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Colorado beckons newcomers with its stunning natural beauty, vibrant cities, and active, outdoor-oriented lifestyle. From the snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains to the dynamic cultural scene of Denver, Colorado offers a quality of life that's hard to match.
But before packing up your home and heading to this diverse state, knowing what awaits you is important. This comprehensive guide offers insights into everything you need to know about relocating to Colorado, from its thriving job market and education system to the state's attitudes toward health and wellness.
So, whether you're drawn to the adrenaline rush of skiing in Aspen, the artistic vibe of Boulder, or the innovative spirit of Colorado Springs, this guide will help you navigate your move and embrace your new life in Colorado!
✅ Colorado forms part of the only place in the United States where four states meet at a single point. This unique landmark, called the Four Corners, intersects Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah.
✅ Of all U.S. states, Colorado has the highest elevation point, 3,317 feet above sea level.
✅ Denver, the state capital, sits exactly one mile above sea level, earning it the nickname "The Mile High City.”
✅ Consistently ranked as one of the healthiest states, Colorado has the lowest obesity rate in the country.
✅ The state has the highest percentage of public land designated for outdoor recreation, including parks, monuments, and wilderness areas.
✅ Colorado has over 400 breweries, making it one of the top states for craft beer production and consumption.
✅ The state is rich in ancient history, with the Dinosaur National Monument in the northwest corner of Colorado housing numerous dinosaur fossil beds.
✅ The summit of Pikes Peak, one of Colorado's most famous mountains, inspired Katharine Lee Bates to write the lyrics for "America the Beautiful."
With an estimated population of 5,868,555 in 2023, Colorado ranks as the 21st most populous state in the U.S. Stretching across a vast expanse of 104,494 square miles, Colorado proudly stands as the eighth-largest state in the nation.
Colorado is very sparsely populated, with only about 52 residents per square mile. This low population density is because more than half of the land area in Colorado is made up of the rugged, mountainous terrain of the Rockies. During the Gilded Age in the 1870s, this unique mountainous setting, with its high valleys, glacial lakes, and forested mountains, became a sought-after tourist spot. The hype was created when Samuel Bowles, a journalist, likened Colorado to the Alps in his guidebook, "The Switzerland of America." This glowing review resulted in many urban dwellers flocking to the state to escape the polluted cities in the eastern United States.
The state is known for its diverse population, with a mix of urban and rural communities. Non-Hispanic Whites comprise the largest portion of the population, around 69%, while Latinos comprise approximately 22%. African Americans account for about 5%, and Asian Americans represent roughly 4.7%.
Denver, the state capital and most populous city is a vibrant urban center. At the same time, many Coloradans also live in smaller cities or rural areas, particularly in the beautiful Rocky Mountain region. Colorado has a relatively young population compared to the national average, with a median age of around 37 years.
If there were one word to accurately describe Colorado's climate, it would be "unpredictable.” That's why locals say, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 20 minutes!”
Firstly, the Eastern Plains have a semi-arid, continental climate with low humidity and moderate precipitation. Summers here can be hot, with temperatures frequently reaching into the 90s (Fahrenheit), while winters are generally cold but not excessively so.
Moving westward, the Front Range cities, including Denver and Boulder, enjoy a mild and dry climate with more than 300 days of sunshine yearly. Winters here are chilly, though snowfall is typically less than in the mountains, and summers are warm but not overly hot.
In contrast, the High Rockies, home to iconic towns like Aspen, are subject to an alpine climate characterized by long, cold winters with heavy snowfall, which creates a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts. Summers in the High Rockies are cool and pleasant, with daytime temperatures rarely exceeding the mid-70s.
Finally, the Western Slope, influenced by the desert lands to the west, has a semi-arid climate, with hot summers and mild winters. This area receives more sunshine and less precipitation than the Eastern Plains or Front Range.
