Looking for the best places to live in Colorado? This lifelong local has you covered! In this helpful guide on this best Colorado cities to live in, I’ve decided to reach out to a few friends to hash out the pros and cons of various cities.
Our conversations spanned the gamut! We compared everything we could think of, like home prices, walkability, average age, restaurants and entertainment. Basically, the things that make everyday life a bit more enjoyable.
You know the drill: No two people see things to the same way. This list was created using our own personal experience. Likewise, some folks love large cities, while others prefer a calmer way of life. To be as helpful as possible, we broke down this list by large, mid-sized and small cities to consider.
As longtime readers of this website know, I’m not one for small talk. So without further ado, let’s cover the best cities to live in Colorado (based on firsthand experience!).
Best Places to Live in Colorado
5 Best Large Cities in Colorado
Colorado cities with a population of 100,000+
- Population: 711,463
- Median home price: $573K
- Average age: 34.6
Located in a prime mountainous locale, the breathtaking views alone qualify Denver for this list of the best places to live in Colorado.
With median home prices at $573,189 (and monthly rents at $2,250), Denver is — I flinch as I write this! — relatively affordable when compared to comparably-sized US cities.
And yes, I’m expecting to get a few gnarly comments for mentioning “Denver” and “affordable” in the same sentence.
Denver is the most populous city in Colorado, but not without reason. Aside from easy access to the epic mountains, the city offers many opportunities for those that love arts and culture.
Keeping locals abreast of contemporary culture, entertainment options range from top-notch music venues to notable museums to a vibrant nightlife scene.
As such, the city attracts everyone from ladder-climbing professionals to young families and singles. If you’re looking for an environment filled with energy and activity, you may consider Denver one of the best places to live in Colorado
If you’re new to the area, swing by the Denver Art Museum and Denver Museum of Nature and Science to see what all the fuss is about.
- Population: 483,956
- Median home price: $452K
- Average age: 34.7
With a population nearing half a million, Colorado Springs is the second largest city in Colorado. Yet even with such a high population, this Colorado city offers a more suburban feel (when compared to Denver), which in turn appeals to young families.
The city is especially appealing to nature enthusiastic, thanks to the great outdoor recreation. I suggest checking out Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, and the Broadmoor Seven Falls to start.
If you’re looking for the best cities in Colorado to raise a family, you’ll be happy to learn that the schools in Colorado Springs test above the national average.
Likewise, if you’re moving to this Colorado city with small kids in tow, you’ll find plenty to do to keep them entertained. Swing by the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, The Museum of the American Cowboy, and The Peterson Air & Space Museum and watch their little eyes light up.
Now, I’m keen to keep this list of the best places to live in Colorado as honest as possible. So let’s talk about the disadvantage of living in Colorado Springs.
My biggest beef (some pun intended) with the city is the lacking culinary scene. Honestly, I can’t say I’m satisfied with the options offered, or the quality of food in general.
For a city with a population flirting with half a million, we should have better restaurants and it looks like I’m not the only one that thinks so, this seems to be a general consensus among locals.
Food scene aside, it’s not hard to see why so many folks consider Colorado Springs one of the best places to live in Colorado for those that love big city amenities while enjoying a slower suburban lifestyle.
- Population: 104,175
- Median home price: $1M
- Average age: 28.8
Home to the University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder is the college town through and through. If you have a freak flag to let loose, this charming Colorado city should fit the bill.
Free spirits, wellness professionals and entrepreneurs are drawn to Boulder, making it one of the best places to live in Colorado for those that want a relaxed lifestyle focused on health. The city offers ample access to activities such as yoga studios, reading clubs and meditation centers.
Now, that’s not to say you need to start collecting crystals and incense to live here—it’s actually one of the most modern and diverse cities in Colorado.
Likewise, Boulder is a nature lover’s paradise. Take a hike at Eldorado Canyon State Park, Chautauqua Park or Boulder Falls and you’ll instantly see why locals can’t get enough of the scenery.
