Growing family often means downvalley move |

Growing family often means downvalley move

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Theo Stroomer/Vail DailyTroy and Angie Brown with their dog, Kona, in the unfinished basement at their home in Cotton Ranch in Gypsum. The couple, who are expecting a child, moved to the home from Miller Ranch so that they could have more space.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” When Troy and Angie Brown traded their Miller Ranch townhome for a Gypsum ranch-style house, they were thinking of growing their family as well as their square footage.

The Browns lived with their dog, Kona, in Miller Ranch for three years. However, with a baby due in November, the couple wanted something with more space.

While Angie Brown said she loved living in Miller Ranch, single-family homes in the deed-restricted neighborhood are limited, and they wanted something that would have more return if sold.

The Browns found a much larger, ranch-style home with a full yard, unfinished basement, and view of the golf course in Gypsum’s Sky Legend neighborhood.

“For what we were looking for, this made sense,” she said.

It’s a story not uncommon for growing families ” whether it is a newlywed couple or a baby on the way, affording more space in the Vail valley can be a challenge, some residents said.

For many people, the best choice is to move downvalley to Gypsum or Eagle, meaning a departure from some of the shops, restaurants and ski access offered upvalley, and sometimes, a longer commute to work.

Both the Browns work upvalley, but they said they did not have a problem making the commute.

“It’s much more of a drive, but it’s a tradeoff we were willing to make,” Angie Brown said.

The choice many families face is to move to Eagle or Gypsum, or be cramped in an upvalley condo with kids, said Miller Ranch Child Care Director Pam Melot,

About half of the families at the day care live downvalley, she said.

Housing is probably one of the reasons not too many families at the day care have multiple children, she said.

“We only have about five families with multiple children, because people just can’t afford it,” Melot said.

For those who want to stay upvalley, the choices can be more limited.

Miller Ranch resident Pam Vigil has lived in her condo for almost five years, but started looking for a new place after getting engaged.

“We can’t fit two people and 10 bikes in here,” she said.

Vigil and her fiance, Avon resident Barry Davis, have wanted to buy a townhome or duplex in Miller Ranch for six months, but have been unsuccessful.

“There’s no program or seniority for people who already live (in Miller Ranch),” she said. “We were fourth on the list for the last place that came up. We’re just waiting and waiting and waiting.”

The restricted appreciation on Vigil’s condo isn’t enough to buy a larger free market home, so the couple’s plan is to buy a larger home in Miller Ranch, and eventually buy something larger on the free market as their family grows.

“We haven’t really earned enough to go elsewhere, and we definitely can’t afford anything with a garage,” she said.

Davis and Vigil thought about moving downvalley, but decided they loved living in Edwards, especially in Miller Ranch.

“After thinking about it for awhile, we decided that it’s not why we moved here,” she said. “We love Edwards, and it’s more of a community. It’s important being close to our friends and the mountain in the winter.”

Prudential real estate agent Bob Finlay said that while it isn’t impossible for homeowners to buy a bigger home without moving downvalley, it is getting more difficult.

“The loans are harder to come by. You really have to have pretty good credit,” he said. “There’s a much slimmer chance of getting it.”

It’s a problem Danielle McNair said she and her husband are facing.

“You have to have that 20 percent down now,” she said of getting a home loan.

The McNairs, who are now renting in Edwards, said they want to stay upvalley ” it is closer to their jobs, and less of a commute.

Also, there aren’t any day-care spots for their 6-month-old son, Champney, meaning the couple takes turns taking care of the baby, a schedule that would be much more difficult if they lived in Eagle or Gypsum.

It is definitely a tradeoff, she said.

“A 3-bedroom house down there would be a 2-bedroom apartment up here,” she said.

The couple has owned a couple homes in the area, first an apartment in Avon, then a house in Gypsum. They sold the house and moved to Windsor, on the Front Range, for a job, but soon decided they wanted to move back.

Unfortunately, the family’s Windsor home was damaged in a tornado two months ago, and McNair said they are in the process of fixing the home and selling it.

“The damage was over $20,000, and now we’re trying to fix it and sell it, but it hasn’t been easy in terms of the market,” she said.

When the family moved back to Eagle County, they found they couldn’t afford to buy an upvalley, free-market home. They didn’t qualify for down-payment assistance programs or deed-restricted homes because they still owned the home in Windsor.

For now, the family is making do with a cramped townhome, McNair said.

“We would love to buy something upvalley, but we can’t apply for assistance,” she said.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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