Grand Junction near top of list of retirement cities
Grand Junction, which three decades ago fought to be recognized as a prime retirement locale, now is listed among the top 10 places to retire on less than $100 a day in AARP The Magazine.
Grand Junction was ranked No. 9 among the top 10 cities for retirees looking for a mix of affordability and activity, the magazine concluded.
Working from a base income of $36,500, or $100 a day, the magazine deducted 25 percent for taxes leaving $27,375, or $2,281 a month. The magazine factored in a median housing cost of $192,000, which means a mortgage of about $719 a month, leaving $1,562 a month for other costs.
“We pared a list of 200 cities down to 10 by homing in on things that make life worth living: the arts and culture, colleges, restaurants, community,” the magazine said.
In placing Grand Junction in the top 10, the magazine was on target, Bob Schneller said.
Schneller, a native of Los Angeles, and his wife, Vicki, moved to Grand Junction about 15 years ago from the San Diego area.
“I can sit in the morning and look out the front window and see the sun rise over Grand Mesa and sit on my back porch in the evening and see the sun set over Colorado National Monument,” Schneller said.
In between times, there’s plenty to do, from boating, both in Colorado and on Lake Powell, to skiing, riding all-terrain vehicles and other activities. Vicki, he said, has become a master gardener while living in Grand Junction.
The magazine notes Grand Junction’s “vibe” of contemporary arts meets Western charm.
The Lavender Festival gets high marks, as does Art on the Corner, including “Chrome on the Range II,” the buffalo in front of the downtown Wells Fargo branch.
“Beyond the town’s urban spunk, the area’s real appeal is the outdoor wonderland that is western Colorado,” the magazine said.
“Grand Junction is just a few hours from Vail and Aspen, and bike trails pass cornfields and outdoor sculptures along the banks of the Colorado River. You’ll find lots of local vineyards, but don’t ignore the area’s sweet cherries, apples and peaches (an outlying town is even named Fruita).”
Volunteer opportunities also are abundant, Schneller said.
“You can keep busy very, very easily,” he said.
Notice in AARP The Magazine is like to translate into interest in the Grand Valley, said Diane Schwenke, president of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.
“Having national exposure through AARP is not a bad thing,” Schwenke said, noting that Grand Junction is in good company being listed with the likes of Spokane, Wash., and Las Cruces, N.M.
Though the ranking is aimed at best places to live, it helps to put Grand Junction on the radar screen for tourism as well, Schwenke said.
Getting unsolicited kudos from AARP is a new experience, said Kathy Hall, a former Mesa County commissioner who worked on efforts to attract retirees to the Grand Valley after the economic collapse precipitated by the 1982 oil shale bust.
“It’s fascinating to me that we are now getting attention as a great place to live,” Hall said. “We always knew that, but we never could get any attention. All we could get was negative.”