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Is Colorado a Good Place To Live? (The Pros & Cons)

Featured Image of Is Colorado a Good Place To Live

Plenty of you have probably thought about moving to Colorado. If you’re thinking about it you might be wondering, “Is Colorado a good place to build a new life?”  Yes, Colorado is a fantastic place to live, offering unique high-altitude geography, a balanced climate, and abundant employment and recreational opportunities. With its diverse features and vibrant lifestyle, Colorado is an excellent choice for those looking to build a new life.

In this article, we will talk about the following:

  • The Overview of Colorado at a Glance
  • The pros and cons of living in Colorado
  • How to Decide If Colorado is a Good Place to Live for You?
  • And some tips for you to moving

So let’s get started!

Colorado at a Glance

Colorado is called the “Centennial State” because it entered the Union on August 1st, 1876, 100 years after the Declaration of Independence.  The thirty-eighth state in the Union, Colorado’s capital and most populous city, Denver, is home to just over 700,000 of the state’s 5.812 million people, ranking it just between Midwestern states Wisconsin (5.892 million) and Minnesota (5.717 million). Colorado Springs is home to another half-million as well as the United States Air Force Academy.

Four Corners Monument

The ”Four Corners” is a famous spot in Colorado where its border meets the borders of three other states: New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. The actual place of the Four Corners monument is located approximately 1,800 feet east of the point where the borders meet, however because all four states had formally agreed on it, the southwest corner of the monument is in Arizona, the northwest corner is in Utah, northeast corner is in Colorado, and southeast corner is in New Mexico, regardless of the actual physical placement.

Fast Facts:

  • Capital: Denver
  • Rank by Area: 8th (104,094 square miles)
  • Rank by Population: 21st (5.812 million people)
  • Region: Rocky Mountain
  • Nicknames: “Centennial State” (official), “Colorful Colorado,” “Treasure State”
  • Highest Point: Mount Elbert (14,433 feet), Lake County
  • Tallest Building: Republic Plaza, 717 feet, 56 stories
  • Lowest Point: Arikaree River (3317 feet), border with Kansas.
View of Colorado

Pros of Moving to Colorado

Colorado has a lot of advantages if you’re looking for a state to move to and get your life moving forward. The high altitude creates a lot of rugged beauty and a wide range of climatic zones. The mountainous state is also home to five major professional sports, and some of the most renowned and important ski resorts in North America.

1. Arts and Culture

Unsurprisingly given the rugged beauty of Colorado’s landscapes, the state of Colorado has inspired multiple cultural developments among its people. The state’s artistic and cultural institutions include museums like the Denver Art Museum, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, and other institutions creating and celebrating the beautiful human landscape of the state.

Colorado is home to many popular nationwide music acts including the Lumineers, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, OneRepublic, and Big Head Todd and the Machine. Colorado native John H. Deutschendorf shed his cumbersome surname when he became a performer, becoming national folk music legend John Denver.

Coors Field, Empower Field at Mile High and other major arenas in the Denver and outstate areas create some of the best venues in the country for music.

Colorado is a core of the cowboy culture of the United States, as well, and many Western artworks are created and celebrated here. Charles Russell and Frederic Remington, two of the most popular cowboy painters in the United States, were born and raised in Colorado and empowered and inspired by the desolate beauty around them.

For writers, the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference creates a huge opportunity for writers all around the nation to come together and network. Colorado has a vibrant writing community that supports many genres and communities for every genre, as well as those for all genres together.

There are many cultural institutions in Colorado that create the artistic background and life of the state. Your life will be enriched and enlightened by taking in these artistic endeavors.

Major Cultural Institutions

  • Colorado Symphony (Denver)
  • Denver Philharmonic
  • Denver Pops Orchestra
  • Colorado Shakespeare Festival (Boulder)
  • Aspen Music Festival

2. Quality of Life

Colorado is well-known for being one of the states with the highest happiness ratings in the US and other high quality of life metrics. Ranked as of 2023 as the 15th best state to live in overall by US News and World Report, it has been in the top 10 multiple times in the last 20 years. Colorado is one of the healthiest states to live in, with numerous top-10 placements, especially in fitness and health care.

