The Best Places to Live in Colorado in 2021

Denver is already a well-known destination city for mountain lovers and city dwellers alike. But it isn’t the only place people are flocking to in Colorado.

Fresh mountain air, unparalleled scenery and friendly faces are abundant across The Centennial State. The best places to live in Colorado are distinct enough that, no matter what you’re looking for, you could find a place to call home.

Below is the list of the top ten best cities in Colorado:

Blue skies over Aurora, CO.

  • Population: 356,455
  • Average age: 38.9
  • Median household income: $65,100
  • Average commute time: 35.5 minutes
  • Walk score: 47
  • Studio average rent: $1,342
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,472
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,734

If you love Denver but hate the rent prices, you may not need to read any further down the list. No longer is Aurora Denver’s up-and-coming little sister; Aurora is here.

The so-called Gateway to the Rockies is less famed as a place to live, but it’s appealing in its own right. Aurora is the third most populous city in Colorado, but to locals, it’s an eastern suburb of Denver that no longer feels so suburban.

Don’t miss Cherry Creek State Park, an ideal spot for biking that offers some much-coveted shoreline in this landlocked state in the form of the Cherry Creek Reservoir.

You’ll also find Stanley Marketplace, a dazzling new shopping and food mecca built into a formerly deserted airport facility.

Mountains in Boulder, CO, one of the best places to live in colorado

  • Population: 105,115
  • Average age: 38.5
  • Median household income: $69,520
  • Average commute time: 23.7 minutes
  • Walk score: 63
  • Studio average rent: $1,953
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,174
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,485

Boulder is about as picturesque of a college town as they come. Just 30 minutes northwest of Denver, this is the home of the University of Colorado and some of the best food you can find in the state.

It’s a tight-knit little community, and you’ll find excellent education, an abundance of arts and culture, an incredibly bikeable city layout and a surprising amount of traffic despite the low commute times.

The U.S. News & World Report recently named Boulder number one on its list of best places in America to live thanks to the gorgeous Chautauqua Mountain backdrop and focus on wellness. It’s also been called the happiest place to live by National Geographic.

The hippy state of mind has grown on a lot of people drawn to this hamlet. You can’t go wrong living in Boulder, as long as you can afford the high rent prices.

Downtown Colorado Springs.

  • Population: 445,686
  • Average age: 40.5
  • Median household income: $64,712
  • Average commute time: 26.4 minutes
  • Walk score: 37
  • Studio average rent: $1,044
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,241
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,499

Even higher than the Mile High City, Colorado Springs sits at the base of Pikes Peak, and the mountain views are hard to escape here. Colorado Springs has plenty of city offerings but a slightly slower pace and lower price point than Denver.

Garden of the Gods Park remains startlingly attractive no matter how many times you visit. However, this city isn’t ideal for anyone who prefers to live somewhere that’s very walkable or bikeable; you will want a car to get from A to B.

Colorado Springs’ quirky next-door neighbor, Manitou Springs, is a fun weekend getaway full of mineral springs, advanced hiking trails and Anasazi cliff dwellings.

Plus, Denver is around an hour away if you aren’t traveling during peak traffic times.

Downtown Denver, CO, one of the best places to live in colorado

  • Population: 677,202
  • Average age: 40.3
  • Median household income: $68,592
  • Average commute time: 30.8 minutes
  • Walk score: 71
  • Studio average rent: $1,644
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,877
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,548

Denver is a renowned destination because it has just about everything — entertainment, nightlife, arts and culture to spare. The city consistently ranks as one of the best and healthiest places to live, and the quality of life here is bar-none. It also ranks as the most walkable city on this list.

Good-looking yet still humble, the Colorado capital boasts loads of outdoor activities within the city limits, but the day trips are impressive as well. Plus, it has all the major sports teams, competitive colleges, world-class museums and mountains for those who want to scale them or prefer to spectate.

Denver is a mecca for tech, healthcare and aerospace companies alike, which is a huge draw for young professionals and entrepreneurs.

This well-loved city is a bit pricey due to its popularity, so make sure you pick the neighborhood that ticks all your boxes.

Aerial view of Fort Collins, CO.

  • Population: 158,143
  • Average age: 37.9
  • Median household income: $65,866
  • Average commute time: 24.4 minutes
  • Walk score: 42
  • Studio average rent: $1,188
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,430
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,691

An hour north of Denver is another college town: Fort Collins.

This town has a more rural and Old West feel than Denver or Boulder, and it’s often called the Craft Beer Capital of Colorado. While the views spotlight more foothills than in-your-face mountains, it is heavy on the western charm.

