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Here, You Can Afford to Live the Good Life

Colorado’s Grand Valley has friendly folks, a work-life balance, short commutes, affordable housing options and abundant job opportunities.

By Rebecca Treon on December 1, 2021

Downtown Grand Junction, CO
Devon Balet

As soon as you enter the Grand Valley of Colorado, you’ll feel the welcoming vibe. This is a place you can afford, where job opportunities abound, and the elusive work-life balance can be achieved.

And this region has something most places can’t rival – the picture-perfect Colorado people have in their mind, where spectacular natural features and the outdoors beckon right outside your doorstep.

“It’s easy to fit in here. There’s no barrier to getting involved in the community and contribute,” says Robin Brown, former executive director at the Grand Junction Economic Partnership. “We have so many visitors who say, ‘Everybody was so nice!’”

Why Grand Valley?

Grand Valley’s communities, which include Grand Junction, Fruita and Palisade, offer Colorado at a lower price point than cities like Denver or Boulder. The overall cost of living is much lower. Also, the
median home price is 60% of the statewide average.

Running errands or traveling to and from work is simple in the Grand Valley. The mean commute time is around 16 minutes by car, a third shorter than the Colorado average. Ease of mobility and short commute times are a perk of life in a smaller community.

“Many people live in Fruita and work in Grand Junction, myself included, and it takes me about 15 to 20 minutes to get to the office, which is pretty easy,” says Joel Kincaid, mayor of Fruita. “It’s part of the quality lifestyle that most people move here for: four seasons and being able to be outside and be pretty active outdoors all year long, and you can get just about anywhere in a few minutes.”

Ramblebine Brewing Co. in downtown Grand Junction, CO
Devon Balet

Help Wanted in the Grand Valley

There are ample opportunities to start your career or take it to the next level in the Grand Valley. Between 2010 and 2019, the region added nearly 7,000 jobs, including remote positions. While historically a hub for oil and gas, the region’s economy has diversified significantly to include health care, higher education, manufacturing, outdoor recreation, information and communications technology, aviation services, and agribusiness.

“Tech continues to be our fastest-growing industry, while health care is our top employer – we serve an area much larger than Mesa County, and in 2020 for obvious reasons, we saw the remote workers trend really speed up,” Brown says. “In 2015, we put tax increases in place to reinvest in schools, transportation, infrastructure, public safety and marketing the destination. We became a nicer place to live and a nice place for families to relocate to.”

Calling All Remote Workers

The Grand Valley has created innovative programs like Mesa County FamilyWorks to attract remote workers and other professionals. This collaborative program provides hands-on support to help match professionals relocating to the Grand Valley with local career opportunities. FamilyWorks matches newcomers with a specialist who works with them on their specific job-searching needs, and offers networking and training opportunities. The program’s collaborative nature helps new residents create connections.

You’re Welcome Here

When newcomers arrive, they find numerous programs in place to connect them with the community, including an innovative mentor program. Volunteering and getting involved with nonprofits is also highly encouraged here. The region also boasts many youth programs and business mentoring opportunities.

“We have a lot of people apply for boards and commissions and want to be active in the community, and that’s based on the welcoming they got,” Kincaid says. “We’re very proud of that. It’s not just our city trying to be welcoming, it’s our local businesses that probably play the biggest factor.”

El Jet’s Cantina + Sky Outpost interior rendering in Grand Junction, CO
El Jet’s Cantina + Sky Outpost

Coming soon: Sky Outpost

Nothing says community involvement like the soon-to-open El Jet’s Cantina + Sky Outpost, which was a collaboration between the private sector, local government, purpose-led developers, longtime community leaders, and funded by a Kickstarter campaign.

Reclaiming a former junkyard at the confluence of the Gunnison and Colorado Rivers, the project will offer 71 eclectic lodging options ranging from tipi to tiny house, including refurbished Airstreams and yurts plus a Baja-inspired restaurant.

The project highlights the natural beauty of the area, which offers thousands of acres of public land preserve and open space that people can enjoy even on their lunch break. That access is a priority to residents, who value the elbow room and the time to enjoy it. The views of the Colorado National Monument and the countless recreational opportunities are a big part of what makes life in the Grand Valley great.

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