From breathtaking vistas and crystal-clear lakes to mile-high mountains and 300 days of sunshine, it’s nearly impossible to choose the best cities to live in Colorado. Combine the scenic beauty with its exceptional job growth and it’s no surprise that the Centennial State is becoming the second-fastest growing state in the country.
Why move to Colorado?
Nicknamed “Colorful Colorado” for a reason, Colorado is one of the most geographically diverse states in all of the U.S. It’s home to four parks and 11 national forests, offering countless rivers, high plains, desert lands and some of our country’s tallest mountains. But how do you decide if Colorado is right for you?
Why you should consider looking into the best places to live in Colorado:
Colorado is world-famous for its natural beauty. With mountains, plains, canyons, deserts, forests and lakes, the state is every adventurer’s dream. If you make the move to Colorado, beautiful scenery would no longer be something you have to travel for. It will be what you wake up to every day.
While it’s not exactly an ideal tropical destination, Colorado sees 300 days of sunshine per year. That’s over 3,000 hours of sun! With stunning mountains and breathtaking lakes, Colorado is a state that allows you to ski and swim in the same day. The winter season brings snow, but it’s very mild.
Just last year, WalletHub named Colorado the top state for job opportunities and the second-most attractive state for employment in the U.S. Residents have access to world-class universities as well as research facilities. There are over 10 Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Colorado, including: Level 3, Arrow Electronics, Dish Network and Newmont Mining.
All of the best cities to live in Colorado have one thing in common: they’re fit. With miles of parks, trails and forests on top of local food and farm-to-table restaurants, it’s easy to make your lifestyle a healthier one. Colorado even has the lowest obesity rate in the entire country!
What are the best things to do in Colorado? Everything! When residents say you’ll never run out of things to do, they mean it. The state is so much more than outdoor activities. It’s a performing arts and cultural events hub, farm-fresh food paradise, craft beer destination, sports haven and so much more. Colorado is exactly what you make it.
The Best Cities to Live in Colorado Near Denver
Just this year, two Colorado cities—Denver and Colorado Springs—both landed among the top three best places to live in the country. Due to its outdoor beauty and thriving economy, Denver also made the list for The 25 Best Places People are Moving to in 2018. While they might not get the same recognition, there are hundreds of neighboring towns on the outskirts of Denver that residents love just as much.
Towns near Denver that come with just as many perks:
Westminster is a Northwest suburb of Denver with a personality of its own. The family-oriented community is known for its lakes and open spaces, which open the door to boating, biking, fishing and more. You’ll get to enjoy the freshest produce, welcoming neighbors, year-round events and the perfect blend of city and suburbs. The city even has plenty of Bring Your Own Dog (B.Y.O.D.) events if you plan to bring your furry friend with you, making it instantly one of the best cities to live in Colorado for dog lovers.
If you’re planning on moving to Denver, you’re only minutes away from the area of Thornton—the closest city to Denver International Airport. While this suburb is relatively new, Thornton is quickly growing. It offers thousands of acres of clean parks and recreation centers, as well as safe neighborhoods and excellent schools. This makes it one of the best places to raise a family in Colorado.
In one word, the town of Arvada is suburbia. This charming old town boasts plenty of shopping malls, boutiques and brick and mortars with similar residential developments throughout. Since it’s not near any major highways, Arvada poses longer commutes for residents, but those who live there tend to plant some roots.
Lakewood is one of the best cities in Colorado to call home. With only a short commute to both Denver and the Rocky Mountains, residents can experience an equal amount of indoor and outdoor adventures. It’s a great place for community events and also home to Belmar: a 22-block center offering retailers, restaurants, galleries and live entertainment. With nature making up almost 40 percent of Lakewood’s total area, you’ll enjoy endless greenery.
If you’ve ever driven by the majestic Front Range on Highway 34, you probably fell in love at first sight. At least, that’s how it went for most Estes Park residents. The sight of the charming postcard town against the gorgeous backdrop of the mountains never seems to get old. While it comes with a price (the cost of living runs almost 25 percent higher than the national average, Estes Park is a short drive from Denver and a wonderful community to be a part of.
While these are some of the best cities to live in Colorado, smaller towns in the state are another option to consider for your move.
