The 10 Best Places to Live in Colorado in 2024

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If you’re planning on moving to Colorado, add these cities to your list.

Colorado is a mecca for tall mountains, high prairies, abundant outdoor recreation, and a widely varied climate. Across its five distinct regions (all above 3,000 feet), the state provides a mix of history, charm, and adventure, making it a great place to call home. People are taking advantage of this, too; Colorado’s population grew by nearly 15% from 2010 to 2020, almost twice the national rate. 

Natural alpine beauty is one of Colorado’s defining features. The Southern Rockies dominate most of the Western Colorado landscape, with 58 mountain peaks rising above 14,000 feet (known as fourteeners). Deserts, basins, canyons, and the headwaters of large rivers also dot the west. Eastern Colorado is almost entirely home to high plains. 

Around 85% of Colorado’s population lives just east of the Continental Divide within the Front Range Urban Corridor, which roughly stretches from Fort Collins to Pueblo. Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs are located here.

Colorado’s climate is defined by extremes. A dry, alpine environment allows for large temperature swings between summer and winter and day and night. In fact, the range between the state’s highest and lowest recorded temperatures is 176°F. As such, it’s common for a snowy day to be followed by a 60°F day and then back again. Summer thunderstorms and hail are common in the west, while tornadoes can occur in the east. 

But which cities in the Centennial State are right for you? In this Redfin article, we’ve uncovered the best places to live in Colorado, ranking them on qualities such as affordability, navigability, and number of amenities. You can find more information about our methodology here or at the bottom of the article.

fort-collins-co

1. Fort Collins, CO

Population:

169,249

Average Commute Time:

20.7 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$35,489

Median Sale Price: 

$552,500

Median Rent Price: 

$1,995

Unemployment Rate:

4.2%

Fort Collins tops our list as the best place to live in Colorado. Fort Collins (FoCo or Choice City to locals) seamlessly mixes history, education, recreation, and big-city amenities, all within a navigable layout. This, combined with its relative affordability, helped the city earn top marks. Colorado State University has a campus in the city as well, giving a vibrant energy to the area. Fort Collins is a bit slower-paced than Denver and Boulder, though. 

Fort Collins is situated on the Cache La Poudre River along the Front Range, with tall, jagged mountains practically in your backyard. Rocky Mountain National Park is also just 35 miles west, home to Longs Peak, the closest 14er to Fort Collins. Within the city, Horsetooth Mountain Open Space is a popular option for day hikes, while massive parks, many lakes, and long trails are dotted throughout the area. 

One of the city’s primary attractions is its historic downtown, Old Town Fort Collins, which has everything you need packaged within just a few blocks. The neighborhood has over twenty restored historical buildings, European-style walkways lined with flowers and Tivoli lights, and space for outdoor concerts at the Old Town Square. Over 84 restaurants are located in the area, too. A majority of the city’s 21 craft breweries are also concentrated around downtown. 

Public transportation is also fairly robust for a city of its size, with 21 local bus routes and three regional routes. This, paired with great bikeability, makes getting around a breeze.

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aerial view of denver co

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2. Denver, CO

Population:

713,252

Average Commute Time:

25.7 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$45,636

Median Sale Price: 

$616,000

Median Rent Price: 

$1,883

Unemployment Rate:

3.1%

Denver, the largest city and capital of Colorado, is second on our list of the best places to live in Colorado. Originally an Old West city, Denver is a hub of history, culture, outdoor recreation, and innovation. House prices are fairly expensive, though, and the city’s population recently declined as people search for affordability. But the city’s 300 days of sunshine, renowned natural beauty, and great amenities have helped it become a popular nationwide hub. The Denver Nuggets, Denver Broncos, and Colorado Rockies keep local sports fans happy, too. 

Nestled at the base of the Rockies, a mile above sea level, Denver offers unparalleled access to outdoor recreation year-round. From skiing and snowboarding at nearby resorts like Vail and Aspen in the winter, to hiking and mountain biking in the summer, outdoor enthusiasts have it all just a short drive from downtown. Additionally, Denver’s extensive network of parks, trails, and green spaces allows for adventures within walking distance from home. Sloans Lake Park and the South Platte River Trail are popular options.

Denver is also very easy to navigate without a car. Served by RTD Denver, there is bus and light rail service throughout the metropolitan area, working seamlessly with the area’s already walkable and bikeable layout. Furthermore, Amtrak’s in-progress Front Range Passenger Rail is intended to help connect the entire Front Range Corridor, further improving mobility. 

