Choosing where to live in Colorado

CObywayofUSAF

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Jan 4, 2021
Messages
128
Location
Colorado Springs, CO
I am in a position to where I am trying to figure out what area to live or stay in Colorado so I am looking for some input. Specifically, those who live out on the Western Slope. I am currently living in Colorado Springs and I don't mind it. The military brought us here and we have enjoyed our time. I am a little bit enamored with the idea of getting into a smaller town like Grand Junction or somewhere that has a smaller town vibe and more accessible less crowded fishing/hunting access nearby. Springs is getting a little bit crazy and I like the idea of moving my family while they are young. The current political climate here is not lost on me, however my wife is very set on staying in state so going to another Western state is not an option. I plan to hopefully get out to GJ and explore the area a little bit more. Most of the research I've done is online about cost of living, schools, etc. so I'm hoping to get some input from those who actually live out there. How do you like it? How is it raising a family? How is the fishing in there area?

I am also open to other suggestions on where to live within the state, however I am somewhat limited to my career (Firefighter) and where the job openings are.

Thanks all!
 

UncleBone

WKR
Joined
Aug 18, 2022
Messages
700
The gunnison valley is really nice. little more expensive, but the fishing is next level around here. Haven't been to GJ, but hear there are a lot of tweakers there. Gunnison ia pretty calm, and not much going on. Plus the more conservative leaning people that move here the better imo.
 
OP
CObywayofUSAF

CObywayofUSAF

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Jan 4, 2021
Messages
128
Location
Colorado Springs, CO
The gunnison valley is really nice. little more expensive, but the fishing is next level around here. Haven't been to GJ, but hear there are a lot of tweakers there. Gunnison ia pretty calm, and not much going on. Plus the more conservative leaning people that move here the better imo.
I would 100% love to live in Gunnison. I hunt out there every year and do make a few fishing trips out there. Unfortunately I think most of the departments out there are volunteer gigs.
 

Phaseolus

WKR
Joined
Feb 25, 2018
Messages
1,293
I always like the guys who will say “I hear” is there but don’t really know anything. Palisade is the best town in the Grand Valley (Grand Junction is in The Grand Valley) followed by Fruita. Palisade even has a paid firefighter gig but GJ pays better. Feel free to PM me
 
OP
CObywayofUSAF

CObywayofUSAF

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Jan 4, 2021
Messages
128
Location
Colorado Springs, CO
I always like the guys who will say “I hear” is there but don’t really know anything. Palisade is the best town in the Grand Valley (Grand Junction is in The Grand Valley) followed by Fruita. Palisade even has a paid firefighter gig but GJ pays better. Feel free to PM me
Sending a PM! Thanks!
 
Joined
Feb 22, 2022
Messages
41
Not a direct answer to your question but according to my wife, who is an ER nurse, South Metro pays the best in the state (both JeffCo Public Schools and Douglas County School District have some pretty good schools). She also knows someone who’s husband works in Breck/Summit County and makes a decent living there but not sure where you could commute from. Castle Rock and Highlands Ranch are typically more conservative areas and would offer good schools and access to good paying jobs if you can’t swing something on the Western Slope.

I live near Denver so I’ve often pondered the same question and also have a younger family so similar situation as you. Grandby, Steamboat, Gunnison, and Carbondale have all crossed my mind recently but I always lean towards Steamboat being my favorite. I have a customer that used to live in Oak Creek and it seemed relatively affordable when he purchased a property there a few years back so I’ve always wanted to check out that area as well.
 
Joined
Dec 27, 2012
Messages
4,946
Location
Colorado
SW Colorado is pretty awesome, all small towns, but constantly filled with tourists. No big highways, lots of forest. I don’t think firefighters make much here considering the cost of living.
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2020
Messages
1,495
Location
CO
The problem with the most desirable places to live in CO is the pay is not proportionate to the extreme increase in COL. There’s a handful of places on the West Slope I would prefer to live but it’s just not feasible for the average income earner (never be able to retire, go on nice vacations, etc)

Somewhere in the Grand Valley or Montrose is going to make the most sense for the most people.
 
OP
CObywayofUSAF

CObywayofUSAF

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Jan 4, 2021
Messages
128
Location
Colorado Springs, CO
Not a direct answer to your question but according to my wife, who is an ER nurse, South Metro pays the best in the state (both JeffCo Public Schools and Douglas County School District have some pretty good schools). She also knows someone who’s husband works in Breck/Summit County and makes a decent living there but not sure where you could commute from. Castle Rock and Highlands Ranch are typically more conservative areas and would offer good schools and access to good paying jobs if you can’t swing something on the Western Slope.

