A Guide to Buying a House in: Colorado

(So you can confidently start your hunt, even while adjusting to the new altitude)

Bierstadt Lake Reflection in Rocky Mountain National Park

You're contemplating buying a house in Colorado, but you know more about the Rocky Mountains and snowboarding resorts than you do the logistics of house hunting. Well, it's your lucky day, because we've already compiled a little guide to The Centennial State's housing market, with some fun extra tidbits thrown in just because. So, strap in and let's get moving. 

The Most and Least Expensive Cities to Live in Colorado

Instead of just looking for the city with the prettiest mountainscape, it might be handy to start your hunt already knowing which areas in the state are the most/least pricey. We did the research for you, and wrote a recap of a few in each category, as of 2019. See for yourself.

Most expensive cities:

  • Boulder
  • Aspen
  • Vail
  • Carbondale
  • Durango

Least expensive cities:

  • Brush
  • Fort Morgan
  • Craig
  • Wellington
  • Fort Lupton

And there it is. You're now better equipped to begin the house hunting process, while keeping your bank account in your thoughts. No matter where you choose to purchase your house, you can always find affordable home insurance within our trusted network.

Colorado's Housing Market

Pretty much everyone knows that Colorado's popularity has skyrocketed over the past few years, which means tons and tons of people have been moving there. So, before you set your coordinates to Colorado without a second thought, it might be a good idea to check out the state's housing market. We'll take a peek at an overview, next. 

With the massive influx in population in recent years comes rising interest rates and an overall rise in the cost of living. More demand for homes means that sellers can drive prices up crazy high, because they KNOW people will snatch them up. In fact, home prices have been rising 8-10% each year for the past several years, according to sources. Nowadays, apparently a salary of nearly $80,000/year is necessary to afford a typical house in Colorado.

There's some good news, though. Prices are expected to finally start dropping in late 2019 — maybe even by as much as 30% in some areas (not all, so don't get too excited). Since homes are beginning to lose value, it's a good time to look into renting, rather than buying. In fact, experts recommend renting for at least 6-12 months before buying, in Colorado. 

Popular Places to Move to in Colorado

One of the most moved-to cities in Colorado is its capital, Denver. Why are so many flocking to Denver, you ask? Well, between its booming music and arts scene, plentiful nightlife, wide variety of museums and sporting events, plethora of outdoor activities, diverse food options and gorgeous scenery, this place pretty much has it all.

Of course, all of that comes with a price tag, though. The average home value in Denver is about $424,700. The price per square foot is around $411. Homes are listed on the market for an average of $459,900, and renting a house will cost you about $2,000/month.

But wait, there's more. Colorado has tons of new construction underway, especially down along its central line — from Fort Collins to Denver, and on down to Colorado Springs and Pueblo. There's also a good amount underway further west in the state, in/around Grand Junction, and further south there's some popping up in/around Durango. So, if you're looking for a brand new place, you should have plenty to choose from.

Average Property Cost in Colorado

Knowing where to hunt is a great start, but knowing how much you'll be paying is an even better finish. So up next we've got an overview of some home costs and property values for Colorado. Here we go.

For starters, the average home value in Colorado is currently about $374,100. Homes are listed on the market for around $415,000, and they're closing for about $359,700. The price per square foot is around $245. Renting a house costs about $1,895/month. Homes have appreciated in value about 6.6% over the past year, and they're expected to rise another 4.5% within the upcoming year.

Of course, we can't forget about apartments. According to research, you'll find apartments in the state's capital, Denver, going for an average of $1,535/month. In Colorado Springs, you can find a place for around $1,075/month. You'll pay about the same amount if you move to Fort Collins ($1,477/month) or Castle Rock ($1,462/month). However, if you move to Boulder, prepare to shell out a bit more — around $1,852/month. It didn't top that most expensive list for nothing.

How about townhouses? Well, the average range in rent for the state begins on the low-end at about $625/month for a one-bed/one-bath place in Colorado Springs, and hits the high end at about $2,000/month for a two-bed/one-and-a-half-bath place in Boulder. 

Check into Wildfire Coverage in Colorado

Before you let that decision to move to Colorado bake to 100% completion, keep in mind that the state's most prone to wildfires, in the natural disasters column. While homeowner's insurance typically includes fire damage as a standard part of the policy, it many not include wildfires, specifically.

Some policies may require you to get a special type of coverage, also called a rider, in order to protect yourself against wildfire damage. The good thing is, you wouldn't need an entirely separate policy for this. Renters will most likely be covered by their renter's insurance, however. Renters' policies also typically include short-term housing in case damage is so bad that it causes you to become temporarily homeless (which of course, wouldn't be fun).

Make sure you know (as well as humanly possible) what YOUR specific policy covers, because it's extremely important. If you have even the slightest bit of confusion, reach out to your agent to review your policy. Because if you wait to find out that you weren't covered until AFTER disaster strikes, you won't be happy. We're just guessing. It's better to be ahead of the game.

