With the sharply rising cost of housing in Fort Collins, we've been curious about what folks who always dreamed of homeownership in this city and close by are thinking now.
The average median price for a home in Fort Collins has hit $600,000, and interest rates are rising.
So last week, we asked you: Do you have a future in Northern Colorado?
More specifically: "How has the continued high price of housing affected your desire to live in Northern Colorado? Have you given up on homeownership altogether? For current homeowners, have you considered selling to cash out or moving to find what you want? What factors are you weighing as you consider your future here?"
When we shared this question the Fort Collins subreddit, it produced more than 200 responses. And yes, some said they have already moved away from Colorado or will not hesitate to move.
In a few cases, commenters noted their ability to own a home was achieved after moving to Fort Collins from a place where housing costs were even higher.
For others in the Reddit forum, the competition around buying a home has made it impossible for them to be a homeowner, but they can still afford to rent.
Some are still in a position to save for a down payment on a home, but that home won't be here in Northern Colorado.
While continuing to rent, many are, for now at least, investing additional money outside of real estate.
However, there's a lot of frustration about not being able to either buy a home or rent in the Fort Collins area.
Rents have been increasing, even for those who have been good tenants and paid on time. And, sure, many renters said they've thought about trying to buy. But the fierce competition for homes and the proliferation of cash buyers has made it seem like an impossible endeavor.
For those who simply can't leave, for reasons like sharing custody of children or caring for a family member, the situation feels hopeless.
Fort Collins has become a place where lower-income residents can't stay, a few residents said. And that has implications for the city's culture and the area's climate: Service workers can't make it. Artists can't make it. People moving farther away from where they work are commuting longer distances, adding pressure to Northern Colorado roads and air quality.
A few people said that even if they aren't already priced out of the rental market, they know that day is coming.
But if you did leave, where could you go, many asked? Prices are escalating across the United States, and the gap between Fort Collins' housing prices and other cities' is getting smaller. Add in Colorado's low property tax rate, and living elsewhere could amount to an increase for those bills.
Many other locations feel less desirable, residents said, in addition to unknowns like: Can I find a job there? Do the social opportunities meet my needs? If it's a rural area, can I get reliable internet for remote work?
Some have taken the leap: One family sold their home and purchased a travel trailer for a completely different way of living, wherever the road takes them.
Adopting multigenerational housing was one way to survive for at least one person in the forum.
And there were reports of finally finding a home, whether as a rental or a buyer, but not in Fort Collins. In Greeley, Loveland and Windsor instead, or more affordable but farther-away locations, like Colorado's Western Slope or Cheyenne, Wyoming.
A couple of commenters noted they were able to get in the housing market by competing with cash buyers: They used a service that fronts the cash for them.
But the idea of spending half a million dollars for a modest home has some feeling reticent to take a risk. Will the housing market bust and leave them underwater? Will they also have to pour more money in for a home that needs work?
Some are waiting, hoping the market corrects.
As for people who already own homes, it's hard to say how many are talking about leaving the area. But one homeowner in the forum noted that with the increase in property values and therefore property taxes, their intention of staying put in Fort Collins is being challenged. On a fixed income, it's tempting to sell and move to a place where they could pay cash for an even nicer home.
For a lot of people who want to stay in Fort Collins, it comes down to the tradeoffs: What are they willing to accept to stay and enjoy what they love about the Fort Collins life? Is it worth it even in a smaller home or an older home that will require more maintenance? Are they willing to be "house poor"?
Throughout the conversation, a few ideas popped up for making housing more affordable here:
Allow rent control.
Don't allow a single landlord to purchase more than 10 homes for rentals.
Require homeowners to wait five years before renting out a home.
Increase the housing supply with higher density developments.
End Fort Collins' "U+2" housing occupancy limit so more people can live together and share the rent or mortgage.
Conversely, keep the occupancy limit because getting rid of U+2 could instead drive up housing prices if landlord investors have a greater incentive to purchase more homes with greater occupancy and higher rent.
Ban or reduce single-family zoning for future development.
Look at whether corporate buyers or international investors are a significant contributor to rising prices. If so, set policies to limit their influence.
For many, Fort Collins' high housing prices are the accepted price of paradise. But it's clear that paradise doesn't sparkle quite as much for those struggling to cover the bill.
This week's questions:
Rebecca Powell is a content strategist at the Coloradoan, working to connect our community with the answers they seek. Contact her at RebeccaPowell@coloradoan.com. The Coloradoan can't do the important work of keeping our community informed without you. Support us by purchasing a digital subscription today.
This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Frustrations mount for many as Fort Collins' cost of living rises