Property shopping is a roller coaster ride: thrilling and stomach-churning.

“This house is beautiful!! How much are they asking??”
“Jeeze, why did they put that there? What would it cost to fix it?”
“Wow, this looked way better in the pictures. Next?”
“Yeah, I dunno…how many more do we have on our list to visit?”

Those online real estate sites are great for sifting through vast amounts of information, allowing you to narrow in on price range, location, size, features, etc. We probably used them for about two years, watching the real estate markets in locations we had identified in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, mostly west of the Continental Divide.

In 2017, we took a road trip, visiting six different real estate agents. We made appointments ahead of time, clearly stating that we were not in the market to buy, but to assess what might be available within our proposed budget. Some meetings were less than 45 minutes; others spent the better part of the their day driving us around.

This scouting trip helped us get the vibe for each community on our list. How does it feel? What’s in the local market: a freezer case of full of frozen pizza and tater tots, a decent fresh produce selection? Are local farmers, bakers, and salsa makers selling wares? Are there galleries, live music, community festivities? A library? In other words, is there some “there” there?

Despite our stated intentions to these agents, we found some properties that we fell in love with. Until we found a serious flaw. A home near Ojo Caliente had beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces with a view. But, no garage. Another home outside Cortez had sprawling shade from mature willows in the front yard. But, two dozen cows 20 yards from the kitchen window. We weren’t worried: we found that we could find an appropriate retirement home in a favorable location at an acceptable price. And we have time to find the right one.

After much discussion, we determined that we were circling in on Montezuma County, Colorado – the northeast corner of the Four Corners.

The following summer, we spent a week in Montezuma County. We shopped at the markets, visited the local sites, and cruised 1,000 miles of roads, to better understand different locations in the county. We now have a designated agent: Liz Bohm with Blue Sky Homes and Land. Liz showed us homes that we had identified from our online research, as well as a few Liz had identified. We didn’t fall in love with any properties on this trip, but we definitely got a better feel for the range of options.

Early in 2019, we sold our home in Monterey County, and decamped to our much smaller home in Santa Cruz. With the sales proceeds starting to burn a hole in our pockets, we took a four-day scouting trip with Liz. Now we can get a little more serious about our search.

Published by Carolyn Shimek

Traveler, singer, cook, mom and nature nerd.

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