Colorado has been a state of the U.S. since August 1, 1876 when it was admitted to the Union as the 38th state. Nicknamed the Centennial State, Switzerland of America, or the Colorful Colorado, the state of Colorado relies on agriculture, tourism, and industries. The economy of the state has grown exponentially for the past few years; all the more reason why someone would want to move to the state.
Cattle and dairy products, wheat, corn, and hay are largely produced in the state. With so much farming going on, the state is the second largest producer of beef. The industrial side of the economy includes scientific equipment, food processing, machinery, gold, transportation equipment, and mining.
The state of Colorado consists of mountains, foothills, desert lands, and high plants. It is the mountains and the surrounding valleys that affect the local climate. Generally, Colorado is an ideal state for those who are looking for health and a lot of fun things to do.
Living in Colorado: What to Know Before Moving to Colorado
The state of Colorado boasts of a population of 5,684,203 people with an area of 104,100 square miles. Denver is the capital city and the largest city in Colorado. Other cities include Aurora, Colorado Springs, Thornton, Loveland, Highlands Ranch, Longmont, Boulder, Arvada, Westminster, and Fort Collins.
With the high altitude of Colorado, you can expect the area is colder than most of the other states. However, Coloradans do not sit out the winter; they step out and have fun. Northeast, southeast, and east Colorado are the high plains while the northern part is a blend of mountains, high plains, and foothills. The northwest and west Colorado are mountainous with desert lands. Southwest and southern parts of the state have deserts and mountains.
In this guide, I have compiled all you need to know before moving to Colorado.
Pros and Cons of Living in Colorado
• CBS ranked Colorado as the seventh healthiest state in the U.S. on December 2017. You will experience great health with all the outdoor activities and the abundance of organic food.
• The environment is beautiful with a lot of outdoor fun. If you love the outdoors, areas such as the Garden of the Gods will deliver those jaw-dropping sights that your camera will love. For a good part of the year, the weather is awesome.
• Colorado has a low employment rate. The state stands as the eighth state with the highest median income. There are all sorts of jobs popping up, thanks to the growing economy.
• Many days of sunshine: There are about 300 days of sunshine in the state. If you are suffering from seasonal affective disorder, the state of Colorado might be great for you.
• The state government charges low property and income taxes – although relatively high in some areas, the taxes are low compared to other states.
• The rent price in Colorado has been on the rise, especially in Denver and Aurora. If you are moving into a rented house, you might have to pay higher than from your previous state. The cost of homes is also relatively high.
• Congestion is normal in Colorado. Apart from Denver, most of the other counties and towns lack a structured transport system, leading to congestion in towns.
• Hailstorms are common during rainy days. Although most days you will experience sunshine, the storms in Colorado can be unforgiving.
Colorado has some of the lowest taxes in the country. The property tax, income tax, and sales taxes in Colorado is lower than the national average.
• Colorado charges the fourth lowest property tax behind Hawaii, Alabama, and Louisiana. The real estate tax ranges between 0.55 and 0.57 percent. This means a typical homeowner can pay about $1,800.
• The sales tax rate in Colorado stands at 2.9 percent, but it can go all the way to 11.2 percent, depending on where you live. In sales tax, Colorado ranks 38th in the nation.
• You will pay a flat 4.63 percent income tax. The average person pays $12,200 per year.
The median price of a home in Colorado stands at $377,500; homes do not come cheap, so, you better be prepared when you move in to Colorado. Colorado is one of the top ten housing markets in the nation – this doesn’t come as a surprise seeing as the state is the seventh fastest-growing in the U.S.
Thanks to the high cost of homes, you can expect to pay up to $1300 for a two-bedroom apartment in Colorado. If you choose to move to Aurora or Colorado Springs, the rent there is high and continues to increase each passing day. Fort Collins has relatively low rental rates and home costs. However, this doesn’t make it less as it was voted as one of the top places to live in Colorado.
