Well, it's narrowed down to two places for Halo's future home.
The first was #1 on my previous post, the nice boarding barn. I went out there again last night. It's priced VERY reasonably for what it offers. It's also a real community. They do a lot of shows, playdays, trail rides, etc just to expose the horses to various conditions. This is definitely a place I would love to have Halo once she is started under saddle. The do a wide variety of activities, accept riders of all disciplines, and are still not a "show" barn. It's a long drive from where I live now, but won't be too terrible from the area we hope to move to in December/January. The big downside is that for now it is further to drive, and it's also about $70 more expensive per month than the other place (this includes the cost of gas, assuming 3x week visits to the barn). It is also 5 or 6 miles further from where I work than from home, and traffic is usually nasty near work.
The second place is the self-care co-op. It's the same distance from work and home, and is at least $70 cheaper per month even after factoring in hay, grain, and gas (assuming 5x week visits). Seeing Halo more frequently would be a big advantage here. I also miss cleaning stalls and doing chores - as strange as it sounds, I do enjoy just spending the time around my horse. Being the food lady has perks too - it's nice to hear your horse nicker when she sees you. The quality of the hay is very good, and the other co-op members are very responsible and conscientious horse owners. The barn itself is pretty nice, and each stall has a small individual run, so even when they are in at night they still have extra room to move. What concerns me is that the fencing is a little bit questionable for a younger horse. The fences are mostly wire (not barbed) with some hotwire and one area of barbed wire (but it's in the cedars where the horses don't usually go). The pasture is rocky, and there are TONS of prickly pears. I was worried that Halo might hurt herself on the prickly pears, but the co-op members say they haven't had any injuries related to the foliage. A temporary issue is that I will be out of town a lot for the holidays. The co-op members usually adjust their schedules to cover other people's absences, but I would feel guilty having two full weeks of travel in the first two months of boarding there.
What I think some of the choice comes down to is whether I want to join a horse community and immerse myself in that lifestyle. Alternately, the co-op will offer solitude, which I have enjoyed at my current boarding barn. As Halo matures and I do more with her training, it would be nice to have others around to share ideas and thoughts. Of course there is always the other side of that - people whose thoughts and opinions I could do without! Casi has pointed out that it might be nice to just move her where she's going to go and not have to deal with moving her again. And it is likely that I will want her to be at a busier barn once I'm starting her to ride. It's good to have people around to dial 911...
I'm feeling very conflicted. If anybody is out there reading, I'd appreciate your comments.