Either option will affect your ability to buy anything else. 

Happiness with your environment is important, but it's not everything, and moving to a place that's been idealized by others may not be the right choice.  After you think this through, you may find making a few changes and staying here will make you just as happy.  Do the research and find out!

TheDude

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Re: Should I even be considering moving to Boulder County/Longmont CO?
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2013, 10:24:42 AM »
We love CO but we I imagine SF is pretty nice too. We undoubtedly have a winter so that maybe a bit of a change. On the other hand snow can be fun if you decide you want it to be. Keep in mind depending on the house and the location you chose housing is not all that cheap here. House prices here in Longmont are definitely increasing. In my neighborhood (south longmont) has seen a very tight housing market this spring. At this point there is maybe one house for sell. If you choose to look in Boulder housing prices will be double to triple. Also the rental market is pretty booming right now. Meaning prices are up.

Colorado also has high daycare costs. We pay $195/week for our 28 month old. That's one of the cheaper options we found.

On the upside if your husband goes to the public side (I assume county?) then he will qualify for PERA which imho is pretty awesome.

Don't get me wrong we love it here. I just dont want you to think that everything here is cheaper because its not.

MountainFlower

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Re: Should I even be considering moving to Boulder County/Longmont CO?
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2013, 10:43:12 AM »
Yes, Boulder is expensive.  Single family homes with 3 bedrooms start around 400K.  Condos and townhomes are cheaper, but still around 300K.  I searched the 80301 zipcode, which is north Boulder where most of the county offices are located.  Longmont would be doable, but would require a bus ride/bicycle combo.  All the buses around here have bike racks. 

The salary range for your husband might be tough without your income.  The underwater house really makes this move hard.  I don't know; seems a bit premature to move based on the lower wage-earner. 

I edited to add that I think that the weather here is MUCH nicer than the bay area.  It's sunny here 300 days a year.  You can have really warm days in the middle of the winter.   Even though they are only 15-20 minutes apart, the weather in Longmont is warmer than Boulder.  We call it the Banana Belt, LOL!   Boulder gets a lot more snow. 
« Last Edit: May 22, 2013, 10:46:30 AM by MountainFlower »

Undecided

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Re: Should I even be considering moving to Boulder County/Longmont CO?
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2013, 10:55:01 AM »
My wife and I considered a move from the mid-Peninsula to Boulder in 2011. We liked Boulder a lot, but I wouldn't say that we saw many significant potential improvements for us there vs. where we were. Equivalent housing was meaningfully cheaper in Boulder, but not enough to really sway us. That said, we didn't see it as significantly worse in many ways, either; there were plusses and minuses to be had (for us, commuting wasn't a factor). We also looked at Louisville and Longmont, but preferred Boulder to either of those, even at the housing premium. Ultimately we decided to move somewhere else, but Boulder was a real contender; I would say it's worth "considering" vs. the mid-Peninsula (and so perhaps even more worth considering vs. the East Bay) for most people who like the Bay Area, if the different climate isn't a major factor.

Undecided

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Re: Should I even be considering moving to Boulder County/Longmont CO?
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2013, 11:04:48 AM »

I edited to add that I think that the weather here is MUCH nicer than the bay area.  It's sunny here 300 days a year.  You can have really warm days in the middle of the winter.   Even though they are only 15-20 minutes apart, the weather in Longmont is warmer than Boulder.  We call it the Banana Belt, LOL!   Boulder gets a lot more snow.

If you think there's such a thing as "bay area" weather, you're not qualified to make a comparison. If I had to make an overall comparison, I'd say that the weather in Boulder is about as nice as the weather in San Francisco (different, but overall comparable by what I think most people like), but not even close to as nice as in Palo Alto. But debating "better" weather is pointless http://www.weather.com/outlook/events/weddings/setthedate/compare/?from=faq

MountainFlower

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Re: Should I even be considering moving to Boulder County/Longmont CO?
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2013, 11:45:12 AM »

I edited to add that I think that the weather here is MUCH nicer than the bay area.  It's sunny here 300 days a year.  You can have really warm days in the middle of the winter.   Even though they are only 15-20 minutes apart, the weather in Longmont is warmer than Boulder.  We call it the Banana Belt, LOL!   Boulder gets a lot more snow.

If you think there's such a thing as "bay area" weather, you're not qualified to make a comparison. If I had to make an overall comparison, I'd say that the weather in Boulder is about as nice as the weather in San Francisco (different, but overall comparable by what I think most people like), but not even close to as nice as in Palo Alto. But debating "better" weather is pointless http://www.weather.com/outlook/events/weddings/setthedate/compare/?from=faq


It's true, I'm not qualified!  LOL!  But, as you say, weather is so subjective. 

foobar

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Re: Should I even be considering moving to Boulder County/Longmont CO?
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2013, 12:11:39 PM »
Depending on your kids medical issues, make sure you can get access to the services you need.  And if you are in state funded programs make sure they are still available.