I live near Denver so I’ve often pondered the same question and also have a younger family so similar situation as you. Grandby, Steamboat, Gunnison, and Carbondale have all crossed my mind recently but I always lean towards Steamboat being my favorite. I have a customer that used to live in Oak Creek and it seemed relatively affordable when he purchased a property there a few years back so I’ve always wanted to check out that area as well.
That is a pretty big appeal to staying where I'm at. South Metro, COS, Denver, Westy are all among some of the best paying places in the states. Commutes are pretty easy even if I stay here with a 48/96 schedule.

I did see Summit county just opened and I'd love to look into that. No clue if there is affordable housing in the area, but I do love that area. There is a part of me that wants to get out of the city and have some less crowded areas closer to me versus everything on the front range.
 

UncleBone

WKR
Joined
Aug 18, 2022
Messages
700
Summit Co is crazy for housing availability. My son has lived up there for years and he says its way expensive
Super expensive, and you may as well live in the city with how many people are always there.
 
Joined
Jan 5, 2022
Messages
715
As a long time career FF who's worked through the ranks and sat on multiple sides of the table, I've witnessed a lot of folks swap departments mid career for myriad reasons. With more and more departments adopting latteral transfers, its becoming more and more commonplace. Some moves work out, while some don't and leave the person cursing the day that they decided to leave their old job. Many people falsely think that there's a higher level of equivalence between FD's; IME, there's not, and some cities/chiefs are much better to work for than others. As such, I'd offer a few things to contemplate/research before switching jobs:

Promotional structure - seniority vs testing. If you are a little older and starting over, will a heavy seniority structure have the opportunities to take your career down the paths you envision? Conversely, If a department is strictly fellatio based promotion, how good is the culture when many are engaged in sycophantic behaviors in an effort to get ahead instead of focusing on working as a team? Further, if there are opportunities to promote for low seniority members, are many of the promoted positions already filled, and thus tied up long term, by members who might be younger/same age as you?

Latteral Transfer language - pay, vacation, seniority?

Is the culture more fire or EMS based?

Union/management relationship - is there an active collaborative problem solving structure in place or is the atmosphere obstructionist on both sides and toxic?

Ambulance rotations - who staffs the busy rigs and are there rotations off for newer members? Is ambulance time voluntary or compulsory?

Ambulance duties - strictly 911 vs non emergency transports and contract EMS services, etc

Kelly days/hours worked per week.

Whatever way you decide, make sure to stop in the firehouses of a prospective city and talk to the average FF's. IME, a lot of chiefs like to oversell their departments and/or dont really know what an average day looks like for their members, so don't get sold a bill of goods by some charlatan; make sure to talk to the chief and the union president and carefully read the CBA. FF's spend a lot of thier lives at work, so deciding where to work is a big decision.
 
Last edited:

Hnthrdr

WKR
Joined
Jan 29, 2022
Messages
2,748
Location
The West
Do you currently have a paid FF job or are you in the market? Generally front range professional departments will pay the best and depending on the schedule 48/96 or 24/48 you can live where you can tolerate the drive. I work for a paid department in the frontrange and can share some info if you like, drop me a Pm if interested. I work with guys who have worked all over the state and have some unique perspectives from them as well.
 

Hnthrdr

WKR
Joined
Jan 29, 2022
Messages
2,748
Location
The West
As a long time career FF who's worked through the ranks and sat on multiple sides of the table, I've witnessed a lot of folks swap departments mid career for myriad reasons. With more and more departments adopting latteral transfers, its becoming more and more commonplace. Some moves work out, while some don't and leave the person cursing the day that they decided to leave their old job. Many people falsely think that there's a higher level of equivalence between FD's; IME, there's not, and some cities/chiefs are much better to work for than others. As such, I'd offer a few things to contemplate/research before switching jobs:

Promotional structure - seniority vs testing. If you are a little older and starting over, will a heavy seniority structure have the opportunities to take your career down the paths you envision? Conversely, If a department is strictly fellatio based promotion, how good is the culture when many are engaged in sycophantic behaviors in an effort to get ahead instead of focusing on working as a team? Further, if there are opportunities to promote for low seniority members, are many of the promoted positions already filled, and thus tied up long term, by members who might be younger/same age as you?

Latteral Transfer language - pay, vacation, seniority?

Is the culture more fire or EMS based?

Union/management relationship - is there an active collaborative problem solving structure in place or is the atmosphere obstructionist on both sides and toxic?

Ambulance rotations - who staffs the busy rigs and are there rotations off for newer members? Is ambulance time voluntary or compulsory?

Ambulance duties - strictly 911 vs non emergency transports and contract EMS services, etc

Kelly days/hours worked per week.

Whatever way you decide, make sure to stop in the firehouses of a prospective city and talk to the average FF's. IME, a lot of chiefs like to oversell their departments and/or dont really know what an average day looks like for their members, so don't get sold a bill of goods by some charlatan; make sure to talk to the chief and the union president and carefully read the CBA. FF's spend a lot of thier lives at work, so deciding where to work is a big decision.
This is good info!
 
