10 Reasons Not to Move to Pagosa

Matt Martin - Realtor, Pagosa Springs
All content is created and crafted by Matt Martin, a local realtor with Team M-Squared, Sherpa Real Estate. He guides clients by utilizing unique marketing skills that get listings and offers accepted.

Let me just say it. Pagosa and Southwest Colorado is not for everyone. There are some challenges of living here that you may not be used to in places like Texas, Arizona and California. So I’ve complied a list of 10 Reasons Not to Move to Pagosa Springs.

Hey there, my name is Matt Martin. I’m a local realtor. If you ever been curious what it’s really like to live or buy a vacation home in this area, you’ve come to the right place. Not only do we produce quality videos on the fun and beauty of this area, it’s also my goal to provide value by giving out honest guidance that helps you determine if the mountain lifestyle here in Southwest Colorado is the right fit for you.

If this list actually sounds appealing to you, then you’re probably gonna fall in love with this place.

Alright…Let’s go.

#10 Remoteness

Pagosa Springs is pretty much it’s own world. It’s surrounded by millions of acres of national forest. And it’s neighbor to the north, Hinsdale County, is the most remote county in the entire lower 48.

The closest mid sized town is Durango, which is over an hour to the west. It does have it’s own airport. But if you need to access a major airport, it’s either a 5 hour drive to Denver. Or a three and a half hour drive to Albuquerque.

We actually prefer Albuquerque because of how much easier it is to get through security compared to Denver. Plus, you don’t have to go over the pass…which when major snow storms hit the area, the pass often shuts down. Which delays travel and shipments of supplies and goods.

So if you need quick and easy access to the modern conveniences of life, it can be a little more challenging here in Pagosa. On the positive side though, it keeps the crowds away. There’s no traffic jams. There’s little pollution. And there’s little noise other than the occasional barking dog.

#9 Shopping and Restaurants

Because Pagosa is so remote, your shopping choices are limited. Our Walmart is one of the smaller ones out there. And there’s only two other grocery stores here, City Market and Natural Grocers.

But if you’re looking for something like Target, the nearest one is two hours away in Farmington, New Mexico.

Which means you’ll have to rely a little more on Amazon Prime. 

For those coming from more populated areas, you’re probably used to next day delivery or even same day. But here in Pagosa, it takes usually four to seven days to deliver your packages.

As far as restaurants go, there are some great ones here making some delicious food. But choices are limited. Which means visiting the same ones on a regular basis. And there’s not much fast food food here. Just McDonalds, Subway and Sonic.

But I view this as a positive. Avoiding fast food leads to a healthier lifestyle. You’ll feel better, look better. And save more money.

Which is also true when it comes to shopping here.

Before hitting that “buy now” button on Amazon, maybe you’ll think twice if you really need that item. And with the lack of major retailers here, you’ll end up supporting more small businesses, who are your neighbors and your friends. Which is a great thing!

#8 Small Town

Now I think there’s always something to do in Pagosa. The skiing, the biking, the hiking, camping, kayaking, tubing…this place is an outdoor paradise. But if the outdoors aren’t your thing, you’re probably gonna get a little bored here.

Pagosa is a small town and there’s just not a lot to do here if it doesn’t involve the outdoors.

Now that’s starting to change. We now have axe throwing, a movie theater, and other businesses trying to fill this void. But we definitely lack the options that the suburbs and cities have.

And the night life…well, there’s not much of it. Downtown can look like a ghost town sometimes after 8pm.

But chances are, this is why you are interested in this area. You desire the peace and quiet of a small town where you can see the stars at night.

#7 Pagoslow

It’s a different pace of life here. It’s much slower compared to where you’re likely coming from. Which leads to the nickname Pago-slow.

There’s challenges of living in a more remote area. Which means it can take longer to find a repair guy or to get supplies in stock. Restaurants aren’t open every day of the week. Lines are longer certain times of the year. And it takes some time for government agencies to respond to any questions or permit requests.

Over time though you get used to this slower lifestyle. The stress of the hustle and bustle of the city doesn’t belong here. And you find that having to wait a little bit longer to get things done isn’t so bad after all.

But I can’t lie either. Sometimes it can be frustrating when we’re so used to these instant gratification from these devices called our phones.

I know a lot of this is simply first world problems. But you do need to be more prepared for this slower pace of life and how that can alter your schedule and expectations.

#6 Cell Service

Speaking of slow…that’s the case also with our cell service in this area. With our topography and vast expanse of land, you’re not always gonna have the best signal.

Driving up to Wolf Creek or even out to Durango, you’re a signal for half the drive.

Now if you’re staying within the Downtown or Pagosa Lakes area, you will a decent connection. But you also to be aware that during busier times, the networks can get overloaded and the data transfer rates can slow.

Internet as a whole can be challenging in some spots. But it’s honestly no longer an issue now that star-link is available. And Pagosa is actively working on providing fiber to downtown and uptown, which should be available to everyone over the next couple of years.

I do want to add this…we didn’t move here to stare at a screen. We’re here to live a life outside in the mountains. And not being dependent on that phone or computer helps you live that life you really want to live.

#5 Potholes and Gravel Roads

We have a lot of potholes here. And some are gigantic. This is due to the nature of living in a winter environment. Potholes tend to develop mostly in the winter with the freezing and thawing of roads.

