I’ve had the pleasure of exploring the diverse cities and towns that make up our beautiful state. It’s no secret that Colorado offers a unique blend of outdoor adventures, stunning landscapes, and thriving communities. In this insider’s guide, I’ll share my take on the best places to live in Colorado, focusing on twelve fantastic cities. Whether you’re drawn to the great outdoors, charming small towns, or bustling urban centers, there’s a perfect place for you here.
Top Cities in Colorado at a Glance
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12 Best Places to Live in Colorado
As Colorado’s capital and largest city, Denver offers a thriving cultural scene, professional sports teams, and countless dining and entertainment options. This bustling metropolis is perfect for young professionals, families, and urbanites who enjoy vibrant city life. For those who love the outdoors, Denver is a gateway to the Rocky Mountains, with easy access to hiking, camping, and skiing.
- Washington Park – A beautiful and historic neighborhood with a large park and recreation center.
- Highlands – A trendy area with a mix of bungalows, modern homes, and a lively restaurant scene.
- Cherry Creek – An upscale neighborhood with luxury homes, high-end shopping, and dining options.
Colorado Springs, situated at the base of Pikes Peak, epitomizes what Colorado is known for – stunning scenery, rich history, and a vibrant community. It’s not only recognized for these attributes but also as one of the best places to live in Colorado. This city, home to several military installations including the United States Air Force Academy, boasts a strong community spirit and offers a diverse range of cultural and entertainment options.
The city is also within close proximity to some of Colorado’s most beautiful natural attractions, including Garden of the Gods and the Manitou Incline, a popular hiking trail that offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
- Broadmoor – A prestigious neighborhood with luxury homes and access to top-notch amenities.
- Old North End – A historic area with charming homes and tree-lined streets.
- Briargate – A popular suburban community with excellent schools and family-friendly amenities.
Fort Collins, Colorado, is a vibrant and thriving city located along the picturesque Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, approximately 60 miles north of Denver. With a population of over 165,000 residents, Fort Collins is the fourth-largest city in the state and home to Colorado State University, fostering an energetic atmosphere filled with innovation, culture, and a diverse demographic of students, families, and professionals.
Fort Collins is renowned for its exceptional quality of life, boasting an extensive network of bike trails, beautiful parks, and a charming Old Town district featuring historic architecture, a variety of shops, and a lively array of dining options. The city’s thriving craft beer scene, with notable breweries like New Belgium and Odell Brewing, further adds to its appeal. Fort Collins is an excellent choice for those seeking a balance between outdoor recreation, a strong sense of community, and a lively urban environment with a college-town vibe.
- Old Town – The bustling heart of Fort Collins, filled with shops, restaurants, and historic charm.
- Harmony Corridor – A growing area with excellent schools, shopping centers, and parks.
- Fossil Creek – A family-friendly neighborhood with beautiful homes and easy access to outdoor activities.
Aspen, Colorado, is a world-renowned mountain town nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, offering an unparalleled mix of natural beauty, luxury, and outdoor adventure. With a population of around 7,000 residents, Aspen is known for its elite status as a winter sports haven and a cultural hotspot, attracting celebrities, wealthy individuals, and outdoor enthusiasts alike, creating a unique and diverse demographic.
Aspen is best known for its world-class ski resorts, such as Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, and Buttermilk, providing exceptional skiing and snowboarding experiences for residents and visitors. Beyond the slopes, Aspen boasts a vibrant arts and culture scene, with venues like the Wheeler Opera House and the Aspen Art Museum. The town’s high-end boutiques, fine dining establishments, and lively nightlife further enhance its appeal. Those who appreciate an upscale lifestyle, surrounded by breathtaking mountain landscapes and abundant outdoor recreational opportunities, will find Aspen to be a perfect home base.
- West End – A historic neighborhood with beautiful Victorian homes, walking distance to downtown.
- Central Core – The bustling heart of Aspen, filled with shops, restaurants, and galleries.
- Red Mountain – A prestigious area with jaw-dropping views of the surrounding mountains.
Boulder, Colorado, recognized as one of the best places to live in Colorado, is a dynamic and progressive city nestled at the base of the stunning Flatirons along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. With a population of around 108,000 residents, Boulder is home to the prestigious University of Colorado, drawing a diverse demographic of students, academics, professionals, and families who appreciate the city’s emphasis on sustainability, innovation, and outdoor recreation.
