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A lifelong dream

I went to nursing school 30+ years ago for the express purpose of being able to move anywhere and be able to work. My "anywhere" has always been the Rocky Mountains.  It would be just me and whatever dog I had at the time, living in the splendor and the wonder of the mountains.  Well, life didn't turn out as planned, as so often happens, and I've been stuck here in Memphis,TN, disabled for over 25 years, and approaching my 60th birthday in August. 

My time left on Earth is relatively short, and I very desperately want to move to the Rocky Mountains and spend my final years there. I have backpacked in Colorado several times, so I know what I'm missing out on. I can't look at pictures of those adventures without crying, fearful that I'll never make it back there.  Unfortunately, my only income is my monthly disability payment, though I've survived on that alone for the 10 years since I left my husband.  My material needs are few: a roof over my head,  food for my dog and myself, and indoor plumbing would be really nice😊.  Nothing fancy, just the basics, as I have now.  My question that I need help with is, is there ANYWHERE in the Rocky Mountains(CO, MT, ID, WY,) that I can afford to live a few years before I die, or must I resign myself to a life of failed expectations and broken dreams, dying in some crappy nursing home in Memphis, never to see my beloved mountains again?   Small town, crossroads in the dirt,  whatever.  Is there such a place?  I've spent hours on Google, atlas opened wide, highlighter in hand.....searching for "cheapest", "lowest cost of living", "best income to rent ratio", but it's entirely overwhelming. I will have to rent, an apartment or house, because I have nothing for a down payment.  I guess I should mention that my 2020 monthly disability benefit is only $1406. It goes up very slightly each year. PLEASE HELP a desperate old lady!!   Jean Tarry 

You need to hit the road and look around.  You cannot find your spot from long distance.  You may be able to get some free or cheap housing for a being a caretaker on someone's private property.   The internet is powerful.  You can look for an arrangement like that with some realtors, help wanted ads, etc.  Good Luck. 

I just googled "cheap places to live in the rocky mountains" and found tons of lists, articles, etc.

It will be a real challenge to live on that amount of monthly income and there are a lot of things to consider. Do you drive and do you own a car or will you rely on public transportation? Do you simply wish to have a view or the mountains or will you do a lot of hiking? Can you partner up with a friend so resources are pooled? 

You sound frantic to get out of Shelby county while you still have some ability. I can understand that. I was born there. All I can add is in these times of Covid one really has to have a complete plan and a full assessment of abilities and resources from the top down to make any kind of move. 

Thanks for the input so far, folks.  Believe me, I know it's difficult to live on such a meager income! When I started over on my own 10 years ago, it was considerably less because of a garnishment. But I thought I should ask for some advice from "the experts" before I give up, and take the easy way out.

No, i don't currently have a vehicle, but who knows, one may come my way.  I'll try that different approach to Google and see what comes up. I'll keep checking here for more advice. Thanks again

Jean, don't ever give up.

Also, have you checked into any state or federal programs that might be available to you? If you are entitled, take the benefits.

That includes VA benefits from your or your ex's past service or his SS spousal benefits which you may be entitled to.

Find a place to live and you likely can find a ride headed that way if you share expenses...or maybe drive someone else's vehicle there and get paid for it. Advertise on Craig'slist. Its free.

Hey, all. "Old Guide", your comment, "Jean,  don't ever give up", reminded me of a book that's been on my many different shelves since 1982.  It's called "The Walk West - A Walk Across America 2", and it was written by Peter and Barbara Jenkins, describing, guess what? Their walk across America!  They made a stop in my hometown of Baton Rouge to do a book signing at a small campus bookstore that was adjacent to LSU.  I believe my brother bought the book for me and took me to have it signed. I was a mere 21 years old, but I was already itching to leave the dreadful south, and head to the mountains out west.  Actually, at that time, my sights were set on Alaska where I knew I would have a winning team of sleddogs when I raced in the Iditarod. Susan Butcher was a real hero back then!  This is what Peter Jenkins wrote on the inside cover of my book:  "For Jean....Go for it. Your eyes say you will." The date was 2/22/82.   Maybe it's not too late for me to "go for it",  even though I'm technically a Senior Citizen and have numerous other strikes against me!  I have a couple of vague connections in Montana, so I'll concentrate on those for now.  I may never have EXACTLY what I dreamed of, a cabin in the woods with my dog, but maybe I can at least see the beautiful mountains from a window somewhere. "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear."  -Henry David Thoreau-

Thank you, Old Guide, and everyone else!  Keep those comments coming!🙃

Wow. I am so encouraged!!  I used craigslist to look for apartments in several places in Montana, and they DO EXIST! Stuff I can afford!  I read that Idaho is the cheapest of the western states, so I'll look at it next.  If I only had a vehicle, preferably an SUV to haul some stuff in. But I do have one friend who has said she'd help me move.  

Does anyone out there have any thoughts on pros and cons of the Rocky Mountain states?  I seem to be most drawn to Montana and Idaho. 

Thanks, everyone!❤🐾❤

Weather is colder in the northern states like Idaho and Montana.  Your heating bill (and more comfortable days outside) would be better in places like southern Colorado, or New Mexico...

Pl;us you have all the ancient cultures there..

That's a good point. Hmmm. Back to my atlas! Thanks!

Remember that in the mountainous states, local climate varies drastically with the climate.  Consider the differences between Flagstaff and Phoenix, AZ.

This is a late reply, but may be useful. 

There is a federal subsidized housing program for seniors.  These are not the sometimes problematic  Section 8 properties, but housing (almost always apartments) set aside specifically for people over either 55 or more usually, 62, and disabled adults of any age.  From your post, it looks like you'd qualify for this.

It's known as Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC).   It may be the weirdest of all federal programs:  it's legal foundation is Internal Revenue code: IRC Section 42, but it's administered by HUD and enforced exclusively by state housing agencies.  The units are usually well built, often in good locations and well maintained complexes. And the rents - the whole point of the program - are a third to a half of market rate.

Given this incredible bargain, there has to be a snag and it's this: builders have been taking the federal subsidies but setting aside fewer units for years, so waiting lists are often years long, when they're open at all.  But in less desirable parts of a state and in less popular states (it's a nationwide program) things can open up a lot sooner.   The key thing is to get your name on as many waiting lists as you can, anywhere you even think you might want to live.

So - long post short:  this might be something you'd at least want to start now, just in case something does come up in the next year or so.  You'll want to get your name on as many lists as feasible, too, in case anything happens with your first or second choice.

This is a link to an HUD page that retrieves properties by state.

Some tinkering with the options should bring up the contact information for most properties listed;  if not, an internet search usually will.

Good luck!

October 23, 2020
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