So, my family moved to Cortez, Colorado a little over 22 years ago. I was in my early 30’s, had grown up in the big city of Houston, Texas. I was accustomed to “big city” amenities and luxuries and conveniences. And here we were, moving to a place I’d never heard of in my life. But…it was in Colorado…and as everyone knows, it’s the one state almost everyone says they want to live some day. And here I was, living here. Barely Colorado, but it was still Colorado.
Today, I read where Cortez has recently been ranked as #8 in the top 10 worst places to live in Colorado. Of course, they are basing it on what the “majority” says makes a place a good place to live. The website that conducted the analysis based their findings on population density, percentage of unemployment, home values, adjusted median income and education…they claimed they “used science to determine which cities in Colorado are the real pits.”
I must admit, right here in front of God and everyone, that I haven’t always loved living here. As I said before, I grew up in one of the largest cities in America and, after marrying, I lived in one of the coolest cities on earth: Nashville, Tennessee. So I came from a spoiled background of variety in eating places, movie theaters, symphonies, concerts, major sporting events, shopping malls and specialty shops. From Cortez, you have to drive no less than 47 miles to get to any kind of variety, limited as that may be.
The article I read quoted the author of the website as saying, “Cortez has a Walmart Supercenter and an airport, but that’s where the excitement level ends. It’s out in the middle of nowhere in southwest Colorado. So even if Cortez residents had disposable incomes, there wouldn’t be much for them to spend their money on. Except weed maybe?” (insert sarcastic laughter here)
So is that truly what makes someplace a good place to live? Cortez does struggle with being in the corner of the state, limited restaurant and entertainment options, lower median income…but a Walmart and an airport is exciting? Really?
The excitement level does NOT end there. For one thing, I am a member of the most exciting church in the Four Corners. Not the only church in town, but my favorite. We have an exciting worship team that rocks it; an exciting ministry for teenagers that is fun and silly and helps shape and lead teenagers to make good adult decisions; an exciting children’s ministry, with leaders that are so fun to be around you’d think they really like working with children (and they really do); an exciting marriage ministry that cares about and values marriage and regularly builds into and strengthens the marriage relationships in our county. Not to mention (but I will), an exciting pastor that loves God and loves people, who brings the Bible to life, who makes coming to church fun, but who also makes learning God’s word meaningful, always giving us ways to apply God’s lessons to our everyday lives, to make us more like Jesus. Loving God. Loving people.
But on a “non-church” note, this isn’t a bad place to live. The weather here can’t be beat. We have four distinct beautiful seasons. We don’t have to worry about any major weather catastrophes. Probably the most threatening danger is fire. Humidity is nice and low. In the winter, when it snows, it only takes a couple days at most for it to melt off the roads and make driving less sketchy. In spring and summer, the wildflowers are breathtaking. And speaking of breathtaking, the sunsets are unrivaled. And in the fall, the changing leaves on the variety of trees is like an amazing oil painting.
On a “non-weather” note, small-town living is nice because it doesn’t really take long to get anywhere, unless you live out of town in the country. But even then, it’s relatively easy to get places you need to go. There’s not a huge variety of restaurants, but the ones we have are excellent. We have a nice newly-remodeled movie theater that shows first-run movies. We have two grocery stores with very friendly employees that know your name. And local banks that take pride in the relationship they have with their customers. And a special coffee shop that loved my father-in-law so much that, when he passed away, they named a coffee after him that is now permanently on the menu.
And the day-trips in this area are amazing. In just a matter of minutes to an hour, you can be in the most beautiful countryside, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, forests, rock formations, Indian ruins. The beauty is endless.
And last but not least, I have some of the greatest friends in this town that I’ve ever had. Some that I’ve known all 22 years and some I’ve only met in the past year. I wouldn’t trade my friends here for anything in the world. The love and support they have shown me and my family when I was sick and literally at death’s door, when my father-in-law passed away suddenly, when my husband was in a bad motorcycle accident, among other things…unparalleled.
All that to say, Cortez, Colorado, isn’t one of the worst places to live in Colorado…it’s one of the best. It just depends on what’s important to you.
(*putting away my soapbox*)