⚠️ Colorado's high altitude creates a unique, dry climate that sets it apart. At over 6,800 feet above sea level, Colorado's average elevation is the highest of any U.S. state—this high elevation results in thinner air, which holds less moisture and makes the climate significantly drier. The dry atmosphere, often offering clear, sunny days, can lead to dehydration more quickly than at lower altitudes. So, if you're planning a visit or a move to Colorado, remember to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated!
In this section, we'll delve into the top reasons that make Colorado an attractive choice for your next home:
➡️ Active lifestyle: Colorado's unique terrain provides an abundance of outdoor adventures! The state's natural beauty offers endless opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, from hiking and mountain biking trails to skiing and snowboarding.
➡️ Health-focused culture: Colorado has consistently been ranked as one of the healthiest states in the U.S. The abundance of outdoor activities and access to fresh, healthy food options contribute to a healthier lifestyle for Colorado residents.
➡️ Strong economy: Colorado boasts a robust and diverse economy. Many growing industries offer job opportunities, from technology and health care to agriculture and tourism.
➡️ Educational opportunities: Colorado is known for its strong emphasis on education, which makes it an excellent place for families with children.
➡️ 300 days of sunshine: Despite its snowy mountain peaks, Colorado sees more sunny days than many other states, providing residents with plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.
➡️ Environmental consciousness: Colorado is known for its strong commitment to environmental sustainability, with many initiatives in place to preserve the state's natural beauty.
➡️ Health care: Colorado has a well-developed health care system with many highly ranked hospitals, clinics, and health care providers. The state's focus on healthy living often leads to lower healthcare costs.
➡️ Haven for pet owners: There is no better place to have a dog than in Colorado! Restaurants, hotels, and even apartment buildings cater to dogs. There are also loads of dog parks. The only downside is that dogs aren’t allowed inside national parks.
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With the good comes the bad, and even though there are many reasons to live in Colorado, there are some downsides to consider when moving there:
❌ High cost of living: The cost of living in Colorado, particularly in popular cities like Boulder and Denver, can be significantly higher than the national average, especially regarding housing.
❌ Altitude adjustment: Getting used to the higher altitude can take some time, especially for newcomers. Altitude sickness is common for those unaccustomed to the thinner air, and hydration is crucial due to the drier climate.
❌ Crowded outdoor spaces: Colorado's outdoor beauty attracts many people, leading to crowded parks, trails, and ski resorts, particularly during peak season.
❌ Traffic and infrastructure: With the population growth, traffic can be heavy, especially in and around Denver and other crowded areas. Infrastructure has struggled to keep up with growth in some places.
❌ Rapidly growing population: Colorado's appeal has led to significant population growth, which can impact the sense of community in some areas and increase competition for jobs and housing.
❌ Variable weather: While many enjoy the state's diverse climate, the weather in Colorado can be unpredictable, with the possibility of snowstorms even in spring and sudden temperature drops.
❌ Wildlife encounters: Living in Colorado can mean occasional encounters with wildlife, including bears and mountain lions, which might concern some.
❌ Wildfire risk: Certain areas of Colorado are susceptible to wildfires, particularly during dry, hot summers.
❌ Water availability: Water rights and usage are significant issues in Colorado due to its semi-arid climate and growing population, leading to strict watering rules in some areas.
Compared to the rest of the country, Colorado's cost of living is 20.5% higher than the U.S. average:
100= National Average (Data source)
Are you moving to Colorado? It's essential to understand the typical living costs in the state. Below, we dive deeper into the best places to live in the Centennial State, the average costs, and general information about Colorado life!
The Best Places to Live in Colorado
Like any other state, choosing the right city and neighborhood is important. Below we will discuss the best places to live in the Centennial State to help you make the best decision!
Denver, Colorado’s state capital—often called the "Mile High City"—is a vibrant urban metropolis that perfectly blends modern city living with easy access to the great outdoors, including hiking and bike trails and nearby ski resorts. Denver also has a sports-mad culture and is home to the iconic Denver Broncos football team!
As the state’s biggest city with a population of 706,799, it offers its residents a great arts and culture scene. Also, the city has a robust economy that is particularly strong in the tech and aerospace sectors, with plentiful job opportunities that contribute to a high quality of life.
