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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Afternoon everyone, question for anyone/everyone about a possible move out West. I was born and raised out West, yet have always wanted to come back. How I’ve been in the boring Midwest for FAR tooooo long of my life. Wasting it doing nothing. I’m at the point in my life where I’m ready to make a big life change and move back out West to either Colorado or somewhere in the PNW (Vancouver/Kamloops/Etc), so that I can live the life I’ve always wanted to live. IN NATURE and enjoying the Mtns, rivers, and nature! I feel so detached from life anymore and the more movies and documentaries I watch about people living THE LIFE, the more it makes me realize how short and precious our time is here. And I’m sick of sitting around waiting for something awesome to happen. I’m going to do something about it finally!

So I’m thinking about getting into an IT career as I have a golden opportunity to get my foot in the door with my current employer. A director where I work (who has taken me under their wing) has offered to get me into the IT dept if I can get a simple A+ certification! Plus a few friends have offered to help me with whatever they can to get into the field with Certification help and stuff like that. And with this new career, I'd be able to afford to move out West again to Denver, Vancouver, Kamloops, Whistler area, etc if I so chose. And so I’ve already been doing loads of preliminary research on WHERE I might want move too, but could definitely use some local advice and info and stories of your life and how it has changed by moving to a place like Vancouver, Whistler area, Kamloops, Denver, etc. I'm hoping this thread not only helps me out, but also helps out LOADS of other people thinking about the same idea of moving out West. To be back in Nature and MTB in the best locations in the world!

I want to MTB at the best trails and bike parks in North America. I want to snowboard in the best Mtns in North America. I want to go for a hike and see GIANT Mtns and beautiful rivers. I want to walk outside my apt/house and see Mtns and be within 30mins to a few hrs of some of the largest Mtns in NA! I want to return to Nature.

So I want to either live in the Vancouver area, Kamloops/Kelowna area, or possibly somewhere in Denver area (preferably in Golden or a Western Suburb). I want to ride DH/Enduro stuff at the BEST lift assisted trails/parks and snowboard in some of the best Mtns in the winter.

So what I’m looking for, is advice, stories, and info on your guys Pros and Cons of living in these areas?
-What do you like about living there, what do you not like about living there?
-What is traffic like to get out to the MTNs or the local trails nearby (for ex living in Vancouver. Is it a pain in the ass to get to Whistler/Coastal Gravity/Etc on the weekends or no problem)?
-What is the weather like year round? My gf and I LOVE snow and have always wanted to live some place where it snows more often and has distinct seasons. Cold/snowy winters (but with some or lots of sun), cool rainy but beautiful springs, warm dry sunny summers, and beautiful warm/cool falls. Vancouver while the closest central location to all the best DH Mtb’ng in the world, also has some of the worst most dreary weather (at least from what I can tell doing google searches).

With an IT career I’m getting into, I can literally get a job in almost any place I want as long as the city is more than a truck stop. Medium sized cities like Kamloops and Golden actually appeal to us even more than a big city like Vancouver or Denver. But having that big city within an hr or two at the most is also very nice.

Vancouver
Pros

-literally THE BEST DH/Enduro mtb’ng in North America. This isn’t even close! NO other 2-5 hr radius area in the world would allow me to ride THE BEST trails and parks and ride THE BEST Mtns to snowboard in the world (unless I lived in the Alps)! This is a HUGE Pro
-Vancouver and all the surrounding area are INSANELY beautiful and has some of if not the best views and scenery in the entire world!
-Huge city with lots of jobs and amazing life outside of just biking/snowboarding. Art, music, culture, food, etc
Cons
-setting up all the visa stuff and possibly becoming a citizen stuff will be a NIGHTMARE and take a lot of time and money
-super expensive city, with crazy expensive rent or housing, really hard to find apts/housing
-still not that close to Whistler, Coastal Gravity Park. Would have to drive 2-4 hrs to hit up the BEST parks in the NW area and deal with traffic going out/coming back
And places like SunPeaks, Big White, Silver Star, etc are even farther and only weekend destinations
-weather seems horrible from what I can gather. Rainy and cloudy like ALL the time. Not much sun. Seems like it would get really old and depressing living in such a cloudy/rainy place?
This is a HUGE CON, we really want to live some place that has tons of sun and amazing moderate weather with snow in the winter. Summers that are dry and mid to upper 80s at the warmest and snow in the winter, but sun all year long

So I wonder, does having so many amazing Mtns, with THE best mtb'ng and snowboarding in the world within a few hrs make up for the crappy Vancouver weather or not?