The problem though is how long it can take to get potholes repaired here. Colorado is home to the third lowest property taxes in the nation. And the overall taxation here is lower than states like Texas. Which is a huge benefit…right?

But that also means lower revenue for our town and county infrastructure. Combine that with our small population but large amount of land mass, it can be very hard to keep our infrastructure up to date. There’s not enough gravel pits in the area.

Now this is quite the controversy here depending on your views and politics. But here’s how I look at this issue.

Yes, we have large potholes and gravel roads. But I’m also saving quite a bit of money in property and sales taxes compared to Texas. And I have off-road vehicles for a reason. I just wish it wasn’t to get into the grocery store parking lot. But this all does come down to values. And I can put up with the pot holes and gravel roads to stare at this kind of beauty every day.

Which leads to our next point.

#4 Mudseason

During March, April and May (and even February this year due to warmer than usual temps) all that snow we received over winter melts. It creates ponds and streams all over town and in our backyards. It turns our dirt and gravel roads into muddy messes. And all that mud collects on our cars and ends up in our garages.

Mud season is my least favorite time of year. It’s a great time to go on vacation. But it’s also a break from our tourist seasons. Town is quieter. There’s not as many people here. The lines at restaurants are no more. And it’s the start of rafting season along with the excitement of the upcoming summer. Which also happens to be peak season for reason number three.

#3 Tourism

Pagosa is a tourism town. Tourism is what provides the economy here along with many of the jobs and businesses in Pagosa Springs.

But with that tourism comes people. The population of town can double during peak weeks. Traffic increases. The shelves at our grocery stores empty out. Wait times at restaurants become longer. Powder days get tracked out faster. And Pagosa no longer seems like such a small town.

So there’s this love / hate relationship with tourism here among the locals. Some despise it. Others see it for what it is…an economic benefit that allows many of us to live this mountain lifestyle. But I’d say the silent majority here don’t even give tourism a second thought. They know the tricks on how to navigate it and still find there’s more than plenty of room for everyone to enjoy the peace and quiet of these mountains.

Honestly, where you live will determine how much tourism you see. Downtown is definitely busier than uptown. But if you don’t go downtown, you’ll hardly even notice the amount of tourism. Most neighborhoods remain quiet. Which leads us to…

#2 Vacation Home Community 

Less than 50% of homes here are occupied full-time by their owners. This means the other half are either second homes, long term rentals or short term rentals.

Now less than 10% homes here are rented out as STR’s. But they have generated some controversy here.

Opponents of STR’s will say they contribute to a loss of community. That occupants tend to be louder, they leave lights on and leave trash out that attracts bears and other animals.

Others will say that STR’s are really no different than long term rentals or full time owners. People are people. But STR’s tend to be better kept than LTR’s and contribute more money to our local economy.

Now here’s my own experience. STR’s on average are occupied 36% of the time. So they sit empty most of the year. I’ve yet to have a single problem arise with any of the STR’s near me or their renters. Everyone has been respectful. So I’ve never had a problem with one.

But when it comes to community though, due to the number of second home owners here, I think you’re more likely to find your community through clubs, organizations or other entities that share the same interests or beliefs that you do. Rather than your own neighborhood.

And finally, our number one reason why you may not want to move to Pagosa.

#1 Winter

People fall in love with Pagosa because of our amazing summers. They buy a house in the summer, enjoy our incredible transition to fall. And then here comes winter. They’re not quite prepared for it.

Downtown Pagosa receives on average about 67 inches of snow a year. Uptown receives even more, closer to 100 inches. And with all that snow comes quite a bit of work. Especially if you have to shovel your driveway and porches. And just when you think you’re done, the plows will come by your house and push all that snow from the road onto your driveway. Causing you to say a few curse words and then bust out the shovel once again.

Make no mistake! Winter is work!

But with that work comes some amazing opportunities to play in our outdoors. The amazing powder days at Wolf Creek can’t be beat. Then there’s cross country skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and more. But if you don’t enjoy playing in the snow, it can be hard to get through a winter here.

Honestly though,  it’s not as cold here as you would think. Pagosa has over 300 days of sunshine a year. And so long as the suns out on a winter day, it can actually be quite pleasant. There’s been days in January where I’m walking around without a coat because of how warm the sun feels. But once the sun goes down, it does get really cold. Often down into the single digits with occasional times below zero. All the more reason to cozy up next to the fire on a cold winters night.

So there you have it. My top ten reasons to not move here. For some of you, this inspires you even more to make the move. For others, maybe it means just living here in the summer. Either way, let me know in the comments if I got it right, if I got it wrong or if I missed anything.

If you’re looking to move to this area, please reach out. We’d love to help you find the perfect home for you.

And as always, if you have any question what-so-ever about Pagosa or this area, we’d love to help you out. We’re proud to be a quality and useful resource even beyond the world of real estate. So reach out to us and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. Until next time, cheers!


Subscribe to our email list to get updates on real estate listings, vacation rentals, events and other special incentives.
Newsletter Sign Up
We sell real estate by creating unique content that draws in those seeking the mountain town lifestyle.
Team M-Squared is proudly under Sherpa Real Estate in Pagosa Springs, CO!
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram