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Census: county rich with singles

Jane Reuter

SUMMIT COUNTY – Summit County is thick with singles.

A surprise? Not to the singles that live here. But new Census 2000 statistics released Tuesday confirm those suspicions.

Of the county’s 23,500 residents, more than 43 percent are single. Statewide, 27 percent of the population is single.

Out of all those more than 8,700 single Summit County residents, Nick Pollard – a 27-year-old single himself – is hoping to eventually find Ms. Right. So far, his search has been unsuccessful.

“It’s definitely one of those things where I don’t need to be married right now,” said the Frisco resident. “It’s just a matter of finding the right person. There might be a quantity, but there’s not necessarily a quality.”

Why the quantity of single Summit County people is so high is the stuff of theories. But most people agree the ski resort lifestyle is highly appealing to people without partners.

“I think the lifestyle up here is a lot more welcoming (to singles),” said Helen Royal, a counselor at Colorado West Mental Health Center. “There’s a lot of social activity that isn’t necessarily couples- or family-based. It’s more OK to move up here and not be married and have kids.”

Jim Rodkey’s Frisco coffee shop, Rocky Mountain Coffee Roasters, attracts many of those young, single residents. He says many of them appear to be extending the carefree days of college, speculating that many people who graduate and aren’t yet ready to plunge into corporate careers instead move to resort towns.

“You say, “Let’s for a couple of years go wander,'” he said, “especially if mommy and daddy paid for school so if you don’t have these huge loans that have to be paid immediately. They can still kind of live the lifestyle you lived in college, where four to six people in an apartment doesn’t bother you.”

That lifestyle, coupled with the abundance of single people and the Disneyland aura that surrounds resort life, lends itself to the party atmosphere that some people say pervades Summit County. Royal sees it in her business.

“Frankly, people who have substance abuse issues going on – it’s also more permissible to live that lifestyle up here,” she said.

There’s also a steady supply of people like Rodkey, now 51 and a former Ford Motor executive. Singles like him left behind corporate careers in favor of the more relaxed pace of small town resort life.

“You see people like me who had started businesses,” he said. “Your kids are grown, but you want to go somewhere neat, at the other end of the spectrum.”

But for those young singles, who often lack the financial means to buy a home in Summit County, the party ends when they want to leave their single life behind them.

“Eventually, a long-term relationship leads to a wife, husband and kids and this is really an expensive place to do that,” Rodkey said. “A lot of people are up here to have a good time and not get into a relationship because they can’t really afford to. Those that do find out, it’s really tough. And we’ve seen some of those leave, go back to the Front Range, where they pay more (businesses) and the cost of living is less.”

Counselor Royal sees that, too.

“I see this with the people I work with. When they do reach that stage of life where they want to raise a family, they might raise one child here because they can double day care and work,” she said. “But when they hit the second child, they leave because they can’t afford to do it.”

Even though Pollard says he’s looking for a partner, he’s not buying into those traditional norms.

“I moved here because of a love of the outdoors,” he said. “I’ve decided to stay. But it’s definitely a challenge. The people that are here don’t necessarily conform to those norms of 2.2 kids, a dog and a house, a garage and the white picket fence.”


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