Denver’s climate is dry and sunny, with hot summers and snowy winters. Its high elevation helps keep temperatures relatively cool year-round, too. Wildfire risks are a growing concern, however.

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boulder-co

 

3. Boulder, CO

Population:

105,485

Average Commute Time:

19.8 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$49,050

Median Sale Price: 

$1,035,000

Median Rent Price: 

$2,325

Unemployment Rate:

3.6%

Frequently rated the happiest and fittest city in the nation, and home to a large university and an abundance of natural product companies, Boulder has a lot going for it. That said, Boulder is an expensive city, with median house prices nearly double that of Denver. About a third of the city’s population (~37,000) are students at the University of Colorado Boulder. 

A defining characteristic of Boulder is that its residents are obsessed with the outdoors. On the doorstep of the Flatirons, the city is home to literally hundreds of trails, parks, open spaces, rivers, hills, and more. You can tube Boulder Creek, hang in the sun at Eben G Fine Park, hike to the top of Chautauqua State Park to see an outdoor concert, or climb at Boulder Canyon. 

Boulder is a historic city that has been through tremendous growth and change over the past century. A popular way to experience the city’s history is by walking around the historic downtown and visiting one of the 1,000 businesses at the Pearl Street Mall. While many classic businesses are gone, you can still visit some gems, including Dot’s Diner, Walnut Cafe, and the Outback Saloon. Elsewhere, you’ll find a huge variety of craft and micro breweries, small restaurants, local shops, and more. 

Lastly, Boulder sees a remarkable amount of snow every year, nearly twice as much as Denver. This is thanks to its favorable location nestled in the Rockies. Snow can fall as early as September and as late as June in Boulder.

Boulder homes for sale | Boulder houses for rent | Boulder apartments for rent

wheat-ridge-co

4. Wheat Ridge, CO

Population:

31,879

Average Commute Time:

25.8 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$40,375

Median Sale Price: 

$688,500

Median Rent Price: 

$2,145

Unemployment Rate:

3.1%

Next on our list is Wheat Ridge, a small Denver suburb known for its agricultural history and mountain views. It’s located between Edgewater and Golden in the foothills of the Rockies. Plenty of amenities, a high per-capita income, and easy access to the outdoors helped Wheat Ridge claim the number four spot on the list. Public transportation is also adequate, with RTD-Denver providing light rail service via the G Line

Wheat Ridge was previously the largest producer of carnation flowers in the world, which helped it earn the nickname “Carnation City.” Nowadays, it’s primarily a suburban town with an ideal location between Denver and the mountains. Some of the most popular spots in Wheat Ridge include Mr. Biscuits, Hienie’s Market, King of Wings, and Belfiore Italian deli

Another one of the highlights of the city is its outdoor recreation, primarily the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt, which runs adjacent to Clear Creek. The greenbelt contains multiple trails, lakes, and the largest amount of open space in the city. The Clear Creek Trail is the longest and runs from Golden through Wheat Ridge, with seven miles of paved trail. 

More than 20 parks also dot the city’s landscape, with Crown Hill, Anderson, and Berkeley Lake among the most popular. Wheat Ridge is also full of lakes and reservoirs created from reclaimed gravel mines, especially as you get further west. Tabor, Prospect, Bass, and West Lakes are all within walking distance in the western edge of town. 

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longmont-co

5. Longmont, CO

Population:

98,687

Average Commute Time:

24.9 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$39,094

Median Sale Price: 

$566,500

Median Rent Price: 

$1,936

Unemployment Rate:

3.0%

Located halfway between Denver and Fort Collins, Longmont comes in at number five on our list of the best places to live in Colorado. Longmont is known for its craft breweries and agricultural past, which you can learn more about at the Agricultural Heritage Center. And most importantly, Longmont’s outdoor recreation is top-notch. A number of parks, trails, and open spaces are woven amidst the city’s gridded layout, with the scenic St. Vrain Greenway, Golden Ponds Park, and Union Reservoir the most popular. 

Longmont is relatively flat compared to Denver and Boulder and more removed from the Rockies, but mountain escapes are still well within an hour from town. In the winter, Longmont sees a similar amount of snow as Denver and Fort Collins, averaging around 45 inches. However, due to the region’s high elevation and coinciding strong sun, consistent ground snow cover is rare, with most snow melting in a day or two.