Known for its picturesque landscapes, extensive trail systems, and an abundance of open spaces, Boulder provides ample opportunities for hiking, biking, and rock climbing. The city’s bustling downtown area, Pearl Street Mall, offers an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, and street performers, fostering a vibrant atmosphere for residents and visitors alike. Boulder offers an ideal living environment for people who enjoy an active, environmentally-conscious lifestyle, complete with a strong sense of community and a rich cultural scene.
- North Boulder – A family-friendly area with parks, trails, and excellent schools.
- Chautauqua – A historic neighborhood near the famous Chautauqua Park, offering hiking and stunning views.
- Table Mesa – A quiet residential area with easy access to shopping, dining, and outdoor recreation.
Castle Rock, Colorado, is a rapidly growing suburban community situated midway between Denver and Colorado Springs, offering residents a blend of small-town charm and convenient access to urban amenities. With a population of around 70,000, Castle Rock attracts a diverse demographic of families, young professionals, and retirees who value its strong sense of community, excellent schools, and a variety of housing options, ranging from new developments to historic neighborhoods.
The town’s namesake, the prominent Castle Rock formation, is a natural landmark and a popular destination for hiking and sightseeing, while the surrounding area provides ample opportunities for outdoor recreation, including golf courses, parks, and open spaces. Castle Rock’s thriving downtown area features a mix of local shops, restaurants, and community events, such as the annual Starlighting ceremony and the Castle Rock Artfest. Residents seeking a family-friendly atmosphere, combined with convenient access to outdoor activities and metropolitan areas, will find Castle Rock to be an ideal living destination.
- The Meadows – A master-planned community with parks, trails, and top-rated schools.
- Castle Pines Village – A gated community with luxury homes and beautiful natural surroundings.
- Downtown Castle Rock – A historic area with a quaint Main Street, shops, and restaurants.
Durango is a charming town located in southwestern Colorado. It’s known for its historic downtown area, which boasts a range of boutiques, galleries, and restaurants. Durango is also home to the world-famous Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a historic steam train that runs through the stunning San Juan Mountains.
For those who love the outdoors, Durango offers easy access to some of Colorado’s most beautiful natural areas, including Mesa Verde National Park and the San Juan National Forest.
- Historic Downtown – A vibrant area with shops, restaurants, and beautiful historic homes.
- Skyridge – A family-friendly neighborhood with parks and easy access to outdoor recreation.
- Animas Valley – A picturesque area along the Animas River, with stunning views and larger properties.
Grand Junction, Colorado, is the largest city in the western part of the state, situated at the confluence of the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers. With a population of around 64,000 residents, Grand Junction serves as the regional hub for Colorado’s Western Slope, offering a diverse economy, a range of educational institutions, and various healthcare facilities. The town’s demographic is varied, attracting families, young professionals, and retirees who value a mix of urban amenities, a lower cost of living, and easy access to stunning outdoor landscapes.
Grand Junction is known for its unique geological attractions, such as the Colorado National Monument with its remarkable red rock formations and the Grand Mesa, the world’s largest flat-top mountain, which offers year-round recreational activities. The town is also famed for its thriving wine country, with numerous vineyards and wineries dotting the surrounding areas. Grand Junction offers the perfect blend of outdoor adventures, a mild climate, and a moderately-sized city with a strong sense of community for those looking for an ideal living environment.
- Redlands – A scenic neighborhood with stunning views and a range of home styles.
- North Grand Junction – A growing area with new developments, shopping centers, and parks.
- Downtown Grand Junction – A revitalized area with historic charm, shops, and restaurants.
Eagle, Colorado, a picturesque mountain town nestled in the heart of the Rockies, boasts a diverse population of around 7,000 residents. Easily accessible via Interstate 70, Eagle offers a small-town feel with modern amenities, attracting outdoor enthusiasts, young professionals, and families alike. The town is renowned for its exceptional outdoor recreation opportunities, including mountain biking, hiking, and fishing, with an extensive network of trails catering to various skill levels. In winter, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing entice visitors to explore the breathtaking landscape.
