Places to live in Colorado? Looking for (fairly) cheap rent and CNA work.


Original Post
Amy Abunai · · Corvallis, Oregon · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 15

I'm making the move from Oregon to Colorado to get in-state residency for a BSN program. I currently have my CNA license and would like to live in a smaller town in Colorado that offers climbing nearby and hospital/skilled nursing work as a CNA. Does anyone have tips on places to live? As a CNA, I wouldn't be making much money (around $12/hour) so cheap living is a must. I also don't mind living in more conservative towns as I've lived in Burns, OR.. as long as it's close to climbing and/or cross country skiing.

I visited Nederland, Grand Junction, and Denver this week but am curious about other suitable towns. Thanks for reading and providing your input!

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 456

Durango is awesome, but rent isn't quite as cheap as places like grand junction. That being said, durango comes with really good access to climbing and an awesome town. You can be just about anywhere in the durango area and drive 15 min to climbing. If durango looks like it's too expensive you may look into housing in Bayfield which is cheaper and might put you closer to the hospital.

Dan Cooksey · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 365

Colorado Springs. Cheap rent, smaller city, plenty of climbing in town and near by, 2 hospital systems.

The only problem is between the military community, evangelists, and rednecks the culture is a little weird.

Doesn't bother me, but others hate it.

Chris Schmidt · · Fruita · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 0

Have you applied to any of the colleges/programs? Even though you have a CNA there still might be pre-req courses you need to do. Even if you had to pay out of state tuition it might be prudent to knock out pre-reqs. For example I already have an unrelated BS, but am taking Statistics 200 this semester because it is a BSN pre-req. And not a pre-req to starting BSN coursework, a pre-req to even being accepted into the BSN program. That would seem like the first place to start - though you probably already have looked into this.

I can't imagine getting a job as a CNA would be very hard in any of the towns that have a BSN program. If you want to live somewhere cool while you get residency and aren't worried about moving again to go to school then you open up considerably more options. If that is the case, I would steer you towards Glenwood Springs, Ridgway/Montrose, Salida/BV, or a bit west of Golden like Idaho Springs. Estes Park/Fort Collins would be very cool to look into as well, but probably very pricey. Specifying what type of climbing you enjoy most would really be helpful to narrow down the many options.

If you shoot for Denver or anywhere in the Front Range you will be spending a LOT of time commuting or spending a lot of $ to not have to commute as far. You will get sick of driving to the crag that is supposed to be 20 minutes away and it taking 45 minutes, or getting there to find 3 parties in line for the route you wanted to climb. I'm pretty salty and hate the FR, but if you like small towns you may share my disdain for urban sprawl. It is way worse than the folks who live there will admit. Sure, there are some folks who found a good spot 20 years ago and have it really good, but the grass is not so green for newcomers without a trust fund. Even Nederland, which has a population under 2,000, is just too close to the masses and your commute to Boulder would be ~25 minutes (without traffic). Even if you spent just 2 days down in the Denver area you probably noticed there is almost always at least some traffic. Getting somewhere 60 miles away (like Keystone) can easily take 4 hours if you leave at the wrong time.

As a BSN applicant to CMU I will put in my plug for GJ. Grand Junction is a small town that never has traffic and you don't have to live with 5 other people in a 2 BR or in the highest crime neighborhoods to be able to afford to live comfortably. The local climbing here that is <30 minutes away leaves a lot to be desired, but the reason outdoor oriented people live here is the weekend and longer trips within 3-6 hours are very hard to beat. Take your pick from Rifle, The Black Canyon, Ouray, or Indian Creek. There are many other good spots to climb inside that radius as well.

RangerJ · · Denver, CO · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 65

In state tuition for a BSN in CO sounds great at first, but there is more to the story. CU takes very few students from Colorado for certain programs precisely because they pay so much less. I suggest figuring out school first, and then deciding on where you need to live.

Good luck with the BSN.

highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35

Colorado state university of pueblo has both a traditional and accelerated bsn. CSUP has the lowest bsn tuition in the state and Pueblo has the lowest rent I've ever lived at. There are tons of nursing homes and home care gigs and the hospital loves hiring student cna's. With that said, it sounds awesome.

Pueblo also has a ton of crime, the highest in the state. Both violent and property. It's an hour to climbing. It's too hot and dry all the time. It's hard to make friends that share active and healthy interests. There is almost no nightlife and no ethnic food.

It's a good place to go to school and get medical experience but it's not a place to build a life.