Day-to-day activities in Boulder may include a trip to the beloved Boulder farmers market or a day shopping at the Pearl Street Mall. Evenings are spend enjoying seasonal fare at a local restaurant or cozying up to someone close at a charming bar.
The combination of natural scenery, a vibrant culture, and an abundance of outdoor activities makes Boulder highly desirable, but don’t just take my word for it. With median home price clocking in at $1M, this is one of the most expensive places to live in Colorado.
- Population: 168,538
- Median home price: $562K
- Average age: 29.9
This funky college town is located in northern Colorado and houses Colorado State University, one of the premier research universities in the country.
The college’s influence has led to a diversity of quirky attractions such as the Totally 80’s Pizza Museum, New Belgium Brewing Company, and the Holiday Twin Drive-In Theatre.
It’s one of the best places to live in Colorado for those who want to support local small businesses with a bit of flair and fun. If you’re a bit eccentric, artistic, or looking for an unconventional community, you’ll fit right in.
There are also plenty of museums, gardens, and amusement parks to keep residents learning and entertained.
Some other common activities include shopping in the Old Town area, exploring and enjoying the Horsetooth Reservoir, or brewery hopping on weekends with friends.
With the average home costing $561,651 and rent averaging $1,900 a month, this is one of the more expensive cities in Colorado. However, rental costs are relatively reasonable (again, for Colorado) due to the large student population.
- Population: 112,368
- Median home price: $290K
- Average age: 38.2
Located just south of Colorado Springs, the town of Pueblo offers plenty of amenities for residents at a fraction compared to most cities mentioned on this list of the best places to live in Colorado.
The median home average of $289,735 attracts entry-level professionals, young couples, and a large number of retirees looking to relocate somewhere with more affordable housing.
You can afford to live well in Pueblo without selling your soul to the devil or working 2+ jobs to stay afloat. Effectively making this one of the best cities in Colorado for those establishing a family or striking it out on their own.
The city offers 32 miles of hiking and biking trails withing city limits. Plus, there’s plenty of parks and green spaces to enjoy as well.
There’s no denying that the access to nature makes Pueblo one of the best cities in Colorado for staying in shape and enjoying the fresh air. If helpful, the Pueblo River Trail and the River Walk are some of the most popular places for locals to enjoy daily walks.
While Pueblo isn’t particularly known for its nightlife scene, residents enjoy grabbing a drink at the Cosmopolitan Club and The Spirit House Cabaret. Otherwise, you can expect a pretty calm (and safe) existence in this gem of a city.
- Population: 109,323
- Median home price: $417K
- Average age: 31.6
Greeley is home to the University of Northern Colorado, so you can expect a wealth of educational, cultural, and arts-related programming available year-round.
If you aren’t an artist or academic, you may accidentally become one through sheer
Another perk of living in Greeley is the city’s rural vibes. There’s no shortage of farmland in the area, which means the local farmers market is ripe for exploration.
Locals enjoy date nights and family excursions to The Kress Cinema and Lounge or the Greeley Family Funplex. WeldWorks and Wiley Brewing Companies are great spots to grab pints of craft beer on the weekends. There’s plenty of parks to stretch out on or make use of a picnic.
With an average home price of $417,260, it’s one of the more affordable cities in Colorado. Fair housing prices coupled with ample entertainment make this one of the best places to live in Colorado.
5 Best Mid-Sized Cities in Colorado
Cities in Colorado with a population of 10,000-100,000.
- Population: 76,353
- Median home price: $675K
- Average age: 35.5
Located just an hour from Denver by car, you’d never think it because of how spacious and relaxed the Castle Rock feels. Here, you can have your cake and eat it too, living in one of the most relaxed cities in Colorado, while being a stone’s throw from the action.
While the average home costs $674,885 and monthly rent averages $1,945, you get plenty of square footage for your money thanks to the city’s open-space conservation efforts.