Boulder definitely has nicer weather than the east bay (I hate the heat). It is much worse than the peninsula though.

erinladeeda

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Re: Should I even be considering moving to Boulder County/Longmont CO?
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2013, 03:06:58 PM »
I'm not worried about the weather. I grew up for a time in Manitou Springs, CO and have lived in Michigan and upstate NY. Pre kids we used to ice climb and snow camp. I'm also not too worried about Denver Metro as a general area. We both have aunts/uncles there, there is enough choice of doctors, and it's within (long) driving distance of my sister in Moab and the kids grandma in Grand Junction.

I'm more worried about regrets and missed opportunity. Has anyone totally reset their life like this? Staying in CA would be easy and safe.

For now, we'll wait to see how the interview goes...

brewer12345

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Re: Should I even be considering moving to Boulder County/Longmont CO?
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2013, 03:30:21 PM »
I'm more worried about regrets and missed opportunity. Has anyone totally reset their life like this? Staying in CA would be easy and safe.


We did about 2 years ago.  We had been living in NJ for several years and a transfer opportunity came up for me (DW is self employed).  We decided to take the opportunity to change a bunch of things we were not happy with.  We bought a house in a nice suburban area that gave us more space, access to open space and vastly better public schools.  DW reconstituted her business in the new location from scratch.  I took a less stressful job with a much shorter commute (when I am not travelling for business).  Our new location is a fraction of the cost of living n our old area.  It has worked out, but it was not without some significant stress to uproot our family.  There were some significant costs to doing so, both financial and physical.  We owned two houses for a while.  There was work to be done on both of them.  My younger daughter had a somewhat harder time adjusting to the move.  I took a significant pay cut in the move.

Overall it was worth it.  The one difference between my situation and yours is that you appear to be short n cash if things don't work out well.  That makes the move and any possible negative job outcomes a lot harder to absorb.

erinladeeda

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Re: Should I even be considering moving to Boulder County/Longmont CO?
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2013, 08:01:45 AM »
Well as they say, "No guts no glory."

We jumped into the whole idea of moving and my husband has accepted the offer to work for Boulder County. I've told my work and my dept VP is making a presentation to the CFO tomorrow to propose that I become a remote employee. And lastly our real estate agent is coming over tonight to draw up a contract to sell our house for 5K over what we owe the bank.

All in all, I think it is working out! We aren't in the clear yet. The house appraisal and my job are still big unknowns but we are excited. Once we found out that there was a pretty good chance we could sell the house and avoid a short sale the decision to leave the Bay Area wasn't hard.

Here's to new adventures!

mlipps

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Re: Should I even be considering moving to Boulder County/Longmont CO?
« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2013, 08:33:42 AM »
I'm more worried about regrets and missed opportunity. Has anyone totally reset their life like this? Staying in CA would be easy and safe.

For now, we'll wait to see how the interview goes...

We don't have kids, so the decision was a little easier, but last September I got an email from a friend at my alma mater that the office I worked in while a student was hiring for a position I would be a good fit for. We were living in DC at the time, which maybe is analogous to the Bay Area in some way, being also very expensive, more temperate climate. Anyway, the job was in Chicago. We hadn't talked about moving at all until I got that email, but I really hated DC and had been missing Chicago. Husband had never been here more than 24 hours.

We made the move and are happy for it. Finances wise, we sat down with our budget & made a sort of "pro/con" type list with a DC column & a Chicago column. For every item, we wrote down either the increase or decrease in our budget that we could expect to see from moving (lots more decreases than increases, not surprisingly). Then, we added up the total costs we foresaw for moving and decided that with a break even point of only a few months, the move made sense financially and made the leap.

It's been a rough transition in some ways. November is horrible month to move from DC to Chicago, and we didn't even have a particularly bad winter this year. Husband's new job was not to his liking, and even though he'd been looking for something new back in DC, he found himself in the "grass is always greener" camp missing his old position/company. We were in the middle of planning a wedding in Ohio & the difference between a 6 hour trip home that we had in DC & a 9 hour trip home that we have now was more significant than we had anticipated; it made wedding planning & especially my dress fittings more complicated. Now that we're more settled in though, 7 months in, I'm glad we made the move. Husband found another new job and is happier now.

Sorry, that got rambly. I guess what I'm trying to say is, don't underestimate how much of an adjustment a major move could be. Probably more so when you own a home, etc. I've moved every single year for the last 6 years (although most just around town when I was in college), but this transition really caught me off guard. I wasn't expecting it to be such an adjustment.

SnackDog

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Re: Should I even be considering moving to Boulder County/Longmont CO?
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2013, 02:45:08 AM »
Boulder is fabulous and depending on where you lived in the east bay, probably cheaper. Longmont is a bit ghetto in my experience and better for young singles than a family.