Best Small Cities to Live in Colorado
Residents agree that Colorado’s small cities are what give the state its charming character. Whether you’re applying to colleges, looking for a great place to raise a family or in search of your retirement destination, Colorado offers a diverse array of smaller towns and family-friendly communities.
The Best Cities in Colorado for Any Age
Forget the best cities to live in Colorado. How about the best cities to live in the country?! Fort Collins makes the Best Places to Live list, year after year, for several reasons. Located North of Denver, it’s home to Colorado State University, several tech companies and plenty of student amenities. Residents can enjoy breweries, trails, nationally recognized bike paths and a vibrant downtown. Fort Collins regularly ranks in the Top 10 Healthiest Cities and is one of the best cities to live in Colorado for young adults. While many students choose to rent, home prices in Ft. Collins are also much cheaper than Denver or Boulder.
Perfect for: Students and young adults
Known as the Sweetheart City of America, Loveland is one of the best cities to live in Colorado. Serving as the gateway to hiking, biking and camping in Rocky Mountain National Park, Loveland offers hundreds of recreational opportunities for outdoor lovers. The city offers more than 25 public parks, scenic golf courses, a recreation center, a water park, a dog track and museums.
Loveland is mostly known for its performing arts theater and world-renowned artists whose work plays a prominent role in the sights of the city. It’s even home to the largest outdoor sculpture showin America. Looking for a great destination to spend your later years? Loveland is one of the best cities to retire in Colorado.
Perfect for: Retirees
Located between Colorado Springs and Denver, Castle Rock is a beautiful up-and-coming area that’s been named one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation. Families move to the area for its excellent schools, low home prices, safe neighborhoods & parks and great quality of life.
Castle Rock is made up of scenic beauty, including rolling hills, breathtaking mountain views and a multitude of outdoor recreation activities. With 20 parks and 75 miles of trails, families can take advantage of nature and stay active year-round. The city even made a commitment to preserving its greenery, mandating that developers must designate at least 20 percent of land to open space. Loaded with residential developments, Castle Rock is an ideal place for those who want to raise a family outside the city and enjoy all that scenic Colorado has to offer.
Perfect for: Families
Residents of Colorado Springs share a love of the outdoors, contributing to the town’s lowest obesity rate in the nation. Its high-tech sector offers great wages and the town is still the 18th most affordable place to live in the U.S. Sunshine and affordability make Colorado Springs a great place to live for families looking to experience the Centennial State.
Perfect for: Families
Love the outdoors, friendly people and a charming community to call home? Boulder may be the place for you. Dan Buettner, National Geographic author and longevity expert, recently named Boulder the Happiest City in America. Contributing factors include city-dwellers’ diets, how involved they are in their communities, how often they go on holiday, how easy it is to get around on foot or by bike and even how frequently they visit the dentist. Boulder is beautifully situated at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It’s no surprise that in Boulder, activities aren’t just hobbies. They’re a way of life.
“It’s an alluring mindset,” notes Bruce Barcott, editor of Outdoor Magazine. “I once embraced it myself. Ten years ago, I moved my family to Boulder for an academic-year fellowship at the University of Colorado. We loved the life so much, we didn’t want to leave. We’d never been healthier. Our kids played outside. My wife hiked every day and took up telemarketing. I snuck out to ski before work. We rented a house built like a national park lodge. Foxes, elk, and wild turkeys wandered through our yard. The sun never seemed to stop shining. Boulder changes people.”
Perfect for: Everyone
Cost of Living in Colorado
If you’re looking for the most affordable places to live in Colorado, you’ll have to take several factors into consideration. Overall, the average cost of living in Colorado is 12 percent above the national average–compared to 17% in California and 37% in Massachusetts. But with a booming economy, high wages and an unparalleled lifestyle, living in Colorado gives you a great quality of life at an extraordinary value.
Renting vs. Buying in Colorado
As you research the best cities to live in Colorado, depending on your family status and financial situation, you may be unsure about whether you want to rent or buy.
Pros of renting in Colorado
“If you think there’s a chance you’re moving inside of two to five years, you need to be very cautious when buying a home in order to recover the costs of getting in and getting out of it,” says Joshua Hunt, CEO of Trelora and longtime real estate veteran.