Annual events are popular in the area. Residents gather for events like the Longmont Farmers Market, the Longmont ArtWalk, and the Longmont Oktoberfest to celebrate community and culture. The city’s thriving craft brewery scene also brings people together, with local favorites like Left Hand Brewing Company and Oskar Blues Brewery leading the way. Other popular hangouts include The Roost, Lucile’s Creole Cafe, and Wibby Brewing.

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colorado springs skyline on sunny day

6. Colorado Springs, CO

Population:

486,248

Average Commute Time:

23.3 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$35,506

Median Sale Price: 

$470,000

Median Rent Price: 

$1,855

Unemployment Rate:

3.7%

Coming in at number six is Colorado Springs, the second-largest city in Colorado. Colorado Springs is famous for its grand parks, rich history, and college-town vibe, offering a more affordable big-city lifestyle just an hour from Denver. You can discover the history of the region at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum or Old Colorado City, while the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and 11 other colleges provide nationally-known education.

Colorado Springs is an athlete’s paradise. The Manitou Incline, a cable tram turned steep 2,744-stair climb, and Pikes Peak, with a famous uphill/downhill marathon reaching an elevation of 14,115 feet, are especially popular and just outside of town. The city is no stranger to high-level athletes either, with the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in the center of town.

If you’re looking for nightlife or things to do on the weekends, you may run out of options before long and want to head north to Denver. Luckily, you don’t even need a car to do so; the Bustang Express Bus Service offers routes to Denver, Fort Collins, and more. If you do want to stay within Colorado Springs, some popular evening hotspots include Mansion, Gasoline Alley, and Jack Quinn’s Irish Pub. Public transportation within the city is limited, though.

The area’s climate is similar to Denver but generally warmer and drier. Winters are still usually snowy and summers are sunny and hot. 300 days of sunshine doesn’t hurt, either. 

Colorado Springs homes for sale | Colorado Springs houses for rent | Colorado Springs apartments for rent 

englewood-co

7. Englewood, CO

Population:

33,642

Average Commute Time:

25.2 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$40,749

Median Sale Price: 

$607,000

Median Rent Price: 

$1,949

Unemployment Rate:

2.7%

Like most cities in the region, Englewood’s beginnings can be traced to the 1800s gold rush. Situated along the South Platte River, the city slowly grew until it connected with Denver, but always retained its small-town western feel. Today, Englewood is a Denver suburb known for its convenient location, good quality of life, and great views. 

Broadway is the oldest street in the city and remains the main thoroughfare, with all the fixings you could want. The Gothic Theater, Zomo, Aki, Moes, and The Brutal Poodle are local favorites for entertainment and food along Broadway. Two blocks from the street is CityCenter Englewood, one of the hubs of the city providing access to amenities including public transportation, dining, eating, and even a park. 

Parks, golf courses, and country clubs are scattered throughout the area, too. Harvard Gulch Park, Centennial Park, the Cherry Hills Country Club, and Broken Tee Golf Course are popular options. And outdoor recreation isn’t hard to find, either, with the South Platte River Trail, Mary Carter Greenway Trail, Pirates Cove Water Park, and plenty of other trails and attractions nearby.

Importantly, public transportation is generally accessible throughout the city. Light rail service to Denver is offered via the D-Line, while the Free Trolley offers 19 stops connecting the city, including the light rail station, many businesses, and two medical facilities. 

Englewood homes for sale | Englewood houses for rent | Englewood apartments for rent

arvada-co

8. Arvada, CO

Population:

121,581

Average Commute Time:

27.6 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$45,270

Median Sale Price: 

$625,238

Median Rent Price: 

$2,350

Unemployment Rate:

2.8%

Just north of Wheat Ridge but extending well into the Rockies, Arvada is the eighth city on our list of the best places to live in Colorado. A suburb of Denver, Arvada was previously known for its celery and gold, but is now home to huge open spaces and golf courses, meandering creeks, and easy access to big-city amenities. The city is popular among those looking to be closer to the mountains but within a larger metropolitan area. RTD-Denver’s G-line connects Arvada to Denver via light rail, although sitting in traffic is common, especially for commuters.

Exploring the mountains is a popular pastime among locals. Just outside of town is White Ranch Park, with miles of trails and two campsites. And only a few miles further are dozens of smaller mountain peaks, most with trails and gorgeous vistas. Eldorado Canyon State Park is a particularly popular spot. 

