Here's the low down
I've lived here 14 years. Originally from California. I'm 43. I pretty much hate it. But I don't like snow, or cold, (California girl) and I don't have kids to raise. If I liked snow sports, cold or cool weather, and I was independently wealthy I might totally love it. Or if I had a family and was trying to get away from big city crime and traffic I'd love it. I will endeavor to be unbiased here and present the facts.
It's pretty about 3 or 4 months out of the year. September is pretty and the nicest weather. The mountains are pretty, the Ridgway res looks pretty but it's about 65 degrees in summer so it's nice to look at but don't fall in without a wetsuit. Blue Mesa is lovely. But absolutely frigid year round and there is only or or 2 access ramps. It's also very deep, and if the wind picks up out of nowhere there can be swells up to 3 or 4 feet. Don't take a kayak in there unless you are experienced. Stay closer to shore. The cows and stuff are charming. The hiking is superb (June thru Aug but go very early because by 11 am big monsoons and often lightening will roll in and can be dangerous up there). The old jeep trails up in Ouray (an hour away) are cool. Fishing is good if you know where to go, and again, drive. Biking in Moab (2+ hours) is epic. Glenwood Springs is cool (2+ hours), Telluride (2+ hours) is fun and always has stuff going on. It's 6 hours to St George, 8 hours to Vegas. But here itself, there isn't much. Yeah yeah, the Black Canyon. Whatever. It's only open April thru Oct. That's half the year. But it's nice to ride up there in May, June. We are a hub. A stopping point on the way somewhere else. But we are a mecca for retirees. There are TONS of great amenities for older people! Like home health, hospice, cancer center, memory care, all points transit (a van service) and excellent PT. We are centrally located so that if you're willing to drive, and you have the time you can get to fun stuff.
There just isn't really anything HERE for young people without kids. It's boring and small and isolated in the winter, which is often about 6 months out of the year. Telluride skiing is world class, if you can afford it. Most locals can't. I've been once or twice it's about $500 for the day. One big gripe is we can't get out of here from about end of October to April. Sure, it won't snow all the time. And in town it doesn't accumulate too bad, It's the entire surrounding area you drive through that does. Try spending a few grand on a vacation and hoping to God the weather cooperates with your plans. Or maybe you have to go to Denver for work or medical reasons. Pray you don't die in the attempt. You have to pay a small fortune to fly out of our airport. So again, drive. Maybe 5 hours to Denver if Vail pass is open. Or Monarch Pass is open. If there isn't a blizzard, and hopefully you won't get stuck when they shut down the 70--which happens almost every time it snows. But it if you're willing to drive and you don't mind driving in snow, ice or miserable conditions over half the year then you won't have a problem.
The town itself it laid out in a ridiculous way. We have a river! We do. No one knows it really. Because there is no development on it and it's difficult and somewhat dangerous to access. Plus there is no signage. But maybe one day it'll be an attraction.
The city management is a joke. I've never seen such gross misappropriation of funds. They keep raising the sales and property taxes to pay for things they either didn't budget for, somehow over spent and can't afford or just decided they wanted to do without bothering to put it to vote. There is a surplus but they won't touch it because they are quite proud of being "debt free." Seems ironic and almost comical. The same people take turns running the city council. It's like the 5 families of New York, but with corn instead of cash...There are tons of police here. They are very nice and they are everywhere on the roads. Don't drive drunk. Don't speed. I have clients who've had multiple DUIs. I'm not sure how they still drive, but I digress.
There are NO jobs here unless you want to work in the medical field, be a CNA, answer phones, real estate, sell cars or maybe work at a bank. And that's IF there is an opening. Jobs are very hard to come by. Wealthy retirees do fine, but working class like those above usually have 2 even 3 jobs to make ends meet. It's a very depressed economy here. There is no industry, wages are about 15% lower than the rest of the country. Even Home Depot, pays at a lower rate than Grand Junction 60 miles away. An average skilled labor position will get $12-15 an hour. That's IF you can get it. Be prepared to be unemployed or overemployed. I own a salon and do well, but my husband is always struggling.
COST OF LIVING:
Groceries are at least 10-15% higher than most areas we've visited. Utilities are not terrible, but a little on the high side. The rates go up every year following a letter of appreciation. lol We have an 1800 sf home. 2 of us, no kids. The bill is $120 a month. no ac and we have gas heat. So that's just lights etc.
