Letter Re: Northeastern Colorado as a Retreat Locale

Having lived in the northeastern corner of the state for the past 16 years (retired from the Air Force in 1994), I can give you some accurate information about the area for your readers who are considering moving to a retreat area.

The northeast is a very sparsely populated part of the state. I live in Washington county which has an area of some two million plus acres but only has about 5,000 or so people living here. The area is mainly in farming and ranching, and the far eastern part of this corner of the state is located on top of the Ogallala Aquifer. Wells are generally required for access to water, and land is readily available for purchase (dry land around $500 per acre, irrigated at around $750 per acre right now). The state is a “will issue” for concealed carry permits, and many of the residents are hunters.
The nearest large city in this area is Sterling (pop. about 15,000) and it does have a medium security prison on the edge of town. Otherwise, the only big cities are up on the front range (Denver, Greeley, etc).

Schools are small, teachers are always in demand (not sure of pay but it’s not very high) and the general quality is high, especially compared to the front range. Employment is still fairly good out here but getting worse as we slip further into the Second Great Depression. Major employers are transportation (truck drivers) and agricultural. Game is fairly plentiful (pheasant, deer, some quail and turkey,) and the neighbors out here, while a bit clannish are friendly and helpful if you don’t have a big city attitude!

The weather here can be a pain at times, but generally the winters are relatively mild (expect below zero weather for mid-winter, but not consistently) and the growing season extends from late April/early May (time for putting peas in the ground) to late September although snow has been known to fall as early as mid September. We’ve just recently come out of a 10 year drought, and precipitation is back to normal for the area (meaning dry land farming crops will generally work, but gardens need irrigation). Hope this might help a bit for your readers out there. Thanks and good luck! – S.C. in Washington County, Colorado