Our First Months in Longmont

Our First Months in Longmont

To say that our first few months (Fall of 2020) in Longmont were a whirlwind would be an understatement. I spent that first Monday morning waiting for the moving truck, anxious to explore our new town. Even being able to walk five minutes down the road and see a partial view of the mountains was amazing.

Eventually the truck arrived and we started unloading our belongings into the 1000 square foot house that was our rental. Thankfully this house had lots of storage areas in the partially finished, 1970s wood paneling basement. Knowing that we would hopefully be moving again in a few months when we purchased a house, most of our things wound up there. 

That first day was long, and I was very grateful to have the day off of work. By the time the sun was going down, with some assistance from the neighbors we got the last few things out of the truck and into the house.

Over the next week or so, we explored our neighborhood, and let me tell you, having our first taste of Colorado during fall foliage was amazing. Looking at the yellows and reds on the trees made every walk outside breathtaking.

The neighborhood that we rented in – Southmoor Park – was among the top choices for areas that we had explored in Longmont, and even after being there for just a few days, it was easy to see why. 1970s-era ranches and split-levels along tree-lined wide streets with bike lanes and great parks nearby was exactly what my soul needed after living in car-dependent suburbia back in Pittsburgh.

The Lefthand Creek runs through the neighborhood and has numerous art installations and playgrounds along its course. Running along the creek is the Lefthand Greenway,  a paved walking / bicycling path that connects to the rest of the city’s greenway system, quickly making going for a bike ride our favorite activity.

Not long after we arrived in town, three wildfires popped up just to the west of us, adding to the smoke of the Cameron Peak fire north and west of us that had been going for three months at that point. I don’t think I was seriously worried at the time for our safety since about 5 miles of treeless farmland separated us from the mountains when the fires were raging (The Marshall Fire in Boulder this past December has since proven me wrong in that you don’t need trees for catastrophic wildfires). But it was harrowing to see the sky raining down ash and witness the videos of places like Grand Lake being evacuated. Even now, I drive past stark reminders of the devastation of the 2020 fire season almost every week.

Smoky skies right before ash started raining down

In true Colorado fashion, three days later we got 10 inches of snow ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

We spent the following weeks exploring our town, driving neighborhoods, going on some awesome local hikes (that still hold up to the test of time now) – The Flatirons, Lily Lake, and Sugarloaf Mountain to name a few. We even made the trek up to Vedauwoo (pronounced Veee-daa-voo) in Wyoming and did an amazing but freezing hike around this giant rock formation.

Around the same time, our house back in Pittsburgh went under contract and we immediately started house hunting around Longmont. Our agent, one of our first friends in Colorado – whose hospitality when we were visiting earlier in the year helped to seal the deal on us moving to Longmont specifically – was sending us listings everyday. Our plan had been to get here and aim to buy a house in early winter which is normally when absolutely no one buys a house.

Our target budget was between $350k and $450k, which thinking about it now is hysterically low. We saw one house that we really liked in our target neighborhood that was going for $400k but it needed new windows, the furnace was pretty old, it didn’t have AC and had giant power lines over it. It eventually sold for $427k. We were pretty bummed out, but kept on searching.

We really wanted to hold out for a house in our preferred neighborhood, but were open to other areas, so when our agent sent us a listing with the text “Everyone gets their own bedroom in this house!” I was intrigued. Not for giving each kid their own bedroom (our two boys and two girls share rooms respectively), but more for having extra rooms to use as offices.

We walked the house that day with two of our kids that weren’t in school that day and while I really liked it, it was $40k above the top end of our budget. I would have probably made an offer that day though, it had 2500 sq ft (which was more or less double what we had lived in for the past 4.5 years) 5 bedrooms, plus a bonus room with half walls around it (home gym potential), a modern kitchen, a new deck, functioning non-ancient mechanicals and a recent roof. It also had a hot tub which was not functional (yet), but the only other downside was the original (1979) windows. We let it go for the moment and kept looking.

Two weeks later we saw that the house was still on the market, and decided to go look at it again, but this time with all of the kids. The house had sat at the same price and 14 other folks had walked the house since we did, and something must have scared them off. We were pretty sure that there was nothing major that would warrant scaring us off, so we decided to make an offer, for $25k less than asking. We must have been the only offer because they accepted it after a little back and forth.

A couple of days later we had the inspection (which I was able to bike to, did I mention that I love it here?) and thankfully there was nothing major that needed fixing immediately. We had some things that we wanted to fix soon but nothing that needed to be done immediately.

We also managed to secure a 2.75% interest rate for our house. I remember buying a house in 2010 and getting a 4.75% rate which was “really really good” back then, and being astonished by the 3.625% rate we got for our last house back in 2016. This made the much larger purchase price ($465k) a bit more palatable, especially after buying our previous house at $170k.

I originally wrote most of this post in November 2021, when rates were much lower than the staggering 5.5 – 6% for a 30 year fixed that they are now (May 2022). At the same time, I would guess that our house has appreciated to over $600k. If we were to buy the same house now, we would be paying $1400 more – just in principal and interest

We worked out the last details for our loan, started re-packing and got ready for the holidays. 

I was looking forward to some peace, quiet and stability after the last few months of moving, packing and chaos. 

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