15 Affordable Places to Live in Colorado if You Don’t Want to Pay for Denver

published Jan 30, 2020
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Grand Junction, Colorado

A while back, a meme was circulating on Instagram that said something like “I just want to be loved like people in Colorado love Colorado.” And it’s true: Coloradans are a prideful bunch, and it’s easy to see why they adore their home state so much.

Denver, which is nicknamed the “Mile High City” because of its elevation at 5,280 feet, has all the amenities you’d want in a big city: A robust dining scene, thriving arts and culture, breweries galore, major sports teams, and a whole lot of sunny days. Plus, the mountains are like a siren, drawing people west to schuss down the slopes in the winter and to go hiking, mountain biking, and whitewater rafting in the summer. 

It’s no doubt the secret is out about Colorado, and the state is experiencing some growing pains when it comes to traffic and housing. Census Bureau data released in 2018, for instance, showed that 80,000 people moved to the Centennial state in a year, making Colorado the seventh-fastest growing state in the country

What’s the draw, besides Colorado being cool?

“In one word: jobs,” says real estate broker Rachel Gallegos, the new development team lead at luxury firm Milehimodern. “There is so much to love about the Colorado lifestyle—outdoors, sports, food, culture, weather and the list goes on. This all makes Colorado an easy place for many companies to recruit.” Gallegos notes a particular influx of jobs in the high-tech, software, aviation, and healthcare industries.

For the past eight years, home prices in Denver have been on the rise and realtors don’t predict they’ll cool off in 2020. The average home value in Denver is $451,513, according to Zillow, and in Colorado the average home value is just under $400,000. 

Still, there are some affordable pockets throughout the state where you can enjoy that Colorado lifestyle at a lower price point.

Here are 15 affordable places in Colorado where you can find homes that are less expensive than Denver.


This suburb is a mid-point between big city Denver and idyllic college town Boulder. A light rail station opened in Westminster in 2016, capable of zipping passengers to downtown Denver in about 10 minutes. Still, there’s plenty to do in town, like brunching at Snooze (if you can’t decide between pineapple upside down pancakes and sweet potato pancakes, just order the pancake flight) or walking among hundreds of butterflies flitting about at the Butterfly Pavilion. Double dare you to hold Rosie, the pavilion’s resident tarantula.


For Aurora residents, a night out or happy hour no longer means taking a Lyft into neighboring Denver. Housed in an old aviation building, The Stanley Marketplace is a food-centric marketplace—with shops and fitness studios, too—that’s helped turned this sprawling suburb into a hip destination. Aurora is also home to some large employers, including the University of Colorado’s medical campus and Buckley Air Force Base. Frequent fliers will appreciate the suburb’s proximity to the Denver International Airport, where you can connect to 215 destinations non-stop and also explore some wild conspiracy theories if your flight happens to get delayed.

Fort Collins

Home to Colorado State University, several high tech companies, and a booming beer scene with more than 40 craft breweries, Fort Collins has been pinpointed by Realtor.com as a risk-averse place to buy because of its steady housing market. Plus, Horsetooth Reservoir is in the backyard, providing residents easy access to an outdoors oasis for climbing, camping, kayaking, and living that active Colorado lifestyle. 


Named one of Apartment Therapy’s Coolest Suburbs in America, Arvada has a network of trails for outdoors lovers, a bonafide arts scene thanks to the Arvada Center for Arts and Humanities, plus a historic downtown that’s bustling with farmer’s markets, outdoor movie nights and concerts. Arvada is just 12 miles outside of Denver and is connected to downtown by the light rail, making transportation a breeze. It’s been nicknamed the “Gateway to the Rockies” because of its proximity to the mountains. But, on those Saturday mornings when you’re not hitting the slopes, The Cereal Box is a fun place to sample cereals from around the world. 


Some of the most affordable homes in the state can be found in Pueblo, which is in southern Colorado. The Arkansas Riverwalk boasts boat rides and public art, along with restaurants and shops. To strike Instagram gold, head to Neon Alley, where dozens of vintage neon signs glow. 


