*Opinion

Why Colorado Real Estate Prices Are So High 

“Food costs more in paradise.”

That’s what I said to my friend as he was kvetching about what he had just paid for his food at Steamboat. We were eating lunch at the Four Points Lodge. We shredded the morning, doing our best to set fire to about 10,000 vertical feet of beautiful, fluffy, fresh, powdery and gnarly slopes. It was still snowing. We had inches upon feet every day. The sun did not show its face during the whole lovely five days we spent in Ski Town, USA. I didn’t get into a car. I walked from the Steamboat Grand to the lift for four days. We ate fresh trout that I had caught ice fishing on my way there at Stagecoach Reservoir.

We skied and rode and frolicked and fell. We belly laughed. We screamed squeals of joy for the powdery squalor that swamped us. It was a dream come true. We planned a guys trip every year, and, year over year, the snow amounts are hit or miss. Sometimes, it’s hardpack powder. Sometimes it’s slushy slop. This time it was eight inches followed by four inches followed by six inches followed by five more. Soft. Plentiful. Our frequent falls featured little consequence.

“I just paid $36 dollars for a burger, salad and beer! WTF?!” said my whiney comrade.

“My friend,” I said in a tone that let him know there was a lesson on the way, “did you fall today?”

“Heck yeah, I fell!’ he smiled, “You saw me tumble ass over tea-kettle all the way down Christmas Tree Bowl. I couldn’t stop myself! Look at me! I’m a snowball!”

“Did it hurt?” I asked.

A guilty but gruntled grin came over his face. “Not at all.” He lol’ed.

“Right. What you have here are consequence free falls down a mountain range big enough to make Lewis and Clark soil their corsets. A chairlift and other conveyances carry your lazy ass up the hill. There are thousands of acres of beautiful snowy mountains and you can go down any part you want. You can jump, jib, turn, cut, launch and swoosh to your heart’s content. And when you go from 25 miles per hour to zero because you yard-saled it all over the place, it doesn’t even hurt! Look out the window! It’s still snowing. Look at that mountain stretch into the sky. It’s yours. ALL yours! In other words—it’s paradise. You are in paradise, my man. And food costs more in paradise.”

I paused, just for affect.  “Now hurry up with that $15 burger. Those lifts stop turning at 4 p.m. and I want to ski 10,000 more feet!”

In this allegory, food is a metaphor that represents all the higher prices that we pay across Colorado. It’s applicable to any place that has above average whatever. I know that many of you will read this and think, “Paradise? In snow? Not for me!” I get it. Substitute San Diego, or the Outer Banks, or Scottsdale, or Honolulu and the message is the same. Better opportunity brings a bigger price tag.

What we pay for is quality of life, quality of experience, and the opportunity to enjoy ourselves. Some places offer it in more abundance than others.

With Fort Collins and Colorado’s Northern Front Range, though we don’t have the ski slopes, we do have ample recreation opportunities, good business climates and economies, and communities that provide greater infrastructure, schools, and services that are typical across most of this great country.

So, it costs more. It costs more to live here and it costs more to visit here, than, say, somewhere that is not widely considered to be so nice.

The food costs more. Goods and services cost more. And the real estate costs more, because for many people (like me), it is paradise.

*Opinion


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