Minnesota couple pulls up stakes to experience life in Grand Valley
Retirement + Realtor + Research = RELOCATION
Grand Junction has never been in the path of a hurricane. It doesn’t experience seasonal wildfires like California or other parts of Colorado; eight-foot snowdrifts from howling winds during blizzards are unheard of, as are tornadoes. And, in spite of the confluence of two significant rivers right in the middle of town, flooding is an unusual problem, too. On top of that, the sun shines a lot. Put all of that together and the area begins to look good for retirees who are looking for someplace to live after their career days in the big city are finished.
Add that to the natural playgrounds that surround the Grand Valley, where enthusiasts can ski, hike, hunt, raft, ride (horses, bicycles, motorcycles or four-wheelers), camp, fish and explore, and its easy to understand why people who are still working want to relocate to Western Colorado, too.
It was neither the weather nor the recreational activities that attracted Monica and Richard Nivala to the area, although they enjoy the weather and hope to take advantage of the available recreation. The (former) Minnesota residents used to drive through Grand Junction on the way to and from California and had gotten in the habit of spending the night. On one of their cross-country trips, the couple had a flat tire near Interstate 70 Exit 37. They made it to the exit and within minutes, a truck had stopped and two friendly strangers changed their tire and took them to a tire repair shop.
“We were blown away by the friendliness and hospitality,” said Monica. The Nivalas had a lakefront home on a large lot in northern Minnesota and the remoteness, the short summers and the work it took to maintain the property made them think about relocating. Both surprised each other when Grand Junction was at the top of their list.
Proving that “It’s a Small World” is more than just an annoying earworm that lives on years after you’ve disembarked from the Disney ride, Richard Nivala attended a class reunion in 2012, where a classmate reminded him that another classmate, Mardi Doepke, was living and working in Grand Junction. When the Nivalas drove through Grand Junction in the spring of 2013, they made a point of looking up Doepke, who happened to work at Metro Brokers. She recommended that they get in touch with Debbie Thomas, broker owner of DKT Realty, and loaded them down with newspapers and spare copies of Real Estate Weekly.
“They were our Bible,” Monica said. “You get so much more from the newspaper than you do online.”
The Nivalas listed their Minnesota home at the end of June, got an offer mid-summer and closed on it by early September. Throughout the summer, the Nivalas had been in e-mail contact with Thomas and had also received a few more copies of Real Estate Weekly from Doepke. Monica also checked listings online.
Because their Minnesota property was a lakefront home, the new buyers were second-home buyers and didn’t just want the house, they wanted everything in it, as well. So the Nivalas packed up a few personal possessions and hit the road for Grand Junction. Thanks to the communication from Metro Brokers, the Nivalas had a list of properties they wanted to see.
The Nivalas ended up making an offer on a house they saw listed in Real Estate Weekly, in a northeast neighborhood that had seniors, families, kids and dogs. Although the house is slightly bigger than their lakefront cabin, the yard is quite manageable. Richard is looking forward to playing more golf and doing less yard work.
When people are considering relocating to the Grand Valley, those that don’t have connections through relatives or old high school classmates often start by calling a real estate office or the Chamber of Commerce. Both are used to fielding those types of questions and have information packets that they are more than willing to send to people in far-flung places.
Some transplants want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and find a home on a little piece of property where they can’t hear their neighbors but can grow prize-worthy tomatoes. The Grand Valley has plenty of properties available for those buyers. Others want a lock-and-leave home in a secure, gated community that also has a small gym or recreation facility on-site. The Grand Valley doesn’t have any of those, but does have many patio and town home options with available recreation right outside the front door, which often satisfies those buyers. Others, like the Nivalas, want neighborhoods with seniors, families, young kids, lawnmowers and pets. The Grand Valley can offer a huge selection of those.
All prospective transplants appreciate the personal touch. The Internet is great at providing facts, figures and photos, but when someone is getting ready to pack up and start over in a new part of the state, country or world, they need a friendly voice at the other end of the phone or a real person on the other end of the e-mail chain rather than an auto-reply. They want to develop a feeling about their new community, and it’s the personal touch that makes it a positive feeling.
“I was thinking a person could not do this on your own,” Monica said. “I’ve come to realize how important a Realtor is — I’m blown away by the integrity that Realtors need to have.”