Laramie, Wyoming


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What's it like to live in Laramie?

What is it like to live in Laramie, Wyoming, USA?

Three months of summer make Laramie Laradise, but winters can be 6 months long, frigid with snow & ice possible from October to May. Great for winter sports. High elevation of 7220 feet above sea level. Gorgeous landscape with mountains & high prairie. Nonetheless, we grow vegetables, including tomatoes. University provides many amenities, such as an outstanding symphony orchestra, theatre productions, art exhibits. Population of 30,000 plus 13,000 college students. City life in Denver is just a few hours drive away. No state income tax, no sales tax on groceries. Red state with conservatives in charge of politics, but Laramie is eclectic, somewhat progressive, cosmopolitan with many foreign students attending UW. We’ve been here for over 20years & enjoy being here.

What is it like to live in Laramie, Wyoming, USA?

I absolutely loved living in Laramie and only left when I realized how unhappy my wife, who was a faculty member at the University of Wyoming, was due to the absolutely petty politics of her department and the somewhat limited opportunities Laramie offered. For me, it was just the opposite:

I lived in Laramie and worked in Cheyenne, about 45 minutes to the East. I positively loved the commute through an area called the Summit (near a wonderful place called Vedawoo) from which you would see the Colorado Rockies on a clear day. There were very few corporations of any type in Wyoming. Many commuted to Ft. Collins.
I led the most active life possible, playing on a senior men's hockey team called the Laramie Firebirds. We traveled to towns all over a four state area playing town teams. I even coached the University Hockey club for a season. On our home ice nobody could beat us if we could keep it close until the third period as Laramie was a half mile above the Mile High City of Denver.
I skied in some of the great American ski towns like Steamboat, Breckinridge, Copper Mountain but enjoyed the Snowy Range just 30 miles west of town the best.
I became an avid trout fly fisher, enjoying both the low lakes and those near the top of the range. Nothing is better than landing trout in July while standing in a snow bank next to a mountain lake.
I took advantage of my status as a faculty spouse to earn an MBA at UW. It changed the whole direction of my life. And, with my TA, they were paying me to attend.
I loved having a pre-school child in Laramie. We walked through the graveyard and across the prairie dog hills every night.
It was a great place to spend some years and I actually miss it although it would take a pack of wild prairie dogs to get me to leave Minnesota.

What should I know before I move to Laramie, WY?

My advice on moving to Laramie falls primarily into discussions of climate and social aspects. They interact, such that the climate affects the way people think. I note from your profile that you bear a name from the British Isles, write, have a good education, and live in Southern Californian. To some extent, I will tailor my comments to one who might be an ordinary, well-educated, Southern Californian woman.

Many who live in Laramie come from other parts of the world and country. They may receive attractive offers to move to places like Southern California, but they stay in Laramie by choice, not necessity, by reason of birth or because they are ignorant or afraid of the world beyond. You will be an appropriate addition.

The climate will be a shock and a danger, heightened by the sparseness of humans. You will need to rely on a sense of caution and your intelligence. Laramie’s weather is likely the worst in the state or region. Its altitude of 7,200 feet brings vicious winters. But winter has no temporal definition; snow can fall in any month of the year, including stray flakes during during the Independence Day fireworks. School is held in subzero temperatures with a foot of snow on the ground. (People of my age recall the -50, two-foot drift day with kindergartners walking to school. Fortunately, that stupidity is over they say). You need to realize that if you are on the road a few miles out of town and your car stops, you might not be found. Laramie is a 30,000 person block of people; Cheyenne is 45 miles east; there is nothing in between that you can count on. You are on your own. Be safe, be cautious. People die. Never tell yourself that’s something is only 20 miles away, I’m a good driver, and I can make it. In the end the weather wins, as it has for a millennium.

