Greetings from Denver

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AnalyticalEngine
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Greetings from Denver

Post by AnalyticalEngine » Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:56 pm

Hi everyone, I've been lurking on this forum for a few years now and finally decided to make an account.

About me: I live in the Denver area and currently work as a software developer. I've been working in this field for about five years now and I am currently bored out of my mind. I also discovered MMM in 2012 and have been pursuing FI ever since.

I'm currently looking to refine my approach into something more web-of-goals oriented, perhaps even leaving the Denver area. I'll try to make a journal about these efforts soon.

Otherwise, hello everyone!

wolf
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Re: Greetings from Denver

Post by wolf » Thu Jan 10, 2019 12:10 am

welcome

prognastat
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Re: Greetings from Denver

Post by prognastat » Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:44 am

Welcome to the forums, what are you thinking of as far as goals are concerned?

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TopHatFox
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Re: Greetings from Denver

Post by TopHatFox » Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:04 am

Thoughts on Denver, and thoughts on where you'd move & why?

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: Greetings from Denver

Post by AnalyticalEngine » Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:20 am

Thanks for the warm welcome everyone!

On Denver--I've lived here for the past 10 years, and overall I have loved living here. Denver has a great culture. Everyone is down-to-earth and pretty friendly. The weather is great, the unemployment rate is low, and there's a ton of cycling trails through the city and suburbs. Property taxes are also low.

But there are some downsides to living here too. Specifically, the housing market and transportation infrastructure here are insane. I bought a townhouse back in 2013 for $110k. Five years later, and the townhouse I'm living in now has appreciated to $260k. It's been great for my networth, but not so great if your plan is to buy an actual house instead of a townhouse. Part of my ERE plans involve owning a paid-off property, so this has been a significant hurtle. If I choose to stay here, I am looking at ~5 more years of work to afford a paid off, single family house. However, if I cash out the equity in my current condo, I could move somewhere with a less insane market and be ERE'd right now.

Transportation infrastructure is also a problem. We've had a huge population boom, and given everyone's propensity for a 3.5 bedroom house in the 'burbs, Denver has turned into more Los Angeles and less San Francisco. The sprawl is a real problem, public transportation takes forever due to the distance, and we have only a few real freeways. The end result is that to go from my condo to downtown takes about 1-2 hours in traffic hell to go 18 miles. Living downtown is out of the question due to affordability, and I'm allergic to driving like that, so the end result is I spend most of my time stuck at home. You're also basically required to have a car here due to bad public transit system.

Homelessness has also become a significant problem down in Denver due to the housing market. It's a constant battle between the homeless people living in conditions that border encampments and the city trying to get rid of them without solving the actual problem.

There are the Rocky Mountains and some great national parks, but getting to them is another story. You're looking at 2-4 hours sitting on I-70 to go anywhere nature-related, and then once you get there, there are so many people on the trails that you might have well just gone downtown if you wanted to deal with the crowds.

As for alternatives, I'm considering something in the Nashville area right now. It's way more affordable, and the infrastructure is pretty decent. My only concern right now is the culture difference. While Nashville as a city seems culturally similar to Denver as a city, Tennessee is not Colorado, and the political and culture differences between the two states are something I'm researching more.

On future plans--moving aside, I am still planning for ERE as if I were not moving since I'm currently somewhat stuck in a holding pattern with respect to my place of residence. I want to go the Ran Prieur route of having a paid off house with a decent garden but still living close to the city. The full homestead route is just not my thing. So I'd like to get a paid off house near a university and then do some adjunct work or potentially write fiction. I loved my computer science education, but working in this industry is, to put it bluntly, boring and stupid and full of some profoundly maladjusted people.

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TopHatFox
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Re: Greetings from Denver

Post by TopHatFox » Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:39 am

@AnalyticalEngine, yeah, I've actually been re-cosidering Denver itself. It seems too sprawled out unfortunately, and getting more and more popular by the day (which seems to ruin any place, making it into an LA or NYC).

What about other places in CO, like Boulder or Colorado Springs? Have you thought about other outdoorsy Rocky Mountain States, like in Tucson or other places in AZ? Missoula, Montana seems interesting to look at too.

It's amazing that it's possible to get a $100K networth increase just by buying a house in a low market and waiting for the area to become popular. Like, shit, it'd take me 2 yrs of hardwork to save that much as a comparison.

