If you feel like you keep hearing people talk about moving to Colorado, it turns out the data backs up your experience. Colorado has increased in population for 13 consecutive years and, from 2020 to 2022, was the 18th-fastest growing state in the US.
Colorado is growing for a reason, so if you’re interested in moving to the Centennial State, we’re here to help you make a more informed decision. From state history to budget to lifestyle, let’s talk Colorado.
The region that became the state of Colorado was acquired by the United States through three transactions: the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and the 1850 purchase of Texas’s Colorado claim. In 1861, the combined property became the Colorado Territory. After decades of western expansion driven by the gold rush and wars with Mexico and Native Americans, Colorado was admitted as a state on August 1, 1876.
Of course, Native Americans have inhabited the area long before statehood, and anthropologists have discovered artifacts in the area dating all the way to 8720 BC.
Perhaps more than anything, Colorado is known for outdoor recreation. The Rocky Mountains roll through the state, offering adventurers myriad options for outdoor activity, from hiking to biking to skiing and more. Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the nation’s most beloved preserves and cities like Boulder and Colorado Springs are known for their natural splendor. Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs is an international tourist destination for outdoor recreationists.
Of course, skiing and snowboarding are also especially popular in Colorado, with some of the nation’s finest resorts in Aspen, Steamboat Springs, and Breckenridge.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Colorado has a population of 5.812 million people. That makes it the 23rd most populous state.
Despite being a sprawling, natural landscape punctuated by mountains, Colorado has a surprising number of urban centers, from the Mile High City, Denver, to resort towns like Aspen and Breckenridge, to mid-sized cities like Fort Collins. And that’s not to mention some of the nation’s most beautiful suburbs like Castle Park, Estes Park, and Boulder.
Denver is by far the state’s largest city, with a population of 711,463, roughly in line with Seattle, WA. The next largest city is Colorado Springs, with a population of 483,956.
Colorado ranks 15th among U.S. states according to U.S. News and World Report. The state’s rankings are bolstered by its “top 5” rankings in the Economy and Education categories thanks to a booming business sector and strong public schools and universities, as well as elite private colleges like Colorado College. It lags behind, however, in crime and corrections (45th) and opportunity (42nd).
As of August 2023, Colorado’s unemployment rate is 3.1%, which is lower than the national average of 3.5%. Approximately 100,000 people in the state are unemployed.
Long known as a swing state, Colorado has become firmly Democratic over the past 20 years. It’s becoming even more so as new residents from liberal areas like San Antonio and San Francisco move into town. Increased diversity and urbanization have further driven Colorado towards the left, as the 64th Colorado General Assembly is the first to be controlled by Democrats in forty years after decades of Republican control of the state government.
On a national scale, Colorado has two Democratic Senators and has gone blue in each of the last three presidential elections. Like most of America, urban centers like Denver and Colorado Springs lean Democratic, while rural areas are more conservative.
One of Colorado’s main draws from coastal states in recent years has been cost of living. That has changed rapidly as Colorado’s cost of living index is now 120.5, meaning the cost of goods and services are about 20% higher than the national average.
As of 2022, the median household income in Colorado is $89,930. That helps offset the higher cost of living as it comes in more than $20,000 higher than the national household income of $69,717.
Colorado’s poverty rate of 11.1% is lower than the national poverty rate of 12.8%. Poverty rate examines the percentage of the population living below the poverty line determined by the federal government. A lower poverty rate generally means more people are employed and earning more money than the national average, both of which are true in Colorado.
As of September 2023, Colorado had one of the nation’s most explosive housing markets. The $612,200 median sale price is significantly higher than the national median price of $406,700, and a 7.2% year-over-year increase.
Colorado does make up some ground on more affordable homes, however, by having relatively low average closing costs of just $3,881. That’s in the range of states like West Virginia and New Mexico.
Looking to buy or sell a house in Colorado? Check out Denver market report.
Because it’s so far inland, Colorado tends to be fairly dry. However, due to the high elevation, it also experiences heavy snowfall during the winter at high altitudes. The typical Colorado town can expect hot summers, cold winters, and relatively large temperature changes throughout the town.
At higher elevations, the temperature tends to remain on the cooler side throughout the year, with moderate summers.
Some of Colorado’s well-regarded universities include:
Colorado doesn’t offer quite as much work opportunity as other states, but it is still home to several major corporations. The biggest employers in Colorado are Macy’s, RE/MAX, Catholic Health Initiatives, and DaVita. It’s also home to one of the nation’s largest airports and the biggest travel hub of the midwest, Denver International Airport.
Colorado has a lively sports culture, and a rich cultural and adventure scene that contributes to an exciting lifestyle.
Denver is home to the Denver Broncos (football), who play at Empower Field at Mile High. It’s also home to the Colorado Rockies (baseball) at Coors Field, and the Colorado Avalanche (hockey) and NBA champion Denver Nuggets (basketball) at Ball Arena. The Colorado Rapids (soccer) play at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
While Colorado isn’t very ethnically diverse, the food scene draws on many traditions from around the country, while also making its own stamp. Many rivers and streams make trout a popular fish, while influence from New Mexico inspires green chili and Mexican dishes like sopapilla.
Being in the mountains, with many people deeply connected to nature, Colorado has big jam band, folk, and electronic music scenes. Morrison, CO is home to Red Rocks Park and Ampitheatre, one of the nation’s most well-known music venues. Some bands to come out of Colorado include The Lumineers, The Fray, and OneRepublic.
As we’ve touched on earlier, Colorado is rich with natural splendor. Colorado is home to four national parks: Rocky Mountain, Great Sand Dune, Mesa Verde, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison. And that’s still just scratching the surface of myriad state parks and hikes from Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak to Cave of the Winds Mountain Park that offer virtually endless opportunity for outdoor exploration.
Denver is home to both historical and cultural points of interest like the Larimer Square district, the Denver Art Museum, Botanic Gardens, and Museum of Nature and Science. Families can enjoy a trip to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Dinosaur National Monument on the Utah border, or take a ski trip to one of the many mountains in the state.
Finally, although it’s a very large state, Colorado’s proximity to New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona offer some compelling road trips into the American Southwest.
Here are a few more details about moving to Colorado.
Only you can answer that question! Everybody has specific feelings about different parts of the country, but Colorado ranks highly in a number of areas, including the economy, education, and outdoor recreation.
Related: Check out this guide on how to buy a house in a different state.
Colorado is one of the best states in America for outdoor adventurers who want to experience four seasons of outdoor activities. While it’s not New York or Los Angeles, Denver offers a vibrant music and arts scene and is more affordable than many other major cities. People tend to offset a higher cost of living by earning higher salaries.
However, Colorado is still on the expensive side and doesn’t offer as much as other states in terms of higher education and work opportunities.
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