If all of that wasn’t enough, Denver has booming culinary and craft beer scenes that cater to foodies, making Denver a lively and exciting place to call home!
If you are thinking of moving to Denver, have a look at our list of the best neighborhoods in Denver to live in for families.The only real downside is that it's expensive to live in Denver. Here is a breakdown of your cost of living in the area:
Just outside of Denver, Littleton is a small city of just over 45,000 people, which not only gives it lots of small-town charm but also provides easy access to the amenities of downtown Denver.
Littleton has great schools that are consistently ranked in the top ten in the state, making it a popular choice for families. The cost of living in Littleton is slightly higher than the average cost of living in Colorado; we have summarized it below:
Grand Junction, the largest city in western Colorado, offers a unique blend of small-town charm, natural beauty, and economic vitality that makes it a wonderful place to call home.
Nestled in the Grand Valley and surrounded by vast wilderness, the city provides residents with easy access to outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, biking, fishing, rafting in the Colorado River, and skiing in the nearby Powderhorn Mountain Resort.
Grand Junction is renowned for its thriving local arts scene, which includes Art on the Corner, a year-round outdoor sculpture exhibit, and the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra. The city also hosts numerous festivals, most notably the Colorado Mountain Winefest.
The area boasts a thriving job market, particularly in health care, education, and the outdoor recreation industry. The city is also becoming a focal point for aerospace companies, further enhancing job prospects.
The biggest positive about this city is that it's affordable! It offers residents a lower cost of living compared to the rest of Colorado:
Pueblo, Colorado, is an attractive city that combines a rich cultural heritage, a vibrant arts scene, and an affordable cost of living.
Known as the "Steel City" because of its industrial roots, it gets a bad rep as a boring city. We disagree! Pueblo today is a hub for education and health care, offering numerous job opportunities.
Its year-round mild climate and proximity to the Arkansas River and San Isabel National Forest make it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Coupled with its welcoming community, Pueblo is an affordable place to live, particularly for families and retirees:
Median income $56,236
Estes Park, Colorado, is an idyllic mountain town of 5,942 people that offers a peaceful, nature-centered lifestyle. Situated at the Rocky Mountain National Park entrance, it provides unparalleled access to breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks, lush forests, and crystal-clear lakes.
This charming town offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city. The town is filled with local boutiques, art galleries, and eateries. Despite its tranquil setting, Estes Park is only an hour and a half’s drive away from Denver, which is how it manages to combine the best of serene mountain living and big city amenities.
All of this, unfortunately, does not come cheap! The cost of living in Estes Park is relatively high compared to the national average:
Boulder, Colorado, nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, is an exceptional place to live and boasts an excellent quality of life. Known for its abundant outdoor recreational opportunities, residents can enjoy hiking, biking, and rock climbing year-round.
The city is a hub for tech start-ups, offering numerous job opportunities. The Boulder metro area has one of the fastest-growing tech sectors in the country. Between 2015 and 2020, employment in high-tech industries climbed by 19.9%, compared to 8.9% nationwide.
Boulder is also home to the University of Colorado, providing a vibrant academic and cultural scene.
Furthermore, Boulder’s emphasis on wellness and sustainability creates a community-conscious atmosphere that's hard to find elsewhere.
Because Boulder is a desirable place to live, its housing costs are very high due to the high numbers of students and tech workers moving into the area. Aside from housing, residents can expect to pay more for food, but thanks to Boulder’s lower city sales tax rates, food costs are only slightly higher than the Colorado average. Also, utilities come in more affordable thanks to cheaper renewable energy resources in the area.
Fort Collins, Colorado, is a delightful place to live, blending vibrant city life and outdoor recreation. It's home to Colorado State University, which creates an energetic academic and cultural environment.
The city is also recognized for its thriving craft beer industry and robust job market, particularly in the tech sector. With numerous hiking and bike trails, parks, and proximity to the Rocky Mountains, Fort Collins provides a high quality of life for outdoor enthusiasts and families alike.