There are over 50 city parks with 88 miles of connective trails, making the location perfect for mountain bikers, runners, and hikers.
Castle Rock is also well-known for its well-curated dog parks and is one of the best cities in Colorado for animal lovers. Your furry friend will love connecting with other pups, and you may make a new friend or two at a dog-friendly locale as well!
You’d think that this quiet town would lack a culinary scene, but that’s not the case. Offering more than 100 cafes, bars, and restaurants, you’ll never go hungry while living in Castle Rock.
For those who are retired, the award-winning Red Hawk golf course is a great way to pass the time and enjoy the sunny days.
There are several 55-plus living communities in the area and the robust Castle Rock Senior Activity Center regularly provides events, resources, and programming for the community.
- Population: 66,964
- Median home price: $370K
- Average age: 39.2
Grand Junction is a hidden paradise located in the center of the Grand Valley, a sweeping landscape of mesas, mountains, and canyons that are easily accessible to residents year-round.
With home prices averaging at $37K and rent averaging $1,550, Grand Junction is considered one of the most affordable cities in Colorado. Locals don’t want the secret to get out!
Young professionals and families have flocked to the city in past years, so this price has been steadily rising. Still, it’s one of the best cities in Colorado for first-time owners and retirees looking to stretch their budgets.
Colorado Mesa University brings in a regular influx of students to the city, which has kept Grand Junction young and vibrant. There are also great job opportunities in the area, ranging from manufacturing to energy to technology sectors consistently looking to hire.
Locals love strolling through the Fruita Farmers Market on Saturdays, visiting the Colorado National Monument, and spending time on the Gunnison River’s 24 miles of paved trails.
While nightlife isn’t as active as the other Colorado cities on this list, there are a few good options, with plenty of new spots opening as more people move to Grand Junction. But if you’re looking to party hard or have something to do every night of the week, it’s definitely going to take a couple of years for that to happen here.
- Population: 19,223
- Median home price: $678K
- Average age: 36.4
Durango’s motto is “open spaces and familiar faces,” so make sure to put a big ole smile on your face when hitting the town to make a great first impression.
The city has a distinctly southwestern feel due to its location and the average home will set you back $678,640. While this is a bit steep, rental prices tend to be about $100 below the national average, costing about $1,800 a month.
The San Juan Mountains and Mesa Verde National Park are prized natural landmarks that will knock your socks off with their unadulterated beauty. From hiking to mountain biking to camping, Durango’s nature enthusiasts have endless options for getting outside and letting off some steam.
There are also plenty of cute galleries and shops around town, plus great local eateries like the Steamworks Brewing Company, Carver’s Pizzeria, and Thai Kitchen to get your fill of tasty treats.
Durango is known for its colorful collection of festivals throughout the year, including the Rise and Vibes Music Festival and the Animas River Days annual event. So while it may not be burning man, Durango still knows how to get down and have a good time.
Durango is favored by friendly and active folks, and there are plenty of job opportunities in the medical, tourist, and educational sectors for those who are looking for a new career prospect.
- Population: 11,439
- Median home price: $326K
- Average age: 32.8
Fort Morgan hasn’t grown as quickly as the other best cities in Colorado, but sometimes it’s nice to get away from constant development, price hikes, and annoying tourist crowds.
Fort Morgan is located in the northeast of the state, near the Nebraska border. The preserved a small-town feel and tight-knit community makes this one of the most charming places to live in Colorado.
Families searching for a safe area to live in Colorado as well as young adults looking to establish themselves are drawn to the area. With home prices averaging $326,719 and rent averaging $1,600, it’s a great location for a slim budget.
Most recreational activities in Fort Morgan are nature-based. Locals frequent spots such as the Prewitt Reservoir State Wildlife Area, and Jackson Lake State Park.