Cost of Living
The cost of living is higher than the national average. Although it is still lower than most of the states in the country, you might still find the cost of living very high. However, the high cost of living is offset by the high median household income, which stands at 13 percent higher than the national average. The high cost of living increases, thanks to the cost of income.
Weather and Natural Disasters
Colorado sits at 6,800 feet above sea level. This is the highest elevation in the country. With such elevation comes relatively low temperature. Most of the year, the temperature and humidity are moderate. The varying elevation influences the local weather. Most of the state has rugged mountain terrain; the weather condition in the eastern region experiences hotter summer temperatures like the neighboring Nebraska and Kansas. Colorado has the highest snowfall rates in all the western states. If you love skiing, the state has world-class ski scene.
With high annual precipitation, you can expect storms in Colorado. Rain in the area comes with thunder, lightning, and sometimes tornados.
The economy of Colorado is quite stable. Agriculture is the leading economic driver with cattle, beef, and dairy products being produced in huge numbers. Other economic drivers include tourism, energy, real estate, financial services, and manufacturing. In 2019, real estate and government were the largest contributors towards the state’s GDP; real estate contributed 12.7 percent while the whole government contributed 12.3 percent.
The top five industries according to Zippia.com include architecture and engineering, computer and mathematics, business, legal industries, and life, physical and social sciences. Most of the counties have a high number of job opportunities.
Traffic and Transportation
Transportation in Colorado consists of highways, surface street, air transport, and rail transportation. In Denver, the transportation system is more complex, more structured, and more developed than other parts of the state. However, due to tourism, the transportation system has improved in the entire state.
Colorado being a landlocked state, movement is mostly through air and roads. Again, seeing that most of the areas outside Denver and Colorado Springs, highways are the main mode of transportation in most parts of the state. The highways are extensive. The main route is the north-south that crosses the entire state. It connects Denver, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, Pueblo, Greeley, and Trinidad. Another extensive highway is the I-70, which crosses Colorado from west to east. It is one of the routes that tourists use to visit the mountains. During winter, the I-70 is closed.
When in Denver and other major towns, transport is through buses, train, and cabs. When visiting any town in Colorado, you can get from one point to the next without ever hiring a car.
Things to Do
Whether you love hiking along lonely trails, skiing on one of the largest ski scene in the world, partying, or tasting beer and wine, Colorado has something for you. There are so many lakes where you can go swimming and experience great weather. Below are a few of the main attractions in the state.
• Garden of the Gods: This natural landmark is christened the paradise in a garden. The Colorado Springs located feature has beautiful red rock formations with hiking trails, camping areas, horseback riding, and much more. Rock formations in the park look beautiful and have been described as gravity-defying.
• The Stanley Hotel: This hotel is located in Estes Park. It is one of the oldest hotels in the area and it is in one of the rooms where Stephen King wrote his famous book, The Shining. Spirits are rumored to roam the rooms – one of the spirits is that of the owner, Stanley. If you are brave enough to visit haunted places, you can go to this hotel.
• Fifty-Two 80’s: This is a museum in Denver. It carries all the ’80s pop culture items. It has been referred to as a “packed womb of nostalgia.” From the museum, you can buy vintage toys, clothes, and memorabilia.
• Tiny Town and Railroad: If you’d rather explore a small village than be in the hassle and bustle of Denver, head to Morrison. While there, you can roam the small village to enjoy the fun of the past. The village started in 1921 and has expanded to be one of the main attractions in Colorado.
• Manitou Incline: This great place is located outside Manitou Springs in Cascade. It is a steep hiking trail that will see you climb over 2000 feet in less than a mile. If you are looking for a tough workout, this trail is one of the best places to go.
There are many more areas you can visit in Colorado, including Red Rock Amphitheater, Vail, Pro Sports, and Mesa Verde National park.
Schools and Universities
Colorado has some of the best schools and universities in the nation. According to USA Today, Colorado ranks 25th best place to study among all the 50 states. At least 78.9 percent of all high school students graduate – this is among the lowest graduation rates in the country. However, the graduation rates do not affect the education system, seeing that students in grade four and eight are more proficient in math than students from other states.