Kamloops
Pros

-mid town size, don’t have to deal with millions of people and tons of traffic!
-RIGHT near some of the BEST MTB’ng in the world (Sunpeaks and SilverStar being so close is INSANE!) and within 2-5 hrs of the other best parks in the world. This is a HUGE Pro
-Plus there are great local trails RIGHT out your door, can go for rides after work
-cost of living will be MUCH cheaper than Vancouver/Denver and much better chance of finding an affordable house
-weather is WAY better here (from what I can tell). A LOT more like sunny Colorado with dry warm summers and sunny cold winters with snow, and loads of snow in the nearby Mtns. Plus way fewer cloudy or rainy days. And amazing year rd temps
Cons
-setting up all the visa stuff and possibly becoming a citizen stuff will be a NIGHTMARE and take a lot of time and money
-not very close to Whistler, Coastal Gravity Bike Park and the entire Northshore. Which is THE best riding in the world, other than the Alps. Long drives and only on weekends to get to these places, which means dealing with HUGE lift lines and hordes of tourists
-will probably be much harder to find a great job. Smaller to Mid-size towns won’t offer as many job choices and obviously lower salary
-not much to do outside of nature here. The closest city life, amazing restaurants, art, music, etc is in Vancouver, which is 4 hrs away

Whistler Area
The pros are obvious, no need to list them. Would be literally living in heaven riding the best MTB parks/trails and snowboarding the best Mtns!
Cons are about same as Kamloops, but an even smaller area and way fewer job/career opportunities, plus everything is super expensive since it's in the Mtns and nowhere near a med to large city

West Denver/Golden Area
Pros

-Easiest move of the places I’m looking at. It’s in the US, so I don’t have to worry about all that BS with visas and citizenship, etc etc etc.
-I have some Family and friends that live in CO, so that would be really nice to have people you know around
-Big city with lots of job opportunities
-TONS of amazing restaurants, bars, breweries, night life, music, etc
-INCEDIBLE weather! Warm/dry in the Summer/Fall, and loads of snow in the mtns in winter and tons more sun. I’ve never been anywhere in the world that has weather as magical as Colorado
-Loads of great bike parks and trails close and within a few hrs drive. Not as insane as the Whistler/BC area, but still lots of fun
Cons
-It’s NOT BC. The riding is just not the same. It’s drier and dustier more often and doesn’t have the insane steep/fast runs with loads of huge jumps and gnarly DH tech run lines like EVERYWHERE in BC area
-Really far from BC area. Would only be able to fly or take LONG road trips just to get up that way, and it would only be 1-2 times a year

Really interested to hear what everyone has to say, share, advice, etc. It seems like this choice I’m going to make in life is going to have to come with some major compromises whichever way I choose and not allow me to have everything I want. If I want perfect weather and amazing Mtns to ride the best trails and snowboard, then I’ll have to move to a small town with not much else going on. And if I still want all the benefits of living in a fairly large city, then I won’t be very close to the Mtns and only be able to enjoy them on the weekends or only a few times a year on vacation.

Is it better living in Denver or Vancouver and just taking trips or vacations to SunPeaks, Whistler, Coastal Gravity, etc a few times a year? And riding closer local stuff that may not be as amazing, but still is fun? Or do you think it’s better to just move right near the best and try to figure out a career and housing and deal with the fact that you’re giving up all the niceties of a city life (great job/career, house, amazing life outside of MTB’ng, hiking, snowboarding), in order to live right near THE BEST MTB’ng and Snowboarding in the world? And remember, I have to account for my gf as well. This decision is not just all mine. She would be happy or fine with moving to Denver or Vancouver, but living in Whistler area or Kamloops would be a hard sell.