Walking over the rainbow bridge, visiting the Fort Morgan Museum, and trying out local BBQ joints are all common family-friendly activities. And for adults looking for a drink at the end of a long day, the Club Tap serves up cocktails that will make your heart content.
5 Best Small Cities in Colorado
Colorado cities with a population of less than 10,000 residents.
- Population: 6,949
- Median home price: $2.9M
- Average age: 40.1
Aspen probably needs no introduction. Not only is this one of the most expensive places to live in Colorado state, but it often ranks as one of the most expensive cities in the country.
With average home prices nearing $3M, folks are willing to shell out for the privilege of calling this city home. And the average monthly rent goes for – get ready for it – $38,000. Imagine!
So why on earth would I list it as one of the best cities in Colorado?
Because if you can afford it, and love living the high life, it’s worth every penny. It’s often referred to as the Beverly Hills of the mountains and provides access to unrivaled restaurants and designer shopping right in the heart of nature.
Residents enjoy high-end Victorian-inspired homes with plenty of surrounding greenspace, a luxury that’s hard to find in similarly priced cities such as New York or L.A.
One big drawback of relocating to Aspen is that it can be hard to find an available home in this town because of permit zoning limitations. Those who are eager to live here will want to keep an eye on the market at all times.
Aspen is one of the best places in Colorado to live in the wintertime, and the famous Wintersköl festival ushers in the cold months with fireworks, performances, and delicious food and drinks.
The whole town is turned into a winter wonderland for the famous 12 Days of Aspen, which includes family-friendly events such as a trip to meet Santa, ice skating, and traditional caroling.
Looking for a little more refined culture? The Wheeler Opera House, Aspen Art Museum, and Center for Environmental Studies provide countless cultural opportunities for residents who want to stay in touch with the arts.
- Population: 2,600
- Median home price: $1.8M
- Average age: 35.3
My heart skips a beat just thinking about this little town tucked away in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. I’ve spent countless days and nights in Telluride, and it’s always a bittersweet feeling when it’s time to leave.
The first thing you’ll notice about Telluride is its stunning natural beauty. Nestled in a box canyon, surrounded by majestic peaks, it’s like living in a postcard.
The view of the snow-capped mountains against the backdrop of a clear blue sky is something you never get used to. It’s breathtaking every single day.
The town itself is brimming with historic charm – Victorian-era homes, a lovely main street filled with local shops and restaurants, and a friendly community that’s always ready with a warm smile and a hello.
Living in Telluride is like being on a permanent vacation. I mean, how many places can boast of having a world-class ski resort in their backyard? But it’s not just the skiing that makes Telluride one of the best places to live in Colorado for nature nuts.
Come summer, the town transforms into an outdoor lover’s paradise with endless opportunities for hiking, biking, and fishing. Then there are the festivals – from film to music to hot air balloons, there’s always something happening in Telluride.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Living in such a remote location can have its downsides. Things can get pretty quiet in the off-season, and the cost of living is quite high, reflecting its status as a premier resort destination.
Also, if you’re someone who craves city amenities like a wide variety of shopping, dining, or nightlife options, you might find Telluride a bit lacking.
But here’s the thing – if you’re someone who cherishes the great outdoors, who values community over convenience, who finds joy in the simple things in life, then you might just fall in love with Telluride just like I did. After all, life is all about finding your own slice of happiness, and for me, Telluride is just that.
- Population: 5,100
- Median home price: $1.1M
- Average age: 30.7
Breckenridge’s city limits only span 5.3 square miles and the town packs in plenty of community, culture, modern infrastructure, and nature into this small space.
While winter is the most popular time of the year for tourists, locals enjoy an active, yet laid back life during the summer and fall months.
While the average cost of a home totals $1,090,018 and monthly rent will set you back $4,500 a month, Breckenridge is one of the best cities in Colorado for housing support through the affordable housing program.
There are over 75 restaurants, 250 historic buildings, and 18 museums and art galleries in the town, as well as the popular Performing Arts Amphitheater.
