Lake City, Colorado, is a great place to work and play. If you can work remotely – using a telephone and high-speed internet … if you are looking for a place with a good school and lots of outdoor exploration … Lake City just may be home.
Living in Frontier Country
Most important to your decision-making about moving to Lake City and Hinsdale County is that you understand that we are geographically isolated, and what that really means.
Lake City is the only town in the county of Hinsdale. We are the most remote county in the lower 48 states, which means that we have the fewest miles of roads per person, plus the most land area located far from roads.
Statisticians refer to us as a frontier county, which really does mean that we are on the cusp of Wilderness. This physical situation impacts all aspects of life here, including things like how far you have to drive to buy necessities, what clothes you wear, and what things you can grow in your garden.
Pace of Life
If you are accustomed to a fast pace of life, full of goods and services on demand, living in Lake City will require some adjustment. Depending on what you are used to, you could even experience full-fledged culture shock. People who are able to self-entertain and/or who enjoy outdoor recreation on their own are most comfortable in Lake City.
What we don’t have allows us to have the good and wonderful things that we do have. There are no malls, traffic, crowds, lines, noise, pollution, or bright lights.
What we do have: lots of wildlife in town, quiet, peace, relative safety from crime, a real night sky, hiking, fishing, skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, miles of trails, rock and ice climbing, an excellent library and school, parks, friendly residents, loved children, loved dogs and cats, lots of locally-concocted community events and arts programs, and a vast mountain wilderness surrounding us.
Economics & Housing
For generations, the main economic industry of Hinsdale County has been, and still is, tourism. In addition, the construction of homes, particularly for second-home owners, is very significant to the economy here. Generally speaking, tourists are either here (during the summer) or they’re not (the rest of the time). Winters are very quiet, and some businesses close for the season while others have limited hours. Changes are occurring to shift this situation a little, as more early-retirees and tele-commuters move here, small non-tourism businesses arrive, and a few more winter tourists visit.
In terms of income, a majority of it comes in from outside, in the form of retirement funds and other money that is earned outside of Hinsdale County. Unemployment is almost non-existent. Nearly all businesses are run by local owner-entrepreneurs, and most of those businesses relate to tourism or home construction. High speed DSL internet connections have allowed several people to move here and retain their jobs elsewhere. Year-round job openings are scarce, but summer jobs in the areas of food service, cleaning, repair, and maintenance work are sometimes hard to fill due to a lack of employees and a lack of housing for them. Many people are so determined to live in Lake City that they simply do what they have to do to make it work, and it often does.
The housing market is competitive, even if you are ready to buy. Rentals exist but they sometimes don’t make it into the local newspaper, so it is best to keep in touch with residents who hear of places becoming available. Make friends, network, and keep trying. Most of us have stories about how things just fell into place to make the move possible.
Making it Official
Lake City area citizens are very proud of their voter turn-out rates, some of the highest in the nation. Sometimes, it’s a close count! For information about voter eligibility and to register to vote, please contact:
Hinsdale County Clerk, Linda Ragle or Deputy Clerk, Joan Roberts
Hinsdale County Courthouse
317 Henson Street
If you are a citizen of the Town of Lake City, you will vote every two years for trustees, who are elected at-large to four-year terms. There are six trustees and a mayor on the board. The board meets twice a month, on the first and third Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m. Workshops are held starting at 6:00 p.m. Meetings are held at the Coursey Annex meeting room, 311 Henson Street and they are open to the public. For agendas or other information, call the Lake City Town Clerk, Cindy Nelson, at 970-944-2333.
Citizens of Hinsdale County elect a board of three commissioners to four-year terms. This board meets twice a month, on the first and third Wednesdays at 10 a.m. Workshops are held starting at 9 a.m. Meetings are held at the Coursey Annex meeting room, 311 Henson Street and they are open to the public. For agendas or other information, call the Hinsdale County Clerk, Linda Ragle, at 970-944-2228.
Vehicle Registration & Titles
Once you become a legal resident, you will need to register your vehicles and obtain license plates from the County Clerk’s office. There are local and state taxes on your vehicle based on its value. For more information or to register your vehicle, please contact:
Hinsdale County Clerk. Linda Ragle Deputy Clerk, Joan Roberts
Hinsdale County Courthouse
317 Henson Street
Driver’s Licenses and ID Cards
Colorado driver’s licenses are available in Gunnison. Currently (January 2008) the driver’s license office is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to
4:30 p.m. The office is located at the Blackstock County Offices, 221 North Wisconsin #C in Gunnison. You can reach the office by phone at 970-641-
1052. This is a full service office which also provides motorcycle drive tests by appointment (weather permitting). No reinstatements and no CDL
written tests are administered at this location.
Building In Lake City & Hinsdale County
Before purchasing property or beginning to build, you need to know the process for applying for a building permit. This information is important!
- Determine the legal location of your building or lot. Property located within the Town of Lake City may be zoned differently than lots located in the county. Also, some parts of Lake City are designated as a National Historic District. Building projects in this district are subject to historic review by the Town of Lake City.
- Before applying for a building permit, you must have drawings and plans for your project. These plans are submitted along with your permit application.
- If your property is located within the Town of Lake City’s National Historic District, you should obtain a copy of the Historic Design Guidelines and review them with your designer or architect before having your plans made. This will likely save you a lot of money on drawings.
For information about building within the Town of Lake City and/or within the National Historic District, contact Cindy Nelson at P.O. Box 544, Lake City, CO, 81235 or call her at 970-944-2333.
Hinsdale County Building Inspector, Charlie Curtis, oversees all building permits within both the Town of Lake City and Hinsdale County. You can reach him at P.O. Box 277, Lake City, CO, 81235 or at 970-944-2319. His office is located in the Coursey Annex building at 311 Henson Street, next to the courthouse.
Buying a Home in Lake City or Hinsdale County
Visit one of our friendly and knowledgeable real estate offices for up-to-date listings and assistance in buying a home or land in the area.
Colorado residents and workers are subject to a flat 4.63% tax on income. For forms and information, go to the Colorado Department of Revenue.
Real estate in Hinsdale County is subject to property taxes. For complete information about the current tax rates and mill levies, call the Hinsdale County Treasurer, Kerry Carl, at 970-944-2223 or visit her office located in the Hinsdale County Courthouse at 317 Henson Street.
OHV & Snowmobile Registration
Both types of these vehicles can be registered online through the State of Colorado’s Park System web site. Register or renew your registration for your OHV (motorcycle, dirtbike, three-wheeler, ATV, or dune buggy).