It might only be a short drive on the Interstate from Denver to reach Colorado Springs, but it can feel like it is an entirely different world. Nestled against the Rocky Mountains with Pike’s Peak in the distance, this city is the largest by area in the entire state. The altitude is over 6,000 feet above sea level, and it is the home of several governing bodies of sport, including the U.S. Olympic Training Center and Olympic Committee.
It is still part of the Front Range corridor despite its location to the south of Denver. About 465,000 people call it home in the city proper, with an additional 300,000 people living in the full metro area. Colorado Springs is frequently listed as one of the most desirable places to live in the United States, climbing to #2 on the U.S. News and World Report list for 2018.
The city is also home to several military communities, with Ent Air Force Base selected as the headquarters for the Air Defense Command in the Cold War. Peterson Field would become an Air Force base in the 1950s, while NORAD’s headquarters in the city helps to fuel the economy too.
If you’re thinking about living in Colorado Springs in the future, then here are some of the pros and cons to consider before making the move.
List of the Pros of Living in Colorado Springs
1. There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in Colorado Springs.
If you have an active family, then you will love the many adventures that await you in this city. There are trails and parks scattered throughout the entire metro area, and then you have the Rocky Mountains to explore right outside your front door. Many of the trails connect with each other in the backcountry, so you can ride or walk for hours during a beautiful day and never run into anyone. Camping, cycling, and much more are all available too, and then there is the world-class skiing to enjoy during the winter.
2. You will discover lots of local events to enjoy.
The size of Colorado Springs makes it suitable for those who wish to remain someone anonymous if they wish, but it can also provide a small-town feeling thanks to the numerous events and festivals that are held here each year. The Air Force graduation ceremony is one of the most memorable annual events, especially with the Thunderbirds providing a spectacular air show. You can also enjoy productions at the Pike’s Peak Center for the Performing Arts and the Broadmoor World Arena.
3. Healthy living is a top priority for the community.
It is not unusual for people to start losing weight when they move to Colorado Springs because of the combination of outdoor activities, altitude, and the presence of numerous farmer’s markets. When the air is thinner, then your body must work harder to accomplish the same goals in every activity. Colorado Springs is also in a dry area of the central part of the state, so residents typically drink more water than they would otherwise. Then there are the numerous healthy dining options which you can find here. It is a strong part of the culture that once led the city to be named as the second-fittest in the United States by Men’s Magazine.
4. There is a real sense of community that you will discover in Colorado City.
There are weekly markets for you to enjoy throughout the city. Colorado Springs also devotes an entire week to their small businesses, encouraging owners to present their goods or services to local groups. Many people connect with each other in their neighborhoods through various social media channels to create barbecues, neighborhood evenings, and other get-togethers throughout the community. You will find that there is never a shortage of social opportunities that are available to you when you start living here.
5. The cost of living in Colorado Springs is one of the lowest in the Front Range.
Although you can find cheaper places to live along the Western Slope, Colorado Springs does provide an exceptional value to those who want to stay in the Front Range. The median house value remains consistently $30,000 lower here than it is across the rest of the state. Your overall cost of living is about 13% less when living here compared to other communities as well. Although it costs a little more to live in Colorado than other states, you will discover that it only takes a few frugal choices to stay within most budgets.
6. Small businesses make up a majority of the economic opportunities in the state.
92% of the local economy in Colorado Springs is made up of small businesses who employ fewer than 500 people. That means there is a wide variety of different employment opportunities to find in this community. When you add in the military presence in and around the city, there is a sustainability here that is challenging to replicate throughout the rest of the state. There is a mindset here to shop local first, which means neighbors are often looking for ways to help one another.
7. The weather in Colorado Springs is surprisingly good.
Snow is one of the primary reasons why people choose to start living in Colorado Springs. You are within striking distance of numerous world-class ski resorts when you live in this city. A weekend trip can take you to Vail, Crested Butte, Telluride, and various other places where you can put down a run if you want. You can include Aspen in that conversation as well. The summers can get a little warm sometimes and there can be some unpredictability, but most people enjoy the fact that they can get out and enjoy life almost whenever they want.
8. You can take advantage of the recreational marijuana laws.
If you want to use marijuana in Colorado, then you don’t need to have a prescription or license to purchase it. This advantage makes it much easier for those who have a medical need for the product to access it without trouble. A variety of different oils and edibles provide alternatives for those who can’t or don’t want to smoke or vape it.
9. The air quality in Colorado Springs is exceptional.
Colorado Springs has some of the best air in the United States, consistently ranking in the top 10 for its overall quality. Although the dry climate and altitude can result in some challenging conditions at times, you will also experience more days of sunshine and blue skies when you start living here. Most people will see the difference right away. This advantage is one of the primary reasons why many of the elite athletic training programs for international competition have their headquarters based in the city.
