1. Cost of Living:
If you think of the Colorado Rockies and think “Aspen”, you might be surprised to find most mountain towns are small and costs can be low. This is because many of these areas, without major economic resources, have a lower average income. Land sells for less, homes rent for less, groceries cost less than you might think because people living in these areas full time don’t have the money part-time second-homers in tourist communities do. Costs will be higher than in some places simply because of the expense of bringing commodities distances, but if you’re in the path of a major thoroughfare you may find your costs are lower for some products than they are in the large anchoring communities on either end of it.
2. A Different Kind of Cold:
Mountain cold is cold. But it’s also often dry, and relatively consistent. Because of this, if you are accustomed to the kind of winter dreaded in upstate New York or even North Carolina, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by roads that stay snowed and navigable, instead of roads where the snow melts and freezes into a sheet of black ice; by winters that you adapt to, instead of winters with a bit of spring or fall always peaking in to get you yearning for warm weather; and a low humidity that makes a 35 degree morning feel brisk and crisp instead of oppressive.
When a bottling company wants to make a buck on water, they’ll label it “artesian” and glue a picture of a snowy mountain on the front. Rural mountain communities often do not have access to municipal water, instead each home has its own well, sometimes drilled hundreds of feet down into granite. Clean snow runoff filtered through natural stone picks up vital salts and nutrients. Test your water to make sure there isn’t a contaminant source or overabundance of fluoride, but generally you’ll find your mountain well will give you better tasting and healthier water than you’ll find anywhere else.
In “Last Child in the Woods”, author Richard Louv discourses on the benefits children had commonly available in past generations, where they freely played in open, natural spaces. He laments the substitution of playground equipment for trees and streams. If you have a family that is accustomed to suburban living, your kids will likely have an adjustment period when they move to an area with no car noises coming in the windows at night, where the stars are visible, where the sidewalk truly ends. But after the discomfort wears off, they’ll gain a confidence and freedom from being able to use their imagination and feed their curiosity in their own back yard — or back acreage.
Modern Americans are hyperaware of the need for community-building. Social networking and internet “tribes”, church membership and political activism, charitable work and company picnics are all ways people try to build and reinforce human connections. But necessity is the mother of invention, and there’s nothing bonds so deeply as a winch on your neighbor’s pickup when your Toyota is swallowed by a snowy ditch. The isolation and distances in the mountains actually make dependence on friends inescapable. A friend in need is, after all, a friend indeed.