Finding the best places to live in Colorado can be a big undertaking! The state has a variety of cities, towns, and rural communities and there’s a lot to choose from.
Obviously, some of your choices may be dictated by work. However, if you work from home or are picking a community before finding a job, I’m here to help you in your search.
Whether you want the bigger cities of Denver or Colorado Springs, a small mountain town, or a bustling city with a great university on the Western Slope, I’ve got you covered with the best places in Colorado. As a Colorado local, I’ll help you look at the cost of living, the quality of schools, and other important aspects of choosing a place to live.
Let’s take a look!
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21 Best Places to Live in Colorado
The most populated city in Colorado has great food, performing arts, and plenty of fun stuff to do
If you’re moving to Colorado, then Denver is likely the first city that comes to mind – it’s the biggest city in the state by a longshot! Denver is one of the best places to live in Colorado and is the happy home of many young professionals and, increasingly, remote workers.
That said, it can be an expensive place for families, and the school district gets a C+ in academics from Niche.com. However, there are plenty of parks and places for kids to get outdoors in the city, along with a zoo, museums, and other kid-friendly educational opportunities. If you can afford the price tag, the Mile High City is an exciting place to live.
👉 Pro Tip: If you’re working in downtown Denver but looking for more affordable housing options, consider suburbs like Aurora, Lakewood, and Westminster. As a general rule, the farther you get from downtown the lower the home prices are going to be. This article on the best Denver neighborhoods goes into more detail!
A hip college town known for its liberal leanings and tons of outdoor activities
Not only is Boulder a great place to live, but it’s also the home of the University of Colorado Boulder – the largest university in Colorado. You’ll never wonder what to do in Boulder. It’s near plenty of hiking and mountain biking trails and has lots of places for live music, performances, and museums. It’s about 30 minutes from Denver.
The Boulder Valley School District has an excellent reputation and continually gets high reviews. Boulder’s main drawback is that it can be an expensive place to live. Average home prices in Boulder are only topped by those inexpensive ski resort towns.
📚 Related Reading: Where to Stay in Boulder, Colorado (Best Areas for Visitors)
A quiet suburb within easy distance of Denver and Colorado Springs
Castle Rock is a suburban community right off the I-25 freeway that connects Denver with Colorado Springs. There are lots of outdoor activities in Castle Rock for the whole family, plus restaurants, shopping, and other attractions.
Castle Rock also has a school district that’s one of the top large districts in the state. It’s a great place to raise a family, with more room than you’ll find in more urban areas, making Castle Rock one of the best places to live in Colorado!
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The third-largest city in Colorado is perfect if you’re looking for suburban living near Denver
Aurora is just a short drive from downtown Denver and is one of the closest cities to Denver International Airport. It’s a large city that covers 163 square miles and resides in three different counties, so there are a lot of different parts of Aurora.
Aurora Hills, Heather Ridge, and Saddle Rock are all regions of Aurora that get great marks for being family-friendly, safe neighborhoods with great schools.
The second-largest city in Colorado is often named one of the best places to live in the USA
Colorado Springs is about an hour south of Denver and is the second-largest city in Colorado. It’s #6 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of top places to live in the country and ranks as one of the best places to live in Colorado. There are lots of activities in Colorado Springs, from hiking to visiting the Air Force Academy and checking out local museums and attractions.
This Colorado city also has plenty of restaurants and bars downtown for a great night out. Students who graduate from Colorado Springs schools score higher than average on the College Readiness Index.
📚 Related Reading: 23 Best Hikes Near Colorado Springs
A quaint northern Colorado college town
Fort Collins is home to the largest university in the Colorado State University system – CSU Fort Collins. Historic downtown Fort Collins is said to be Walt Disney’s inspiration for Disneyland’s Main Street USA. Fort Collins is also close to the Cache la Poudre River, so there are plenty of outdoor attractions in Fort Collins, from hiking and biking to tubing and rafting.
The Poudre School District in Fort Collins is considered a good district in the state.
📚 Related Reading: 25 Best Hikes Near Fort Collins
This western Colorado town is home to the state’s wine country
Grand Junction is one of the first cities you’ll encounter crossing from Utah into Colorado. It’s on the Western Slope (the other side of the Rocky Mountains from Denver, Boulder, and the Front Range) and is home to Colorado Mesa University. The area is also known for producing delicious grapes for local wines, and nearby Palisades is known for growing peaches.
Like many cities in Colorado, Grand Junction is near plenty of hiking and biking trails. It’s also near Colorado National Monument, which is a beautiful spot to camp and explore.
A southern Colorado city with lots of history
Durango is a beautiful city tucked into the San Juan Mountains. It’s best known for some of its tourist destinations – namely Mesa Verde National Park and the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
Homes in Durango cost more than the average cost of homes in Colorado, although renting a home is, on average, slightly less expensive. State test scores show that 31% of Durango School District students are at least proficient in math and 50% in reading.
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A small & safe community just west of Vail
Although living in Eagle is more expensive than in many areas of Colorado, it’s less expensive than in neighboring Vail. It’s a very safe community with good schools.
There are lots of trails and parks, along with plenty of restaurants and bars. In winter, it’s near some of the best skiing in Colorado (and the country).
