So you want to move to the mountains? This article will discuss everything you need to know. A little over a year ago, my husband and I made a somewhat impulsive decision to buy a house at 9,500 feet. We were living in a converted sprinter van at the time, and had found out that we were expecting. So you can imagine how eager we were to find a home base. Given the fact that we both now worked remotely, we knew we had the option to move a little outside of Denver (where we had both previously called home). So as we started browsing homes and found a home 1 hour from Denver in the foothills, we thought, might as well go for it! Little did we know all the challenges that were ahead of us! While there are parts we absolutely love about living where we live, it's definitely not be easy living up here. So I can certainly speak to the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of mountain living. This article is meant to inform you of the things I never would have considered, and simply provide some perspective from life at 9,500 feet. Let's get into it!
Consider your Altitude
Altitude plays a massive role in the weather you will experience. This is why living in a mountain home at 6,000 feet will be a completely different experience than living in a mountain home at 10,000 feet. The higher you go, the longer winters you can expect. Since we both lived in Denver previously (about 4,000 feet lower than our current home), we can both attest to how vastly different our winter experiences are up here. In Denver, the snow melts on sunny days. You experience temperatures in the 60's randomly and overall it's not too harsh. Add several thousand feet of altitude and you have a 7 month winter, insanely high winds, and 3 feet of snow outside of your house that will stick until May. There were many days the snow was so bad at our house that we couldn't get out of our driveway, despite plowing with an ATV for hours. All while it would be sunny and in the 50's in Denver. We eventually had to get chains for our tires just to leave our house! It's just the reality - and it can be an isolating one. So if you are considering a mountain home, be sure you fully grasp what winters will look like for you.
2. Be Animal Aware
While this probably is not the case in all mountainous areas, we were hit hard with the reality of bears as soon as we moved in. They started breaking into our trash and chucking the bins down the mountain every night as a "house warming" when we moved in. Anytime we had packages delivered and weren't home, they were ransacked. They visited almost every night for a while so we always had to be on our guard about letting our dogs out at night. So while we felt quite safe from theft or human danger, the animal dangers had to be taken seriously. It hasn't been a huge threat, just something to consider before walking out the door. If you have young kids that like to play outside, or pets you would worry about with mountain lions or bears, do some research on any areas you're considering to see what wildlife activity looks like!
3. Peaceful Vs Isolation
One overwhelming positive of mountain living is that it tends to be much more peaceful and quiet than city or suburb life. However, if you're used to the buzz of the city activities or consider yourself quite social, the peacefulness may start to feel like isolation after a few weeks. There are times we greatly appreciate the slow pace of life up here, and other times we feel very far removed from social activities and the energy that comes along with living closer to a city. So be honest with yourself about whether or not you'd like the peacefulness of the mountains full-time, or just for vacations. If you do prefer a slower, more quiet lifestyle, mountain living may be for you!
4. Cost of Living
It's no secret that the cost of living is getting higher by the day, especially in highly desirable areas such as Colorado. If you're hoping to purchase (or even rent) near the mountains, cost is likely a topic of conversation. When we bought our home, we had been living out of a van for several months, therefore saving money for a down-payment. We also bought a very small home with a LOT of projects. Honestly the house was hardly live-able when we first moved in. But we knew we wouldn't be able to afford to live in the mountains without making sacrifices when it came to space and home quality. If you're wanting a move-in-ready home thats easy to live in, it will be very tough to find what you're looking for unless you have 800,000+ to spend.
5. Random Mountain Problems
There are certain issues we've faced living in this house that we never have dealt with living elsewhere. Here are some of the main ones we never thought about!
For one, there is absolutely zero cell service where we live. So before we got wifi installed, we couldn't work, use internet, or use our phones for several weeks while at home. It took a while to find a reliable wifi provider and even once we did, we had drop-offs constantly that really interrupted our work days.
We've also dealt with a well that has hardly any water for the past 6 months. It has essentially started to dry up. The fix for this is 30,000 dollars for a new well, so we opted for a water tank installation and have to practice water conservation in order to not run out. This certainly may not be the case in every mountainous area, but these are common issues to look out for.
Our heating bill is astronomical in the winter, even with the use of a wood burning stove. Be prepared for a high heating bill if you mainly use electric heat!
Finding a babysitter, dog sitter or nanny to come to your home can be problematic. Our neighbors have shared how it's been nearly impossible to keep a nanny because of road conditions to and from the house.
Inconsistent services to your home such a mail, deliveries and trash retrieval in the winter months. There was such high employee turnover last year at our post office that we didn't receive mail for a month!
6. Be Ready to Roll your Sleeves Up
Mountain living is anything but a walk in the park. There will be a lot of manual labor involved, especially if you live up at higher altitudes. Plowing, cutting trees down to prevent house damage, chopping firewood for warmth in the winter (if you have a wood burning stove), and house projects. Obviously this will vary based on where you buy and your budget, but across the board with our neighbors this is certainly true! If you're up for the challenge though, it's a beautiful and rewarding life.
All of this to say, it's a BIG decision moving to the mountains that can have high highs and low lows. There have been many moments when we felt isolated, exhausted and frustrated by our house issues. But there have also been countless moments of gratitude, joy and beauty living in such a scenic place. I am well aware that being able to call this area home is a privilege! I simply want to provide you with some of the information we had to learn the hard way after moving. Do your research, know what potential issues you may face and plug in to your neighborhood/area! When we had our baby last May there was a freak snow storm right before we brought her home. Three feet of snow in our driveway! Our kind neighbors knew we were coming home from the hospital and took it upon themselves to plow our driveway so we wouldn't have to spend hours doing so just to get the baby safely into the house. Having good neighbors who help you out and you can spend time with during the more isolating months can make a world of difference! I hope that in sharing a little bit from our experience this can help you in making an informed decision in the future regarding moving to the mountains!