Downtown Eagle effortlessly combines historic architecture and modern development, featuring a vibrant mix of restaurants, breweries, and boutique shops. The community takes pride in hosting events like the Eagle Outside Festival and the Eagle Music Festival, celebrating the town’s unique character and natural beauty. Not far from town, the enchanting Sylvan Lake State Park provides a serene getaway for fishing, boating, and camping amidst lush forests and towering peaks. Eagle, Colorado, captivates visitors with its delightful blend of outdoor adventures, welcoming atmosphere, and rich local culture.
- Eagle Ranch – A master-planned community with parks, trails, and a golf course.
- Downtown Eagle – A charming area with historic homes, shops, and dining options.
- Eby Creek Mesa – A quiet residential area with beautiful mountain views and easy access to outdoor activities.
Gunnison, Colorado, a charming town nestled in the heart of the Gunnison Valley, boasts a population of around 6,500 and attracts outdoor enthusiasts, students, and families with its friendly small-town atmosphere and stunning natural beauty. The town’s prime location offers easy access to iconic attractions like the dramatic Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and the expansive Blue Mesa Reservoir. During winter, the nearby Crested Butte Mountain Resort entices visitors with world-class skiing and snowboarding opportunities.
Downtown Gunnison features a delightful mix of historic buildings, locally-owned shops, and a lively array of restaurants and breweries. The community is proud to host events such as the Gunnison Arts Center’s First Friday ArtWalk and the Gunnison Farmers Market, celebrating the town’s rich cultural scene and supporting local artisans. Gunnison, Colorado, captivates visitors with its perfect blend of outdoor adventures, close-knit community, and breathtaking natural surroundings.
- Downtown Gunnison – A vibrant area with shops, restaurants, and historic charm.
- Western State Colorado University – A lively area with a college-town vibe and outdoor recreation opportunities.
- W Mountain Ranch – A scenic neighborhood with beautiful homes and easy access to hiking and fishing.
Estes Park, Colorado, is a picturesque mountain town nestled at the eastern entrance of the renowned Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the most celebrated Colorado national parks. providing a serene living environment for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers. With a population of around 6,000 residents, Estes Park maintains a small-town charm, offering a vibrant downtown area filled with local shops, galleries, and restaurants. The town’s demographic is diverse, attracting retirees, young professionals, and families seeking a strong sense of community and a slower pace of life amidst natural beauty.
Famed for its awe-inspiring landscapes and abundant wildlife, Estes Park is a haven for those who love hiking, wildlife watching, and scenic drives. The iconic Stanley Hotel, which inspired Stephen King’s “The Shining,” and the historic downtown are some of the key attractions that contribute to the town’s unique character. Estes Park is idea for those who cherish the outdoors, appreciate a close-knit community, and enjoy the tranquility of mountain living.
- Downtown Estes Park – A bustling area with shops, restaurants, and charming cabins.
- Carriage Hills – A quiet neighborhood with beautiful homes and easy access to outdoor recreation.
- Stanley Heights – A hillside neighborhood offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
Salida, Colorado, is a vibrant mountain town located in the heart of the state and is one of the best small towns in Colorado. Nestled along the banks of the Arkansas River and known as the “Heart of the Rockies,” Salida boasts a population of around 6,000 residents. The town offers a dynamic downtown area brimming with historic charm, art galleries, local shops, and diverse dining options.
The demographic in Salida is varied, drawing retirees, young professionals, artists, and families who appreciate an active outdoor lifestyle, rich cultural offerings, and a strong sense of community.
Renowned for its exceptional outdoor recreation opportunities, Salida is a paradise for adventurers, offering whitewater rafting, mountain biking, hiking, and skiing at the nearby Monarch Mountain Resort. The town’s thriving arts scene, designated as a Certified Colorado Creative District, further enriches its character and appeal. For those seeking a balance between outdoor pursuits, cultural experiences, and a friendly, small-town atmosphere, Salida is the perfect place to settle down.
- Historic Downtown – A lively area with galleries, shops, and restaurants, set along the Arkansas River.
- Poncha Springs – A quiet neighborhood with beautiful mountain views and easy access to hiking and biking.
- Mesa Antero – A scenic neighborhood offering larger properties and a peaceful atmosphere.
