For people who look for the most affordable and beautiful states to live in, Colorado usually one of the top 10 candidates. With an average of 300 days of sun a year, residents and visitors alike love spending time in Colorado’s great outdoors.
Colorful Colorado is also known as a favorite vacation destination – travelers love to come here for the stunning mountains and all the activities they provide, from skiing in the winter to hiking, camping and rafting in the summer.
With the legalization of marijuana in 2012 (one of the first states to do so), and a reasonable cost of living, there’s been a sharp increase of people moving to the Centennial State.
Housing prices continue to rise (as of September 2020), especially along the Front Range, from Fort Collins, Denver, Castle Rock and into Colorado Springs. The popular ski mountain towns are also well above $400,000 in median housing prices – it’s not uncommon to see million-dollar homes in prestigious areas.
But given the outdoors benefits – the cost of living in Colorado is still one of the best values in the country. Here are the 10 most affordable places to live in Colorado, taking into account the cost of living, median housing price, average crime rate and other factors which make a place unique.
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Aurora is on the eastern side of Denver and near the international airport, longtime considered to be an unsafe area of the big city. But things are changing in Aurora. It has the thriving CO Film School, rated as one of the top 25 film schools in the country and a part of Aurora Community College, with an affordable price tag.
Students from around the U.S. are coming here and now a large, major film studio is being built nearby. Aurora also has a thriving Korean community with shops, restaurants and a traditional Korean Bath House.
Aurora is the second most affordable place to live in the Denver Metropolitan Area, with a median house price of $350,000. The snow-topped mountain range is on the western horizon. It takes about an hour to get into the mountains from Denver; a little more for residents in Aurora. Downtown Denver is only 20 minutes away with a vibrant performing and visual arts scene, large museums, parks, and the popular VooDoo Donuts.
The Denver area is growing in population much faster than most of the country, increasing by almost 20% from 2010 to 2018. It’s no wonder; it rates as the second-best place to live in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report (2019). Here’re 7 key factors you should know Before living in Denver Colorado…
2. Colorado Springs
The second largest city in the state with a population of 464,474, Colorado Springs has been voted one of the Best Cities to live in the U.S. The growing town is yet small enough to have diverse, friendly, neighborhood communities.
Tucked in the sloping foothills of majestic Pike’s Peak, America’s “purple mountain majesty,” this town has the most dramatic mountain view along the Front Range. It takes only 30 minutes from the East side of town to be in the mountains.
Culturally, it has an eclectic mix of both left and right, with over 80 Christian organizations headquartered in town, a strong military presence with the Air Force Academy (and the new Space Force), Fort Carson Army Base and Peterson Air Force Base, as well as a growing performing and visual arts scene, weird, fun metaphysical enclaves and everything in-between, including cowboys and rodeos.
Median housing cost is $350,000 and gradually rising, but there is still a wide range of housing types and costs in the various areas of the city, including Fountain, to the South.
Brush! is an hour and a half drive northeast of Denver into the plains, nestled in the greenwood area which follows the original Texas/Montana Cattle Drive trail along the South Platte River.
This rural agricultural community of 5,386 has added an exclamation point to their name, and unlike other towns in the mostly dry plains, boasts several reservoirs and waterways, woods, wildlife and recreation including swimming pools and a golf course.
Their median housing cost is $153,200, with a median income of $45,144. It’s also ranked one of the safest towns in Colorado.
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Fountain, with a population of 30,000, is just south of Colorado Springs, but has a small-town culture of its own. You might come across a live rodeo in its quaint city park, which you can enjoy for free as you visit with neighbors. The wide Arkansas River runs through this cowboy town, and the median housing cost is around $300,000, with a wide variety of housing types and prices.
Fountain was named an “All-American City” by the National Civic League in 2002, and hosts the Pikes Peak International Raceway.
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Located on the Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains near the Utah border (4-1/2 hours west of Denver), Fruita (population 13,390) started as a fruit-producing region – Colorado’s famous Palisade Peaches are grown in this area of the state.
Today, Fruita is better known for outdoor sports like mountain biking, hiking, camping and white-water rafting in the summer, snowboarding and skiing in the winter. It’s close to the Colorado National Monument and has many unique annual festivals – many of our mountain towns have unusual festivals!
Most Colorado mountain towns which boast ski resorts and hot springs have flown high in housing price and cost of living (think Aspen, Vail, Glenwood Springs), but Fruita has a median house price of only $315,000. It’s surrounded by huge national parks and thick forests, yet close to the city of Grand Junction (population 63,374).
Fruita is “not too big and not too small,” the perfect size with a friendly community and low crime rate. Wild horses live near this area of Colorado in protected spaces.
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6. Fort Lupton
Fort Lupton, with a population of 8,022, is only 40 minutes northeast of Denver and less than a half-hour drive from Denver International Airport, giving ready access to big city amenities, nightlife and international and domestic flights. This town along the Platte River is close enough to showcase views of the stunning mountain range—one of our favorite things about Colorado!
Established as one of the earliest forts in northern Colorado, Fort Lupton has a rich history. It also provides easy access to both the city and mountains, and it’s one of the safest towns in Colorado. Its median home price is $210,800 and the average income is $63,548.
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7. Dove Valley
Dove Valley is a well-kept secret; it’s the most affordable and best place to live in the Denver Metropolitan Area. A southeast suburb of Denver, the median home prices are only $300,000. It’s been listed as #12 in Best Places to Raise a Family in Colorado. Being on the east side means it’s not far to the airport, to downtown Denver or to the mountains. It’s highly rated in public schools, nightlife, diversity and housing.
Dove Valley is also close to Cherry Creek Reservoir and State Park, which boasts one of the best swimming beaches in Colorado, as well as camping, fishing and boating activities.
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Milliken (population 6,773) is an undiscovered gem, hidden among the high-end, up-and-coming towns (with $500K+ homes) in Loveland, Longmont, Windsor and Fort Collins, north of Denver. In the middle of them all, with access to city life and the mountains to the west, median home price in Milliken is only $232,800 with a median income of $72,101.
Also along the Platte River, Milliken is an hour’s drive from Denver and the airport and surrounded by rich vegetation following the river’s path through the plains from the mountains. Milliken was built as a trading post in the 1860s along the Denver, Laramie and Northwestern rail line. In addition to the river, this farming and ranching town is close to two lakes for plenty of outdoor fun.
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One third of Colorado is blanketed with the Great High Plains to the East. Lamar is a small plains town about 3 hours east of Pueblo and southeast of Colorado Springs. It is voted #1 Most Affordable Town in Colorado as well as one of the Safest Cities in the state. With a population of 7,606, its median housing cost is only $87,500, with a median income of $37,554.
Lamar is steeped in history as it surrounds a restored 1907 train depot, along with a train engine and a 100-year-old windmill and vintage water tank. It is known to be one of Colorado’s best birding spots and offers a variety of outdoor recreation, including one of the Colorado’s most challenging golf courses, the Lamar Loop.
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Firestone (population 13,109), about midway between Fort Collins and Denver, has a more average cost of living with median home prices at $350,000. But Firestone is listed as one of the safest towns in Colorado, and with its close access to big city life and the spectacular mountain views to the west, it’s ranked as one of the best places to live in the state.
Firestone is enough in the plains to offer large open spaces and a plethora of outdoor recreational fun, and close enough to the mountains for all the rugged adventure they offer.
Founded in 1908, Firestone had the first saloon, first post office and first lumber store in the area. Today it’s been recognized in Money Magazine as one of the “Best Places to Live,” with access to 18 parks and 5 miles of trails, connecting to both the St. Vrain Legacy Trail and the Front Range Trail System.
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