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East of the Snowy Mountains in Southwestern Wyoming, Easygoing Laramie Sits under a Looming Sky and is Home to the University of Wyoming
Overview: Thirty minutes east of the Snowy Mountains in southeastern Wyoming, Laramie sits under a looming, blue sky on a grassy, windswept plain 7,163 feet above sea level. The city is along Interstate 80 and near three national wildlife refuges (Banforth, Mortenson, and Hutton Lake). It began as a lawless tent city for railroad workers in the mid-1880s.
Today, Laramie is an easygoing place and home to the University of Wyoming (UW), which has 13,000 students on a small but pretty campus. Locals enjoy UW events, including exhibits at the Geological Museum, symphony orchestra performances and jazz ensemble concerts at the Fine Arts Concert Hall. Football and basketball games are popular, too. Fourteen museums, a farmers' market, country music dance halls and the city's Laramie Jubilee Days ensure that there is usually something to do. The city plays up its Western heritage for tourists, some of whom come to visit the Wyoming Territorial State Prison. Now a museum, it is the only place that outlaw Butch Cassidy ever served time.
Downtown Laramie looks much as it did 125 years ago, with wide streets and eclectic brick storefronts. Restaurants generally serve meat and potato dishes, but vegans and vegetarians have a few choices, too. Neighborhoods have ranch ramblers, raised ranch ramblers and bungalows. Hiking, skiing, fishing, jeeping, camping, snowshoeing and more are all just a short distance away.
Population: 33,000 (city proper)
Age 45 or Better: 24%
Cost of Living: 2% below the national average
Median Home Price: $275,000
Climate: Laramie has a very dry climate. Summer temperatures are in the 70s and 80s, and winter temperatures are in the single digits, teens and 20s. On average, the area receives 10 inches of rain and 50 inches of snow each winter. Blizzards are not uncommon.
At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients? Yes
At Least One Hospital Accredited by Joint Commission? Yes
Public Transit: Yes, and it is free.
Crime Rate: Below the national average
Public Library: Yes
Political Leanings: Liberal
College Educated: 52%
Is Wyoming Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement? Yes
Cons: Wind is omnipresent. The poverty rate is above the national average, but much of this is attributed to the student population.
Notes: UW is not known as a party school. The nearest city is Cheyenne, 50 miles to the east. Roads, including I-80, often close in winter. Beyond town limits there is nothing but open prairie. Laramie has grown by 8% during the last decade.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes, if seeking a mellow, authentic Western college town.
Wyoming's territorial legislature granted women the right to vote in 1869. It was the first government entity in the world to recognize "female sufferage." The Equality State entered the Union about 21 years later on July 10, 1890.
The 10th largest state by area, Wyoming is one of the country's smallest by population. The mean elevation is 6,700 feet above above sea level. The state can be divided by three distinct land areas. The Great Plains to the east are characterized by short grass, cottonwoods, and shrubs. Devils Tower National Monument rises out of this prairie. Ranges within Wyomings include the Big Horns and the Tetons. Ranges are separated by high plateaus known as the Intermontane Basins.
Depending on elevation, Wyoming can have cold winters and warm summers. Rain is rare. Snowfall in some mountain areas piles up to 200 inches or more per year. The southeastern portion of the state sees late spring thunderstorms and early summer tornados.
Tourism, energy, and agriculture contribute to the state's coffers. More than six million people visit Wyoming's national parks and monuments per year. Half of those visitors come to see stunning Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park.
An important part of Wyoming's cowboy culture, farms and ranches are leading producers of beef, hay, sugar beets, and wool. A major source of coal, coalbed methane, and crude oil, the state also has rich reserves of trona and natural gas.
Nellie Tayloe Ross became the country's first female governor in 1925. No other woman has served as Wyoming governor since.
Population - 585,549
Persons 65 years old and over - 15%
High school graduates, persons age 25+ - 92%
Bachelor's degree or higher, persons age 25+ - 24%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin - 10%
White persons, not Hispanic - 86%
Median household income - $58,809
Median home value - $194,800
Social Security taxed? No
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
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