Ski resorts aren’t in close proximity, but Fort Collins is better suited for lacing up your boots and going for a horseback ride.

The Horsetooth Reservoir is one of Colorado’s most Instagrammable places, and the Cache la Poudre River Canyon isn’t far behind.

The city is a popular place for families and college students, where excellent schools and relatively quick commute times collide.

Grand Junction, CO, one of the best places to live in colorado

  • Population: 60,402
  • Average age: 42.7
  • Median household income: $52,504
  • Average commute time: 21.3 minutes
  • Walk score: 49
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: N/A
  • Two-bedroom average rent: N/A

On the western slope, you’ll find Grand Junction, a smaller city teeming with nearby wineries, hiking and biking trails and respite from the Denver crowds.

The city is home to the Colorado National Monument and Grand Mesa, the world’s largest flat-topped mountain.

This small town has mild winters, too, compared to the rest of Colorado. If you’re into skiing or snowboarding, Powderhorn Mountain Resort is less than an hour away.

What it lacks in mountain views, it makes up for with competitive pricing and expansive outdoor recreation. Plan on much more affordable rent prices than the bigger cities, with jealousy-inspiring day trips to places like Moab, Ouray and Telluride.

Aerial over Lakewood, CO.

  • Population: 151,835
  • Average age: 43.7
  • Median household income: $66,740
  • Average commute time: 32.1 minutes
  • Walk score: 51
  • Studio average rent: $1,342
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,453
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,750

Another idyllic suburb is Lakewood, just a few miles west of Denver. With popular concert venues like Red Rocks Amphitheatre and the scenic town of Golden nearby, Lakewood offers a lot to love with quick access to Colorado’s capital.

Downtown Lakewood is home to Belmar, a quaint shopping and entertainment hub focusing on arts and kid-friendly appeal.

The Lakewood stop on the light rail will get you to Union Station in just under twenty minutes, making the commute tolerable.

The city is an ideal spot for families, affording a break in rental prices for the budget-conscious and ample outdoor activities for the kiddos.

Littleton, CO, one of the best places to live in colorado

  • Population: 45,740
  • Average age: 45.4
  • Median household income: $76,015
  • Average commute time: 30.8 minutes
  • Walk score: 47
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,707
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,174

Just south of Denver is Littleton, a cute suburb with tree-lined roads and unfettered mountain views that offers quiet parks and natural spaces.

The schools here are even more competitive than those in Denver or Lakewood, making this suburb a popular place for families. It’s also one of the safer cities in Colorado.

Hudson Gardens hosts summer concerts, beer festivals and countless outdoor weddings.

Plan on a bit of a commute if you are working in Denver, but the light rail stop in the heart of Littleton makes traffic less of a headache. Plus, the more affordable rent prices may make up for your time spent on the road.

Loveland, CO.

  • Population: 73,199
  • Average age: 44.7
  • Median household income: $68,592
  • Average commute time: 30.4 minutes
  • Walk score: 38
  • Studio average rent: $1,250.95
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,487
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,818

Between Boulder and Fort Collins lies Loveland, a small town in northern Colorado.

Known as the Sweetheart City, Loveland is heavy on Valentine’s Day celebrations. They have an international Valentine’s re-mailing operation so that you can have your Valentine postmarked from this romantic city.

Though it’s a bit less fussy than its neighbors, Loveland has parks, quaint shops and views that tend to fall under the radar. The Loveland Fire and Ice Festival is a can’t-miss event for fans of music, fireworks and snow sculpture.

The city is an easy choice for someone who wants to live the Colorado lifestyle without paying the most devastating Colorado prices.

Pueblo, CO, one of the best places to live in colorado

  • Population: 109,273
  • Average age: 43.0
  • Median household income: $40,450
  • Average commute time: 23.7 minutes
  • Walk score: 39
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $695
  • Two-bedroom average rent: N/A

Pueblo brings a lot to the table, including a diverse community and a small-town feel. Not quite an hour south of Colorado Springs, the city provides an almost unbelievable combination of affordability and central Colorado location, ideal for large families.

Pueblo offers unparalleled access to fishing, boating and camping for those who love the great outdoors but don’t want to fend off the frenzied crowds.

If you prefer sunglasses to ski masks, Pueblo might be the perfect place for you, as it is one of the least snowy areas in Colorado.

The food and entertainment here are underrated, too. Enjoy the Pueblo Riverwalk, Lake Pueblo State Park and a plethora of family-run cafes.

Find your own best place to live in Colorado

Colorado is an attractive place to call home, whether you’re seeking all-season outdoor activities, big-city polish and amenities or a small mountain town with unpretentious people. If you’re ready to make the move, start here.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments in March 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
Other demographic data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.


