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Best locations for a vacation/rental property?

Original Post
Michael Greydoor · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 0

I'm trying to figure out if buying a property somewhere in Colorado could be viable as a mixture of investment/vacation/possibly-future-retirement. Basically some place that for 90% of the year I'd rent out but also hopefully be able to use myself for a few trips a year to climb, trail run, bike, ski, and generally live the dream life of being in Colorado.

The primary constraints would be: reasonable drive from Denver airport, under $400k. Primary goals would be: viable location for short-term rentals year round, access to climbing, access to other outdoor sports. Could be a condo near a ski resort, could be a cabin in the woods, could be a house in a town or city.

Any thoughts, ideas or tips?

David House · · Boulder, CO · Joined Nov 2001 · Points: 216

Let's break this down into three areas: West, Southwest and Northwest, and consider a "reasonable" drive to be two hours w/o traffic.

West on I 70 gets you to Vail in about two hours and includes Breckenridge, Winter Park, Keystone, A Basin, and Copper ski areas plus other towns along I 70 like Dillon and Silverthorne that give you access to the ski areas but are a bit cheaper. The high cost/low risk option is a ski area condo, you can easily find someone to manage it for you and there is a lot of demand for rentals. Appreciation will be decent, but purchase and operating costs will be high. Traffic can be a struggle at popular times on I 70 though manageable mon-thurs. This is a great area for skiing and mountain biking but not so great for climbing. There is good backcountry skiing largely up toward Winter Park.

Southwest on 285 for two hours gets to a little past Fairplay. This would include the whole South Platte area which has great climbing, mountain biking, and fishing as well as some paddling. You can find cabins for very reasonable costs though many are fixer-uppers. Renting them out is less predictable and harder to manage, you'll need to find some locals to help you out which is harder than in the ski area eco-system. More people are living out 285 and commuting into Denver so there is more traffic than you might expect. The South Platte is very dry with lots of granite domes. Going further west gets you to Fairplay/Alma which I think is a great area. Stuff is still somewhat affordable and you can drive over Hoosier Pass to ski at Breck. There is some ice climbing in the area and it is a bit more Alpine in feel than the Platte. Three hours of driving gets you to Buena Vista which is another possibility.

Northwest: C470 allows you to skip the hellhole of Boulder (J.K. that's where I live) and two hours  gets you up to Estes Park/Rocky Mountain National Park. There are a lot of cool little spots tucked into the peak-to-peak highway and in the larger area around Estes. Prices vary widely here, seems to depend on proximity to the Park. Great climbing, backpacking and alpine environment. Horseback riding is a thing if you're into that. I hear there is good backcountry skiing, but don't be fooled into thinking that the Eldora ski area is a reasonable substitute for the I 70 areas. FWIW Estes is not my favorite Colorado Mountain town by a wide margin, the Park attracts a LOT of visitors. But the outlying area are pretty cool.

I would put some thought into how much contact you want with other people and what kind of amenities you want especially in a retirement scenario. One advantage of the ski areas is there are good restaurants, etc. Conversely the Platte can give you a very remote feeling pretty easily if that's your thing. If it were me I would start looking in the area between Fairplay and Alma, but I'm not sure $400k still gets you a house there, it has been a while since I looked. Get on Zillow and cruise the options to see what the trade-offs are, $400k is a small condo in a ski area but probably a house on a decent plot of land in parts of the Platte.

I'll be curious to hear others thoughts on this too, especially the relentless MP snark: I forgot to tell you that Colorado is full and Alex Honnold thinks Colorado climbing is "meh" ;-)

Luke Roberts · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 0

Aspen. 

John Byrnes · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 622
Michael Greydoor wrote: Any thoughts, ideas or tips?

Yeah, don't do it.  It's always cheaper to just rent when & where you need to.  Retain your freedom to go where ever you want, such as other states or countries.  Having a property is a huge time commitment and a financial liability.   Besides, in Colorado $400k is gonna get you a shack next to the highway.    You want something in Asspain, er, Aspen?  Think $4M.  Duh.

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

This is why Rado is being ruined.

John Byrnes · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 622
mediocre wrote: This is why Rado is being ruined.

You've got the wrong verb.   "Rado" as you put it, is already ruined.  Past tense.

mediocre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0
John Byrnes wrote:

You've got the wrong verb.   "Rado" as you put it, is already ruined.  Past tense.

Well you got me there. I guess that was the optimist in me.

Michael Greydoor · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 0
David House wrote: Let's break this down into three areas: West, Southwest and Northwest, and consider a "reasonable" drive to be two hours w/o traffic....