The town has also set aside 536 acres of land for families to enjoy, with cycling and running paths, playgrounds, climbing walls, horseback riding trails, and several fields for team sports.
It’s a great location for those employed in tourism or hospitality-related services, as well as for outdoor lovers and retirees.
- Population: 9,475
- Median home price: $900K
- Average age: 46
The small yet beautiful town of Evergreen is nestled in the foothills of the rocky mountains in Jefferson County.
It offers sweeping views of pristine nature year-round and features the 55-acre Evergreen Lake Park, where most residents head for swimming, boating, fishing, and special activities such as the Evergreen Lake Summer Concert Series.
It’s one of the best places to live in Colorado for those who want to feel like they’re on vacation without even leaving their home.
It costs quite a bit to live in the area, with homes averaging $897,351. However, you may luck out with rent, which is a reasonable $1,550 a month on average.
Thanks to the tourist economy, there are plenty of great boutique shops, restaurants, and galleries despite the town’s quaint size. You can grab a tasty cocktail and wood-fired pizza at Campfire Evergreen and shop for local artisanal wares at Evergreen Crafters.
This is also one of the best places to live in Colorado for families looking for a great educational system for their young ones. The area has a well-rated public school system as well as some of the best private schools in the state for families looking for a top-notch education.
- Population: 5,880
- Median home price: $700K
- Average age: 62.1
Estes Park has a small-town coziness with unbelievably beautiful Rocky Mountain views. You’ll feel like you’re in a postcard when you visit this picture-perfect town. Sure, there isn’t as much action as the larger Colorado cities, but that’s all part of its charm.
There are plenty of summer and fall festivals and events that families love. The Scottish-Irish culture is a local favorite for residents of all ages and the Elk Festival is a great way to learn about creatures of all kinds local to the area.
The Estes Valley Community Center boasts an Olympic-sized swimming pool, lazy river, gym, walking track, and plenty of group classes for the community.
There are plenty of small high-quality restaurants and breweries in the area, including Avant Garde Ale Works and Brodie’s Market. Locals rave about the one-of-a-kind food trucks that are found around town too.
Estes Park is surrounded by the Rocky Mountain National Park and the Roosevelt National Forest, providing over 355 miles of hiking trails of varying difficulties for all. There are also many lakes to enjoy for those who love water activities.
Estes Park’s average home price is $696,362, providing similar amenities and recreational opportunities than Aspen has at a significantly lower price. And renting options are even better. A two-bedroom apartment will cost $996 on average.
Established families, working professionals, and retirees alike love living in this mountainous area.
- Population: 2,903
- Median home price: $888K
- Average age: 49.6
Frisco is known as the main street of the Rockies and is located just 15 minutes away from Breckenridge and 70 miles away from Denver. It’s an idyllic town that shows a slower pace of life. Be careful, you may not want to go to work, or even leave the town’s boundaries, once you get here.
Frisco doesn’t have a ski resort, which means that the locals get to enjoy their town all to themselves while having quick access to resort amenities in neighboring areas.
There are about 245 sunny days a year in this mountain town, making it a cheery city even during the winter months. Lake Dillon has 25 miles of shoreline to enjoy for boaters, sailors, kayakers, and fishing enthusiasts.
The main street is very walkable, making it easy to get around this town without a lot of driving. When you do drive, you won’t have to deal with traffic or paid parking.
It’s one of the best cities in Colorado for purchasing a second vacation property with easy access to Denver, making it home to those who are very established in their careers or retired.
I’d say I’m not jealous, but I totally am.
You’ll have access to 55 trails that will connect you to nearby towns as well as take you into the Rocky Mountains.
Best cities to live in Colorado (Post Summary)
In sum, here’s a roundup of the best places to live in Colorado.
- Colorado Springs
- Fort Collins
- Castle Rock
- Grand Junction
- Fort Morgan
- Estes Park