Living in Fort Collins, CO, is more expensive than the US average but generally on par with the Colorado average:
💡Local insight: Fort Collins is a hikers’ paradise!Because of its location, the city provides access to a wide variety of hikes. Below we have listed some of our favorites:➡️ The Red Fox Meadows Natural Area➡️ Dixon Reservoir Loop➡️ Horsetooth Falls Loop➡️ Arapaho Bend Trail➡️ Coyote Ridge Trail
Colorado Springs, located at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, is Colorado’s second-largest city and offers residents an extraordinary quality of life.
The city, known for its sunny weather and clear blue skies, is close to attractions like Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods. Its growing economy, with strong defense, aerospace, and tourism sectors, provides ample job opportunities. In addition, its lower cost of living compared to Denver and its family-friendly environment make Colorado Springs an attractive place to call home.
Colorado Springs offers its residents a lot. Combined with its favorable cost of living, it makes it a candidate well worth considering for your new home when moving to Colorado.
What would a list of the best places to live in Colorado be without Aspen? Aspen is a true gem for those seeking a unique blend of small-town charm, upscale living, and unparalleled access to outdoor pursuits.
Known globally for its world-class ski slopes, Aspen also offers year-round activities like hiking, biking, and fishing that nature lovers will relish.
Beyond its outdoor appeal, Aspen is a cultural hub, hosting prestigious events such as the Aspen Music Festival and housing a variety of art galleries and fine dining options.
Regarding the cost of living, Aspen is the most expensive mountain city in Colorado. If you can afford it, however, it’s a beautiful place to live!
You might be looking at the cost of living and the Colorado housing market with some despair. Don’t worry! It's not all bad. Colorado is one of the most tax-friendly states in the U.S. Residents will only pay 0.55% in property taxes. Also, sales taxes are some of the lowest in the U.S. at 2.9%. While the state has a flat sales tax, counties and cities add their own taxes on top of the state rate. Look up the sales taxes for the area you want to relocate to.
The Cost of Moving to Colorado
The following prices are what you might expect to pay a professional moving company to move your belongings to Colorado:
Moving to Colorado can range from $2,000 to $15,000. This range is wide because there are many factors to consider when moving long distances.
The two most important factors that influence the cost of your move are your home size and the travel distance. Here’s a table that shows average cross-country moving cost by home size, assuming a move of 2,000 miles:
A breakdown of the costs might look like this:
➡️ The size of your home: The more things you move, the more the move will cost. You’ll want to ensure you’re only bringing those things you genuinely want to have in Colorado.
➡️ Distance: The distance you need to travel is also essential to factor in. Traveling further increases the expenses your moving company will need to cover, increasing your move's total cost.
➡️ Service requirements: The cost of moving depends on the assistance you’d require on your cross-country move. Additional services will increase the total cost of your move and include the following: Storage, specialty-item moving, packing assistance, moving containers,
as well as packing and moving supplies.
➡️ Moving dates are important: The moving industry experiences a busy season during spring and summer, which results in higher rates due to increased demand. On the other hand, the off-season during fall and winter sees a decrease in demand and lower rates. The cheapest way is to consider moving during the week in winter.
Colorado's economy is ranked 3rd in the USA. Colorado’s diverse and robust economy leads to a strong job market. The state is known for its thriving technology sector, particularly in software development, biotechnology, and aerospace engineering. Job growth is at 0.9%, which is higher than the national average of 0.2%. What's more? The state has a high employment rate compared to others in America.
The state's economy also heavily relies on its rich natural resources. Mining and energy production, particularly natural gas, coal, and gold, play a substantial role.
Tourism and the “outdoor industry” also play a crucial role in Colorado's economy, given its location and wide range of outdoor events and snow sports. However, it's important to note that economic conditions vary across the state and by industry. Certain sectors, like tourism and hospitality, can be affected by seasonal variations.