Thanks for the insights! Fairplay seems a little far for us, but a bit closer in, around Staunton State Park area seems like it might be viable and it hadn't really been on my radar before, breaking it down like you did gave me a new way to look at things. Thanks!

plantmandan · · Brighton, CO · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 50

The 285 corridor within an hour of Morrison is in bubble territory right now (see Conifer). However, t's quite beautiful and would check your boxes.

https://www.denverpost.com/2019/04/28/denver-housing-market-prices-zip-codes/

bus driver · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 1,361

It’s cool you have the option to be a second home owner. But this is ruining a lot of places for the people who live there full time because they are competing with second home buyers for their first house. 

Mike Mooney · · Silverthorne, CO · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 0

I don’t see any wrong answers.
I would just add if you want to actually make money you need to be at a ski area which is an even more ridiculous cost.

TJ B · · Lakewood · Joined May 2012 · Points: 26

If you’re thinking 285 by Staunton then I’ll tell you right now th place won’t be rented out the majority of the time. That area is a serious pain in the ass to get to anything that tourists want to go to. 

sandrock · · Colorado · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 115

Yea I'd agree, I think you'll have a lot of trouble getting consistent renters/airbnb in that area.

Bill Kirby · · San Francisco CA · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480

I should put some real thought into how you’re going to manage that property if I live in another state. Property management takes a small piece of every rental or a local caretaker that thinks you’re rich so let’s add a couple zeros to the bill? You need someone you trust looking after the place if you can’t get there to change the light bulb that burns out or the toilet that clogs at midnight.

Ray Show · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2019 · Points: 0

As others have mentioned, you'll want to look carefully at the fiscal soundness of any vacation property "investment" in Colorado. Not to mention other factors like maintenance, which could prove a headache at times whether anyone else is managing the place or not. Then, too, that in a sense it can never be your home away from home—but more like any other rental property one might use—due others having used it (and quite likely having to lock away, or simply not have that treasured and/or easily breakable).

From what I've seen, perfectly fine rental vacation properties in Colorado—with professional management—do not always stay rented. While this surely depends on the exact property in question, still being rented perhaps more the exception than the rule.
____________________
property lawyer

M Mobes · · ME · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 910

Dont people rent places in CO just to throw reefer parties?

Tucker Stone · · Lafayette, CO · Joined Jul 2019 · Points: 0
M Mobes wrote: Dont people rent places in CO just to throw reefer parties?

Certainly. We rent out houses to consume large quantities of reefer and engage in crude behavior, like playing the piano in rapid tempo or speaking out of turn. General descension into the Reefer Madness.

Matthias Holladay · · Silverton, CO · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 7,145

Silverton

Anthony L · · Central Washington · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 0
Bill Kirby wrote: I should put some real thought into how you’re going to manage that property if I live in another state. Property management takes a small piece of every rental or a local caretaker that thinks you’re rich so let’s add a couple zeros to the bill? You need someone you trust looking after the place if you can’t get there to change the light bulb that burns out or the toilet that clogs at midnight.
If you have a second property and a caretaker, you are rich. 
To O.P.: Florida has great climbing and mountain towns are overrated. Buy a second house in Florida. 
mpech · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 2
Michael Greydoor wrote: I'm trying to figure out if buying a property somewhere in Colorado could be viable as a mixture of investment/vacation/possibly-future-retirement. Basically some place that for 90% of the year I'd rent out but also hopefully be able to use myself for a few trips a year to climb, trail run, bike, ski, and generally live the dream life of being in Colorado.

The primary constraints would be: reasonable drive from Denver airport, under $400k. Primary goals would be: viable location for short-term rentals year round, access to climbing, access to other outdoor sports. Could be a condo near a ski resort, could be a cabin in the woods, could be a house in a town or city.

Any thoughts, ideas or tips?

Invest your money in stock market, rate of return is much better.


Make the property decision when you decide to retire. Who knows, maybe at that age you'll decide that Colorado sucks, that you need to be near grandkids, that you have a specific healthcare need not compatible with Colorado, etc...
Mike Lane · · AnCapistan · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 880

MOAB​​​

We have the Mother Of All Bubbles hanging out there. They've returned to toxic mortgages for refinancing debt. The coming student loan bailouts. The coming socialized healthcare. Every market is extremely overvalued. There are millions of Boomer McMansions that will be flooding the real estate market as they shuffle off to nursing homes.You'd be better off building a bunker and hoarding seeds. Better yet, move as far away from the US as you can get with that money, which should be converted to crypto or gold asap.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Colorado
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