DINING & ENTERTAINMENT:
We have more Mexican restaurants per square mile than Mexico. There were 22 at last count. Out of maybe 30 restaurants. So weird. And none of them are particularly good. Dining out is absolutely awful. Aside from the plethora of Mexican fare, there's a KFC, Taco Bell, Taco Johns, Mc Donalds, Burger King, Subway, and 2 "fine dining" places that more or less suck. There is no culture. Hippies will disagree. Sure. There's crappy folk music here and there and open mic night at the Horsefly brewery or Farmer's Market but no concerts, ballet, theatre, etc. The Pavillion has kid's recitals, and craft shows. Periodically someone will tell you it has "world class performers." Um. Yeah, no. I've seen world class. It's not here. Ever. At best we get, cute, charming, and very amateur. Which for some people is just great. There are 2 movie theatres owned by the same guy. One downtown is 50 years old. Charming but uncomfortable with small screen and terrible sound. The other is maybe 20 or 30 years old. Better but still small and lame with 2 screens. Go to Regal Cinemas in Grand junction. It's a Cineplex. 60 miles. Tix online sent to your phone.
The only shopping is Target, Pennys, Ross, Maurices, Walmart and several dollar stores. We are getting a Big 5 and I think Marshalls. oh whoopee. Things come in and go out of business within a year or 2 and leave a big empty building for a while. But we do have like 7 mattress stores! lol And we have a Natural Grocer, which is nice. There are 2 or 3 cute stores downtown, but one is very expensive and the other 2 will most likely go out of business and be gone or different by the time you read this. So shopping is non existent. Drive to Junction (60 miles). Junction has a mall, it's old and the nicest store is Herbergers which is almost like Dillards. The Grand Junction downtown is super cute tho, good restaurants and fun shopping. Go there.
There is no nightlife. At all. Unless you count Niko's (the local watering hole for the seasoned alcoholic smoker who may or may not start a brawl with his friends) There is RnR a noisy "sports bar" about the size of my living room which is full of kids about 21-24 all hitting on each other and pretending to be grown up. Then there's Horsefly. A brewery which is sort of cute. Again, maybe 1000 square feet. Has an outdoor area though (right on the main road.) Terrible service, fried, greasy food, good hot wings, good beer. Same people every night. Only place for anyone over 20 to go. So you settle for that if you want to "go out." Or go to Junction. The downtown is fun for a pub crawl now and again. Stay overnight tho.
There is a big drug problem here. Mostly meth but heroine is on the rise and there have been at least 5 overdose deaths in the last few months. You won't see it if you're a retiree living in the south end of town, you most likely won't go to areas where those people frequent. But working class will. The pot thing isn't a big deal. It's a fairly Christian community, there's some kind of church on almost every corner. There are city ordinances preventing dispensaries in town. There will also never be porn or strip clubs that sort of thing. Again, long standing ordinances. So that's nice if you have a family, etc. It's fairly safe, but don't do stupid stuff like wander around an alley at night, or leave your car and home unlocked. The new river park is pretty if tiny. But don't go wander off alone on the trails. There have been rapes and various sex crimes out there. Be smart, be safe. Or just be armed. That works too.
We have Winter and August. lol
It's usually about 30 or 40 in the winter. December thru April.
maybe 50-60 April and May. May gets up to 60 mph winds
June is nice. 70-80
July is Monsoons so it rains every day. But it gets hot when it isn't stormy
August is typically hot. 80s and 90s
September is pretty. Indian summer. About 70 and mild. The leaves start to turn
October (if it didn't freeze too soon) has beautiful fall color but it's chilly
First snow is usually Halloween
November is hit or miss. Some years its a blizzard on Thanksgiving. others it's sunny and 60. Hard to say.
December. Cold. Count on it. All the way to April and sometimes May.
Bottom line is Montrose is ideal for retirees or upper middle class families with a JOB before they get here. If you're single, no kids, or depending on a wage based job DO NOT MOVE HERE. It'll be so hard to get enough money to leave. You'll be stuck. If you like warm weather, water sports, shopping, movies, dining out, arts, culture, or entertainment, you'll hate it. If you don't want to drive long distances every time you want to recreate, you'll hate it. If you want a small town feel in a relatively friendly place that's kid friendly and safe for your family you'll love it. You'll get bored but you'll have each other. If you are elderly, and need amenities, you'll love it. Active retiree? Maybe. It's cold and the elevation is 6200 feet.
C | Montrose, CO
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