According to Denver Business Journal, the top five public school districts include Aspen District, Cheyenne Mountain School District, Lewis Palmer Consolidated District, Boulder Valley School District, and Littleton Public Schools.
The higher education system in the state is well developed with 17 colleges and universities to choose from. Some of the top colleges in Colorado include Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Regis University in Denver, Colorado College in Colorado Springs, United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, and University of Colorado in Colorado Springs.
You only need to establish physical residency to be a resident of Colorado. You also need to be at least 23 years. Once you move to Colorado, establish a physical residency with a deed, rental agreement, or a utility bill to show that you are actually living in the state. After about 90 days of living in the state, you can show more commitment to stay by changing your driver’s license and getting a voter registration card. Ensure that all your new documents point to the address of your residency.
You can easily transfer your CDL to Colorado from another state (whether valid or expired for less than a year). You can do that online by filling the DR2989 out details and paying the necessary fees.
Colorado does not allow you to hold both a valid driver’s license and a valid I.D. card. If you are new to Colorado, apply for a new I.D. card and give up your out-of-state card.
You need to apply for a new CDL within 90 days after moving into the state. If you hold a valid driver’s license from any state in the U.S., Canada, Germany, France, Taiwan, or the Republic of South Korea, you will not need to undergo any testing. To get a new license, all you need is to meet the identity requirements, proof of physical address, social security number, and applicable fees.
You need to register your vehicle within 90 days after moving in to the state. The federal law requires that all vehicles be registered in the state of operation. The history of the vehicle has to be seen on the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS). This law seeks to protect the state, individuals, and commercial consumers from title fraud. In Colorado, you cannot get a title printed from the County Motor Vehicle Office. You can only get a Colorado Certificate of Title processed and mailed from the State Title Section.
When you move out of state, fill the Verification of Vehicle Identification Number form with the help of: • Law enforcement officer • Licensed motor vehicle dealer • Licensed Colorado emissions testing officer
Register as a Voter
You only need a driver’s license to register as a voter. Once you register at the driver license office, your information is sent to your county of residence. You can also register online and get a voter registration form in your mail.
The state of Colorado is growing exponentially. The population of Colorado increased by more than 80,000 people in 2018, the seventh fastest growth in the nation. Most of the immigrants moved to the Front Range of Colorado with the highest number moving in the Denver metropolitan area. It is this increase in number that has resulted in an increase in home prices. Zillow estimates that the average cost of homes in Denver grew to $422,000 while in Boulder, the cost grew to $735,000.
With the rising prices of houses, you must carefully consider where you live. Below are some of the best places to live. Note that, even Boulder, with its high home prices, is still a great place to live, thanks to its hospitable community and the many jobs available in the area.
Denver is an attractive city for a person in the corporate world. Not only is the city more developed than other towns, but also a low unemployment rate. The transport system is well structured, so you take less time to and from work. Most of the giant corporations are based in Denver. There are several colleges and universities in the area; notably the University of Colorado among others. As a metro area, the city is great for nightlife, it has numerous attractions, and those who love art and culture will find it attractive too.
The Rocky Mountain National Park is a few minutes’ drive from the city. One of the best places to live in Denver is the Mile High City, which was named among the best places to live in America by Bankrate.
Population: 682,000 Median Income: $72,000
2. Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs is the ideal city when you need a place with a low cost of living. The average price of houses is $272,000, which makes the area relatively affordable. You might also love the area for its high safety and the strong community. Even with the low cost of living, the median salary is still relatively high. The culture of Colorado Springs might not be as robust as that of Boulder or Fort Collins, but it is still great, thanks to the year-round outdoor activities at Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, Pike National Forest, and Red Rock Canyon. Anyone looking for a job will find Colorado Springs appealing as major corporations have offices in the area.
Population: 674,000 Median income: $54,000
Boulder has one of the most robust cultures with a lot of things to do. The residents of Boulder are among the healthiest in the nation. These residents boast of financial security, healthy community, and strong social relationships. Downtown Boulder is easily accessible with popular coffee shops, restaurants, and shopping areas.
