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The search for a place to live with a small-town feel, strong community ties and more affordable homes has sent many people to the town of Hayden 23 miles west of Steamboat Springs.

The main street through Hayden has a handful of stores, restaurants and one flashing red light. There's a town park and a new playground, a nice library and a well-stocked grocery store.

Hayden Residents cite the good schools, which take students from elementary school through high school, and the more reasonable home prices as reasons to live in Hayden.

And once they're there, people say they like how town residents feel a bond with one another.

"Because we're a small community, we're kind of like a family," said Donna Hellyer, a longtime Hayden resident. "You walk down the street and you know your neighbors."

Most everyone in town goes out to watch the kids play baseball, and most everyone shows up for town events, she said.

For these reasons and more, Hayden is growing. Home prices are climbing and lots are selling. Compared to Steamboat, it is easier in Hayden to find big, family-sized homes with large yards, or to buy a home sitting on a 35-acre parcel of land, at a more affordable price.

Newer developments include Golden Meadows and Sagewood subdivisions south of downtown. A new home of around 1,300 square feet can be found for about $300,000. Larger homes or homes with acreage range from about $350,000 to $800,000.

Older, "fixer-upper" homes in Hayden can be found for as little as $160,000.

For many people who work in Steamboat Springs, the half-hour commute each morning and night is worth the chance to own a home in Hayden.

Hellyer said she thinks that more growth and economic development will benefit the town, but that the while the town grows, it should keep supporting efforts to bring the community together. She said she looks forward to more events like Summerfest, which brought live music, good food, antique cars and art booths to Hayden's town park for the first time last summer.

With more of those events, she said, the town will keep and strengthen its community ties.

"I think it's a community that can come together," Hellyer said. "When the chips are down we kind of stick together."



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