10. There are numerous historic landmarks for you to visit.
Outside of Pike’s Peak where the poem “America the Beautiful” received its inspiration, you are in close proximity to the Garden of the Gods as well. This vast park offers numerous red rock formations that make it unlike any other natural monument you could visit. It’s also free to the public. Cave of the Winds, the Royal Gorge, Seven Falls, and the Cliff Dwellings are also within a short drive. If you don’t mind a day trip or a weekender, you can head over to Mesa Verde, Great Sand Dunes, or the Black Canyon National Parks
List of the Cons of Living in Colorado Springs
1. The threat of a sunburn in Colorado Springs is very real.
Because you are at a higher altitude when you start living in Colorado Springs, the sun is much closer to you. The thinner air also works against you. Sunburn season can start as early as February here and then last until November in some years. You will want to pack the sunblock with you whenever you go on an outdoor adventure. Don’t forget to bring a water bottle with you too since your body will lose its hydration faster with these factors.
2. Traffic problems in the city are getting worse every year.
When you compare Colorado Springs with Denver, there really isn’t a comparison. It’s a better living situation for the average person because there is less crime, better housing values, and more job opportunities. Because more people from around the world are discovering these facts, the levels of traffic continue to increase each year. When rush hour hits or one of the shifts at the local bases release, it can be almost impossible to get somewhere on the main highways.
3. The road systems are often mismanaged, which leads to additional delays.
Because the weather in Colorado Springs is unpredictable, winter can start as early as September and last until May. That means the road-clearing solutions that crews put down to keep the roads free of ice can be gone when the usual winter storms hit in December. That means the only thing that gets put on the roads is sand, so it can be challenging to drive anywhere if you don’t know how to handle these conditions. You can offset some of this disadvantage by investing in chains or cables, but it is a persistent complaint that you will hear from long-term residents.
Then there are the potholes that you can find in the roads because of the changing weather conditions. You will find the damage in the strangest of places sometimes, with some of them deep enough that they can adversely impact yoiur vehicle.
4. You will get to hear the “sound of freedom” almost every day of the week.
Because the military presence in Colorado Springs is quite large, you will hear the sound of equipment and vehicles throughout the day. Expect to hear a C-130 fly overhead early in the morning or late at night. Caravans can take up a significant amount of space on local roadways to further clog the roads. There are many benefits to having their presence in the community, but dealing with the noise pollution is something that you must handle when living here. If you don’t like the noise of an airplane, then you’ll want to consider a different community in Colorado.
5. There is a significant homeless presence in Colorado Springs.
This disadvantage depends on your perspective. Colorado Springs is at the midway point between Denver and Pueblo, so it sees extensive traffic from the vagabond community. There are tent cities that can stretch a long way through the downtown section off the city. Social services try to work with the folks who need the most help, but there is a severe treatment deficit that you will find here with some people. If someone has a mental break while you’re trying to navigate around their presence, it could result in a potential injury hazard to you or your family.
6. If you don’t love the outdoors, then you might not find a lot to do.
There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy when you start living in Colorado Springs. If you’re not the biggest fan of walking or cycling several miles down a trail regularly, then you will discover that there isn’t a whole lot to do for a city of this size. The downtown area offers several attractions to consider, but you will find that a majority of the opportunities involve dining or shopping.
7. People have embraced the recreational marijuana laws.
There are some legitimate reasons why having access to marijuana is beneficial. You will also discover that when you start living in Colorado Springs, the recreational laws create some unwanted tourism at times. Although there are laws against using the drug while driving, it is not unusual to smell the product almost everywhere you go. Much like this item being in the advantages list, much of this issue depends on your perspective.
8. The dry air can cause problems if you have some skin conditions.
If you have moderate-to-severe psoriasis, eczema, or a similar skin condition, then the dry air can interfere with your health. You will find that the condition spreads faster and farther than it would in a climate that was more humid and at a lower altitude. There are some medications that can help you to manage the condition, but even then, you’re looking at an added cost to manage your wellbeing. Since the air is thinner in Colorado Springs too, you will discover that all physical activities are more challenging to complete until you get used to the change in altitude.
The pros and cons of living in Colorado Springs have you balancing an active, outdoor life with numerous job opportunities with the potential of some isolation. There are numerous events that can bring the neighborhoods together, but you’re also a good hour from Denver and more than that from Pueblo. If you can manage the disadvantages here, then you will discover that this city is a wonderful place to live.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.