A little Denver suburb that consistently tops “Best of” lists
Littleton is frequently ranked as one of the best places to live in the country. The town has its own historical museum with a connected farm, and the historic main street features shops, restaurants, and bars.
If you have kiddos, then you’ll be pleased to hear that the school district is ranked among the top 10 in the state. The cost of living in Littleton is slightly higher than the average cost of living in Colorado – about 7%.
A gorgeous mountain town that’s a dream location for many
When it comes to a place to cost of living, Aspen is the most expensive city in Colorado. If you can afford it, however, it’s a beautiful place to live.
Aspen has plenty of bars, restaurants, and cultural activities and of course, it’s close to some amazing ski resorts. There are hiking and biking trails aplenty, and the nearby Maroon Bells are a beautiful place to explore. The school district is highly rated and also gets good marks for being one of the best places to teach.
📚 Related Reading: 23 Best Hot Springs in Colorado (A Local’s List)
A tourism town with plenty of outdoor activities
Gunnison is a beautiful city with lots of outdoor spaces for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and other activities. Downtown Gunnison has lots of shops and restaurants so it’s a great place to stroll and grab a bite. The city is about an hour from Black Canyon of the Gunnison for even more exploring.
Most jobs in Gunnison are in the tourism sector, but there is also work in public lands, education, healthcare, and business. It would also be a great place to live while working from home.
A charming town on the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park
Estes Park is on the eastern side of Rocky Mountain National Park. It has a thriving tourism business and there are lots of shops, restaurants, and bars in town. There is also plenty of hiking, mountain and rock climbing, biking, and kayaking or paddleboarding.
The cost of living in Estes Park is about 20% higher than in other places in Colorado, so it faces the challenge that many Colorado mountain towns do – the people who work to serve all the tourists can struggle to find places to live themselves.
A lesser-known gem of a mountain town
Salida was named the “Best Unsung Mountain Town” by Outside Magazine a few years ago, and it’s easy to see why. It’s nestled among several 14ers that have earned the town the nickname “Heart of the Rockies.” It’s also a surprisingly mild-weather town, with the average high in January being 49°F.
The biggest industries in the area include retail, accommodation, and food services so it’s heavily reliant on tourism. Construction is also a popular trade.
📚 Related Reading: 11 Best 14ers in Colorado
A beautiful option for Denver commuters
Evergreen is a beautiful town with a lovely lake for boating and paddleboarding. It’s nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains – far enough from Denver to feel like you’re in the mountains but close enough to drive to work unless it’s really snowing hard.
However, it is more expensive than other Denver suburbs – the cost of living is about 20% higher than the average in the state.
A lakeside mountain town with lots of amenities
As with most mountain towns, especially those near ski resorts, Frisco relies on tourism for a lot of its industry. It’s situated between two large ski resorts – Copper Mountain and Breckenridge – and plenty of people stay in Frisco for its lower price tag.
You’ll find lots to do year-round, with hiking, biking, and water sports in summer and skiing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing in winter. Frisco has a bustling main street with lots of coffee shops, retail stores, and restaurants.
📚 Related Reading: 19 Best Things to do in Frisco, Colorado
Inexpensive living south of Colorado Springs
Pueblo is one of the more affordable cities in Colorado, with a cost of living that is 19% below the national average. The city is home to Colorado State University-Pueblo, which recently announced new first-time Colorado residents with a family income of $50,000 or less can get free college tuition.
Pueblo has plenty of trails and parks, and even a downtown riverwalk that’s pleasant to stroll in warm weather. It can get a bad rap as an unexciting city, and for crime problems, but those are mostly concentrated in certain areas. It’s a wonderfully affordable option as housing across Colorado continues to get more expensive.
A more affordable option to nearby Boulder
Longmont is a beautiful community near Boulder, but with housing that’s considerably less expensive. The city was named for Longs Peak and boasts an amazing view of it. You’ll find plenty of parks and trails in Longmont, and many more hikes in Boulder just a short distance away.
An inexpensive college town
Greeley is home to the University of Northern Colorado which is known for music, health, and education programs. Thanks to this, you can find music professors and others performing live music in a few places about town.
Greeley’s walkable Ninth Street has a plaza, plus restaurants and bars. It’s considered a great town for retirees because housing is less expensive than in bigger metro areas, and there are good quality medical facilities in town.
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A lovely town on the edge of a crystal blue lake
Grand Lake is at the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. The town is set on the edge of beautiful Grand Lake and is a popular spot for vacation homes and rentals. It’s near the little ski resort of Ski Granby, and not far from Winter Park.
The town has plenty of restaurants, shops, bars, and several annual festivals. The cost of living in Grand Lake is just barely above the average cost in the state of Colorado.
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A small city with affordable housing
Fort Morgan is a small city of about 11,000 people on the eastern plains. It has more affordable homes than many places in Colorado and has about a 20% lower cost of living than the Colorado average. There are also lots of parks and open spaces.
It’s about an hour and 15 minutes to drive from Fort Morgan to Denver, and closer to two hours (at least) to get to the mountains from Fort Morgan. Although lots of people picture Colorado as a mountainous state, the area by Fort Morgan is made up of flat, grassy plains rather than mountains.
There are so many different, wonderful areas of this state. Hopefully, this post has helped you narrow down the best places to live in Colorado!