Retirement in rural southern Colorado: If you don’t take the risk, how will you ever know?

Four years ago, on June 17th, Mike and I sold our nice home in suburbia and left behind everything familiar to us. After living up in the Fort Collins area for the past few decades, this move felt like a gigantic leap of faith.

906 Deer Creek Lane front view

Here’s a photo of our past home in south Fort Collins. In the past four years it has increased in value more than $100,000! Wow, the prices of homes up in metroland are growing by leaps and bounds!

morning sun on comanche drive

After over a year of emotional and financial struggle, we triumphed over a million difficult challenges to create this passive solar home west of Walsenburg Colorado. We have been quite happy living here for the past few years. Retirement agrees with us, and especially in such a quiet, natural part of the West. BTW, passive solar works great down here!

Most of my worries about moving here never came to pass, and other completely unexpected problems replaced those. The biggest challenges for me have been health-related. My body made a quick decision to start falling apart soon after age 60, creating new opportunities for compassion towards others who suffer. And the truth is, I have met so many here who have been forced to retire early because of health concerns and disabilities.

great Mike photo of snow and Spanish Peaks

Huerfano, meaning orphan, is a poor, rural county down near the New Mexico border, with a total population of around 6,500 and an average age of 54 years. With few good jobs and an abundance of natural beauty, the Huerfano attracts those with less money and more appreciation of rugged country and rural life. We live on three acres in the Pinon-Juniper ecosystem right around 7,000 feet elevation.

Judging by the rapid increase in traffic in Walsenburg, the many homes sold here in the past few years, and how crazy Highway 160 has become in the summer, it looks like this area has been “discovered” by those living up north in metroland.

AMAZING sunrise over the Spanish Peaks January 2018

We have found this area to be slow and quiet, especially in the winter, and windy as hell. If you hate the wind, don’t move here! The slow country ways are what now attract me. I can go into La Veta and always see people I know. I like that.

Laura and Rasta on insulation 2014 (2)

Laura Lee Carter is a professional photographer, writer and psychotherapist. Her midlife crisis included a divorce and the loss of her career as an academic librarian, misfortunes she now finds supremely fortuitous, as everything wonderful flowed from these challenges. Laura now sees midlife difficulties as once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for personal liberation. She has produced four books and one workbook on personal change, midlife psychology and how country living changes you.

Don’t miss her new one: A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado

9 thoughts on “Retirement in rural southern Colorado: If you don’t take the risk, how will you ever know?

  1. What a lovely place. And an amazing view! My husband and I have just begun the conversation of getting out of our 3600sf home and into a smaller one that will be our last. The Colorado housing market makes NOW the time to do it.


    • Thanks Lisa! Actually it looks to me that 4 years ago was the time to do it down here and up north. The price of houses have doubled in La Veta since we got here, and now there aren’t many for sale at all.


  2. Hi Laura! Wow! Has it been four years already since I’ve been following along on your journey? Time flies huh? But I am so happy to learn that the journey has offered you so many rewards. It IS a beautiful place for sure. And yes, things change with our bodies as time goes by…but I tend to think, it isn’t’ what happens to us that matters as much as it is how we respond to what happens. May we both find ongoing happiness in the journey ahead! ~Kathy


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  4. You are so lucky to be where you want to be and doing what you want to do in retirement. I think my body started giving in to age when I turned 65 I have noticed a big change in my flexibility and stamina since then.


  5. Wow, what a fantastic landscape. And windy seems to be a new thing lately. Even where I grew up. It was never this windy before. But now it seems that I can’t go outside without my short hair always standing up in the wind.

    Liked by 1 person

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