SIDNEY, Neb. — Weary of congested Denver, registered dietitian Melissa Williford moved to Sidney last July for her dream job.
She and her husband, Pat Getz, also found their dream house.
Williford, 38, is director of nutrition services at Sidney Regional Medical Center. Her husband starts a job with the Nebraska Department of Roads office in Sidney later this month.
“This is the best move we’ve ever made,’’ Williford said. “We couldn’t be happier.’’
The couple bought a five bedroom house with a three-car garage on a nearly 13,000-square-foot lot not far from the Sidney campus of Western Nebraska Community College for $210,000 in September. The property’s assessed value is nearly $267,600.
The one-story dwelling built in 2006 has 1,588 square feet on the main floor. Its interior light fixtures resemble tree branches with pine cones. The fully finished basement has a wet bar and a wine refrigerator. The master bedroom suite includes a walk-in closet, dual sinks and a jetted tub.
Williford said the house is beyond anything the couple ever expected to own.
Its previous occupant was a Cabela’s manager who bought it for $318,000 in 2015 and was transferred by the company the next year. It sat empty for more than a year before Williford and her husband purchased it.
“We discovered a fabulous housing opportunity to afford what we could never afford in Denver,’’ she said. “Our house in Denver was much smaller than the one here and it sold for a lot more than we paid here.’’
Sidney houses that would have sold for $500,000 as recently as five years ago have been discounted roughly 40 percent in some cases and are attracting farmers and ranchers moving into town and opportunistic buyers from nearby Denver and other Front Range cities in Colorado, said Tim Miller, owner of an office products company on main street.
“Housing is an absolute steal,’’ he said.
In addition to Williford and Getz, Miller said he knew of Denver-area buyers attracted by less traffic and smaller schools who bought a bigger and better house in Sidney than they could have afforded in the Front Range. The husband keeps an apartment in Colorado, where he works a job with 12-hour shifts over three days and then commutes to Sidney to spend four days with his family.
The housing market also is attracting buyers from Sterling, a Colorado city about 40 miles south of Sidney and more than twice the population.
A sales representative who can live anywhere in the region moved his family from Kansas to Sidney to buy a 14-acre property on the edge of town for $486,000. The assessed value of the house and land was $519,000 two years ago.
Williford, who grew up in Palisade, Colorado, said she was eager to return to a smaller community.
“I wasn’t happy in Denver,’’ she said. “The opportunity to come to a town like this was something I couldn’t pass up.”
In addition to supervising meals for hospital patients and long-term care facility residents, Williford conducts community workshops on diet and health.
“The job and town are fabulous,’’ she said. “Sidney is just big enough. It has all the stuff you need — grocery stores, Walmart — and you don’t have to deal with traffic and all that. I want to live here the rest of my life.”
Williford had a two-hour commute each way between Aurora, Colorado, and her job in Denver. Now she lives less than a half-mile from the hospital.
“A half tank of gas lasts me a whole month here,’’ she said. “When the sign driving into Nebraska says ‘Nebraska ... the good life,’ I now understand that slogan, because I do believe I have a good life here.”