The Pros and Cons of Living in the Mountains

house in the mountains

Several years ago, my parents sold my childhood home in the suburbs of Chicago and moved to the mountains of Colorado. It’s a pretty magical place. Look outside the windows and, in addition to expansive open sky and seemingly limitless greenery, you may see elk gnawing on the grass (as my dad calls them: “nature’s landscapers”) or an eagle perched on top of a tree. Living in the mountains definitely has its perks, as anyone who lives there will tell you. But it’s not all animal sightings and soaring eagles. If you’re planning on moving up in altitude and living the mountain life, just be sure you know all of the pros and cons first. Here are some to consider.

Pro: It’s a natural paradise

From forested slopes to desert peaks, if you’re living in the mountains, you’re living in a place of idyllic beauty. Plants and animals live much more freely on mountains, where populations are less dense and there are considerably fewer buildings. Get far enough away from a city and you’re likely to come upon the most magnificent night sky you’ll ever see. If you’re someone who loves nature in all its purity, then this pro of mountain living may be all that you need.

Con: It’s not easy to build on

Building a new house on a mountain or adding on to an existing one is incredibly difficult and incredibly expensive. If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll have to cut down trees, level the land with dynamite, and run in utilities, and that’s before you’ve even gotten to the foundation of your home. Start digging and instead of finding soil, you’re going to find rock. A lot of it. To level out a big enough space to build a property on, you’re looking at an extensive amount of labor. Of course, there are plenty of already built homes if you’re interested in living in the mountains without taking on the expense of building new. But if new construction is your dream, you’re going to have to budget big.

Pro: Tons of privacy

Even in less remote, more residential mountain areas, you’re not going to be up against your neighbors like you are on lower land. In fact, chances are you’ll have plenty of mountain space to call your own for living, relaxing, and maybe even some yodeling if you’re into it. Mountain living is ideal for people who appreciate peace, quiet, and the chance to inhabit their own little slice of mostly untouched nature. And if you’re looking to be as remote as possible, there are plenty of opportunities to live in the mountains without any neighbors in eyesight.

Con: Difficulty with access

Steep roads, unpaved roads, no roads… these are all part and parcel of life in the mountains, and something you’ll have to contend with if you decide to make a home out there. Keep in mind that, on many mountains, existing roads are owned by either the county or by private resident groups. County roads are maintained with tax dollars, so you’ll get the basics like snow plowing and pot hole filling. Private roads are maintained by homeowners’ associations, and just because a blizzard hits doesn’t mean the plow is coming. If you are fine to contend with this variable, you will just have to make sure you have a car or truck that can handle the slopes and switchbacks. Ditch the sports car and start looking at all wheel drive SUVs instead.

Pro: Unbeatable views

This one seems kind of obvious, doesn’t it? The higher up you go, the more breathtaking vistas you’re going to see out your window. Sure, the high altitude will mess with your baking and your lungs may take some time to adjust, but the views are one of the major things that making living in the mountains such a unique and special experience. Whether you’re west coast or east coast, near water or surrounded by land, the views you’ll see will never get old.

Con: Distance from amenities

There’s no such thing as a quick trip to the store when you’re living that mountain life. Most mountains are inherently rural. Combine that with the difficult building conditions and you’re not going to be seeing a lot of commercial development there (nor do most residents want it). No, if you’ve run out of dog food or you need to drop off a letter at the post office, you’ll have to plan for a bit of a trip. And if you want to order a pizza for delivery? Unless you’re close to town, you’re probably going to have to just make one yourself.

Pro: Endless outdoor activities

Another term my dad has proudly coined while out in Colorado: “competitive outdoorsmanship.” It’s true—most people don’t move out to the mountains to sit around. And that’s a good thing. Hiking, mountain biking, climbing, skiing, and other fun outdoor activities are all part of what makes living in the mountains so fun, and if you’ve never tried something before but want to now you probably have a neighbor who will be happy to take you along and show you how.

Con: Extreme weather

Weather has a way of being just a little bit more dramatic when you’re up high. Winds whip harder, the cold is more biting, and, depending on where you are, conditions can present a high risk of wildfire. To comfortably live in the mountains, you’ll want to learn as much as you can about the sorts of weather you’ll likely experience in your neck of the woods so that you can plan appropriately and make sure you have everything you need.

Pro: You’ll probably always feel like you’re on vacation

There’s a charm to mountain living that you just don’t find in the city or the suburbs. There’s something truly wonderful about waking up in the crisp mountain air and going to sleep under such a large and quiet sky, and there’s often new things to see—new animal visitors, new wildflowers in bloom that you’ve never noticed before. Keep your eyes and ears open and everyday in the mountains can bring something novel and awe-inspiring.

As with any major move, always do your research about what you can expect so that you can be sure it’s right for you. Living in the mountains is an experience unlike any other, but there are definitely factors that can make things a bit difficult. Know what you’re getting into though and you’ll have a much easier time dealing with anything that comes your way.

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Published at Fri, 28 Sep 2018 18:37:05 +0000