That's why I’ve also thought about maybe living really close to these amazing places (Kamloops or Whistler area) for 5-10 yrs or so (as a compromise with my gf), and just going balls to the wall until my body can’t really handle the best anymore. I’m not a 20 yr old kid anymore and don’t have forever to ride these insane parks I want to be at. And snowboard in these insane Mtns! I could do the Whistler or Kamloops life for 5-10, then once my body is just not able to handle it anymore, move to Denver or Vancouver and settle there as a compromise with my gf (we're basically for all intent and purposes married, just not officially. So any decisions I make have to be agreed upon with her). Just taking trips a few times a year to Whistler, SunPeak, etc?

I’m really struggling with this decision and would love to hear everyone’s thoughts and opinions on the matter. Especially if you live in these areas and have gone through a major life change like this. How did it work out for you? Are you happy with your choices? What would you have done differently, etc? Are you glad where you chose to live or wish now you had gone somewhere else, etc? Just lay it on me!

Thanks everyone and really looking forward to all your stories, advice and chatting with some of you about all of this! Should be fun, informative and very helpful for myself and hopefully loads of others!

Best
 

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I live in a small town in the interior not all that far from Kamloops or Kelowna, at least when looking at "day-trippability". Small towns outside of the lower mainland are exactly that, small. You have to love that, or at least be okay with it. We hear stories of prospective doctors, dentists, and veterinarians (as examples) who have moved here, tried to set down roots, and then had to choose between being married or living here when the spouse didn't like it. It's not for everyone.

The frequent references to "Denver" have me a bit confused. New Denver is a village that is so small that the residents tried to block the installation of a cell tower, to give you an idea. There is no other Denver that I'm familiar with. Golden is a thriving metropolis by comparison, with legendary riding at Mount Seven and Kicking Horse ski resort right there, but the permanent population is measured in single-digit thousands.

Edit: I now see that you meant Denver Colorado, which also happens to have a city named Golden nearby. Whoops! Carry on.

That all said, the riding is fantastic just about anywhere you go. We're not an international destination like Whistler or Kamloops, but we have had the Singletrack Six spend a day here and I can ride out my door, be at a trailhead in 12 minutes, crank off a quick lap of something, and be back home all within two hours. Conversely, I can ride that same trail system all day and never need to do more than cross a trail that I have already ridden, and there is a 30+ km ride to a nearby town which is currently well over 50% singletrack, with more being developed each year.

If you want the small town life and want to stick to the Southern Interior, here are some things I love about it. I can drive to Whistler in about five hours, and before kids, used to do that at least a couple times a year. I can also be at Silver Star in 65 minutes from the time I put my bike in the back of the truck, which lessens the requirement to go to Whistler as frequently. There is so much great riding quite close to home. Big White has really stepped up its summer recreation (though I have never been), Sun Peaks is always awesome if you're looking for rough and raw terrain (plus the riding around Kamloops), the aforementioned Kicking Horse and Silver Star are awesome, and anything in and around Revelstoke and Golden is incredible. I've not ridden in Kelowna, but I have it from trustworthy sources that there is a lot to love there. Penticton is great.

While the Shore and the Sea-to-Sky corridor (Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton) get a lot of attention, you can get the full mountain biking lifestyle in the interior if you're so inclined. There are also legit riding destinations in other interior towns. I'm going to miss some but Williams Lake, Prince George, Burns Lake, Smithers, and Terrace all have well developed riding communities and trail systems to match.

Bottom line, the whole province is amazing, but it's not all Shore-like. You get to pick and choose based on what size city or town you want to live in and what your favourite riding conditions are. It would be hard to choose wrong.

PS: we didn't even get into the Southeast of the province! Nelson and Fernie are standounts in that region.
 

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Living in a smaller interior town has its plusses, I live in Fernie and its pretty great if you are fine with lot of snow. I am a short ride from tons of trails, rarely need to drive to a trailhead, the ski hill is 8 minutes from my house and I live on the far side of town, fat biking is amazing (we have up to 70 km of groomed trail), fly fishing is world class and hiking is great as is hunting if that's your thing. Not being on the coast it isn't as crowded on the trails or at the ski hill. We are 3 hours from Calgary and their Airport so not miles from civilization.
We don't have a ton of full on DH riding, the ski hill is not up to Whistler standard but we have some big shuttle runs (search Dirt Digger Fernie on youtube).
No regrets living here, don't miss big cities at all.
 

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I live in Calgary, AB east of BC and have spent time in all of those areas you have mentioned and have opinions on all, as my wife and I are talking about retirement places in BC now.