- Cost. Monthly rent requires much less of a commitment than home prices and mortgages. While rent in Colorado is more expensive than the U.S. average, it doesn’t come close to large cities such as California or New York.
- Flexibilty. If you’re new to Colorado, who knows how long you’re going to stay in the area? What if you want to explore a different side of the state? Renting gives the flexibility to move elsewhere.
Pros of buying in Colorado
If you’re looking to plant some roots and call Colorado home, there are several benefits to buying versus renting.
- The housing market. Since Colorado is growing at such a fast pace, residents who purchase a home can buy now and sell for more later.
- Tax breaks.
Cost of utilities in Colorado
As another benefit, utilities in Colorado are also on the cheap side. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), residents of Colorado consume 15% more energy than the U.S. average, but pay much less for that energy. Colorado is seven percent below the national average for utilities and the state ranks second for least expensive energy in the entire U.S.
Average monthly utility bills in Colorado run around $100, which is 27% lower than the national average. Be sure to keep low utilities in mind as you determine your overall budget!
Taxes in Colorado
Colorado is a flat-tax state, meaning that regardless of your income level, the income tax rate is 4.63%. The base sales tax rate in Colorado is 2.9%. However, cities can add their own sales taxes on top of that.
Here’s some great news for homeowners. Colorado’s property tax rates are some of the lowest in the country, with an average effective property tax rate of just 0.63%. All money that Colorado residents pay in property taxes also stays within their country of residence. No tax revenue goes to the state government.
Retirees (either moving to Colorado, or those who already call the state home) can also enjoy a tax-friendly retirement. Colorado’s income-tax system allows for a large deduction on all retirement income, with some of the lowest property taxes in the country. Food and medicine, goods for any retiree, are exempt from sales tax.
Getting around Colorado
While Colorado traffic isn’t unbearable throughout the state, metro Denver tends to be the congested problem area. The I-25 northbound between Colorado Boulevard and 84th Avenue has been ranked as one of the worst congested corridors—and studies show that commutes are only getting worse. The average commuter in the Denver metro area spends around 49 hours in traffic. Surprisingly, that’s nowhere near Los Angeles commutes of 100 hours or more. The good news is that Denver transportation planners have been able to keep up with the region’s growth over the last 20 years, so they’re able to plan for the next few decades, too.
With the use of FasTracs, ride sharing and other alternate transportation, there will continue to be improvements in the years to come.
“We know our state needs to invest in transportation if we want to continue to be a top destination for a highly educated and healthy workforce,” notes Kelly Brough, CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. “Efficiently getting to and from work, school and recreational opportunities is critical to our economic development efforts and quality of life in this region.”
With a strong network of highways, buses, trains and airports, getting around Colorado is a breeze.
- Airports: Colorado’s major airports include Denver International Airport, Colorado Springs Airport and Grand Junction Regional Airport. Denver is the largest and also the nation’s sixth-busiest airport.
- RTD: If you’re traveling in between Colorado’s cities, the RTD is a system of buses and light rail servicing Denver, Boulder and four other nearby counties. If you’re looking for an easy and inexpensive way to get around, RTD is the way to go.
- Train: If you’re traveling out of state, Colorado offers both scenic railroads and modern train travel through Amtrak’s California Zephyr line.
- Car: As the eighth-largest state in the U.S. stretching hundreds of miles wide, Colorado sees the majority of its residents owning their own vehicles. Public transportation may be convenient in cities, but not in outlying towns. Parking is also free and plentiful outside the busy cities.
The average gas price in Colorado is $2.70 per gallon, which is below the national average. Keep in mind that gas prices also vary by city.
What do you think are the best cities to live in Colorado?
With scenic views, endless activities and an amazing quality of life, it’s no wonder so many residents are calling Colorado home. So, if you think you’re ready to explore and breathe in that fresh, mile-high air, what are you waiting for?
If you’re planning on relocating to the Midwest, we want to help! Life Storage offers storage units in Colorado to help your moving process go as smoothly and conveniently as possible:
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- storage units in Lakewood
- storage units in Thornton
- storage units in Westminster
What do you think are the best cities to live in Colorado? What tips would you give new residents? Let us know in the comments below!