How to Create a Comprehensive Budget for Your Dream Wedding

Planning a wedding is a notoriously exciting and stressful experience. If you’re lucky enough to have a wedding on the horizon, you likely already know the tremendous amount of work that goes into creating the perfect wedding. No matter if you’re planning your wedding on the cheap or hoping for an extravagant destination wedding, the best place to start when planning your celebration is with the budget.

According to a recent survey, 45 percent of couples reported going over budget on their weddings in 2017. As the average wedding costs around $27,627, the costs of overspending on the scale of a wedding can be steep. Learning how to budget for your wedding can help you avoid going into debt and have some money left over for a nice honeymoon. Your wedding should be a time of celebration and happiness, so follow these steps to get the hard parts of budgeting out of the way first thing.

5 No-Stress Steps to Budget For Your Wedding

1. Figure Out How Much You Can Spend

Similar to creating a regular budget, you’ll need to start by calculating you and your partner’s net income. Next, figure out how much you can save each month by subtracting your monthly expenses from your total income. This includes everything from utility bills to date nights out, so be as thorough as you can. Once you’ve figured out how much you usually have left over to put towards your wedding, you may find you need to cut some unnecessary expenses to save more money in time for your wedding.

When it comes to family members’ contributions to the celebration, don’t be shy about asking exactly how much each set of parents is willing to contribute. On average, the bride’s parents paid for 44.5 percent of wedding costs last year. Each family’s financial situation will be different, but getting a specific range or number of what family members are comfortable contributing will help you create your wedding budget and make sure everyone’s happy with their level of involvement.

2. Set Your Priorities

Talk with your partner about what you think is the most important aspect of your wedding. There will likely be expenses that you have to compromise on, but for the most part this will help you to spend less on things neither of you cares about, and make the most of what you do want. You and your partner should each list your top three priorities, and then compare lists. Even if your priorities don’t exactly match, talk about why each component is important to you. You may realize you want different things for the same reasons.

For example, if you think having excellent food is the most important part of the wedding and your partner thinks a great band is essential for a good time, you may find that you both want guests to have a fantastic experience. Talking through your wants reveals you both want to provide good food and a fun atmosphere for your guests.

3. Prepare for Surprises

One of the reasons so many couples go over their wedding budget isn’t necessarily because they weren’t trying to stay on track, but because countless costs can pop up unexpectedly. Sometimes guests forget to RSVP until the last minute, so plan extra seats and dinner plates for the reception. In addition, you may find that the most affordable venues, caterers, or bands are unavailable for your wedding date and you end up needing to spend more on alternatives. Either way, the critical thing to remember is to leave some cushion in your budget if possible.

Keep in mind also that vendors may require additional payment for services that you assumed were included in their package. Photographers may have additional fees for giving you access to your photos online, while venues may charge a break-down fee after the wedding. Read the contracts with your vendors, musicians, makeup artists, and venue carefully so no charges sneak up on you.

4. Find Ways to Save

There are many ways to save on your wedding, from DIYing, getting help from your friends, or just being savvy and shopping around. Give yourself enough time when planning your wedding to comparison shop vendors, dresses, bands, and everything else you need. It’s common for vendors to increase their rates for weddings because they know couples typically spend a lot of money. If the vendor gets the sense you’re in a hurry, they may raise their rates because they know you don’t have the time to look elsewhere.

Keep in mind the season when you plan your wedding. You may find that having a wedding in an off month like December will make it easier for you to save on venues and services because this is one of the least busy months. Certain times of day or week are often much less expensive, too. Fridays or Sundays in the afternoon may save you thousands if you don’t care about when you have your wedding.

Don’t let the small details get to you. Couples who fixate on the color of the lights at the venue or the type of chairs at the reception can end up paying thousands of extra dollars for these details to be changed out when no one will be paying much attention to them anyways.

5. Keep Yourself Accountable

Try using a spreadsheet or a budgeting app to keep track of every expense for the wedding. Since the process of planning a wedding can take a long time, even the occasional expense that goes unaccounted for can quickly add up and leave you wondering where a large chunk of your money went. Every time you pay for a cake tasting or send a batch of invitations, don’t forget to record that expense and add it to the running total. This way, you can see how you’re doing towards your budget at any time.

You can also categorize your budget by food, venue, and services. By doing this, you can adapt your budget as expenses rise. If you find yourself spending too much on catering, you may decide to leave out the videographer after all. Either way, keep track of your spending so that you remain responsible for staying under budget.

How Much Should You Spend?