Colorado’s largest health insurance provider is Kaiser Permanente, with Humana, Cigna, Aetna, and Blue Cross Blue Shield and Anthem Blue Cross all having major presences in the state. Many Colorado employers also carry employee health insurance from United HealthCare, based out of Golden Valley, Minnesota. Colorado ranks 6th in the nation according to WalletHub.com for health care outcomes, above Maine and below Utah. US News and World Report ranks the state 13th, finishing #8 in healthcare quality but dragged down by a low rank in healthcare access, impacted by poorer access in the western part of the state.

3. Sports

The center of Colorado’s sporting industry is its outdoor resorts. Skiing is by far the most important and popular sport in Colorado and its high-altitude location and copious snow due to chilly air climbing up the Rocky Mountains means that ski areas are big business in the Centennial State, with runs opening in most years as early as November and remaining open until April or even early May. Unlike drier states, Colorado ski resorts seldom have to resort to artificial snow, and the snowpack is often measured in feet. Resorts like Vail, Breckenridge, and Telluride are world-renowned winter playgrounds.

Colorado is home to major sports teams in all five of the major North American sports. All of its major teams compete in the Denver area, the largest urban area in Colorado. Other areas in Colorado have minor-league sports teams or accomplished college teams. The Air Force Falcons play in the Mountain West Conference of the NCAA and their football team is the current holder of the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, having defeated Army and Navy in their 2022 football games. Colorado is home to teams in the five major sports (Baseball, American Football, Soccer or Association Football, Basketball, and Ice Hockey).

Here are the top-level teams in each major sport:

  • Baseball: Colorado Rockies (MLB – National League West)
  • American Football: Denver Broncos (NFL – AFC West)
  • Basketball: Denver Nuggets (NBA – Western Conference),
  • Ice Hockey: Colorado Avalanche (NHL – Western Conference)
  • Soccer/Football: Colorado Rapids (MLS – Western Conference)

Colorado has multiple universities that compete in Division 1 of the National Collegiate Athletic Association as well. The US Air Force Academy (Colorado Springs), Colorado State University (Fort Collins), University of Colorado (Boulder) and University of Northern Colorado (Greeley) all compete in NCAA D1 sports.

In addition to these teams, Colorado has a number of minor league, semiprofessional, and amateur sports teams. The Rocky Mountain Vibe baseball team competes in the Pioneer League, an independent professional minor league which is a partner league with Major League Baseball. The Colorado Eagles hockey team of the American Hockey League is the top-level affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche of the NHL. However, the Colorado MLB and NBA league affiliates play out of state (Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Grand Rapids, Michigan, respectively).

Colorado is seen as a desirable expansion target for the WNBA in the near future and may be an expansion target for the new Professional Women’s Hockey League after its premiere in January 2024. Amateur women’s sports outlets include roller derby leagues in Fort Collins and Denver, affiliated with the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, and local sporting organizations.

4. Jobs and Business

Colorado is a state with a rich and varied workforce. With deep ties in the biomedical, high-tech, and aerospace industries, Colorado is a major player in global business. If you’re looking to come to Colorado to work, the Centennial State is a place marked with boundless opportunities. Colorado is particularly tied to aerospace, being the location chosen in 1947 by the then-infant United States Air Force to house its Academy. The US Air Force Academy is one of the world’s most selective institutes of higher education, with an undergraduate enrollment of 4,000 students who will become officers in the United States Air Force and Space Force.

Colorado is also a major employer in the call center industry. Many major call centers are located in Colorado, with workforces in Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Denver. Though stressful, these work environments build crucial skills and resume experience for young professionals, as well as offering a professional environment where they can work an eight-hour job and leave their work in the office. The two biggest retail employers in Colorado, unsurprisingly, are Walmart and Target Corporation, the two largest department store companies in the United States.

One of the major challenges for business in Colorado is the large amount of commercial real estate that is now unoccupied after the 2020-21 COVID-19 pandemic. With many workers still working remotely from home, there are numerous unoccupied office buildings in cities like Denver and Colorado Springs, including the majority of Republic Plaza, the tallest building in the state and current headquarters of the American Lung Association. Colorado’s business occupancy is returning slowly to normal.

