Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mountain Living Considerations

A friend of mine is considering moving up from the plains along the Front Range of Colorado to the higher elevations such as where I live. Here are a few things I think anyone contemplating such a move might want to know...
  • It gets cold in the mountains so house orientation, big windows for passive solar heating, a good heating system, woodstoves as backup (and even primary heating source since they are cheap) and quality home construction/insulation are important
  • Snow slides off metal roofs, asphalt not so much.
  • New houses have new septics, old houses may not. They are expensive to replace.
  • You want a good well, i.e. one that has a good flow. Don’t compromise.
  • Mud drives are muddy in spring for weeks. Stone chippings can hide this a bit but ultimately, it seems, you will still get muddy unless you bank on frequently topping up the chippings. Asphalt drives work but look completely out of place to me.
  • Steep drives are a pig to clear of snow. Although you could contract somebody to do it that somehow defeats the sense of independence one gets from living here.
  • Limited cellphone coverage. AT&T where I am and much of Gilpin.
  • Check broadband internet availability
  • Having lots of aspen trees on the lot is awesome because you might lose pines to beetle…
  • Note where school bus routes are since those roads get plowed by the county first
  • Surrounded by trees, by creek/pond/lake, with a view. Pick one, or prepare to pay a premium….
  • Housing styles vary from Front Range bedroom community transplants to super rustic cabins. This may or may not be important to you but some people don’t care for houses that look way out of place. Personally I favor a home that looks like it belongs in the mountains.
  • Steep narrow roads aren’t as bad as you think in winter with 4WD and snow tires. They are much more exciting in spring with the constant thaw/freeze cycle. You do need those snow tires though.
  • Winter is undeniably longer, but it’s still sunny up here just like the rest of Colorado. You can get your warmth fix by going on vacation to the plains a few thousand feet below.
  • It may take a bit of getting used to, but actually not having Safeways, Target etc. just around the corner is kinda nice. A little more planning to avoid meal disasters perhaps, but its not too bad.
Lastly, something I read years ago that left me eager to move to the mountains is this primer on mountain living from Gilpin County. You'll either read it and want to move tomorrow, or it will scare the crap out of you and you'll never entertain the idea again.

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