Joined
Jan 5, 2022
Messages
715
This is good info!
Glad it resonates. It was all learned the hard way. Some by me and some by others who I've worked with through the years.

My overall point was that FD's often operate differently; not saying one way is better or worse by certain measures, just different. So do the research and make sure wherever you end up is a place that fits your expectations and/or your expectations at least match reality. It's easier to go to a place that already looks like you want an organization to look vs ending up somewhere that doesn't and then trying to change it.

In my general area, latteral transfers have become more common. As a result, I've gotten to work with and hear experiences from people who've transferred in and with those I know who went elsewhere. A lot of consternation experienced by those who are frustrated with their move can be traced back to an overall lack of informed decision making. It's too common of a progression these days to get enamored by a fairytale told by a chief/HR/recruiter, find out that the truth doesnt match, and then try to change a place to fit an expectation that was never grounded in reality.

One other thing I'll add to switching departments, and really for everyone irregardless of how long youve been around, is to be humble and respect the process through which respect is earned/loss. Maybe you are the second coming, but showing up and stating it isn't likely to win any fans. If you're a hard worker who is a high performing and a valued member of the team, it will get noticed soon enough. If you're feeling like you're not receiving the respect you deserve, the first place to check is in the mirror.
 
OP
CObywayofUSAF

CObywayofUSAF

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Jan 4, 2021
Messages
128
Location
Colorado Springs, CO
Glad it resonates. It was all learned the hard way. Some by me and some by others who I've worked with through the years.

My overall point was that FD's often operate differently; not saying one way is better or worse by certain measures, just different. So do the research and make sure wherever you end up is a place that fits your expectations and/or your expectations at least match reality. It's easier to go to a place that already looks like you want an organization to look vs ending up somewhere that doesn't and then trying to change it.

In my general area, latteral transfers have become more common. As a result, I've gotten to work with and hear experiences from people who've transferred in and with those I know who went elsewhere. A lot of consternation experienced by those who are frustrated with their move can be traced back to an overall lack of informed decision making. It's too common of a progression these days to get enamored by a fairytale told by a chief/HR/recruiter, find out that the truth doesnt match, and then try to change a place to fit an expectation that was never grounded in reality.

One other thing I'll add to switching departments, and really for everyone irregardless of how long youve been around, is to be humble and respect the process through which respect is earned/loss. Maybe you are the second coming, but showing up and stating it isn't likely to win any fans. If you're a hard worker who is a high performing and a valued member of the team, it will get noticed soon enough. If you're feeling like you're not receiving the respect you deserve, the first place to check is in the mirror.
Hey Balder,

First off I want to say thank you for all of this great info. These are a lot of the nuggets and experiences I really value. I should also clarify, I am switching departments, but it's kind of a unique situation because I am an active duty military FF who is crossing over into the civilian side. I'm not switching departments just to switch departments or unhappy, more so trying to kickstart my civilian career. I am definitely taking the humble approach coming from military/DOD to city as I know its going to be night and day. Ears open, mouth shut as they say!
 
OP
CObywayofUSAF

CObywayofUSAF

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Jan 4, 2021
Messages
128
Location
Colorado Springs, CO
Do you currently have a paid FF job or are you in the market? Generally front range professional departments will pay the best and depending on the schedule 48/96 or 24/48 you can live where you can tolerate the drive. I work for a paid department in the frontrange and can share some info if you like, drop me a Pm if interested. I work with guys who have worked all over the state and have some unique perspectives from them as well.
Yes I am currently working at a paid department.

Thanks, I will shoot you a message!!
 

ReaptheHeat

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Nov 29, 2017
Messages
271
Location
CO
That is a pretty big appeal to staying where I'm at. South Metro, COS, Denver, Westy are all among some of the best paying places in the states. Commutes are pretty easy even if I stay here with a 48/96 schedule.

I did see Summit county just opened and I'd love to look into that. No clue if there is affordable housing in the area, but I do love that area. There is a part of me that wants to get out of the city and have some less crowded areas closer to me versus everything on the front range.
You will live in Kremmling like the rest of us or you have to commute from Fairplay/Alma/Leadville.

Everything about Summit "proper" really sucks imo. You pay a premium over living in the Denver metro, yet you deal with crowds 24/7/365. Trailheads are always packed, grocery store is swamped, only a small portion of people are even local. Complete lack of community with every other house being a short term rental or second homeowner.
 

Phaseolus

WKR
Joined
Feb 25, 2018
Messages
1,293
You will live in Kremmling like the rest of us or you have to commute from Fairplay/Alma/Leadville.

Everything about Summit "proper" really sucks imo. You pay a premium over living in the Denver metro, yet you deal with crowds 24/7/365. Trailheads are always packed, grocery store is swamped, only a small portion of people are even local. Complete lack of community with every other house being a short term rental or second homeowner.
And a huge proportion of the crowds are tourons. No thanks.
 
Top