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Home | Colorado | Above Average Costs | April 15, 2017

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Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!

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Reader Requested Short Review of Fort Collins, Colorado

Nestled on high plains at the base of the Rocky Mountains in north central Colorado, beautiful Fort Collins (population 163,000) is a place that quickly grabs hold of newcomers. Originally a military post, today it is home to Colorado State University (CSU) and educated residents who enjoy a casual Western lifestyle. The city often tops lists of the "best places to live," thanks to its lively atmosphere, plentiful restaurants, excellent hospital, scenic setting and four season climate.

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The cost of living is 23% above the national average, and the median home price is $330,000. Fort Collins has a progressive government and citizens tilt to the left politically. More than 50% of them are college educated, and 25% are 45 or better. The city has some racial diversity and has nearly doubled in size in the last two decades. The crime rate is well below the national average.

Neighborhoods are leafy and have ranch ramblers, split levels, bungalows, four squares and other styles. Sunflower is a low maintenance 55+ single family home community with prices from the mid-$100,000s. The east side of town is the quietest because it is farthest from the CSU campus and the community college campus.

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The heart and soul of Fort Collins is CSU, Colorado's second largest public institution (33,000 students) after the University of Colorado in Boulder. University events include everything from the annual Greek Festival to CSU football games. The Department of Art has rotating exhibits, and the Department of Theatre and Dance has jazz, choir and other concerts.

Small art galleries, breweries, bookstores, pubs, coffee houses, restaurants and shops are nestled in Old Town (downtown) and along College Avenue. Malls and other shopping venues are sprinkled throughout the city. There are 40 parks and miles of bicycle paths. The nearby Rockies are the perfect place for skiing, hiking, fishing, backpacking, rafting, bird watching and more. Residents, including retirees, tend to lead active lives (Colorado has the lowest obesity rate in the country).

Transfort is the local bus system. The regular fare is $1.25, but people age 60+ ride for $.60. A dial-a-ride option is available, too.

Poudre River Public Library has three branches and has an interlibrary loan program, computer classes, downloadable books and much more.

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Poudre Valley Hospital is a recipient of the 2008 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, which is the "highest Presidential honor given to U.S. businesses and organizations that demonstrate performance excellence." It has also been named as a Top 100 Hospital by Truven Health Analytics, named as a Top 50 Hospital by U.S. News and World Report and been named a Magnet hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (only 10 other hospitals in the nation have won this award four times). It is a Level III trauma center, accredited by the Joint Commission and accepts Medicare patients. For military retirees, Fort Collins has a VA outpatient clinic, but the nearest VA hospital is in Cheyenne, Wyoming, 42 miles away via an interstate highway.

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The award-winning Fort Collins Senior Center for people age 50 and better offers an impressive selection of services and activities, from a theater troupe to ski trips and lifelong learning workshops. It has a pool, a spa, a gym, a library, a wellness center, community gardens and more. Membership ($22 per month or $198 per year for people age 60 and better) is required for many of the programs. CSU has an OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) for people age 50+.

Summer temperatures are in the 70s, 80s and 90s, with dappled blue skies and very low humidity. Winters bring temperatures in the 20s, 30s and 40s. On average, the city receives 47 inches of snow and 15 inches of rain per year. The elevation is 5,000 feet above sea level, and the sun shines 300 or more days per year.

While Fort Collins is almost perfect, there are a few things to keep in mind. College students are just about everywhere, and the weekend party scene near campus is animated. Traffic congestion and suburban sprawl on city outskirts are growing problems.

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Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes   |   Is Colorado Tax-Friendly at Retirement? Yes

The crowds of college students might be considered a drawback, but Fort Collins is an inviting, forward-thinking city that offers a relaxed Western lifestyle in a beautiful, four season locale.

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