Stagg54 Taggart · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 10
Amy Abunai wrote:I'm making the move from Oregon to Colorado to get in-state residency for a BSN program. I currently have my CNA license and would like to live in a smaller town in Colorado that offers climbing nearby and hospital/skilled nursing work as a CNA. Does anyone have tips on places to live? As a CNA, I wouldn't be making much money (around $12/hour) so cheap living is a must. I also don't mind living in more conservative towns as I've lived in Burns, OR.. as long as it's close to climbing and/or cross country skiing. I visited Nederland, Grand Junction, and Denver this week but am curious about other suitable towns. Thanks for reading and providing your input!
Colorado, close to climbing, and cheap don't go together.

If you do find this magical utopia you are seeking, please let me know. (but please PM me - don't tell the hoards).
s.price · · PS,CO · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 1,348

Pagosa Springs.

mediocre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0

Don't go. You don't make shit as an RN in CO, compared to OR or WA. That's a fact.

JLV · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 40

Oh boy! This is somewhat discouraging.
I'm an RN that just accepted a job in Denver. I'm set to move in 6 weeks. I'm moving from the Bay Area bc I am in search of a better quality of life, access, cleaner living, and climbing that is closer than 3 hours away!

I guess things like "cheap", "traffic," "access," and the like are all relative.
A 25 minutes commute seems much more appealing than the hours it can take to travel 12 miles in the Bay Area... not to mention driving around for 30-45 minutes looking for parking after a 13 hours shift when all I want to do is collapse in bed.
My car has been broken into about a dozen times over the last 15 years I've lived in SF... and of course I'm hemorrhaging money on rent... and I'm rent controlled - been living in my place since 2003.

Am I making a mistake?
Yes, RN's are higher paid here (though I work in dialysis and am on the lower end of that spectrum)... the weather here is pretty unbeatable...
Even trail running out here is pretty good....

The job I got in Denver is a pretty good job... probably the best I'll earn there as it does seem to be true that the nurses there are pretty poorly paid (they definitely need a union out there!).

I'm finding what appear to be nice 1 bedrooms for about $1000-1300/mo.
Am I disillusioned?
Is Denver really that bad?

Tradgic Yogurt · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 55
Jen Vaisman wrote:Am I disillusioned? Is Denver really that bad?
Yes. It's horrible and expensive and the beer sucks ;) .

It's probably going to be cheaper than the Bay Area, at least to what friends there have quoted me, but not as cheap as, say Houston or Albuquerque. It really depends on where you want to be. A lot of people live with roommates. The farthest I've driven for a weekend of climbing so far is still shorter than Houston or Dallas to Reimers. The traffic doesn't even come close to a big city most of the time.
Chris Schmidt · · Fruita · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 0

The key takeaway from my anti-Denver rant:

"I'm pretty salty and hate the FR"

You will probably love Denver, as most people do. I simply can't tolerate traffic, and this is why I have never been (and will never go) to even bigger cities. It is a good location for a climber. It is NOT a good location (anymore) for a skier/snowboarder unless you like backcountry.

Justin P. · · Grand Junction, CO · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 0

Hey I wanted to add my two cents to this conversation. I agree a with Chris whole heartedly. I'm actually a nurse in Co and live in Grand Junction. A union would be great in this state, but having said that the cost of living on the western slope is much lower than the west coast and the amount of climbing and outdoor opportunities are mind blowing. You can still afford a house in this area for under 200k, and the only point of contention I take with Chris's statements are that there is actually a ton of climbing within 2 hrs of the house. If you like desert, there are amazing towers and wing gate sandstone out the back door, and your under two hrs to the black canyon, castle valley and Rifle. Denver and Salt Lake are 4 hrs either way, and to be honest. If your living in Denver it's at least an hr to climb any where in the area and you'll probably stand in line if it's the weekend. Might even stand in line for good routes if it's a week day...lol! On top of climbing here there is world class mountain biking, great trail running, sweet skiing believe it or not and a great stretch of white water just down the road. Hope this helps!

Michael Schneider · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 735

New Jersey?. .Vermot? Boston? Ok, that sounds awful and trollish

. Georgia?. . .let me try to explain

When you are young make a plan,5-6 Y'Rs, take your career seriously.
Make your bones; gain the experience to comand a higher pay scale then move back west.
Making more of your time & energy with climbing areas that are within an hour or 2 drive.
The south is stacked with excellent year round climbing,
While gaining a valuable background in the health & hospital/intensive care,(industry)
that you can bank on. Adding to your resume, making you a stronger candidate for a better
paying job in your favorite western local.

Patrick Shyvers · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 15
Chris Schmidt wrote:It is NOT a good location (anymore) for a skier/snowboarder unless you like backcountry.
Curious, what's the Denver of today?
mark felber · · Wheat Ridge, CO · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 28
Jen Vaisman wrote: The job I got in Denver is a pretty good job... probably the best I'll earn there as it does seem to be true that the nurses there are pretty poorly paid (they definitely need a union out there!). I'm finding what appear to be nice 1 bedrooms for about $1000-1300/mo. Am I disillusioned? Is Denver really that bad?
No, Denver really isn't quite that bad. Where in Denver is your job? Living in the northwest corner of the Denver metro area (Wheat Ridge, Golden, Lakewood)will put you within an hour of Boulder Canyon, Eldorado Canyon, the Flatirons and Clear Creek Canyon, which should be enough to keep you occupied for a while. Plenty of trail running, mountain biking and road biking, too.

