Weather? How cold is it really? How much snow do you really get? Are the roads maintained well during storms?? I grew up in PA and it was not.
It's not cold most of the time. It was 70 on Friday. It snowed on Tuesday and again today. They're forecasting 40 and sunny for tomorrow ("sunny" usually means feels warmer than forecasted temperature) and possibly 60 next week. There's usually a nasty cold spell in December with temperatures in the 20s and a March or October blizzard every few years (occasionally they happen in the usual winter months, but March is a really common time to have one). Those aren't a big deal because the Front Range just shuts down and honestly, it's kind of fun. Snow tends to melt here within a few days because the sun heats things up. Every once in a while we'll have a winter where we have snow in the front yard the whole time (that area is shaded by our house in the winter), but it always melts in the back. As far as the roads: what I was told when I first moved here was that if you can't drive through it, the city is shut down. That's pretty much true. They do sand and plow, but they don't have nearly as many plows as they did when I lived in Chicago. So secondary streets (like neighborhood streets) can be slushy for a day or two while we wait for the snow to melt off. If you go into the mountains, chain laws will be in effect.
Vax exemptions seem easy. Hsing seems easy too. Are they really? Do either area have ACTIVE HSing group - specifically active secular or non-christian groups?
Vax exemptions are easy. I just signed off on one for my kindergartner last month. She's mostly vaxed, but it doesn't really matter. We don't homeschool but I have a lot of friends who do. Homeschoolers are located in both the Denver and Boulder areas and lots of places in between. Also keep in mind that Boulder and Denver are really close together (45 minutes on the express bus to get from south Boulder to downtown Denver). I only know one homeschooler who is Christian, so yeah, there's plenty of homeschoolers who aren't. I don't believe they label their groups as "non-Christian" though, because they're usually not into excluding people based on religion. If you're wondering whether the homeschool groups are Christian-based, then the answer is no.
Are homebirths legal? Any fabulous HBMWs or birth centers around there??
Yes they're legal. There is one birth center, and yes there are fabulous HBMWs.
Any recommendations for specific areas - affordable, safe, family friendly, crunchy? and for that area - What is the rental/housing market like? General prices for stuff like rentals, gas, etc?
The entire area is pretty decent. It's all safe, IMO and family friendly. Crunchy depends on where you are, but I find the area overall to be crunchy-friendly even if not everyone thinks like me. Lafayette, Erie, Superior and Louisville seem to be favorites. I live in Westminster and like it a lot. Where you choose to live will affect the price you pay for housing.
Do you have Whole Foods or something similar for groceries? Organic farmers markets?
We have Whole Foods, Vitamin Cottage, Sunflower Market and Sprouts (I'm proud to say that three of the four are located within 3 miles of my house!) There are also farmer's markets in several areas.
We will need a new acupunturist who is amazing with kids, a new chiro (someone who focuses on the Grostic tech or gentle cervical adjustments), a new homeopath, a new kinesiologist, etc for my son and his major food allergies....Oh yeah, a family doc or even a ped who is very AP and alt. med friendly....
There are plenty of alternative practitioners in the area. And plenty of MDs.
How is the economy?? Are there alot of health care jobs out there right now (I am a nurse and DH will soon be a ultrasound tech)?
We're suffering from the slow economy just like everyone else, though the jobless rate has been lower than many other states. Health care is a good profession to be in right now.
No idea on the asthma issue. Colorado is where people used to come for TB, so ??? National Jewish is *the* center for respiratory illnesses and it might be worth looking at their website for more information.
Also, I wanted to point out that lots of people commute from Denver to Boulder and places in between. There's a bus that runs from Boulder to the Fitzsimmons campus (where University Hospital and Children's Hospital are located) in Aurora. There's an express bus that runs from Boulder to downtown Denver. It just gives you an idea of how many people choose to live in one place and work in another. (DH takes the bus out to the Fitzsimmons campus; I take one of the express buses when I teach downtown.) It's not ideal for everyone, but I thought you should know that it's pretty common for people to commute.