Within city limits, there’s even more to do. Renting a kayak or camping at Standley Lake, meeting furry friends at the massive Westminster Hills Dog Park, running along the Ralston Creek Trail, or hiking at North Table Mountain are some of dozens of local outdoor attractions. For those looking for great food and rich history, Olde Town Arvada is the place to go. The city’s central hotspot, 12 Volt Tavern, Lady Nomada, and Breadwinner’s Cafe are three of dozens of restaurants within the neighborhood’s few blocks. 

Importantly, houses in Arvada tend to get more expensive the further west and closer to the mountains you go. 

Arvada homes for sale | Arvada houses for rent | Arvada apartments for rent

loveland-co

9. Loveland, CO

Population:

77,884

Average Commute Time:

25.7 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$34,684

Median Sale Price: 

$485,000

Median Rent Price: 

$1,717

Unemployment Rate:

2.8%

Nestled in the plains between Longmont and Fort Collins, Loveland is known for its affordable cost of living, small-city feel, and close-knit community. Housing and rental prices are 12% and 14% lower than Fort Collins, respectively.

Loveland’s topography is fairly flat; green fields, patches of trees, and small lakes cover the landscape until you hit the mountain foothills west of town, when trees become denser. Similar to Longmont, many mines are still in operation throughout the area, too. Unsurprisingly, Loveland and surrounding towns have an industrial and agricultural history, and the smell of cow pastures may float in on the outskirts of the city. 

Loveland is a close-knit city full of charm and gatherings. Popular events include the Sweetheart Festival, Bluegrass & Brews Festival, Honey Festival, and Medieval Festival, providing places for locals and visitors to get together. Many festivals are held downtown or at Fairground Park. While nightlife, social activities, and amenities are generally less varied than in Fort Collins and Denver, many people prefer a slower pace of life. 

Similar to most cities in Colorado, outdoor recreation is abundant in Loveland. Boyd Lake State Park, Lake Loveland, River’s Edge Natural Area, and Devil’s Backbone Open Space provide the widest array of recreational opportunities, while many lakes and smaller parks dot the landscape. Loveland is also the closest large city to Rocky Mountain National Park, only 35 miles from the park border.

Loveland homes for sale | Loveland houses for rent | Loveland apartments for rent

centennial-co

10. Centennial, CO

Population:

105,865

Average Commute Time:

26.6 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$51,991

Median Sale Price: 

$660,000

Median Rent Price: 

$2,520

Unemployment Rate:

2.5%

A suburb of Denver 30 minutes southeast, Centennial is a fairly upscale city with a high per-capita income and median sale and rent prices. The city is very spread out, though, so you’ll likely need a car for errands. 

Breweries are one of the biggest draws of the area, alongside quiet residential streets, large housing lots, and convenient access to Denver along the E and R light rail lines. Resolute, Blue Spruce, Two22, and Halfpenny are some of the favorite breweries among locals. For those who want some food to go along with their craft beer, Pollo Lima, Sukiya Ramen, Bawarchi, and Grange Hall serve delicious cuisine from around the world. Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater hosts local performances, too. 

A great part about living in Centennial is that it has big-city amenities without the hustle and bustle. Plenty of large companies have offices in Centennial, including Comcast, Nordstrom, and UnitedHealthcare, while many neighborhoods are built as developments surrounding a golf course or country club. The suburban city is laid out on a grid, with many amenities along Arapahoe Road. 

Outdoor recreation is popular as well, of course. Cherry Creek State Park is the largest in the area, while Willow Spring Open Space, deKoevend Park, and the Willow Creek Trail are other hotspots. In general, it’s clear that South Suburban Parks and Recreation manages a variety of well-maintained parks, recreation centers, and pools. Snowy winters are common and can turn parks into a winter wonderland.

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Methodology

Redfin’s Best Places to Live rankings are meant to help home searchers make an informed decision when choosing where to live. To attempt to measure the overall quality of a metro area, each ranking takes into account several key factors, including access to healthcare, open outdoor space, navigability, housing trends, employment statistics, income, and travel time to work. Only metros with a population of 20,000 or greater were considered for our Colorado list. More information about our methodology can be found here.

Data valid April 2024. This article is for informational and educational purposes only.

If you are represented by an agent, this is not a solicitation of your business. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional advice from a medical provider, licensed attorney, financial advisor, or tax professional. Consumers should independently verify any agency or service mentioned will meet their needs. Learn more about our Editorial Guidelines here.
Jamie Forbes

Jamie Forbes

Jamie is part of the content marketing team and is passtionate about climate change, housing affordability, and housing market trends. His dream home is a small, modern, and minimalist forested home where he can hear the wind blowing at night.

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