OURAY, Colo. (KREX) — Nestled in a region nicknamed “the Switzerland of America,” Ouray brings in hundreds of thousands of tourists every year to witness the views and drive the so-called million-dollar highway.
Associate real estate broker Marc Hitchcox with NextHome Virtual tells me some of these tourists are captured enough by the beauty to try living here. But with demand, comes a price.
Marc tells me an expensive house went from $500,000 to $1 million dollars. There aren’t any jobs here in the county that pay enough for someone to make a mortgage on a million-dollar house.”
Marc says housekeeping, restaurants, and retail are the most common jobs in Ouray. In addition to these jobs, he says construction is next. Anyone qualified for the job will have work.
But labor rates and materials aren’t the only blockade from building either – director of community outreach Kelly Goodin with the Home Trust of Ouray County tells me the county set some pretty strict limitations.
Kelly tells me the Home Trust does something called “preservation,” where they buy housing when they have the budget, and then rent them out to keep some level of affordable housing in Ouray.
Kelly says Region10 Colorado conducted a study from 2019 to 2022 across all of Ouray County and reported the average cost of a single-family home here is $875,000.
She adds at that price, a median family would have to be earning 275 percent of the median income to afford a home like that.
With prices so high, especially in Ouray, most workers are forced to commute every day from ridgeway and even as far away as Montrose.
Marc tells me even Sheriffs and Ouray City Hall employees can’t live in town because it costs so much.
Though prices in town are high for locals and tourists, business owners tell me it’s the only way for shops and the families who run them to stay afloat.
Ouray is just one more reminder that Colorado beauty – comes with a price.