Colorado’s iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre is close to Lakewood. There, the crimson rocks cradle the stage—a concert in this famed venue is practically a rite of passage for residents. But locals also know Red Rocks for being an outdoor movie venue in the summer, as well as a stunning outdoor gym that’s perfect for practicing yoga or running the stairs on weekend mornings. Lakewood offers plenty of shopping options, from the massive Colorado Mills outlet mall to the mixed-use Belmar shops and restaurants. Oh, and “South Park” fans will love this: You can visit Casa Bonita IRL. The Mexican restaurant beloved by Cartman (“more sopapillas, please!”) is housed in a strip mall and has a waterfall where cliff divers perform stunts. 


Englewood is hip, thanks to eccentric dive bars and antique shops galore, plus a restored Art Deco venue, the Gothic Theatre, that has a packed concert lineup. Just outside of Denver, there are plenty of family-friendly amenities in Englewood, too. Among them is Pirates Cove, an easy-on-the-wallet waterpark with water slides and a lazy river and the Museum of Outdoor Arts that stages concerts and is a treasure trove of public art. 

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Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorado Springs

If Colorado had an official state postcard, the dramatic crimson sandstone formations jutting into blue skies at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs would be a serious contender. This southern Colorado town is also home to Pikes Peak, which, at 14,115 feet, offers some stellar views and inspired Katharine Lee Bates to write “America the Beautiful.” Suffice it to say, Colorado Springs is a beauty. Newcomers here will have an easy time filling up their weekends, as the region has 55 cultural attractions and museums, including a visit to the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center.


Nicknamed the “Sweetheart City,” thousands of Valentines are re-routed through this Northern Colorado town every year as volunteers place Loveland stamps on the cards. The city takes its Valentine’s Day celebrations seriously, with a Sweetheart Festival that includes a group wedding. Loveland also has some wide-open spaces for outdoor enthusiasts, including Boyd Lake State Park for camping and swimming and Devil’s Backbone Open Space for hiking among unique rock formations. Are you head over heels yet?

Grand Junction

Colorado loves its craft beer, no doubt. But it’s got a wine country, too, with Western Slope wineries and tasting rooms in Grand Junction, where warm days and cold nights produce some hearty grapes. Grand Junction is also a playground for outdoors lovers, as Colorado National Monument’s red rock canyons are a destination for camping, hiking, mountain biking, and rafting. Bighorn sheep and eagles make cameos, to boot.


While many came to Colorado in search of gold, some of Palisade’s early founders were fruit farmers. Today, this Western Slope city is ripe with orchards and wineries, but it’s especially celebrated for the juicy peaches it produces—and the annual peach festival. Art galleries can be found in the adorable downtown, while steep hikes at Mount Garfield challenge outdoors lovers and come with reward of panoramic views and wild horse sightings, if you’re lucky.

Idaho Springs

If it’s the promise of powder days that is luring you to Colorado, you may feel a little defeated when you see the cost of real estate in mountain resort towns like Vail or Breckenridge. But Idaho Springs is a humble mountain town along I-70 (live here, and you’ll get a head start on the skier traffic that gets notoriously jam-packed on weekends). Idaho Springs has its own hot springs for soaking in, as well as Beau Jo’s, a beloved pizza joint that serves Colorado-style pizza (Pro tip: Drizzle honey on the thick crust).


Median home prices in Boulder County soar above $500,000. But Longmont is the exception. It boasts 1,500 acres of parks and open space, and has a cute downtown with art galleries, music venues, restaurants and shops. Longmont has some fun surprises, too, like Quarters Bar+Arcade, which has retro arcade games and hard ciders, and Cheese Importers, which offers more than 350 imported cheeses.

Cañon City

Cañon City, which is two and a half hours southwest of Denver (and home to Colorado State Penitentiary), is an often overlooked adventurer’s paradise. At Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, intrepid types can climb newly debuted climbing courses or soar through the canyon on the highest zipline in America. Come summer, enjoy the whitewater with rafting trips along the Arkansas River. 

Commerce City

Median home price: $369,279
Median monthly rent: $2,250

About six miles outside of Denver, and close to Denver International Airport, Commerce City has remained a relatively affordable spot with some large subdivision developments that are popular with families. The Reunion neighborhood, for example, has its own coffee house, plus a rec center in a big red barn and a park. It’s also next door to the Buffalo Run Golf Course, a city-run 18-hole course.

Just remember: You can’t spell Colorado without “rad.”