Jean
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Re: Greetings from Denver

Post by Jean » Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:59 am

Hi AE! On the subject of place that seems great. Having travelled around the US, one place which seemed great, but underrated was northern arkansa. Mountains, rivers, cheap real estate, nice climate, great base for 1 month road trips all around the country.

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: Greetings from Denver

Post by AnalyticalEngine » Thu Jan 10, 2019 12:08 pm

@TopHatFox - Boulder is a decent city, but it's way too expensive. Housing prices there are so insane as to make Denver look affordable. To give you an idea, a house in Denver is going to run you $400k. In Boulder, that same house is $750k. If you're willing to rent a low end one bedroom, that's gonna cost you $1.2k/mo. You could always get a roommate and pay $600/mo for the apartment, but Boulder is not worth it if you want a house.

Colorado Springs is decent. Public transportation is not so great there, so you're probably still stuck with a car, but it's more affordable down there and you're close to Garden of the Gods. Unfortunately, Colorado Springs is growing rapidly too, and I'm not sure how long it'll stay that way.

If you wanna stay in Colorado, Grand Junction seems to be decent. The Pueblo area is also dirt cheap. Palisade, Colorado is also amazing. There's a ton of small wineries there. But none of these towns (with the exception of Pueblo) are very cheap.

I'm from Utah originally, and I will say Salt Lake City is decent. Utah has major issues with planning urban areas competently, but SLC is still cheap enough to be viable imo.

I'll have to check out Arizona and Montana. I haven't spent much time in either of those states, but it's worth researching!

The $100k networth is nothing to sneeze at, but it mainly only benefits me if I get out of this market. Because while the gains have been great, all the other housing in the state has gone up the same, if not more. It makes the opportunity cost of staying here something to content with.

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Re: Greetings from Denver

Post by LiquidSapphire » Thu Jan 17, 2019 10:29 am

Welcome, I'm from Denver as well. Agree with your assessment. I'd definitely plan a long vacation to whatever place you're headed before you land there... I underestimated how much culture mattered to me when making this call of final resting place. Denver, to me, has phenomenal culture. Places like Pueblo, Grand Junction, simply just do not even compare. Springs, Fort Collins, are nice... but not really any cheaper. I really hesitate to even touch the SE for cultural reasons; I visited Tulsa for work and it was like another planet.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Greetings from Denver

Post by Hristo Botev » Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:58 am

AnalyticalEngine wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:56 pm
I'm currently looking to refine my approach into something more web-of-goals oriented, perhaps even leaving the Denver area. I'll try to make a journal about these efforts soon.
AnalyticalEngine wrote:
Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:20 am
I bought a townhouse back in 2013 for $110k. Five years later, and the townhouse I'm living in now has appreciated to $260k. It's been great for my networth, but not so great if your plan is to buy an actual house instead of a townhouse. Part of my ERE plans involve owning a paid-off property, so this has been a significant hurtle. If I choose to stay here, I am looking at ~5 more years of work to afford a paid off, single family house.
Hello AE, and welcome! In the spirit of "refin[ing] [your] approach," 2 questions jumped out at me.

First, is biking to/from work a possibility? I think you mentioned the commute was 18 miles, which is a lot but not unheard of, and which may be possible to cut down as you can often find a shorter route with a bike. Also, with 18 miles, perhaps you could use the bike to make better use of the poor public transportation system by doing a bike/public transportation combination. Just something to think about if you haven't already. If it's 18 miles round trip, then in my experience that's the perfect bike commute distance. For a year I was contracted out to a client that resulted in me having a bike commute that was a little over 8.5 miles each way. I really, really miss that commute, which was by far the best part of an otherwise crappy job situation.

Second, as the proud owner of a townhouse, I must feign offense at your suggestion that a townhouse is not an "actual house." Seriously though, I'm guessing you have a sweetheart of a mortgage payment. And if you're able to figure the transportation issue out, and the townhouse is otherwise perfectly serviceable and your only objection is that you have to share a wall or two with your neighbors, why leave? Or in the alternative, why not cash out and rent some modest place closer to downtown if that's where you want to be. No doubt it's expensive, but the cost savings (and overall life improvement) of getting rid of a 1-2 hour commute would likely be worth it, especially if you're able to get rid of your car in the process.