Major Employers in Colorado

  • Lockheed Martin
  • Arrow Electronics
  • Dish Network
  • Colorado State University and more generally, higher education
  • Western Union
  • Ball Corporation
  • Wells Fargo
  • Target Corporation
  • Walmart

5. Weather and Climate

Colorado’s high-altitude climate means that weather is highly variable year-round, with thousands of feet less atmosphere between its surface and the Sun than in most places. The Rocky Mountains in the western part of the state mean that wet Pacific winds climbing up the mountains meet cold air and dump tremendous amounts of snow in the west, while the east remains relatively warm and dry due to the state’s more southerly latitude versus places like Minnesota or North Dakota.

Colorado has one of the widest temperature variations in the United States, with more than 170 degrees difference between the highest and lowest temperatures ever recorded in the state and annual variances of well over 100 degrees being not unusual. Even with climate change, Colorado will continue to have cold winters and hot summers.

  • Climate Type: Midcontinental semiarid
  • Record High: 115 degrees F (July 20, 2019, John Martin Dam)
  • Record Low: -61 degrees F (February 1, 1985, Maybell)

Cons of Moving to Colorado

While Colorado is a great place to live, there are some issues that need to be addressed and taken into consideration for you to make a solid decision on whether or not to move there. These include cost of living, climate change, harsh winters, and drug abuse. Colorado has some problems, in common with other places, and some challenges will need to be considered for anyone wanting to move there.

1. Cost of Living

Moving to Colorado is cheaper than living in California, but that doesn’t make it cheap! Colorado is the 19th most expensive state of the union to live in, with a cost 5% higher than the national average. This is not too bad, but it’s not great either. Colorado has plenty of plusses to offset the minuses, but taking the cost of living into account is necessary. The biggest costs in Colorado are housing and transportation, as Colorado’s harsh winters and hot summers mean expensive utility bills year-round, and you’ll need to buy a large car to get around the state’s widely separated major urban areas, which means lots of expensive gas as your vehicle’s fuel economy needs to be considered.

2. Climate Change

Colorado is one of the states warming fastest due to climate change, and this unpredictability may result in shorter, drier winters than in the past as well as longer, hotter summers. Wildfires have been a major issue in the last 20 years, with fire seasons appearing in the late 1990s and growing to engulf more of the year with every passing year. While Colorado’s disaster risk is not as high as states like Florida or California, it is vulnerable to climate change due to its arid climate and does not need much loss of moisture over the year to tip over the edge into drought. Recently the state experienced a multi-year drought from 2013-2015 and 2020-2022. The wide separation of Coloradan metropolitan areas makes this worse, as considerable hydrocarbon use is needed to travel in the state, and the distances make electric vehicles inconvenient.

  • Colorado has warmed approximately 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since the start of the 20th Century.
  • This means shorter, drier winters and hotter summers, with wildfire risks increasing.
  • Colorado is relatively safe regarding climate disasters, but wildfire and drought are major risks. According to the US Climate Monitor, Colorado has only been drought-free in four of the last 24 years (2004, 2012, 2019, and 2023).

3. Taxes

Colorado, while not a high-tax state, is just inside the middle quintile of the nation. Colorado’s tax burden overall is the 21st highest in the United States. If you want to minimize your tax burden, there are steps you can take if Colorado is a place that appeals to you, but also neighboring Wyoming has a similar climate and much lower taxes.

4. Crime

Colorado’s violent crime rate, 8th in the country, is not very encouraging or inviting. The state government is taking measures to reduce the number of violent crimes in Colorado, though this is being made more difficult by a federal judiciary skeptical or outright hostile to local and state gun regulations. The state’s murder rate does offset the violent crime rate somewhat, being 41st overall, considerably lower than the national average. However, like many places in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic’s massive societal disruption, Colorado’s crime rate will take many years to return to normal.

5. Drugs 

According to the US Department of Justice, Colorado has major problems with methamphetamines, and is a primary source for manufacturing and distributing the drug. The DEA has spent a considerable amount of time and energy cracking down on meth manufacturers and dealers in Colorado, but it remains a major player in the drug industry.

Alcohol abuse rates are 70% higher in Colorado than nationwide. This is a difficult situation to absorb and worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Colorado is famous for having been the first state in the US to decriminalize cannabis for both medical and recreational use, though there are certain indoor and sometimes outdoor restrictions. Cannabis use is prohibited at Coors Field and Empower Field at Mile High along with tobacco products, though these rules are relatively easy to skirt with edibles.

