Colorado, Destinations, North America

What Living In Colorado Is Really Like

There’s a reason we call it Colo[RAD]o.

As a native Coloradan, it’s easy to say that Colorado is the best place to live. But it really depends on what your priorities are. For example, if you are an avid surfer, you may want to live elsewhere.

This is a (mostly) objective list of the pros and cons of living in The Centennial State, and what you can expect if you plan on moving to Colorado.

Pros of living in Colorado

The Views Are Incredible

The Rocky Mountains look good in any season, and gorgeous views can be found almost anywhere in the state. If you’re in the Denver Metro area, just drive west, towards the mountains, and you will stumble upon a breathtaking, picturesque photo opp. By the way, if you’re looking for a spot to take a beautiful photo of the Denver skyline and the mountains, head behind the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. I recommend going during sunset.

There Are Numerous Weekend Getaway Options

Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Colorado has 23 ski resorts and over 25 non-resort picturesque mountain towns, perfect for a quick vacation from the city. A few of my personal favorite weekend getaways include Pagosa Springs, Breckenridge and Colorado Springs.

One of the perks of living in the center of the country is the proximity to other states, making them viable weekend getaways. (Although, you will want 3+ days for some of these.) For example, Santa Fe, NM is only 5.5 hours from Denver and Lake McConaughy in Nebraska is 3.5 hours. Additional options include Salt Lake City (8 hours) and Yellowstone National Park (9 hours).

Pagosa Springs

You Don’t Have To Go Far To See Wildlife

I live in the middle of Denver and frequently see deer in my apartment complex. To see over 330 species of wildlife just 20 minutes east of Denver, visit the Rocky Mountain Arsenal. We visited in the fall and saw deer, bison and prairie dogs. Journey into the Rocky Mountains to see even more wildlife, including moose, elk and bears.

The Locals Are Active

Colorado is one of the most active states in the country, and it’s easy to understand why. With the beautiful Rocky Mountains as our backyard, we are burning calories even on snowy, bitterly-cold days. In the summers, Coloradans bike, jog, walk, kayak, or hike, and in the winters, Coloradans snowboard, ski, snowshoe, or sled. With the thousands of miles of trails, there’s really no excuse to stay home no matter the weather.

Colorado Hikes

Paint Mines in Calhan, Colorado
Paint Mines in Calhan, Colorado

There Are Four Seasons In One Day

This isn’t an exaggeration, we do really have 300 days of sunshine a year. Just last weekend, the morning started off crisp, then it turned warm, then in rained, then it snowed, all within 12 hours. Coloradans dress in layers and are ready for a change in temperature at any point. Don’t even bother asking, “What should I pack for my trip?” For example, sometimes spring is absolutely beautiful, but it’s also not uncommon for Colorado to receive their biggest snow storm during spring break.

The Food Is Amazing

Colorado is a food-lovers paradise. Colorado is known for many foods, including: Palisade Peaches, Rocky Mountain Oysters, Green Chili, Colorado Lamb, Rocky Ford Cantaloupe, Bison and Olathe Sweet Corn. Read more about Colorado’s famous foods here.

Palisade Colorado
Palisade Peaches

There Are Too Many Craft Breweries To Count

My friends over at Colorado Brewery List would agree, Colorado is full of incredible breweries. Check out their map to see just how many are in the Denver Metro area alone! With a wide selection to choose from, Coloradans love going brewery hopping and do so on a regular basis. Two great brewery crawls to try are RiNo District and South Broadway. Both require less than 20 minutes of walking total and include over 4 breweries.

Tivoli Brewing Company
Tivoli Brewing Company

Cons Of Living In Colorado

The Traffic Is Terrible

And seems to be getting worse every year. If you’re trying to get from one area of Denver to the other, assume it’ll take 30 minutes, because it usually does. Don’t bother driving during rush hour in the morning or the afternoon, you will be in a stand-still for most of your trip. Many Denverites rely on a real-time navigation app like Waze to advise them of alternative routes to avoid traffic. Getting on and off of the highway several times during your commute is becoming the norm. If you’re trying to get to the mountains, be warned that early morning weekend traffic is pretty bad, so is afternoon traffic as the ski lifts close.

Transplants Are Given The Stink-Eye

Be warned, if you are not a native Coloradan, residents will hold it against you, especially if you’re originally from California. Many believe that transplants are the reason the housing market is out of control, and assume that people are only moving here for the weed. While it’s rare to come across a Coloradan who will actually hate you for being a transplant, you will definitely be the butt of a few of their jokes. Just stay out of the fast lane, learn how to drive in the snow, and get rid of that California license plate. That’ll help.

There Are Few Swimmable Bodies Of Water

In comparison to other states, Colorado just isn’t great in the swimmable bodies of water category. While Colorado has a handful of reservoirs and lakes, none are known for their swimming. The beaches are rocky and the water is often very cold. If you’re set on getting some lake time, visit The Denver Ear for a list of the best places to swim in Colorado.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

The Housing Market Is A Nightmare

Home prices are raising faster than inflation, which means that while Colorado jobs are plentiful, our salaries are still not high enough to afford the majority of homes on the market. In the off-chance you do find a single family home under $250,000, you will be entered in a race to see who can cough-up an all cash offer quicker. Currently, the average price of a home in Colorado is $536,584. There’s not much that would make a native want to leave Colorado, but the housing market may push locals to shop for homes elsewhere.

Pros Or Cons, Depending On Your Preference

There Are Weed Dispensaries Everywhere

Marijuana has been legalized in the State of Colorado and there are places to buy it on nearly every street corner. Just look for the green + sign. Fortunately, marijuana sales taxes are going straight to the Colorado public school system. But a negative is that thousands of growers are looking to get a piece of that action, creating an over-saturation in the Denver Metro area.

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The State Is Both Liberal and Conservative

It’s about 50/50 here in Colorado, with liberals in Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins and Pueblo and conservatives in Colorado Springs and the more rural Colorado towns. In 2016, 48.2 percent of Colorado voters voted for Hilary Clinton and 43.3 percent voted for Donald Trump. Take a look at this map of Colorado’s 2016 voting trends if you want to learn more.

The Fast Lane Is Just That: Fast

Ask any Coloradan what their biggest pet peeve is and they’re likely to say, “People driving slow in the left lane.” While the speed limit is usually 75-miles-per-hour, most Coloradans are going upwards of 90-miles-per-hour in the fast lane. If you aren’t speeding, move over. If you don’t, expect to be tailed or flipped off.

 

After living in Colorado for 26 years, I can’t imagine moving to another place long-term. My heart will always be in Colorado.

What do you think, Colorado natives? What else would you add to this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

Thanks for reading,

Emma

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0 thoughts on “What Living In Colorado Is Really Like

  1. The #Colorado tag caught me…

    Pro: While most visitors from out of state find the Front Range remarkably friendly and laid back, it’s the least friendly and most stressed region of the state. 🙂

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