Colorado Mountain Towns Live Work

Mountain Housing and Job Options in Colorado's Small Towns

Once you conclude that living in a Colorado resort town is not going to fit within your budget. Don't give up, now it's time to look at the other mountain towns. Finding the right mountain community can take some time and investigation. Colorado is a state full of outdoor recreation, employment opportunities, and live work scenarios. Although it might be hard to let go of your dream of living next to the ski lifts. Consider this an opportunity to explore your options.

Colorado Resort Town Appeal

The glitz and high-profile action in Colorado's resort towns are appealing. However, you may find it exhausting after a while. Life in a slower-paced town can offer a greater sense of community and familiarity with those who live there. The ski resorts are not that far away from any small town in Colorado. Take a closer look at Colorado and find other attractions that are important to you. It's a good idea to evaluate the resort community you like and investigate the surrounding areas, recreational opportunities, jobs, and towns for all they have to offer.

mountain town guest ranch

Other Colorado Mountain Towns

Fortunately, there are many other small Colorado mountain towns besides the resort communities. Essentially, look at the map of Colorado's ski resorts and investigate the mountain towns between the resorts. Consider your other priorities, as skiing is only 5 months out of the year. Perhaps you like to fish, sail, mountain bike, or access hiking trails. Silverthorne is an example of an area surrounded by ski resorts that has access to lake Dillion, plenty of forest service access, and a variety of mountain communities. However, the cost of living in this area is still higher than average, indexed at 141. Higher than the national average but way cheaper than Aspen, which is 305.

The RV Lifestyle

Living at an RV park has become increasingly popular. Especially for those who like to travel around seasonally. Colorado is a state with a full calendar of seasons. Even better is the fact that extreme elevation changes make seasonal changes depending on where you are in the state. Commonly, in the spring, resort towns will have super bad rain-snow mix type weather or the ground gets to be a muddy snowy mess. With an RV, you can skip packing for a trip and just drive a few hours to a more pleasant part of Colorado. 

Living the RV lifestyle is very flexible. It can be long or short-term. You can easily explore and travel around staying at your favorite places or finding new ones. This will give you a chance to really check out communities and more out-of-the-way mountain towns. Depending on the RV park, internet access is usually available, catering to those location-neutral folks. If you can't find a place to live right away, RV life is a good option, and unlike paying rent, you can sell the RV at some point in the future. 

Other Colorado Recreational Attractions

Although Colorado is most famous for its world-class ski and snowboarding resorts. There are plenty of other types of recreation that draw people to this state. If what you really want to do is ski or snowboard, then yes, focus on your favorite ski town. Otherwise start looking at areas that satisfy your other passions such as hiking, mountain biking, off-road access, rafting, fishing, sailing, hunting, farming, rock climbing, and much more. 

Working at a Guest Ranch

Guest ranches in Colorado are very popular with tourists and as places to live and work. Many of these guest ranches are really "out there". The nearest town can be over an hour away or further. Guest ranches are usually rollovers from once-upon-a-time cattle ranches. Many of these ranches still are cattle ranches but have modernized by offering guest services. 

Taking a job at a guest ranch includes housing. This housing can vary from having your own cabin to sharing a bunk house with your colleagues. Guest ranches are usually seasonal, operating during the summer month. However, there are some that go year-round. More and more, guest ranches are getting fancy with 4 and 5-star resort ratings. The clientele tends to follow suit.

Working for a Ranch or Small Farm

Finding work at a guest ranch is fairly easy, as open positions are advertised on their website. There is work and usually housing available at privately owned ranches too. Many privately owned ranches or small farms don't have websites so seeking a job with them is a bit harder. A business card that shows off what you can do such as handy work, fencing, and working with livestock will be helpful. Taking out an ad in a local newspaper, on a radio show, newsletter, or something similar will help. Pin up your business card at feed and ranch stores. Try attending local fairs, rodeos, and church congregations, and of course theirs always the local bar. 

colorado cattle ranch

Gas, Oil, and Coal Mines

If natural gas and oil mining is your line of business, Colorado has plenty of jobs. With over 37,000 producing oil and gas wells throughout the state. Many of the top-producing wells are on leased properties in the following counties: 

  • Garfield County, the area surrounding Rifle and Glenwood Springs. 
  • Weld County, the area surrounding Greeley, stretching north in the grasslands, east towards Fort Morgan and west skirting Loveland, Longmont, and Boulder.
  • Rio Blanco County, the area surrounding Meeker and extending north and west to the state line.
  • La Plata County, The area surrounding Durango, north into the San Juans and south to the State line.

Denver is a major headquarters for most of these oil and gas companies. Corporate positions in Denver in addition to positions in the field with these companies are all good jobs. Housing in towns near the wells in Colorado's smaller towns offers a lower cost of living yet is within proximity to a variety of Colorado's recreational attractions.

Colorado Coal Mines 

Most Colorado coal is used for electric power generation. Eleven coal mines operate in Colorado, including eight underground mines in Delta, Garfield, Gunnison, La Plata, Rio Blanco, and Routt counties, and three surface mines in Moffat and Montrose counties. All of these mines are more or less in the heart of Colorado and provide good jobs with housing in nearby lesser-known Colorado mountain towns.

Forestry Jobs

The US Forest Service always has an extensive list of job opportunities. Many positions require a degree or some type of training. However, the job types can span from administrative jobs, engineering, airplane pilots or field positions to name a few. Depending on the job, some come with housing or at least seasonal housing. Positions that are in preservations or similar types of places provide housing because the location of work is very remote. Working for the USFS can be a dream job for many. The work is often outside in some of Colorado's most scenic places. 

Taking a close look at the other mountain towns in Colorado is a good idea. Ski resort communities are not the only recreational-minded towns in Colorado but they do happen to be the most expensive. Find mountain towns where your professional pursuit and passions can live together. You might just find a nice small mountain town in Colorado that is everything you hoped for.

by Kathleen Fitzsimmons

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