A Guide to Moving to: Colorado

(Everything you need to know - and more)

You’re moving to Colorado, huh? Or maybe you’re still just thinking about it. Either way, you’re in for a real treat. This little guide of ours is full of state stats, facts, trivia and weird little tidbits. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Colorado but didn’t know who to ask, designed to help you finalize your decision and hit the ground running when you land.

No matter where you choose to move in Colorado, make sure you're covered with an affordable home insurance policy.

Go ahead and make sure your seatbelts are properly fastened, your tray tables are in the upright (and locked) position, and your kids are quiet. It’s time to put the ‘rad’ in Colorado.

Colorado: An Intro

The Territory of Colorado officially became a state in 1876, 100 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The state’s birth at this memorable time in America’s life earned it the nickname The Centennial State.

Colorado’s had a fairly long-standing rep for being one of the “cool states.” Everyone’s just chill here—they ski, snowboard, hike and probably play a pretty fair amount of hackey-sack, even. It's so cool, in fact, that 5,684,203 people live here (ranking 21st in population and 37th in population density in the nation) just to be a part of all that coolness. It’s actually the second-fastest-growing state in the country. How about that?

But what makes Colorado so great? Why did 77,049 people move here in 2017 alone? Let’s dig in and find out.

Job Market

Unless you won the McDonald’s Monopoly game or you’re the heir to some candy bar empire’s fortune, you’ll need a job once you’re in Colorado. So you’re probably wondering what the job market here is looking like? Us too.

To start with, Colorado’s unemployment rate is only 3.0%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is impressively low compared to the national average of 4.1%. The minimum wage in the state is also pretty nice. At $10.20/hour, it’s well above the federal minimum of $7.25/hour, according to minimum-wage.org. Things already seem pretty optimistic.

But let’s talk specifics. What are all the cool jobs in this cool state? Well, the fastest-growing gigs at the moment include: interpreter/translator, miner, home health aid, diagnostic medical sonographer, esthetician, information security analyst, cement mason and insulation installer. But if you wanna know where the real money is, the highest-paying opportunities right now include: OB/GYN, anesthesiologist, surgeon, psychiatrist, airline pilot, CEO and pediatrician.

Obviously that isn’t everything. You can find hot jobs all over the place, and if you’re really good at something, you can usually make a lot of money in it. So stick to what you love, the opportunities are definitely out there for you.

Housing

At some point, you'll probably need to stop staying in Airbnbs and actually find a place of your own. But with  people moving to Colorado in droves, is there even any room left? Well, let’s dive into the housing market here.

For starters, the median home value is around $367,000, increasing 7.6% over the past year. Homes are currently listed on the market for $419,000 on average, and are selling for a median of $353,100. But if you’re just looking to rent a house here, you can expect to pay about $1,900/month. 

Don’t you worry though, we wouldn't dare skip over apartments. If you move to Boulder, prepare to shell out quite a bit for a one-bed—around $1,852/month. In Denver, Castle Rock and Fort Collins you’ll be paying between $1,462/month and $1,535/month. But if you’re looking for something even lower, or you’re heading off to the U.S. Air Force Academy, you’ll pay around $1,075/month in Colorado Springs. 

A lot of the higher rent costs come in areas where they’re seeing quite an up-tick in new construction. It pretty much runs right through the centerline of the state, all around Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins. There’s even a nice increase going on even further west in Glenwood Springs and around Grand Junction. So odds are pretty stacked in your favor if you're looking to get your hands on a shiny brand-new home when you get here.

Local Culture

When thinking of Coloradans, you probably picture some super-fit, twice-a-day yogi who drinks kale smoothies like they’re going out of style. Ha, as if kale smoothies would ever go out of style. Well, kinda. But Colorado is full of all kinds of different cool people.

There are plenty of outdoorsy types who take advantage of the state’s hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, off-roading and camping. There are also plenty of health nuts who love the easy access to organic, locally grown, vegan foods. There are hipsters who love outdoor concerts and beards just as much as they love irony. Colorado is also full of gym rats, beer snobs, ranchers, ski fanatics (who joke that winter is just "ski season") and die-hard Denver Broncos fans. So a pretty eclectic bunch, that’s for sure.

Overall, because of the diversity here, the state leans quite liberal. And as far as attitudes go, most are pretty laid back, unpretentious, and—of course—cool. The average age of Coloradoans is 36.4, so you tend to get a good mix of people still trying to have their fun before the mid-life crisis hits. 

In the past few years, a large number of Californians (East Coasters and Texans, too) have moved to Colorado without a clue about how to drive in the snow, all while raising rent costs. That healthy, great-outdoorsy vibe seems to appeal to many people from all over the place. 

Natives often brag about the authentic Mexican food in their home state. Coloradoans definitely like things spicy, and some say they put green chilies on top of pretty much anything and everything. They also love their game meats, including bison and elk. Order a nice bison burger smothered  with green chilies, and you're sure to impress the locals and make some fast friends.

The Centennial State Trivia

Next up is our rapid-fire trivia round, Centennial State-style. The entire state of Colorado is at least 1,000 meters above sea level, and it's the only state like this. So moving here definitely takes some adjusting to the literally breath-taking, mind-boggling altitude. The town of Leadville is the highest unincorporated town in the country, at over 10,000 feet above sea level.

But once you get accustomed, there’s a 100-mile ultramarathon called the Leadville Trail 100 you can try your lungs at. It climbs and descends 15,600 feet and is definitely a wild run.

More than one-third of Colorado's land is owned by the federal government. The largest park system in the nation is located here, made up of 205 different city parks and 20,000 acres of mountain land. 

