Enjoying one’s surroundings is a pretty fundamental, dare I say essential part of a balanced breakfast.
Rich people flock to coastal California for never-ending sunshine, water, and arid warm temps.
Many of us Midwestern types yearn for mountain views, outdoor fun, and fairly moderate winter weather. The question today is: should we consider moving to and living in Longmont CO?
If it’s good enough for Mr. Money Mustache, why not us??
We just got back from Colorado where our home base was the sweet little berg of Longmont. We met up with some wonderful people who had moved there themselves within recent years, looking for a better quality of life.
I wanted my family to experience this magical little town, and ultimately figure out if we might want to move there someday.
The Airbnb we stayed at was located in the city’s historic east side neighborhood. The “Right Bank”, if you will, of Longmont. A very pretty and longstanding neighborhood. It hearkens back to many Midwestern neighborhoods, with mature trees, parks, and a mix of very old, old, and old and run-down houses.
Some are kept up and are quite charming. Others need some work. All are about half a million dollars in value, in case you’re wondering.
Longmont and Beer
No self-respecting visitor who claims to be a FIRE blogger arrives in Longmont without bicycles in tow. That’d be a sin. Before leaving the Twin Cities, we saddled up two kids’ bikes on the 1-UP hitch rack and two grown-up cyclo-cross bikes on the roof of the car.
(The roof mounting was exciting and new. I had no idea our Outback came with roof rack mounts. D’oh.) Our mileage suffered, but we were so glad to have our bikes to bop around town in.
I highly recommend biking the Longmont Loop, which takes you on a 16-mile circumference tour through many of its parks. Most of the loop is on bike trails, which are ubiquitous here. But of course, no trip to Longmont is complete without a visit to its fab breweries.
There’s about 1 brewery for every man, woman, and child in Longmont (and Colorado, for that matter) so it made our route fairly easy to plot. We had hoped to visit five or six taprooms, but the monsoon arrived on the day of our excursion, and despite rain jackets and lust for good beer, we made it to only three stops.
We wound up tipsy, exhausted, and soaked. 300 Suns were Mrs. Cubert’s favorite taproom, but I enjoyed the offerings from Wibby the best. The help at both stops was a little nicer to us tourists than the bros who greeted us at Left Hand a few years back. But I still love a good Nitro Chocolate Milk Stout here and there.
Longmont Housing Options
There was time to look at houses too. On a bright and clear weekday morning, we arranged a few showings at Prospect New Town. If you’re familiar with the movie “Truman”, this is an urbanist community that was designed by the guy who designed the town for that film.
Wondering why anyone would consciously choose to live in a neighborhood that feels like the domed-in, apart-from-reality location from that Jim Carrey classic?
We left wondering that too. Not just cuz the prices were jaw-dropping insane ($700K for a three-bedroom TOWNHOUSE) but because you knew that behind the veneer of these albeit cleverly designed and well-built homes, you were sitting in a suburb, and not within walking distance of the best parks, libraries, schools, and taprooms (how is THAT possible?) of Longmont.
Still, the houses were very pretty:
If we ever moved to Longmont, we’d definitely find a house near the old downtown. These are the early 20th century builds with tall mature trees lining the streets.
The drawback with this and even the more spartan homes beyond is rising home prices. Over the last three years alone, Longmont housing has shot up over 12%.
If it’s any consolation, the same house in Longmont can be fetched for 1/3 to 1/2 the cost of a similar property in Boulder, just down the highway.
Being Close to Denver Is a Bonus
We spent a day checking out Denver. Got cheap tickets to a Rockies game and that was a decent time. Great views from the third deck of that stadium. And the hot dog wasn’t terrible! I had a Coors Banquet beer there, and boy, them Coors’s taste good at ball games. Something about the time and the place for lighter, industrial-era beers that makes them palatable…
Before we went to the Rockies game, we stopped at a few places on the way. Outside of Golden, we checked out Red Rocks! Great to see that place firsthand, after hearing about it and seeing clips in U2 and Depeche Mode videos. (Red Rocks has a Starbucks, which is handy for sleepy, half-a$$ frugal parents.)
We also meandered around a few of the hoods that reminded us of Uptown, Minneapolis. Great little mom-and-pop shops blend in with the scourge of overpriced chain stores. It doesn’t take much to see how gentrification has changed the complexion of Denver. And I had never been here before!
Longmont Has Wonderful People
The people of Colorado are Midwest-friendly. Starting with the lovely host of our Airbnb who was super responsive, and the auto mechanic in Denver who swapped our tail light and brake light for $5 total (in under 10 minutes, with a backed-up garage, an hour before closing shop for the day).
