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Thread: Best Cities To Work And Live For Hiking

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Best Cities To Work And Live For Hiking

    Apologize for all the posts today but at year end my wife and I do a lot of reflecting on the past and the future so we take a deep dive on a lot of topics. One item in particular we have discussed more earnestly of late is relocating from Eastern CT. I know there are a lot of people that have traveled extensively here on VFTT and have or still are living in various places around the country and the world.

    My question is what city/area would you recommend as a place that is highly conducive to enjoying an active hiking/outdoor lifestyle AND having the ability to work in a career or industry that is outdoor oriented? My wife and I are primarily retail rats as far as backgrounds go so for career purposes that would have to weigh heavily on our ability to relocate and gain employment. I know this is a pretty broad question with many implications (average income, cost of housing, taxes, etc, etc) so I'm not looking for crazy details, just a high level suggestion with some important factors that rule in or rule out various cities/areas.

    I assume it is a no brainer that moving out West would be a likely suggestion but I was hoping someone here could make the case for a particular city like Denver, Seattle, Anchorage, etc. Not opposed to staying in New England (Burlington, Portland, Bangor,etc) but it seems like out West makes more sense from an opportunity and scale point of view. I think the only state I can definitvely rule out is California (unless someone can make a compelling case why I should think otherwise).

    Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated. Possibly some of you have gone through this this exact decision making process and can provide some insights into the matter. Thanks.
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    Senior Member kmac's Avatar
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    Colorado!!
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    Senior Member Barkingcat's Avatar
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    Much of it depends on whether or not you choose to put down roots and stay for a while, versus passing through after a few years.

    If you intend to stay, I'd skip Utah. It's a wonderful place to visit (as we've done many, many times) but not sure I'd want to settle there...for many, many reasons. But yes, we continue to enjoy the outdoor opportunities in that state.

    Regarding two other western states, here's a recent article in the Washington Post that provides some interesting data regarding the growth of Idaho versus Wyoming. More information for consideration.

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barkingcat View Post
    Much of it depends on whether or not you choose to put down roots and stay for a while, versus passing through after a few years.

    If you intend to stay, I'd skip Utah. It's a wonderful place to visit (as we've done many, many times) but not sure I'd want to settle there...for many, many reasons. But yes, we continue to enjoy the outdoor opportunities in that state.

    Regarding two other western states, here's a recent article in the Washington Post that provides some interesting data regarding the growth of Idaho versus Wyoming. More information for consideration.
    Good article. We've read several good things about Boise over the past few years. Certainly on the radar.
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    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    My two favorite cities out West are Jackson Hole ... but I don't think I'd want to live there year round and it is expensive ... and Santa Fe. Never lived in either one but spent enough time in each to rate them highly. We've often thought, well, if we actually lived here instead of visiting we might not like it so much long term.

    Home is where the heart is and I often wondered how feasible, disregarding the expense, would it be to live in northern Florida in the winter, New Mexico or Arizona in the spring, Wyoming/Montana in the summer and New England in the fall. But then, I'd miss many of the other seasons at each of those places.

    This reminds me, though, of a quote from Charles M. Russell, western artist whose home was in Montana but who traveled extensively to art shows. He said if he had a summer home in Chicago and a winter home in Hell he'd rather spend his summers at his winter home.

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    I have run into folks who have moved down to the mountains of western NC. Asheville NC was the hot spot 20 years ago but I have heard that like many popular spots, enough folks moved there that housing is expensive and the area is crowded. Franklin NC is a town that appeared to be on the rise10 years ago. The problem is that influence of Atlanta goes well past the GA NC border so you are competing with escapees from Atlanta. One thing to be aware of is I hear far fewer good things from folks who moved to areas in TN just a bit west of these areas. I havent experienced it but there seems to be a big difference in how welcoming the locals are to newcomers on the TN side of the border.

    I think you are going to run into the issue that the leading edge of the baby boomers have been looking for their place to transition to retirement for 10 to 20 years and a lot of former attractive spots have been killed by their popularity. I have run into several folks who got priced out of the mountain towns in Colorado. If there is ski areas anywhere nearby the real estate is unsustainable.

    Heck f you are an optimist hitch your wagon to the Balsams. They are going to be desperate for staff for as long as they are open as there just arent enough people living in the area to even make dent in the demand for staff. I sure would not buy an expensive home as I expect that its not a long term gig.

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    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    My buddy who lives there would kill me if he knew I posted this but, you can't beat Bozeman MT as an outdoor mecca. It has it all: world class skiing--ice/rock climbing--fly fishing, wonderful hiking, one hour from Yellowstone, four hours from Jackson Hole / Tetons, several different mountain ranges visible from town, and livable size.

    There's an REI, several independent outdoor shops, bike stores, ski shops and more. In addition, a fairly large division of Oracle is there if you're a computer geek (formerly owned by congressman Greg Gianforte of Guardian reporter assault fame).

