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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 Erica Buehler on February 7, 2023

Mountain bikers travel an easy trail into grandiose scenery near Fruita, CO.
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The Grand Valley, which comprises Grand Junction, Fruita and Palisade, offers affordability, support for budding businesses, a wealth of entertainment options for residents and spectacular outdoor recreation opportunities.

With its location on the Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains, along the Colorado River, the Grand Valley is definitely an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. If you’re looking for a perfect blend of outdoor living with excellent job opportunities and a welcoming community, it may be time to consider a move to Grand Junction, Fruita or Palisade.

Lexi Van Roekel, Palisade native

Lexi Van Roekel
Palisade native

Lexi Van Roekel is a Palisade native who moved away, then returned to the region and now lives in Grand Junction. Access to local hiking trails is a real selling point for her.

“I can leave my house and in 10 minutes be where I can hike, bike and stand-up paddleboard,” she says. “No matter where you are, you’re within an hour of really any outdoor activity you like. Hike a 14er (a mountain whose peak exceeds 14,000 feet), visit Moab, go whitewater rafting in Glenwood. It’s a cool location to be.”

Van Roekel also says the region’s affordability is a primary reason she and her family chose to live there – the median home price is around $384,000 (Zillow, October 2022) – but it’s certainly not the only reason.

“It’s been interesting to see the transformation in the last 10 years; the job scene is really starting to develop, and if you’re interested in the startup scene or arts and culture, there’s a really neat community here that’s focused on building it,” she says.

Van Roekel says some of her favorite local activities include First Friday in Grand Junction, art galleries and the wine scene in Palisade.

Downtown Grand Junction
Devon Balet

Delightful Downtowns

David Goe, community engagement manager for Downtown Grand Junction, says the region’s focus on art and a vibrant downtown make it a cool place to be.

“Grand Junction has a long history of being involved in public art – it was the first city in the country to have a public art sculpture garden, and we’ve had our Art on the Corner since the mid-80s, which is totally free for the public,” he says.

Additionally, about 15 new, large murals have been added to an extremely walkable downtown in Grand Junction, and events are held regularly to draw the community together.”

Grand Junction Farmers Market
Devon Balet

Better Work-Life Balance

For Greg Olson, founder of marketing firm Growl Agency, moving from Denver to the Grand Valley made sense in every way.

“I’ve been coming out this way for about 20 years because I have family in Fruita,” he says. “It’s an immediate way to decompress from living on the Front Range. It doesn’t have the same traffic; real estate prices are more reasonable; and you have that balance between city and nature living. It’s where I had my, ‘fall back in love with Colorado moment.’”

Moreover, Olson emphasizes the proximity to trailheads, extremely pet-friendly atmosphere of the region and milder weather than that of Denver, among many other qualities.

“We have everything you need: health care, shopping, outdoor lifestyle, diverse restaurants, entertainment, actual farm-to-table food, Colorado Mesa University and an airport that only takes minutes to get out of or through security,” he says. “Whether you’re in small-town Fruita or Palisade or downtown Grand Junction, it’s always that iconic, downtown Main Street America feel.”

He notes that more people are moving to the area – especially remote workers – to get out of long commutes and because of the abundance of resources available, particularly for growing businesses. But the recurring theme across the board is that the Grand Valley is all about investing in its community.

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,” says Joel Kincaid, mayor of Fruita. “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.”

Writer Rebecca Treon contributed to this article.

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