A Young Family Who ‘Could Move Anywhere’ Chose Denver. But What Could They Afford There?

Colorado started tugging at Jen and Michael Simons in 2020, when they flew out to take their daughter, Mirabelle, to a summer camp for children with disabilities. They loved seeing mountains as they drove around Denver, and life felt more laid-back than it did in Massachusetts. They thought: Someday, maybe.

But back home in Cambridge, Mirabelle, who has cerebral palsy, wasn’t particularly happy in the fourth grade, and her parents worried she would get lost in the shuffle of public middle and high schools. Navigating the narrow stairs of their three-story townhouse was also a daily challenge, and there wasn’t enough storage space for her wheelchairs and walkers — never mind a big garage for an accessible van.

Last January, they made a decision: “Let’s do it now instead of waiting,” Ms. Simons said. “We started thinking, ‘If we could move anywhere, where would we live?’”

[Did you recently buy a home? We want to hear from you. Email: thehunt@nytimes.com]

Mr. Simons, 55, a lawyer, and Ms. Simons, 53, an independent college counselor, were able to work remotely, so they scanned the whole country. They had visited Michigan and Minnesota while taking Mirabelle to treatment centers and camps, but did not want to endure the gray Midwestern winters. California was too pricey; the Pacific Northwest, too distant. Colorado it was.

“I just kind of fell in love,” Mr. Simons said. “Every day I see mountains.”

They had already bought a vacation rental in Denver, and decided to stay there as they hunted for a permanent place.

With a budget of up to $1.2 million, they hoped to find a single-story home in a walkable neighborhood within a half-hour drive of Mirabelle’s new school. They worked with Madeline Hollar, an agent with Usaj Realty in Denver, but also did a lot of looking on their own, driving through neighborhoods they liked and hopping out of the car when they spotted a “For Sale” sign.

Sellers were often eager to invite them in. The median home price in Denver had increased by about $100,000 since the pandemic began, to $565,000, but by the time the couple began looking last September, rising interest rates had dampened the buying frenzy.

“There weren’t a ton of buyers out looking,” Ms. Hollar said. “They could kind of take their time.”

Mirabelle quickly got sick of it all, preferring to watch videos on her tablet rather than house-hunt. “I was being dragged everywhere,” she said. “It was a pain.”

She also objected to losing a second story. At the family’s house in Cambridge, she had loved dangling her head from the top of the stairs and staring upside-down into the abyss to scare herself — a game she called Height Spook. But her parents, who wanted the simplicity and security of having the bedrooms, kitchen and living spaces on one floor, overruled her.

Among their options:

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