This might not be the most appropriate forum to ask. I ask nevertheless.
Would like to relocate from the Midwest to one of the drier and sunnier climates of the western US. Finances are THE major consideration. Can't afford, and wouldn't want to live in, the pricer and glitzier fashion or tourist centers such as eastern Colorado, movie star Montana, Durango, Reno, Sheridan, etc.
Much of Arizona would be too hot for me and all of it would be too expensive. I like winter but probably wouldn't survive long periods of 20 below.
Don't need big box stores, entertainment and all the hoopla that goes with that life. I backpack, hike, hunt, fish and paddle flatwater if its available.. Giving up the paddling, I could be happy in the high desert of Nevada, but even that is getting expensive.
A good fitness center would be a plus. Like everyone else in my situation, I'd like to avoid crime and drugs. I'm not a hermit and prefer a dab of civilization.
Only possibility that I see at the moment might be Grand Junction, Colorado. However, I'm open to locations in Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. I'm retired and living on a fixed income, so S . T . R . E . T . C . H is the wallet theme.
Look forward to your input. Thanks.
Don't write off Arizona as "too hot." Much of the state is quite reasonable. Flagstaff or Williams, as a matter of fact, is probably too cold for your tastes. Consider Globe, Prescott, St. Johns,Douglas, and similar communities. There are lots of similar communities all through the West that just don't get the publicity.
Take a look around Reno, Nv (next door to the Sierras), beautiful high country forests, St George, Utah, rapidly growing due to great location, Pinedale, Wy. breath taking scenery, doorstep of the Bridger Wilderness
I liked Alpine and Nutrioso in AZ when I drove through the region for work on a Hotshot crew in New Mexico. Nice woodsy areas make the southwest shady and cooler (I am from Oregon and have a preference for trees.) Flagstaff is nice, but overpriced. Good elk hunting in the Mogollon plateau area of NM. Also nice country on the outskirts of Santa Fe NM.
South of Reno (Carson City, Gardnerville, etc) can be more affordable, and provide access to the eastern Sierra.
Sounds like a road trip is in order to see some areas to help inform your choice.