On another note, I'm somewhat familiar with Nashville and I'd give it a +1. I'm assuming the political and cultural differences you're talking about with Nashville have to do with progressive views vs. conservative ones. I can't speak to Nashville on that point, I just think it's a wonderful city; though it is rapidly expanding and so I suspect prices are skyrocketing, especially in the vibrant (and construction crane-filled) downtown areas. I live in another southern metropolis, Atlanta, and if Nashville is anything like Atlanta (and I suspect it is on this front), then the closer you are to the city center the more you will be surrounded by like-minded progressives, if that's your thing. I live in an "in-town" neighborhood and I may be the only conservative here, and I'm only tolerated because I'm of the "crunchy" conservative persuasion. If there are other conservatives, they just know to keep their views to themselves or else suffer the wrath of their "open-minded" progressive neighbors (sorry, that last point was purely gratuitous).

Anyway, welcome again and best of luck! I hope you do start a journal.

Josey Wales
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Re: Greetings from Denver

Post by Josey Wales » Wed Feb 06, 2019 12:48 am

I have lived in Denver for the last 2 years but originally from Georgia. I like and agree with much of the assessment above. I have loved living in Denver for many reasons. The city is very dynamic with a good balance between city life and nature opportunities. Its also the smallest city in US to have 4 sports teams. However, the best nature is really 3 hours+ from Denver. Many of the hiking trails/ areas within an hour or two of the city can get very crammed. With the main point for me of being in nature is to get away from the rat race and people, but with the massive growth of Denver, many "nature" areas become parking lots on the weekend. Many popular ski resorts are overly crowded as well on weekends. I have liked Denver most personally to use it as a base to explore all of the West with cheap Frontier flights to pretty much everywhere out of Denver Airport.

I have decided that Colorado will definitely not be a place I choose to settle down though for some same reasons and different from the commenters above. For one, yes the housing market has just become outrageous. Dumpy shacks start out at 300k in most Denver metro areas and solid basic houses start at 400k. Way too much to suit my early financial independent goals.

Also, I lean much more traditional valued American culture wise and Denver is the opposite in my experience. Ever since the marijuana legalization in Colorado, the state has drifted culturally into more of liberal utopia and less of a cowboy state each year. The city is quickly becoming a mecca for very liberal ideology and those type of people are moving in droves to all be together in one big safe space. Boulder, CO is even a whole other animal that is extremely liberal. They just passed a law banning all assault rifles in the town and gun stores there are not allowed to sell anymore. American flags are sadly looked down upon as "nationalist" by many there. Many of the popular neighborhoods have more Tibetan and Rainbow flags than American for example. I am looking to move back to the southeast where this sentiment doesn't really exist. Also, I am a single male 28 who has had some great experience dating girls here but overall they are much more independent and less feminine than the South where I grew up.

Regardless of the pros and cons, I have overall really enjoyed living in Colorado (Denver and Boulder) for a couple years. So much to explore here and adventures to be had. The whole state is gorgeous with great weather year around. I have just decided against it as a place to settle down for another few years and plan to move on this year.

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unemployable
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Re: Greetings from Denver

Post by unemployable » Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:55 pm

Denver was my dream place to live... 10 years ago. Before 2012 or so it was downright cheap. My permanent home is in the CO mountains for now but I planning on getting out in another year or two. Getting rejected from enough stuff down there basically led me to the ERE route.

I think Denver nowadays is one of those places you need to live in with an exit strategy, as in, save your money for a few years while you figure out where to GTFO to. Most of the west is far cheaper. Housing in GJ is about half of Denver and places like Montrose are even less. GJ is HOT in the summer though and a couple hours from the really good mountains. The southern Appalachians are downright cheap in comparison; $100K or so will get you a stick-built house in move-in condition on an acre of land, and if you're OK with prefab or fixer-uppers you can go far cheaper. I partly grew up in, and attended college in, the South and I'm on the Gulf Coast for the winter right now and while I'm not a Southerner I have no problem with the culture.

I moved out (t)here to hike/climb/camp and while the 14ers within a weekend drive of Denver have certainly gotten more crowded, most of the state is pretty empty, and I encourage you to get out and explore it.

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