Quality of Schools in Colorado

The quality of the school system in a certain state might be another good thing to take into consideration before making your move. So, how good are Coloradans at teaching and learning things? Let's find out right now.

Here are some 2018 stats about how Colorado schools ranked in the country:

  • #10 overall for US
  • #14 for quality
  • #8 for safety

The top-rated schools in the state are Peak to Peak Charter School (high school) in Lafayette, and the Colorado School of Mines (university) at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, in Golden.

Moving to Colorado: Pros and Cons

Awesome, all of the boring (but nevertheless, important) stuff is out of the way, so let's get to the more fun stuff. Why would people even WANT to move to Colorado in the first place? We'll find out some of the biggest PROs and CONs of the state, from actual residents, next.

PROs (as voted by real-life Coloradans):

  • It's healthy: Colorado was named the healthiest state in the nation by WalletHub at the end of 2018. It makes sense with all of the mountain bike-happy, Whole Foods shopping, health-crazed individuals who live here. 
  • The outdoors: Colorado is jampacked with a landscape so beautiful that you just might break the shutter button on your camera from so much rapid-succession clicking. Areas like Garden of the Gods are full of straight-up jaw-dropping sights. Not to mention the weather here is consistently amazing through a good part of the year, according to locals. Who wouldn't want to get outside and soak in that clear blue sky and fresh mountain air?
  • Job opportunities: One of the main reasons for the huge influx of people to the state over recent years is the state's booming job market. The low unemployment rate, mixed with a higher-than-average minimum wage and tons of new job opportunities makes odds of finding work here pretty dang good. Denver is one of the nation's hotspots, as far as grabbing a new job is concerned. 
  • Sunshine day(s): Coloradans love to gloat about their 300-ish days of sunshine, annually. Many people move to the state after struggling with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) in attempts to treat themselves with some natural vitamin D from the big glowing ball in the sky. Residents here have all the more excuse to get outside and enjoy their state's gorgeous scenery, thanks to the bright sunshine.
  • Soaring rent prices: Colorado's rent prices are beginning to soar up to the peaks of those high-altitude mountains of theirs. As of 2018, only California and Washington State had seen larger increases statewide in their rent prices in recent years. Basically, it's becoming a huge problem. No wonder locals aren't crazy about all their new out of state "friends".
  • Sun Exposure Risks: The downside to all those days of sunshine is the larger number of risk-days for sunburns. Due to the state's high altitude, the sun doesn't feel as hot as in other areas of the country, yet it burns much quicker. Sunblock is a necessity in The Centennial State — and just when you think you've applied enough, go ahead and apply some more, just to be safe.

Activities to Do in Colorado

So now that we've covered why people move to Colorado, let's check out what they're doing, once they get there. We talked with some locals about the state's must-sees and dos, from natural landmarks to infamous creepy hotels and more.

Here just a few of the state's coolest attractions:

  • Garden of the Gods: The park's official website, Garden of gods, states that this National Natural Landmark is basically "paradise in one magical stop". Located in Colorado Springs at the base of Pikes Peak, this park features ginormous red rock formations, hiking trails, camping, Jeep and Segway tours, horseback riding, breathtaking views and photo opps galore. The rock formations have been described as "whimsical and gravity defying". It's basically like you've stepped into a Legend of Zelda game. Prepare to catch your jaw, before it completely drops off. 
buying a house in colorado
  • The Stanley Hotel: If you're brave enough to venture to Estes Park, you'll find the hotel that inspired Stephen King's The Shining, which was written in 1977 after his stay in the now infamous room 217, where he had several paranormal experiences. The hotel now loops The Shining film 24 hours a day, in each of its 138 guest rooms. First opened in 1909, it's hosted many celebrities since. The Stanley Hotel was also featured on a 2006 episode of SyFy's hit series Ghost Hunters. Book yourself a stay - if you dare. 
  • Fifty-Two 80's: This museum in Denver is completely dedicated to 80's popular culture, in what's been described as a "tightly packed womb of nostalgia". Vintage items are on sale featuring toys, clothes and other memorobilia. You'll find Garbage Pail Kids, Smurfs, Strawberry Shortcake, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Care Bears, Ghostbusters, New Kids on the Block, Atari and many, many other big new-wave, neon rainbow-colored icons from the decade. It's, like, totally righteous, dude.
  • Manitou Incline: Located right outside of Manitou Springs in Cascade, this crazy-steep hiking trail will have you climbing 2,000 feet in less than a mile. The trail is located along old cable car tracks, and is a favorite "tough" workout among locals. Estimates of the time it takes to reach the top average around 40 minutes. Just watch out for signs of altitude sickness. 

Time to Make a Home in Colorado

Obviously we can't cover all your concerns before buying a house in a new state (we've got haunted hotels to visit), but it's our intent that you leave here closer to a confident decision than when you arrived. Make sure that your new home is covered with an affordable home insurance policy.

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