The state has a favorable business environment and a progressive attitude toward emerging industries like renewable energy and cannabis. The state government is committed to supporting infrastructure that will continue to draw companies and job seekers to the area.
Colorado has been a trailblazer in terms of changing attitudes and laws regarding the use of marijuana. The state made history in 2012 when it became, alongside Washington State, the first to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults 21 and over. The move toward legalization was driven by a shift in public opinion, with many Coloradans viewing marijuana use as a personal choice akin to alcohol consumption. So when moving to Colorado, remember that marijuana is used openly in public. Also, remember that marijuana is still prohibited by federal law and can't be taken across state lines.
Bear in mind that cities like Boulder and Denver tend to have higher living costs than other parts of the state, which influences wages and job competition. Below, we have listed the median income across our top places to live in Colorado:
Colorado is known for its strong emphasis on education and offers a comprehensive system that spans primary and tertiary levels. The state’s public school system includes elementary, middle, and high schools that cater to diverse student needs. In terms of rankings, Colorado often scores well in areas like educational attainment, with a higher-than-average percentage of residents holding a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Below we have listed the top-rated schools and colleges in the state:
➡️ D’Evelyn Junior/Senior High School, Denver, CO
➡️ Peak to Peak Charter School, Lafayette, CO
➡️ Liberty Common Charter School, Fort Collins, CO
➡️ The Vanguard School, Colorado Springs, CO
➡️ Denver School of the Arts, Denver, CO
➡️ DSST: Stapleton High School, Denver, CO
➡️ Fairview High School, Boulder, CO
➡️ KIPP Denver Collegiate High School, Denver, CO
➡️ DSST: Green Valley Ranch High School, Denver, CO
➡️ DSST: Cole High School, Denver, CO
➡️ Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO
➡️ University of Denver, Denver, CO
➡️ United States Air Force Academy, USAFA, CO
➡️ University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO
➡️ Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO
➡️ Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
➡️ Regis University, Denver, CO
➡️ University of Colorado, Denver, CO
➡️ University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO
➡️ University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, CO
Below, we have listed the best things to do in Colorado!
🔶 Visit Rocky Mountain National Park: Known for its stunning landscapes, abundant wildlife, and over 300 miles of hiking trails, this national park is a must-see!
🔶 Explore Denver: Colorado's capital city offers a mix of urban sophistication and outdoor adventure, with a vibrant arts scene, bustling downtown, and numerous parks.
🔶 Hit the slopes in Aspen or Vail: These world-class ski resorts offer some of the best skiing and snowboarding experiences in the U.S.
🔶 Hike in Garden of the Gods: This natural landmark in Colorado Springs features towering sandstone formations and offers numerous hiking and climbing routes.
🔶 Take a scenic drive on the Million Dollar Highway: This road offers stunning views of the San Juan Mountains, especially in the fall.
🔶 Tour the Mesa Verde National Park: Here, you can see the cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblo people, dating back to the 7th century.
🔶 Explore the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve: This natural wonder features the tallest sand dunes in North America.
🔶 Visit the Colorado National Monument: With its vast plateaus and canyons, it's ideal for hiking, rock climbing, and wildlife spotting.
🔶 Relax in hot springs: The state is peppered with natural hot springs, like those found at Glenwood Springs and Pagosa Springs.
🔶 Experience the craft beer scene: Colorado is known for its craft breweries. Cities like Fort Collins, Boulder, and Denver offer brewery tours and tastings.
In conclusion, moving to Colorado offers an exceptional opportunity to enjoy a balance of natural beauty, outdoor recreation, and a thriving urban lifestyle. The state's strong economy, robust education system, and focus on health and wellness make it a promising place to start a new chapter. However, like any significant move, it's not without its challenges, from adjusting to the altitude to navigating a higher cost of living.
But, with proper planning and the right expectations, the rewards can be great. After all, where else could you hike a picturesque mountain trail in the morning, attend a tech start-up meeting in the afternoon, and enjoy a world-class craft beer by evening?
If you are ready to move to Colorado, let 9Kilo help make your transition as smooth and enjoyable as possible!
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