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She Wanted a New House in a New City. What Would $400,000 Buy in Colorado?

Amy Phillips thought she would never move again after she retired from teaching second grade in Colorado and bought a little adobe casita looking out on the mountains outside Taos, N.M., in 2018.

But while New Mexico eventually emerged from the pandemic, the life she had moved there for never returned. A volunteer job doing art education at a museum evaporated. Her circle of friends, who had weathered Covid together, drifted apart. She suddenly felt isolated living in a rural stretch of sagebrush with only coyotes and bighorn sheep for company.

“I was ready to go back home,” Ms. Phillips said.

She had grown up near Boulder, but now it was too expensive for her budget of roughly $400,000, as was Denver. And she didn’t want to live anywhere on Colorado’s more distant western slope. So she decided on Colorado Springs, a city of nearly 500,000 at the foot of Pikes Peak that was rapidly growing with the arrival of cafes, bakeries and newcomers priced out of Denver.

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Ms. Phillips, 67, who lives alone and has no children, wanted something small but with enough enclosed outdoor space for her two big dogs, Rio and Nika. (She jokes that half of the square footage of her home is canine.) She also wanted to find a more liberal corner of the traditionally conservative Colorado Springs, either near downtown, a local college or the historic and touristy Old Colorado City area closer to the mountains.

“I didn’t want to be in a suburban area or a group of tract homes,” she said. “I wanted something that had some mystery and some character. Every time I looked at a listing that said, ‘Built in 1900,’ I said, ‘That’s my jam.’”

Rising interest rates had cooled a buying frenzy in the area, but homes in her price range and preferred neighborhoods were still getting multiple offers and selling within 30 days.

“Her criteria were extremely hard,” said her agent, Drake Guidry, a broker associate with Keller Williams who connected with Ms. Phillips in March after she emailed the brokerage’s website.

Among her options:

Find out what happened next by answering these two questions:

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