The first-ever license plate was issued in Denver, in 1908, though we’re not sure if it just had the number ‘1’ on it or what. The nation's highest suspension bridge was built over the Royal Gorge, near Canon City. The nation's famous ballad "America the Beautiful" was the result of inspiration from the view atop Pikes Peak, the highest summit in the Rocky Mountains (at about 14,115 feet), near Colorado Springs.

Colorado is the only place in the country where four different states meet in a quadripoint—Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona all touch at one single point. You could have one hand in Utah, one in Colorado and split your legs between New Mexico and Arizona to be in four states, all at the same time. 

The state is also home to the NIST-F1 Cesium Fountain Atomic Clock, in Boulder. It has the responsibility of keeping accurate time for the entire country. It's said that for the next 80 million years, the clock will never gain, or lose, a single second. A lot more reliable than that bedside alarm clock of yours, that’s for sure.

The biggest surprise we came across is that "South Park," the Colorado home town of the show of the same name, is not a real town. South Park's creator, Trey Parker, was born in Conifer, Colorado, and both he and the show's co-creator, Matt Stone, attended the University of Colorado in Boulder, where they met.

Can't-Miss Colorado Fun + Activities

Whether you're a hipster beer snob or just looking to hit the hiking trails with your dog, you'll find plenty of cool stuff to do here.

Here are just a few of the state's main attractions:

  • Garden of the Gods: This National Natural Landmark has been called "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 and photo ops galore. The rock formations have been described as "whimsical and gravity-defying".
  • 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. King had several paranormal experiences here that he had to immediately turn into what is perhaps his most famous story to date. Part of the National Register of Historic Places, The Stanley sits in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. One of the spirits rumored to roam the premises is that of the original owner, Stanley, who has been spotted in a number of rooms. 
  • Fifty-Two 80's: The 1980s called, and they want you back. This museum in Denver is completely dedicated to '80s popular culture, in what's been described as a "tightly packed womb of nostalgia." Vintage items are on sale to the public, including toys, clothes and other memorabilia. There are pinball machines, classic video games, and bins stuffed with all kinds of trading cards. 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 more. Gnarly to the max.
  • Tiny Town + Railroad: Why go to a full-sized town when you can explore one much faster, in tiny little fun-size? In Morrison, you can roam a charming miniature village that'll give you a "glimpse into the wholesome fun of yesteryear." What began as a gift to the creator's daughter in 1921 expanded to an attraction large enough to open to the public within just five years of additions. There are tiny homes, stores, schools and even tiny lakes, most likely filled with tiny fish. 
  • 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. 

Pros and Cons of Living in the Centennial State

We could talk about how cool Colorado is all day, but wouldn’t you rather hear straight from Coloradoans themselves? Here are a few pros and cons mentioned by real-life Colorado folk that’ll help you get a clear picture of life here.

Pros (as voted on by real Coloradoans):

  • It's super-healthy: According to CBS News, Colorado is the 7th-healthiest state in the nation, as of December 2017. Makes sense with all the outdoors explorin’, organic, health food lovin’ folk who live here. 
  • The outdoors really are great: Colorado is jam-packed with so much beauty that wearing out your camera’s shutter button is easy to do. 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.
  • Job opportunities galore: One of the main reasons for the huge influx of people to the state in recent years is the state's booming job market. The low unemployment rate, higher-than-average minimum wage and all sorts of new jobs popping up make the odds of finding work here pretty dang good—in Denver, especially.
  • Sunshine day(s): Coloradoans love to gloat about their 300-ish days of sunshine, annually. Many people move to the state after struggling with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in an attempt 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.

Cons (also as voted on by real Coloradoans):

  • Soaring rent prices: Colorado's rent prices are on the rise, and have been for quite some time. As of 2018, only California and Washington have seen larger increases statewide in their rental costs. No wonder locals aren't crazy about all of the new residents.
  • Sunburns are the new tan: 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, but it still leaves a burn—a much quicker one. Sunblock is a total necessity here.
  • Over-the-top state pride: Though it's undoubtedly a beautiful state full of lots of great stuff, Coloradoans looooooove their state. Even locals agree and they’ll defend their state until they're blue in the face. The tourism industry also plays into this and tries to get the state's visitors in on the pride as well. You'll see Colorado state swag everywhere.

Weird Laws

So we’ve gone through the job market, the housing, the old, the new, the good and the bad. Now it’s time for the weird. Here are a few odd laws we found that somehow are still in existence here in Colorado. 

Here are a just few:

  • It's illegal to ride a horse while under the influence. We're not entirely sure if they're only referring to alcohol with this one, or if they're including legalized recreational cannabis as well. Either way, if you're gonna go riding, you'd better be stone-cold sober, to be on the safe side.
  • You can't "mutilate" a rock in a state park. Colorado takes its nature and state parks very seriously—so don't mess with the rocks, pal.
  • It's illegal to throw missiles at cars in Alamosa. ...but only in this one town? Hmm. We'd also really like to know why this one had to be made into a law.
  • Boulders can't be rolled on city property in Boulder. See how serious Colorado is about their rocks?! Boulder, apparently, is especially protective of their namesake boulders—which seems appropriate.

Time to Hit the Rockies

There it is, our guide to all things Colorado, from the history to the culture and beyond. While sadly we can't address every single one of your concerns, we hope that we gave you a good idea of how to fit in and if this is the right move for you.

But how could soaking up breathtaking natural scenic views, hanging out with a few beer snobs, and chasing specters at Stephen King’s favorite hotel not be absolutely amazing? 

Good luck with the altitude, it can be a real doozy. Just make sure you're covered with an affordable home insurance policy.

NOTE: if you decide Colorado isn't right for you, we've covered the other states, too, to help you find YOUR paradise. If the Southwest isn’t quite your jam, have you thought about Massachusetts?

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