Vancouver and area-TERRIBLE traffic, stupid expensive and crowded. It has a ton of pluses but those factors alone have ruled out that as an option for us.

Okanagan (Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton, Oliver)- Not bad and housing prices comparable to Calgary so kind of a lateral move. Kelowna has an airport and is kind of in the middle of Penticton and Vernon. Vernon is the best, in our opinion. Close to Silverstar and kinda close to Sunpeaks and Big White. Snow is not too heavy and mild temps in winter in the valley and Silverstar can have amazing powder. Never skied at Big White or Sunpeaks. Crazy hot summers with lots o' forest fires the last few years, though I remember the summers as a kid in Penticton with the water bombers skimming lakes every year so not completely new. The winters can be cloudy in the valleys over Kelowna, Penticton and south. Vernon is on the north tip so not as bad but still can be quite cloudy. Trail riding in the spring summer and fall is not as robust as Fernie for example. Still have to drive somewhat.

East Kootenays-Fernie, Cranbrook, Kimberley. Spent many days in Fernie in the summer and winter. As Martin said, ride right from the door in the summer. Ski hill is pretty damn good in winter but kinda meh, in the summer. Close to Koocanusa lake for waterskiing and various other little lakes around the area. Can get kinda gloomy in the winter in the valley with the clouds coming in and can stay for awhile. Pretty expensive housing costs, for a small town but comparable to the Okanagan and Calgary. Cranbrook and Kimberley are further west ~around 1-1.5 hours and larger. Don't have the trail networks that Fernie does but get more sunshine. Don't think they get as much snow in the winter.

Of your two choices, I would go Kamloops or Denver. Kamloops is on the shortlist for us, if we were to stay in Canada. Again, expensive housing but a lateral move from Calgary. Great weather, great riding, SUnpeaks and Silverstar easily accessible within an hour or so of drving, airport and on the Transcanada highway. 4ish hours to WHistler from the north route.

Denver is great, particularly the Golden area. I used to work for a company who had a satellite office in Calgary but were based out of Denver and spent time down there in summer and winter. We both loved it as it was similar vibe to Calgary, close to the mountains and relatively easy access. Winters seemed milder than Calgary and many resorts to choose from. With around 3-4 times the population of Calgary, the winter drives to the resorts on the highways could be crazy busy, especially after or during a heavy snowfall.

As a Canadian, I would probably take Kamloops over Denver. As an American, dunno....if you are paid in USD and living in Kamloops, that FX uptick could get you a little further than Denver?
 

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Having lived in Boulder, CO and now the Interior of British Columbia, I would say both are very very different.

I am curious as if you have thought about the PNW of the US? Bellingham, WA for example or Hood River, OR?

These places would give you the ease of not dealing with moving countries, yet still offer what you are looking for in regards to towns/riding.
 

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If you're blue collar, Vanderhoof has a sick bike park! I've biked it and have looked down some (aka most) of the wooden features and I'm like "I don't wanna die!" Fortunately most of the features have bypass trails...don't judge me!


Bonus points if you can handle -35C to -40C for like a week of the year...heh...
 

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New Dever (the very small town in the Kootenies) actually has absolutely amazing riding. It is one of my favourite places to base out of for a week of riding in the summer. There is also a pretty cool ski hill proposal in the works there.
 

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I've lived in Vancouver many years, and used to live in Salt Lake City, and have traveled quite a bit. One thing I think hasn't been made clear here is that interior B.C. has dreary grey winters. The clouds/inversions can hang for weeks. It is definitely not like the sunshine you often get in the US west. That being said, if you are at Silver Star, you are above the grey.

Vancouver is really, really, really expensive and crowded. Traffic is horrible. The times when I am sitting in traffic, I cannot wait to get out of here - we're just trying to figure out where. The best thing Vancouver has going for it is summer weather. It has the nicest big city summer weather I've ever heard of - I spent hundreds of summer days playing beach volleyball all day, and it cannot be beat.

North shore, Squamish, Whistler and even northern WA biking areas are reasonably accessible on weekends ... but if you plan to leave every weekend, why pay the huge Vancouver premium? We are taking a hard look at the Kamloops area, as well as the Cumberland-Comox area on the Island. I'd personally pick Rossland for skiing/mountain biking, but my wife finds it too dark in the winter.
 
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