Colorado is a state that offers a diverse mix of urban and outdoor lifestyles that make it an attractive place to live for people of all ages. From the bustling city of Denver to the charming mountain town of Durango, Colorado has something for everyone.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Place to Live in Colorado
When considering a place to live in Colorado, there are several important factors to keep in mind. Here are some of the most important:
Cost of Living
Colorado is generally more expensive than other states in the region, so it’s important to budget accordingly. Housing costs can be high, particularly in popular cities like Denver and Boulder. However, there are also more affordable options available in smaller towns and rural areas, where the cost of living may be lower.
It’s also important to consider the cost of utilities, transportation, and groceries when calculating your budget. Colorado has a relatively high state income tax, but there is no sales tax on groceries.
Colorado’s economy is strong and diverse, with major industries including tourism, healthcare, and technology. However, job opportunities can vary depending on the specific city or town. Denver and Boulder are both major tech hubs, with many startups and established companies in the area. Colorado Springs has a large military presence, with several military bases and defense contractors in the area.
It’s important to research job opportunities in your specific field before making a move to Colorado. Networking and connecting with local professionals can also be helpful in finding job leads.
Education and Schools
Colorado has a strong public education system, with several highly-ranked school districts throughout the state. However, school quality can vary depending on the specific city or town. Denver Public Schools, for example, has struggled with low test scores and graduation rates in some areas.
There are also several excellent private schools and charter schools throughout the state, providing additional options for families with school-age children.
Climate and Weather
Colorado is known for its sunny weather and relatively mild climate, but the state can also experience extreme weather events like blizzards and wildfires. The climate can also vary depending on the location – the eastern plains are generally drier and windier, while the mountains receive more precipitation and colder temperatures.
It’s important to research the climate and weather patterns in your desired location before making a move. If you’re not used to driving in snow or dealing with extreme heat, for example, you may want to consider a location with milder weather.
Colorado is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, with a range of activities available throughout the year. Skiing and snowboarding are popular winter sports, with several world-class resorts throughout the state. In the summer, hiking, camping, and mountain biking are popular activities.
The specific recreational opportunities can vary depending on the location. Denver and Boulder are both located near the Rocky Mountains and have easy access to outdoor recreation. However, smaller towns and rural areas may offer more solitude and less crowded trails.
Culture and Entertainment
Colorado is home to a diverse range of cultural and entertainment options, including world-class museums, live music venues, and theaters. Denver has a thriving arts scene, with several museums and galleries in the downtown area. Boulder is known for its independent music scene, with several venues hosting live shows throughout the week.
The specific offerings can vary depending on the location. If you’re interested in a specific type of entertainment or cultural experience, it’s important to research the options in your desired location.
Tips for Relocating to Colorado
Research the Housing Market
Colorado’s housing market can be competitive, so it’s important to do your research and work with a knowledgeable local real estate agent. Colorado offers a diverse range of housing options, from modern apartments to historic homes, so take the time to explore what’s available in your preferred location. Keep in mind that housing prices can vary greatly depending on the area, with some of the most desirable neighborhoods in Denver and Boulder commanding top dollar.
Plan Your Move During the Right Season
While Colorado is generally a great place to live year-round, it’s important to consider the weather when planning your move. Winter weather can make moving difficult, so it’s best to plan your move for the warmer months if possible. However, if you’re a fan of winter sports like skiing or snowboarding, you may want to consider moving during the winter months to take advantage of the state’s world-class ski resorts.
Get Familiar with Local Laws and Regulations
Each city and town in Colorado has its own local laws and regulations, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with these before moving. For example, some cities have strict regulations on short-term rentals like Airbnb, while others may have restrictions on the types of pets you can own. Doing your research ahead of time can save you from any surprises down the line.
Connect with Locals and Join Community Groups
Colorado is a friendly and welcoming state, so don’t be afraid to connect with locals and join community groups to help you feel more at home. Whether it’s a hiking club, a book club, or a neighborhood association, there are plenty of ways to get involved and meet new people. Plus, joining a community group can be a great way to learn more about the area and get insider tips on the best restaurants, events, and activities.
Explore the State and Discover Your Favorite Spots
Colorado is a beautiful and diverse state, so take the time to explore and discover your favorite spots. Whether it’s hiking in the mountains, skiing on the slopes, or enjoying a night out in the city, Colorado has something for everyone. Some of the state’s top attractions include Rocky Mountain National Park, the Garden of the Gods, and the world-famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre. And don’t forget to check out the state’s thriving food and drink scene, which includes everything from craft breweries to farm-to-table restaurants.