Every wedding budget will vary depending on what you and your partner care about the most. Keeping in mind what most couples spend can help you stay on track — and help you know what to expect. To figure out how much you should be spending on each category, first set aside around 5 percent of your total budget for surprise expenses, and then account for the largest expenses at your wedding.

The venue is usually one of the largest expenses and takes up around 40 percent of the typical wedding budget. However, just because it is one of the most significant expenses doesn’t mean you should necessarily spend everything on your dream venue. With larger venues, your guest list may increase, and with more people, your food and drink costs can quickly multiply out of control. Keeping your location cost at less than half of your total budget will ensure you have enough to pay for everything that goes into your venue as well. To reduce your venue costs to zero, consider having a backyard wedding or a wedding at a friend or family member’s home.

The photographer or videographer is often the next most substantial cost. If you want professional photographs and videos of your wedding, this will cost around 16 percent of your total budget. Wedding photographers often offer multiple services at different rates, which can help keep the costs in a range you’re comfortable with. Consider taking just a few group photos to keep your costs low. If documentation is essential to you, you can opt for multiple photographers capturing every moment and a convenient digital album.

The cost of food and drink may often eclipse the cost of the photographer depending on your guest list, tastes, and whether you decide to have an open bar. The average wedding budget allocates around 10 percent for food. This can vary greatly depending on how large your wedding is and how many options you provide your guests. To save money consider offering a few delicious staples and a limited drink menu.

What’s the Average Cost of a Wedding?

Here’s another look at how you might break down the costs of your wedding. Consider copying the percentages into a spreadsheet to help get your budget-tracking started:

  • Venue: 40% – Average Cost: $15,163
  • Dress: 5% – Average Cost: $1,509
  • Decor: 8% – Average Cost: $2,379
  • Food: 10% – Average Cost: $70 per person
  • Photographer/Videographer: 16% – Average Cost: $4,542
  • Hair and Makeup: 3% – Average Cost: $966
  • Music: 3% – Average Cost: $1,000
  • Wedding Planner: 6% – Average Cost: $1,988
  • Miscellaneous expenses: 6% – Average Cost: $1,900
  • Transportation: 2% – Average Cost: $830
  • Invitations and Stationary: 1% – Average Cost: $408

Tips to Stay Under Budget

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Save time and money by reaching out to your friends and family for assistance. Ask your bridesmaids or groomsmen to help stuff envelopes for your invitations or put together centerpieces for the tables.  
  • Keep track of how much you’ve already spent. If you’re starting a budget for the first time halfway through the process or lose track of how much you’ve spent, go back through your receipts and bank statements to account for everything you’ve already bought.
  • Budget for demos. One of the great perks about planning a wedding is tasting some of the best cake and appetizers out there for free. However, you may be asked to pay the vendors if you change your mind and need multiple sessions. Sometimes the samples from the caterer or florist are not free, so make sure to keep those costs in mind to avoid any surprises.
  • Cut the guest list. While reducing the number of invites can be very hard to do, this can also make the most significant impact on cost. Eliminate guests you haven’t spoken to since high school and don’t feel pressured to invite someone you don’t really know. Try limiting children and plus-ones to reduce the numbers even further.
  • Check which local flowers are in season. Request flowers for the bouquets and any decor that are in season to prevent any exorbitant shipping costs for greenery that can’t be grown near you. Not only will this save you money, but it will also ensure the flowers at your ceremony or reception are fresher.
  • Ask for help instead of gifts. Many friends and family are happy to provide services like baking a wedding cake or doing your photography in place of a wedding present, so don’t be afraid to reach out to your invitees that have a helpful skill.
  • Reduce rates by displaying vendor cards. Ask your vendors if they would offer a discount if you advertised their business at your wedding. Vendors may lower their rates if you simply display a tasteful business card or placard next to the food or floral arrangements.
  • Get more from one vendor. Try to find a vendor that offers multiple services, as bundling your costs together will save you money. A wedding planner who is also happy to take care of printing your invitations will save you more money than going through two different companies.
  • Change your style. Black-tie weddings require a more expensive venue and extravagant decor. Save money on every aspect by going for a cozier feel with less expensive accents. You can also make DIYing your centerpieces easier for yourself if you go for a creative mix-and-match vibe.

While planning your wedding can be a stressful and time-consuming experience, putting in the extra effort up front to set a budget will make the process a lot easier. As an added plus, your budgeting and organization skills for your life will no doubt improve. No matter if you plan a wedding based on the national averages or your wedding is completely unconventional, the important thing to remember is that you get to decide what matters to you most on your wedding day. If you focus on the people and experiences that make you happy, you’ll be sure to have your own dream wedding.

Sources: HereComesTheGuide | | TheKnot | WeddingWire | TheKnot

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