In Boulder, you can enjoy life at the Flatirons. It is also a great place to go to school, seeing more than 35,000 students study at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Those looking for a job can get it in one of the big corporations such as IBM, Google, and NOAA. However, you might have to spend a big chunk of your budget on the cost of living.
Population: 104,000 Median income: $57,000
4. Fort Collins
Fort Collins is a flourishing town with so many restaurants, pubs, and boutiques among others. Most of the cultural activities in Fort Collins occur around outdoor recreation. The Cache la Poudre River Canyon is a popular spot for locals. You can also go hike the Rocky Mountain National Park or ski at one of the many mountains in the area.
The city is educated with, as it is, the location of the Colorado State University. Fort Collins is one of the fastest growing cities, but the cost of living is still relatively low. Major employers here include Hewlett Packard, Wells Fargo, and Otterbox.
Population: 157,000 Median income: $66,000
5. Castle Rock
Castle Rock sits at the foothills of the Rocky Mountain. It is a city with low and high employment. The city was founded in 1874 as a gold rush city. It boasts a vibrant art and dining scene, and is a great shopping hub as well. The city also houses the Promenade, a large community development center with restaurants, parks, and retail stores. Next to Promenade is Outlets at Castle Rock, which is one of the largest outdoor shopping center in Colorado.
Population: 54,000 Median income: $93,000
Lakewood is the fifth most populous city in Colorado. It is the home to the Red Rocks Amphitheater, which hosts so many bands and musical acts. Any time of the year, you can pass by the Amphitheater and enjoy a performance. You can get your shopping at the Belmar Downtown Shopping District. The city is also a short distance from Denver for those who would like to work in a large city and live in an area where the cost of living is lower.
Compared to other cities, Lakewood is a young city. However the population of the city has increased greatly, thanks to its nearness to the Rocky Mountain, the excellent schools, and the cultural diversity.
Population: 154,958 Median Income: $61,058
Louisville is a city near Boulder. It is a small town for anyone who is looking to get away from the noise of the large cities. It has low crime rates, low unemployment, and it is only 18 miles from Denver. As a professional, you can work in Denver and live in Louisville.
Louisville is one of the nest walking cities in the U.S., thanks to the many trails in the area. Compared to Denver and other of its neighbors, Louisville offers a low cost of living.
Population: 19,000 Median income: $94,000
Parker is one of the safest places to live. Located only 20 miles southeast of Denver, the city has a small population of about 54,000. Within the city, there are more than 1,600 businesses, which reduces the level of unemployment in the area. The area has a rich history. In its early days, the city was a key stop for travelers between Fort Riley, Kansas, and Denver. Most white collar professionals will enjoy life in Parker as there are plenty of jobs and fresh air.
The cost of living in Colorado is increasing as compared to previous years. While the national average for renting a 2-Bedroom apartment is $1175, Colorado’s average rents are $1305.
Is Colorado a good state to move to?
Colorado’s beautiful scenery is unmatched. Also, abundant opportunities for outdoor activities make Colorado a fantastic place to live. If you love beer, Colorado is a place for you, owing to various breweries in the state.
Where should I move in Colorado?
Denver, Colorado Springs, Boulder, Fort Collins, Castle Rock are a few of the best places to move in Colorado.
How much money do you need to live comfortably in Colorado?
The cost of living in Colorado is slightly higher than the national average. One needs anywhere between $80,000 to $100,000 a year to afford a comfortable life in Colorado.
Colorado is the ideal state for professionals in finance, sports, industry, education, and many others. It is also a great place if you want to do business or have fun. It is a tourist state, especially if you love hiking the Rocky Mountains. The views are picturesque and the air is fresh.
Alex Sherr is the founder of My Long Distance Movers, a blog that provides moving information and resources for people who are relocating. He has more than two decades of experience in the moving and relocation industry, and he is passionate about helping people relocate smoothly and efficiently. When he's not writing or blogging, Alex enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.