I lived and worked in Colorado for thirteen years. Although I enjoyed living there, I'm not sure I would want to move back.
Are you planning a move to Colorado? When most people think of Colorado, they envision the Rocky Mountains, skiing, and a wide range of other recreational activities. Indeed, if you're an outdoor enthusiast, Colorado can be an awesome place to live.
I called Colorado my home for thirteen years. In many ways, I loved living there and there are certain aspects of the state I miss and probably always will. That said, living in Colorado has challenges you should be aware of before you make the big move.
1. The icy roads cause a ton of accidents.
Auto repair shops are always in business in Colorado. As are auto insurance companies. They make a ton of money off of the many auto collisions as a result of the very poor winter driving conditions there. Black ice on hilly roads are a recipe for disaster. Even if you know how to drive in these conditions, you're at the mercy of many drivers who don't. Local news reporters seem to brag—with a smile—about the many auto accidents that occur throughout the city when it snows. This was perplexing to me while I lived there. I still haven’t figured it out.
2. Sun glare complicates your morning commute.
The high altitude in Colorado makes sun glare a common occurrence. It’s pretty scary when you’re on your way to work in the morning and suddenly can’t see the car in front of you because of sun glare. If this happens on icy roads, it’s a double whammy. But it’s not uncommon in Colorado, and there’s really no way around it. Polarized sunglasses can help some. The best thing to do is to make it a habit to leave plenty of space between you and the car in front of you and to slow down or pull over when you're sun blinded—if you have any visibility, that is. Good luck.
3. It's extremely dry.
Dry skin, dry hair, dry eyes, dry lips, dry nails, and dry nose which causes nose bleeds. You really have to go the extra mile to keep yourself hydrated in Colorado. Because of the dry climate, many people need a humidifier to help them sleep at night. Oh, I don't miss the humidifier. I used to have a sore back just from filling the darn thing every night before going to bed. There’s a way around this, actually. Some people connect a humidifier to their HVAC system. It’s still a pain in the buttocks if you ask me.
4. There are dogs off leash everywhere.
Everyone seems to have a dog in Colorado. And they really like to have them off their leash outdoors. You have to be on guard constantly when you walk your pup, especially if you have a smaller breed. I adopted a shelter mutt who was terrified of dogs. After extensive training, he was able to conquer his fear…until dogs off leash started running right at us while we were out on walks. Each time this happened, it was a huge setback in all the gains my little guy had made in getting along with other canines. Yet it happens regularly in public areas where by law in Colorado, owners are supposed to keep their dogs on leash. Well, they don't.
5. It's a tamales paradise.
Before moving to Colorado, I was impartial to Mexican food. When I moved there, I immediately noticed it was everywhere and more than likely the food of choice when eating out with friends or coworkers. As they say, you acquire a taste for it whether you want to or not, because it's so much a part of the Colorado culture. I went from tolerating it to liking it to loving it to being sick of it. Let’s just say I missed a good New York style pizza and Philly cheesesteak.
6. It's culturally homogeneous.
Everyone is white in Colorado. Well, almost. Thank God for the Mexican population to keep things in balance. Not really. Caucasians and Mexicans are the predominant races out there. While living in Colorado, I missed black people. I missed Asian people. I used to get excited when I saw somebody other than white or Mexican in a grocery store. I wanted to hug them. Living in Colorado, it’s easy to forget there are races in our world other than Caucasian and Mexican.
7. Recreational weed is legal.
Recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado, which means people smoke it a lot. Many out-of-staters have moved there for it. There are actually cannabis shops all over the state where cookies and other food items containing marijuana are sold. The problem is children and pets get a hold of them and end up in the emergency room. Also, people drive high on weed and there’s really no way to avoid them. Welcome to progressive Colorado.
8. It's hard to see skin on people.
Living in Colorado, I almost forgot what skin looked like on people. There are tattoo shops all over town and everyone has tattoos of every design imaginable. Even people you don’t think have them surprise you when they roll up their sleeves. Nothing wrong with tattoos, you say. Yep, nothing. I just missed seeing skin on people, that's all.
9. Finding a good hair stylist is virtually impossible.
I used to find good hair stylists by asking people with great haircuts for referrals. That worked for me before I moved to Colorado. Be ready to wait a long time there before you find someone with a really good cut. Unless you live in Denver where people are more hair conscious. Generally, the farther you are from Denver, the harder it is to find a good stylist. No doubt the bipolar Colorado climate and crazy strong winds have a lot to do with it. Most people just throw a hat on. Or don't.
10. Hail storms happen year-round.
They happen sporadically, in any season, and the hail can be the size of golf balls. One summer I had over $2000 of hail damage on my car after two hail storms within a few weeks of one another. It’s a good thing to have a garage in Colorado or at least a carport. Even so, you never know when a hail storm will hit you. It could be while you’re on the highway or while your vehicle is parked at work. You definitely also want good auto insurance out there to address the damage when your car gets dinged by hail.
11. You can experience several seasons in the same day.
There's a common saying in Colorado: "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change." It's quite common for the temperature to fluctuate drastically throughout the same day and it's not unusual to have snow in the summer (yes, we had snow flurries in June one summer). It may be cool in the morning, suddenly become warm, then cold, then warm again. You really do sometimes feel that you're experiencing several seasons within 24 hours. The best way to deal with the sudden weather changes is to dress in layers and always be prepared for the worst.
12. The wind can knock the socks off of you.
Beware of wicked strong winds in Colorado and I don't just mean when walking your dog (although if you have a small breed, you will need to be extra careful). If you're an outdoor enthusiast, know that the winds can get as strong as 60 to 100 mph. It's not uncommon for your car to literally sway from side to side on the road on a super windy day, so be sure to slow down and stay in the right lane in case you have to pull over temporarily. You may want to refrain from leaving plants or other items on your front porch because they may be gone or knocked over when you get home.
13. Your pet could be a snack to predators.
As housing developments have destroyed wildlife habitats across many urban areas of Colorado, wild animals come into closer contact with humans. Severe dry weather, which is common in Colorado, can also result in predators lurking in your neighborhood looking for food. This poses a danger for pets, which are vulnerable to being snatched by coyotes, foxes, mountain lions and large birds. If you have a cat, you will want to keep him indoors. If you have a small dog, be on the alert when you walk him or let him out into your yard, as predators have been known to grab them in an instant.
So there you have it. Those are thirteen things to know about Colorado before you move there. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
© 2017 Madeleine Clays