The balancing factor is that when someone is in danger the next person by, if any, will help. He realizes that he is your last chance. No one else may be by for the next few days while you freeze to death. Go just a few miles back into the mountains or hills, where you can hike for weeks without seeing another soul besides your companion, whom you selected because she knows a lot more than you, and you can rely on her when you break your leg and to strike a fire in the snow or rain. This is lonely, spectacular country. Go to Manhattan and snap your imagination to see the landscape that Peter Stuyvesant saw at Wall Street when there was a real wall. Come to St. Louis and try overcome the visual cacophony of bridges, levies and locks to sense the river as two French canoers who feared being eaten by bears. Go to Wyoming, walk three miles from the road and unaided by imagination use your eyes alone to see and your nose to smell the landscape and scents shared by the pushcart brigades who walked the Oregon Trail in the 1840's. In Gurnsey, deepcut ruts remain.

The rugged countryside repairs slowly. That bonsai-size pine that has struggled for a hundred years to poke up above the timber line will be lost to your careless boot. Respect the land’s dramatic rugged facade covering an iirreparable tenderness. In 2200, yet another 180 years from the Oregon migration, hope someone else walks this walk.

The city attracts many who take those step and others who appreciate the walkers but keep their own cross trainers on the pavement and have no winter boots. The educational level of southeastern Wyoming is one of the highest in the nation. On the educational map it is the largest geographic hot spot of high education, because it is about 75,000 people in Laramie, a community with a college and lots of Ph.D.’s, and Cheyenne, a state capital filled with lawyers, spread over a very sparsely settled area. A few years ago, Wyoming as a whole was basically tied with Iowa for the highest median education. That may have changed due to the draw of mineral mining pulling in people from other states. However, I recently sat in a sleazy downtown bar with a foreigner I was introducing to Laramie. I had no difficulty proving the pervasiveness of education. In addition to rock gut the bar tender could serve up some Ode to a Grecian Urn learnt in obtaining her English degree. Among the people in your category a decent education will be taken for granted. Garage mechanics and waitresses will not be impressed by your degrees. This morning, they replaced a wheel for or served breakfast to someone smarter with multiple Ph.D.’s.

Considering moving to Laramie. Whats it like there?

There are plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities here for you, so that is no issue. Lots of lakes, rivers, mountains, trails, and a midrange ski resort.

The air is thin (we are at 7200 feet elevation), and the winters can be brutal temperature-wise. It is also windy as hell. Be prepared for that.

Most folks don't give two shits about you being a female or minority. As with anywhere, there's a few assholes, but most folks are pretty decent and tend to be "live and let live". As long as you leave people alone, they'll leave you alone.

If you're pushy/obnoxious about politics, you'll get some pushback, but Laramie itself is one of the more politically balanced places in the state. I would, however, advise keeping any anti-hunting or anti-gun rhetoric to yourself. Though we do have the "college town" thing going on, it's overlooked that we are very much a hunting/fishing/camping town, and Wyoming as a whole is very pro-2A.

Housing can be expensive compared to other parts of the state, but likely nothing compared to where you're from. Overall cost of living is pretty low. Good jobs can be tough to come by in certain fields, but it's not terrible.

My wife and I are very quiet people (I'm 33, she's 29) who are not a part of the party scene, and we love it here and are quite happy. However, we are quite biased…she's lived her whole life here, and I'm from Wyoming and Idaho and have been in Laramie for a decade. Lol.

We aren't lacking in basic amenities, but for a lot of shopping and entertainment, Amazon and Ebay will be your friend, or you'll need to hop over to Cheyenne or Ft. Collins (both under an hour away). Denver is also only a couple hours away if need be.

Feel free to join us over at r/laramie if you have more questions or want to get a feel for the goings-on around here!

It's definitely a different culture than the city (I went to college in Phoenix and have spent a lot of time in metros, so I get where you're coming from). But it seems like a quieter, more laid-back atmosphere is what you're after…so I'd say it's perfect for you.

P.S.: Please don't drive like you're from Cali or Fla. Lol.

Live the West in Laramie, Wyoming