Why We Came

By: Ash Kempton

In my first few months here, I received two bits of great advice that have stuck with me.

1) Get outside for one hour everyday during the winter months.
2) Be patient. Give this town two years and you’ll stay for a very long time.

These two bits of advice have held true to my happiness of living in Steamboat.

My husband, kids and I moved to Steamboat Springs on a whim in 2019. We needed a big change after living in the Denver area for about a decade. We had no real familiarity with this gorgeous place but we figured that we couldn’t go wrong. So we sold our home, packed up and headed West over the Divide.

I was very much one foot in, one foot out. I didn’t know if I would love this town; I actually thought we would move back to a large city after a year here. We had only visited Steamboat for a total of one day before we moved here. I had never even lived in a small town before so it was a big adjustment – especially when the pandemic hit just nine months after we moved. It made it difficult for us to establish strong friendships, not to mention careers.

But luckily, I am a personal trainer and can take my career anywhere while my husband Matt brought 10-plus years of roofing experience to town and established Steamboat Roofing Company LLC. With patience, we have created connections and over time, I have made friends with some of the kindest, present, and most thoughtful women that I’ve met in my adulthood.

Steamboat is a “ride or die” kind of town. Good or bad, this town shows up for its community.

Sick? Someone brings you a meal. Kid having a meltdown while skiing at the mountain? A Steamboat friend doesn’t judge; they simply intervene and take over. Another ten degree day in January? Go over to Blackmere for some physical activity and you’ll be met with so many others on the same mission despite the cold.

Two and a half years later, I am so thankful that we moved here. I don’t love winter. I don’t love the overcrowded grocery stores. But with every decision we make, there are pros and cons. Fortunately, my pros very much outweigh any con that I can conjure. The overall attitude, open mindedness, and natural beauty of Steamboat Springs makes me so happy to be raising my family here.

Why We Stay

By: Laura Soard

Steamboat Springs is an incredible place to live. It’s not an easy place to live, but maybe that’s why I like it so much. To live in Steamboat, and enjoy doing it, I’ve learned to embrace what makes the area unique and enjoy it for what it is, not dwell on what it isn’t.

I moved to Steamboat in 2002, lured by the beautiful scenery and recreation opportunities. Throughout the years, I have lived the Steamboat lifestyle through the vantage point of different life and economic stages. First, I was the twenty-something sharing a house with the maximum number of roommates allowed by law, then in debt over my head as a newlywed in a “garden-level” condo, a young parent making the most of the free events at the library and a professional doing my part to give back to this amazing community.

Yes, Steamboat is changing. Yes, Steamboat is growing. Is the pace of change greater than it has been in the past? I don’t know. But what I do know is that even with the pace of change we’re seeing I still wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

Something that has sustained me over the years when I see friends in other areas moving into new, beautiful homes for the cost of a local timeshare is the incredible, passionate community in the Yampa Valley. I am blessed with friends I met when I first moved here 20 years ago that still get together. I love seeing kids grow up in this community and soar to incredible heights. Seeing friends (or a moose) on the trail during a lunch ride, supporting neighbors’ businesses at the Farmer’s Market and witnessing complete strangers support each other in times of need all reflect the power of our local community character.

I believe it’s important to embrace change but invest in what you value. What I value about this community helps me decide where to volunteer my time. If you value housing, get involved in the Brown Ranch discussions. If you value trails, get involved with Routt County Riders or Friends of the Wilderness.

There are so many passionate people in this community and countless ways to invest in either the change or the preservation you want to see.

If you have a new neighbor (don’t we all?), show them our brand of western hospitality. Show them how we take care of our trails and help each other dig out the driveway berm left by our diligent snowplow drivers.

Living in Steamboat isn’t easy. It’s expensive. It’s remote. We make choices and sacrifices we wouldn’t have to make if we lived another place. We have seen friends and co-workers move away to find a more affordable lifestyle. And we have met new people that have moved here to take advantage of all the amazing things we love about this area. We can learn from both groups, reflecting on what we are losing and seeing the place we love through new, enthusiastic eyes.

Like the mountains and rivers, plants and animals around us, our area is a living, breathing place where growth and change are inevitable. What matters is how we choose to respond to it. If there comes a time when we find our lifestyle doesn’t fit or we come to resent the pace of change of the Yampa Valley, we’ll reconsider our options. But for now, my family will continue to live in the place we love and stay in Steamboat Springs.

By: Shannon Crow

Why We Came

My husband and I were newly married and excited to start our lives together in a place that would embody our collective adventurous spirit. We loved the idea of leaving the big city, having more access to nature and welcoming the change of pace that a small town brings. I had the opportunity to leave corporate America and partner with my mentors in opening a yoga studio, Out Here Yoga, to bring our brand of power yoga to the mountains. My husband Dos had recently launched his outdoor clothing brand, Karamojo, and was excited to bring his brand to a more adventurous and fitting home base. Needless to say, we jumped at the chance. We were married on April 29th, 2017 and made our move to Steamboat less than a month later.

What We Learned

Our time in the mountains as newlyweds and new business owners was humbling, inspiring and perhaps our greatest learning experience. We learned what it took to start and grow a successful business, and through the trials and errors that ensued, just how resilient and capable we were. We learned to embrace and respect nature and the environment more fully. We grew in our faith and belief in God’s infinite wisdom, grace and peace. We learned the power of belonging to a community – both by contributing to it and depending on it. The experiences and support we received from the communities of Out Here Yoga, Holy Name Catholic Church and The Rotary Club of Steamboat molded us into better people who were more willing to serve and see the greater whole. On March 21, 2019 we welcomed our son Dean into the world and awkwardly and lovingly discovered our way into parenthood. From our collective experience, we learned how much we value our family unit and our desire to preserve time for one another amidst the constant balancing act of work and life.

Why We Left

We had moved to Steamboat with the intention to make it our “forever home.” But in the spring of 2021, Dos received an opportunity to expand his company’s footprint to a new market area in San Antonio, Texas. Initially refusing the offer, we ultimately realized the potential to grow. With the offer, came the opportunity to build our family’s prosperity and security. While there was plenty to love about living in this amazing mountain town, our ability to thrive was hampered by constant financial stress.

Even with both of our businesses doing well, the rising costs of living in Steamboat paired with record inflation meant that we were perpetually breaking even and never truly getting ahead.

We struggled to save for Dean’s education and for our future.

We also found ourselves left with little time to spend together, between running two businesses coupled with our responsibilities as parents. But the San Antonio offer would allow us to work together as husband and wife once again. And so, after much thought, it became an offer we couldn’t refuse. The move to Texas brought us closer to extended family and has given us the opportunity to buy our first home, the flexibility to create our own schedules, and the ability to work together as a family and business.

Dos and I like to say we came to the mountains as kids and left as parents and adults, knowing more fully who we were, what we were capable of and what we valued. Steamboat Springs will always be part of us and above all, a place we feel connected to and at home. We will carry the magic of the mountains in our hearts wherever we go. Dos and I are forever grateful to the people of Steamboat and the collective experiences that helped us to grow, learn and prosper.

Shannon Crow still maintains her ownership in Out Here Yoga. Dos manages the San Antonio division of Initech Appraisals and continues to grow and develop Karamojo. Dean keeps the entire household on their toes 24/7. We look forward to returning to Steamboat often.