In Longmont, we got to meet some extraordinary folks. Carl and Mindy (Mr. and Mrs. 1500 Days) were super gracious in showing us some listings, right on the day they got home from their long road trip. If it were us, we’d have gone into wagon-circling mode.
We had a fun time looking at different houses with Carl and Mindy. All the while my little pea-brain calculating costs and figuring if we could make a move here work.
After house hunting, we headed over to Mr. Money Mustache Headquarters in downtown Longmont. It was kind of neat, walking into a space I’d read up on and seen YouTubers about.
Even though Mrs. and I only had a couple of hours to spare before meeting up with her parents for dinner, we squeezed in a fun happy hour in the backyard of Early Retirement Valhalla.
The icing on the cake was meeting the POPs and Miss Mazuma. It was a little hilarious since I knew I’d be meeting Miss M., but the POPs popped out of nowhere – having been stealth guests of the 1500s that week.
And the fact that Miss Mazuma came out from Denver to meet up with us was really special. I owe her a decent bottle of vino for that. And, the Mrs. and I selfishly still need to get the DL from her on her hiking adventure to the Camino De Santiago. So little time!
Moving to Longmont would be worth it for the wonderful people alone.
A funny thing happens when you get back from a vacation like that. You find you miss your home, you miss your neighbors (most of them) and the weather gods play tricks by rolling out a gorgeous summer evening. Just walking around our neighborhood with my little girl was the tonic.
I started running off the months in my head when I’m miserable in Minnesota (as Mr. 1500 Days so eloquently described): Lessee… January, February, March, and most of April. I just need to solve for four months of despair! Can it be done? Tune in for updates. There’ll be plenty of this waffling for months (if not years) to come…
Our First Trip to Longmont (Sept. 2017)
There’s something magic happening over in the Mountain time zone. I felt that the little town of Longmont, Colorado might have more to offer than little old’ icebox Minneapolis, Minnesota. We had to check it out first-hand.
Getting tickets was no problem at all. By this time, I’d already picked up on the strategy of applying for a bazillion credit cards to rack up bonus rewards points. Besides, Minneapolis to Denver is a relatively short hop.
If memory serves me correctly, we converted some Chase Sapphire bonus miles to Southwest. Free flights. Check.
The rental car was easy too. I was fully armed with knowledge. The young associate at the rental car counter had no chance when offering an upgraded vehicle to “handle the mountains.” Was it a Humvee?
We stuck with our choice of the venerable Toyota Yaris. Stick shift! The Yaris is one of the least powerful and smallest cars you could rent off the lot. At first, I wondered how this little toy car would manage the great Rockies. More on that later. Cheap rental car. Check.
Main Street Longmont Is Lovely
Since Longmont was on the way to our destination of Estes Park, I convinced Mrs. Cubert that we should stop there for lunch and a little walk-about. You know, see if we could spot any bums shopping for errands on bicycles.
We instead were greeted with a cute town that has all the things I could imagine an early retiree would want or need, including a Carl’s Jr.
At first, we had to get past the dreaded development just on the fringes of town. All sorts of chain-infested strip malls and box stores line the main byway into town. Not bike-friendly by a long shot. Just get to Main Street and things get much more promising.
There are also the light industrial zones of Longmont that have some cool things happening. We chose to stop at Left Hand Brewing. And we’re glad we did. Their beer is tasty.
After lunch, since we still had plenty of time before checking in at the lodge in Estes Park, we decided to take a stroll around the old neighborhoods of Longmont. If we were to ever consider moving out to this front-range town, the older, established blocks would be our likely destination.
Roosevelt Park is just a hop off of Main Street and perfectly situated as a central park of sorts for any kind of festival or triple-M hootenanny. We walked around for a bit there and then headed over to check out the Longmont Public Library.
This library is EXCELLENT. With little kids, this is an amenity that has to hit the mark. Our toddlers go through books like Kleenex these days. Read it more than twice? No way.
Longmont’s public library has a wonderfully large children’s area stocked to the gills. Oh, and it’s located just a block off of Main Street, just like the park. Longmont’s walkability is not too shabby.
Would We Ever Move to Longmont?
While walking around on this beautiful sunny September day, I began to feel the top of my head tingle. Dammit, I forgot my ball cap in the car! Poor Cubert’s receding hairline was taking the brunt of the Colorado sun. We dodged the harsh rays as best we could, but high noon shows no mercy.
I guess in retrospect I wouldn’t call it an epiphany, just an “ah-ha” moment. Yeah, the UV factor in Front Range Colorado is about twice that of where we live in Minnesota. For fair-skinned balding types like me, that’s not a great mix.
Wuss factor aside, Longmont is a fine little town that checks many boxes for us.
For now, we’ll stay put in the Great Up North. The people are lovely here too, and there’s plenty of good craft breweries, distilleries, parks, and trails to keep us busy. You betcha!
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