I'm paying just under $1000 for a decent one bedroom with utilities- nothing huge or fancy and the neighborhood is a little scruffy but my car's never been broken into and I've never felt like I was living in a dangerous area.

Traffic can be a pain, but nothing like you describe. I use a bicycle and the light rail system to get to and from work, which makes that issue kind of moot for me. If you're a skier then traffic to and from the mountains can be bad, but probably no worse than going from the Bay Area to Tahoe.

The weather isn't quite up to California standards, but it's still quite pleasant. We do have winters, although most of the snow and cold happen in the mountains.

Colorado isn't what it used to be, but no place is. Based on the reasons you give for moving, I'd say you made the right choice.
JLV · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 40
mark felber wrote: No, Denver really isn't quite that bad. Where in Denver is your job? Living in the northwest corner of the Denver metro area (Wheat Ridge, Golden, Lakewood)will put you within an hour of Boulder Canyon, Eldorado Canyon, the Flatirons and Clear Creek Canyon, which should be enough to keep you occupied for a while. Plenty of trail running, mountain biking and road biking, too. I'm paying just under $1000 for a decent one bedroom with utilities- nothing huge or fancy and the neighborhood is a little scruffy but my car's never been broken into and I've never felt like I was living in a dangerous area. Traffic can be a pain, but nothing like you describe. I use a bicycle and the light rail system to get to and from work, which makes that issue kind of moot for me. If you're a skier then traffic to and from the mountains can be bad, but probably no worse than going from the Bay Area to Tahoe. The weather isn't quite up to California standards, but it's still quite pleasant. We do have winters, although most of the snow and cold happen in the mountains. Colorado isn't what it used to be, but no place is. Based on the reasons you give for moving, I'd say you made the right choice.
Hi mark!
The job is at st Anthony's for the first two months and then I'll be traveling between 9 hospitals from Longmont to south Denver. I'm an acute dialysis nurse so I'll be wherever the patients are!
It's a tough decision since I've lived in SF for the past 15 years, and while it isn't perfect it's been home for quite some time. I lived in. Boulder before moving here in 2001 and boy does it look different now.
I appreciate the feedback and do hope I'm making the right decision. It will be near impossible to move back here after I go there!
Yikes!!

  • ** the weather! The weather will likely be one of the hardest transitions to adjust to. God, I must say the Bay Area does have a fantastic climate!!
Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 1,425

I love Colorado. That being said many of us are feeling the crunch from all the people moving here. My rent went up $500 this year alone which doesn't include my normal increases every 1-2 years. You can imagine my paycheck hasn't gone up that much.

It's still fantastic out here, but in the decade I've lived here it's become overwhelming. Parking at trailheads goes down the road, peaks are crowded with hundreds of people, 1-2 hour drives to the mountains have become 3-4. The mountain towns have always had trouble with jobs / housing, but it's reaching a breaking point. I have friends that live in the national forest in the summer not just to save money, but because they can't find affordable housing.

Getting harder and harder to find a place to live. I was hoping to buy at somepoint, but I don't want to pay 400k for a 30 year old dump.

haha trying to figure out where to live after boulder eventually forces me out. Especially with Google moving in.

Patrick Shyvers · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 15

I got curious about the "people moving to Colorado" thing, and actually it looks like Colorado's population growth mimics the overall US population growth. So unless immigrants are moving to/displacing people to Colorado, transplants might be a minor factor compared to simple population growth.

Google Public Data, US growth vs Colorado growth (log scale)

https://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=kf7tgg1uo9ude_&ctype=l&strail=false&bcs=d&nselm=h&met_y=population&scale_y=log&ind_y=false&rdim=country&idim=country:US&idim=state:08000&ifdim=country&tstart=948870000000&tend=1437890400000&hl=en&dl=en&ind=false&icfg

Jim Amidon · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2001 · Points: 880

Hi,

If any of ya need short or long term housing hit me up I rent rooms in my 5 bedroom house in WheatRidge

Chris Schmidt · · Fruita · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 0
Patrick Shyvers wrote: Curious, what's the Denver of today?
For someone whose number 1 activity is skiing/snowboarding it doesn't get much better than SLC. I personally could not tolerate living in a state run by a cult, but plenty of people do and absolutely love it. The climbing/MTB access is also very good.

I wouldn't call it the Denver of today (and it is also getting crowded ), but nothing else jumps out.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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