How to Decide If Colorado is a Good Place to Live for You?

Before anything else in your decision to move to Colorado or not, you will need to weigh the pros and cons of the move. Colorado is a beautiful state with a lot of things bringing people there. It has a great quality of life and friendly people, but there are also some serious downsides to the move.

Our list of pros and cons of living in Colorado is missing one thing: The high altitude of Colorado. This is because it’s more of a thing to consider while moving than a consideration afterward, but it’s still worth taking into consideration. In the first day or two, you will want to move more slowly while in Colorado than you did at sea level or other lower altitude. Colorado’s lower oxygen levels make people feel sluggish and more easily tired at first, but for most people, you will acclimate in a matter of a few days.

  • Put down a list of pros and cons.
  • Make sure that moving to Colorado aligns with your personal and career goals. Many writers and other creatives have found tremendous inspiration in the Rocky Mountains, so if your career aspirations include artwork, you may be in luck in Colorado!
  • Look at local schools. Many Colorado schools are among the best in the country, and the state is full of top-tier universities and colleges.
  • Look at local governments. Your involvement with the state will include the government, so the earlier you can get involved, the sooner you will know what’s what.

Tips for Moving to Colorado

Like any place, Colorado has some great vistas and great places to visit and live. If you’re moving to Colorado, some tips are basic and universal while a few are specific to the state of Colorado.

  • In general, moving during the spring or fall is preferable to moving in the summer. Summer heat can make moving a real challenge, as can winter snow and other similar weather issues.
  • Specific to Colorado, allow a couple of days at the end of your move to acclimatize to the higher altitude. Colorado is higher in altitude than virtually everywhere else in the nation, so you will probably need to
  • If you have major hobbies, look into online sites like meetup.com to find out where your people are located. For example, if you’re into roller derby, your move is likely to focus on places like Fort Collins or Denver, the locations of three of the state’s most prominent roller derby leagues.
  • Colorado is a great state to live and work in. If you’re moving to Colorado for work, you should have your job ready before you leave. If you work remotely, be sure that you are informing your workplace of your new domicile so that you’re paying your correct taxes from your first working day in your new state.
  • Make sure your mail is forwarded to your new address before leaving, on the date effective the day of your move.
  • Make sure your kids are enrolled in their school, if you have kids, by their first day of class.

FAQS

Is it worth it to move to Colorado?

Colorado has a high quality of life, beautiful scenery, abundant employment, great sports and artistic opportunities, and excellent education. These are balanced against crime, climate change challenges, and drug abuse. Ultimately, the decision of whether Colorado is worth it is up to you.

Is it expensive to live in Colorado?

Colorado is the 34th most expensive state to live in. In Colorado, the state cost of living is below average for the USA, so you will find your money goes a bit farther in Colorado than in wherever you are used to living, unless you’re coming from a state like Mississippi or Louisiana.

Is it better to live in Colorado or Texas?

Colorado has a higher rate of homeownership, higher minimum wage, and higher employment rates than Texas. It also has higher crime and drug abuse than Texas. Colorado has a more competitive political environment. It has higher income taxes but on average lower property taxes. Ultimately, whether you believe that Colorado is better to live in than Texas is up to you.

What is a livable salary in Colorado?

To live in the Denver area comfortably generally requires an annual salary of $70,000 or so. This is a little below the national average. In other parts of the state, the livable salary may be a bit higher or lower.

What is the best place in Colorado to live?

This is highly subjective, but many resources indicate that Colorado’s best places to live are in the Denver, Colorado Springs, or Boulder areas.

Is Colorado a liberal or Republican state?

Colorado is considered a “purple state.” The high population of the Denver metropolitan area makes Colorado a reliable blue state in presidential elections, but there are also conservative areas of the state as well. The Colorado Springs area, which grew to prominence around the US Air Force Academy, is more conservative than the Denver Metropolitan Area, which has more traditional big-city politics. If you belong to the LGBTQ community, Denver is a safer region than the western part of the state.

What is the minimum wage in Colorado?

Colorado has joined with other states in creating its own minimum wage surpassing the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. In 2023, the minimum wage was $13.65, with the next step up being $14.42 per hour as of January 2024, per the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

Explore Our More Articles on Colorado

Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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