When it comes to year-round, seasonal sports and outdoor activities, there are few places that can beat Colorado. From world-class ski resorts to scenic trail runs, the state is known for its active lifestyle — attracting residents who want to spend more time exploring the great outdoors.
The growing population of Colorado has contributed to the increase in housing costs over the last few years, with the median price of a single-family home rising by almost a third. And while housing prices in hot spots such as Boulder, Aspen, and Vail can easily reach into the millions, there are still affordable places to live if you know where to look.
Here are 10 of the cheapest places to live in Colorado
Below are ten cities and towns in Colorado that represent some of the cheapest places to live in the state. Please note that the estimated median home values listed will fluctuate with market conditions. Click on the value to see current estimates.
The small community of La Junta is located in southeastern Colorado in the Arkansas River Valley. The name “La Junta” means “the junction” in Spanish and reflects the town’s history as the junction of two major trading routes and the critical role it played in the transport of commercial, agricultural, and ranching commodities for over a hundred years.
Although the mountains of western Colorado are visible on the horizon, La Junta is located in the prairie grasslands. Biking, bird watching, and hiking are popular activities here — as well as exploring museums that highlight the history and heritage of the area. Youth sports are also a big deal, with tournaments happening all summer long and great community support for the high school teams.
Ten miles southeast of La Junta is the town of Rocky Ford, which is famous for the cantaloupe crops that grow plentifully around the community. As one of Colorado’s most famous foods, these cantaloupes are well-loved throughout the state.
Primarily a farming community, the town of Rocky Ford is rural and quiet — ideal for those wanting to live life at a slower pace. There is a small, historic downtown center where residents can grab a bite to eat, go shopping and get a peek at the city’s historic roots.
The quiet, rural community of Lamar is located in southeast Colorado. The town is equally known as one of the best bird-watching spots in the state, as well as the home to one of the Colorado Welcome Centers, which is located in a restored 1907 train depot.
Bird lovers and other outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the town’s proximity to John Martin Reservoir State Park, Willow Creek Park, and Two Buttes State Wildlife Area. The Two Buttes Trail is part of the Colorado Birding Trail and is a great place to catch a view of snow geese, sandhill cranes, and other migratory birds in the spring and fall.
The city of Sterling may be small by many standards, but it is the largest community in northeastern Colorado — serving as the main shopping district for much of the region. The city also sees visitors because of the famous public art display here, which can be found throughout the downtown area and parks. Created by local sculptor Bradford Rhea, these living tree sculptures take the shape of various characters and creatures, including a mermaid and a herd of elephants.
Like other communities in this part of the state, residents enjoy a quiet, laid-back lifestyle that heavily revolves around the outdoors. Boating, hiking, golf, and hunting are all popular activities here.
The tiny town of Trinidad is located in southern Colorado along the New Mexico-Colorado border. There is a lot of Colorado history in this little town, as it once served as an important trading outpost on the Santa Fe Trail. Now, that trail is an important recreation area in the area.
Speaking of recreation, Trinidad is increasingly becoming a popular spot for gravel bike enthusiasts, as there are over 1,600 miles of gravel roads in the area. Residents also spend time at Trinidad Lake, which provides ample camping, hiking, fishing, and boating opportunities.
Fort Morgan is an agricultural, ranch community located 80 miles northeast of Denver in the plains of Colorado. Farming and food production are big business here, with a number of food processing facilities calling Fort Morgan home.
In addition to the employment opportunities, residents of Fort Morgan can look forward to lower utility rates than many other communities in Colorado, because all of the utilities are owned and operated by the city. According to the city website, this results in the lowest electric rates for commercial and residential customers in the state and contributes to the affordability of settling in this community.
Cañon City has earned the distinction of “the Climate Capital of Colorado.” Due to its unique geography (and despite its elevation), Cañon City is typically 10 degrees warmer in the winter months than the surrounding communities.
Located southwest of Colorado Springs in central Colorado, Cañon City sits between the Sangre de Cristo mountains and the eastern plains. Because the city is surrounded by thousands of acres of protected land, residents enjoy beautiful views throughout Cañon City — as well as have access to many outdoor, recreational options. Popular activities include fishing, hiking, biking, rock climbing, off-road riding, and hunting.
One such attraction is the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park which is popular among thrill-seeking residents and tourists alike.
The city of Pueblo is located in southeastern Colorado. Although significantly smaller than nearby Colorado Springs, Pueblo has many of the amenities that you’d find in larger metro areas, including a four-year university, a symphony orchestra, and a performing arts center. Pueblo is also home to the annual Colorado State Fair and Pueblo Chile & Frijoles Festival.
The winters in Pueblo are much milder than what you’d find in the mountains, with an average winter high of 47 degrees. Yet, it’s only about a two-hour drive to the mountains, where world-class skiing, tubing, and other snowy adventures await.
The city sits on the Arkansas River, with the city riverwalk being a highlight of the downtown area.
The small rural community of Brush is located in the plains of northeastern Colorado. Agriculture and ranching are a big part of the local economy here, with the city hosting the largest amateur rodeo in the world each July.
Despite its rural feel and small population, the city offers a range of amenities aimed at enhancing the recreational opportunities of its residents. These include five parks, a nine-hole golf course, a roller skating rink, public swimming pool, and wildlife areas. The city also holds a 4H Junior Fair and multiple 5K run/walks each year.
Located near the famous Four Corners is the historic community of Cortez. This city is steeped in rich Native American history and culture that goes back centuries and can be seen both in the artifacts and archaeological points of interest in town, as well as the residents who call this community home.
The city is located a mere eight miles from Mesa Verde National Park and is also in close proximity to Carpenter Natural Area and Hawkins Preserve where rock climbing, biking, and hiking are popular activities.
Heirloom and heritage corn, squash, and beans are popular crops here, making their way onto restaurant menus and at farmer’s markets throughout the area.
FAQs: Choosing the right Colorado community
Are there cheap places to live in the mountains of Colorado?
The mountain communities of Fruita, Trinidad, and Cañon City all have affordable housing options that are well below average in the state.
What are a few of the safest cities in Colorado?
According to the latest SafeWise report, the safest cities in Colorado include Brush, Frederick, Milliken, Severance, Gypsum, and Dacono. The city of Lamar also made the top 10 list.
What if I want to live near ski resorts?
Are there cheap places to live in Colorado that have good school districts?
Generally speaking, the best school districts in Colorado come with an expensive price tag, with Telluride, Aspen, Boulder, and Cherry Creek high on the list. When balancing affordability with school quality, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Trinidad, and Lamar are good places to start.
What cities in Colorado have the nicest climate?
The cities of Pueblo, Cañon City, and Lamar are known for their mild winters and hot summers. In Lamar, the coldest month of January has an average high of 46 degrees.
Is it a good time to sell my Colorado home?
It is a seller’s market in Colorado with low inventories and a median single-family home price that has risen by almost a third in the last two years. If you’re thinking about selling, we invite you to try our free Best Time to Sell Calculator, which analyzes sales data in your neighborhood and tells you what time of year you’d likely sell the fastest and make the most money.
Are you considering buying or selling in Colorado? Partner with a top agent
Colorado is a real estate hot spot, being ranked the most desirable state to move to in a 2019 survey. Between the high demand and rising prices, you’ll need an experienced real estate agent on your side to help guide you through the process and help you get the best deal possible on your home sale or purchase.
To speak to a top agent in your area, try our free Agent Match platform. And if you’re curious what your Colorado home might be worth now, our Home Value Estimator will give you a ballpark quote in two minutes.
Header Image Source: (Justin Wang / Unsplash)