    It's also a college town (Montana State) with all of the advantages that come with having lots of outdoor-crazy young folks around.
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    Senior Member Hillwalker's Avatar
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    I have lived in Boise, ID and Colorado Springs, CO. Hiked a lot and was liked the country, but really missed the Hardwood Forests of my homes in New Hampshire and Maine. Therefore I returned. I found that the trails in Idaho were incredibly long and finding day loops was near impossible. I think that most of the trails are designed for horse packing and not foot pounding. And, I am a die hard ground pounder. But, the west is very beautiful.

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    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    I lived in San Francisco so I could experience a big city and climb in Yosemite and the Sierra's. The drive every Friday night was long and I'm fortunate that I can acclimate quickly. You go from sea level to the high peaks and for some it's not easy in a weekend. I loved the city, but it's to expensive and frankly to busy for me. I then moved to Colorado Springs CO. Great blue collar city. More of a sprawling city, not at all like Denver or San Fran. Cheap to rent too, I had a nice studio for 500 bucks a month verse San Fran. studio for 1350.00 in a rough neighborhood. I picked Colorado Springs after laying out a map of the 14ers and finding the most central spot to attack them all. I would go back to Colorado springs if I decided to move West again. You have access to a lot of hiking midweek, close by. I used the Barr trail out of Manitou Springs (cool adjacent town) to train. The trail summits Pikes Peak in a long 13 miles, but there is a camp (Barr camp) at 7.5 miles at about 10.5k. doing that hike 3 times a week kept me acclimated for the 14ers on my days off. Some like Denver, but I'm just not into big city living. The climate is very good too. Average 300 sunny days a year. Even in the winter, not uncommon for it to be 50 or better some days. Not that they don't get snow or cold, you just get breaks in between. Two cities I also had on my radar, Salt lake city UT and Bozeman MT. Bozeman would probably win out, due to the oppressive religious presence in SLC.

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    Senior Member griffin's Avatar
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    From a friend:

    f you would care to pass on the info, he could get more, and more specific, responses from NWHikers.net.
    Bozeman is a good suggestion and has hills for after-work hikes. It is also ca. 345 miles from West Glacier, which is a long haul. (From West Glacier, one can get to Canada pretty easily. There are also some towns on the main drag driving north from W Glacier to investigate, such as Whitefish.) At least one person on the Chat originally from Boston area has moved there.
    Spokane is about 275 miles from W Glacier.
    There may be some collar towns around Seattle.
    I have another former hiking pal who's lived in Livingston and now Gardiner, MT. - and she's found lots of great outdoor options outside the national parks, too. You can see some of her photographs here: http://chatanikaphotography.zenfolio.com/
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    Senior Member Hillwalker's Avatar
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    Hey Sierra I lived in Garden of the Gods in the Springs in 1968. Used to fly fish up in Deckers but all my hiking was orchestrated by the US Army in those days. I have a younger brother who lives in Poulson Montana. But he doesn't hike, mostly he shoots things

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    Senior Member Raven's Avatar
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    I am spoiled and like variety. Within a two hour drive, I can be at the beach on the ocean, The greens, on the edge of the ADKs, the Maine high peaks area. I also can get to a several large freshwater lakes that are nearly undeveloped, like Flagstaff, Richardson, Aziscohos, and Umbagog and throw in a couple of whitewater rivers and and couple of flatwater rivers. Plenty of trailheads within a few minutes. Housing is relatively cheap, no sales or income taxes and if you shop the towns, property taxes can be reasonable (pick the wrong one and its less so). Montreal and Boston is equidistant and Portland is 2 hours. The down side is its rural, if you want the big city its not for you.

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    Senior Member CaptCaper's Avatar
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    I moved from CapeCod 13 yrs ago... could of moved any were I wanted. Have 2 sons in Maui.. (Nasty place) ... choose Northern NH.. love the lifestyle.. snowmobiling,hiking or whatever. Always on vacation. Love vacations out West these last 6 yrs or so but.. Near the Cape..better then Maui in the summer...love the snow ..fall foilage,etc.

    I saw a report that most of the boomers are heading south and West.. good luck so glad they are going that way. Was in Vegas.. what a nasty place.

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    Senior Member jniehof's Avatar
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    I would warn that it's going to be hard to make a living, particularly in retail, in the attractive outdoor towns...better be prepared to live like a broke 19 year old, because you'll be competing with them for jobs and housing. I've said for awhile you can't earn enough working in Taos to live in Taos.

    Be prepared also for the cities to be a lot more sprawling and car-dependent; I know you put a lot of miles in behind the wheel so this might not be as much of a disadvantage for you. Everybody loves Santa Fe but the plaza's only a tiny part; most of it's a sea of asphalt.

    You might want to try and pick Brad and Rose's brains, as they made a similar jump after a lot of research. http://fusionmultisport.com/ They basically were looking for a small town, with money, access to the outdoors but not widely known for that. Obviously you'd have to find another one yourself. And they were on ownership side of retail, not working.

    FWIW a lot of the people I know are retiring to Salida. That's probably going to become the next Telluride but if you get in now....

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