As a Colorado native, I offer you the local’s perspective of this growing city. I will also give you answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about living in Colorado Springs.
As the second largest city in Colorado, Colorado Springs is a large city with a small-town feel. Perhaps it’s this small-town feel that has made this one of the most ideal locations to call home. Tucked along the Rocky Mountains, at the base of Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs offers all the amenities of Denver, with fewer people and a more reasonable cost of living.
If you are thinking about calling Colorado Springs home, in this article, I offer you some of the pros and cons of living in Colorado Springs, Co.
A Quick Overview & Comparison
|Pros of Living in Colorado Springs||Cons of Living in Colorado Springs|
|Great outdoor recreation||Traffic is rough|
|Lower cost of living||The large homeless population|
|Small business friendly||Military presence can be overwhelming|
|Good weather||Recreational marijuana is everywhere|
|Easy access to interesting landmarks||High altitude and dry air|
|Diverse local events||Winter driving conditions|
The Pros of Living in Colorado Springs
With my list in hand, you may wonder why I offered these particular pros about living in Colorado Springs. So, in this section I’ll give you more information about each pro, and why I think they are some of the highlights of Colorado Springs.
1. Great Outdoor Recreation
No matter where you travel in Colorado, outdoor recreation is almost like a religion. Colorado Springs is no exception to this love for being outdoors. Most people that live in Colorado Springs have some sort of recreational activity right out their front door. There are miles of biking and walking trails that connect the city or the hiking and mountain biking trails that are abundant in the foothills and mountains just outside of the city.
Winter offers plenty of outdoor recreation in Colorado Springs as well. Just a short drive from Colorado Springs you can hit the slopes at some of the best resorts in the United States, including Crested Butte, Monarch, Telluride, and Aspen.
Colorado Springs also offers outdoor activities for those not interested in hopping on a bike or slapping on their skis. Play a round of golf at one of the many courses in and around Colorado Springs. Or for family-friendly fun, the city’s recreation department offers great swimming pools and plenty of rec-sponsored sports.
Suggested Reading: Aspen vs Vail: An Honest Comparison
2. Lower Cost of Living
If you are thinking about Colorado for your home, you are probably having a bit of sticker shock. The cost of living in much of the state has gotten a bit out of hand in the last 10 years. There are locations that are more affordable than others, however. Colorado Springs is one of these spots.
Compared to the Denver metro area, homes in Colorado Springs cost, on average, about $50,000 less. If you are looking for affordable housing, this can really make a substantial difference in affordability. Besides the cost of housing, the cost of goods seems to be lower in Colorado Springs as well.
Maybe it is the influence of the military presence in the city, but you will find that even gasoline prices in Colorado Springs tend to be lower than in many other places throughout Colorado.
3. Small Business Friendly
Here is a surprising fact – more than 90% of the Colorado Springs economy is supported by small businesses. This is a pretty amazing statistic when you consider that this means that most businesses employ fewer than 500 people, and they are the backbone of this community of 500,000 people.
Locals in Colorado Springs are passionate about supporting small businesses, and you will find that while the city has larger grocery store chains, Walmart and Costco, there are also plenty of boutique shops, small grocery stores, butchers, breweries, and locally owned restaurants.
4. Good Weather
Coloradans have a different perspective on what “good weather” means. For us, it isn’t about having 365 days of temperatures that are pretty much the same. When you get right down to it, one of the best things about the weather in Colorado and particularly Colorado Springs is that it offers all four seasons.
Colorado Springs sits a bit higher in elevation than Denver, but it also is in an area where the average temperature is just a bit higher than Denver. Summers in Colorado Springs offer warm days with afternoon storms, fall is cool and brisk leading into cold, but not too cold winters. Spring brings rain, refreshing temperatures, and perfect days for being outdoors.
Oh, and there is that “300 days of sun” thing that Coloradans love to talk about. In reality, it’s not quite 300 days, but Colorado Springs offers more sunny days than most places in the United States.
5. Easy Access to Interesting Landmarks
Colorado Springs offers residents and visitors a number of cool places that you can explore. Start with the United States Air Force Academy. Portions of this school are open to the public, and you can explore the museum on campus dedicated to the history of the US Air Force. Swing over to the historic Broadmoor Hotel, or head up to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
For unique outdoor landmarks, check out the Garden of the Gods, Cave of the Winds, Seven Falls, or the Royal Gorge. For great weekend trips, Colorado Springs is perfectly situated in proximity to the Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde or the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
6. Diverse Local Events
People that live in Colorado Springs love to enjoy a range of social and cultural activities. Throughout the year you will find fun local festivals that range from celebrations of local music to food and beer festivals.
Thanks to the strong military community in Colorado Springs, many of the city’s festivals and events are focused on the diverse cultures that call the city home.
Besides festivals and community events, Colorado Springs is home to the Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts and the Broadmoor World Arena where you can check out a play or musical performance.
The Cons of Living in Colorado Springs
No matter how many great things there are about Colorado Springs, it does have some less-than-amazing features that you need to be aware of. Sure, they may not be deal breakers, but here are six cons of living in Colorado Springs.
7. Traffic is Rough
Like many of the communities in Colorado, Colorado Springs has grown really quickly in the past 20 years. Growth can be good and growth can be bad. For Colorado Springs, growth has meant traffic conditions that are frustrating at best.
The rapid growth of the community has been hard to keep up with in terms of roadway improvements to relieve traffic congestion. What this means for residents of Colorado Springs is that streets are packed with cars, and it takes a while to get around town. The city is working on improvements, but it is slow going. If you’re living in Colorado Springs, make sure you practice your patience. You’ll need it to survive the traffic.
8. The Large Homeless Population
While there is nothing wrong with people facing homelessness, Colorado Springs and Colorado as a whole are facing a substantial crisis when it comes to homeless individuals. Making matters worse is that Colorado Springs does not have adequate services to support those that are unhoused. This means that you’ll see a lot of evidence of people living on the streets, in parks, and in open spaces.
Unfortunately, the homeless problem in Colorado Springs creates other problems like increased crime, litter, and panhandling. The city is working, like many others around the country, to find a viable solution for the unhoused population. But until a reasonable solution comes about, those living in Colorado Springs will have to work around the problem.
9. Military Presence Can Be Overwhelming
Every branch of the United States Military has some operations that occur in Colorado Springs. The largest military presence however is the Air Force. Between the Air Force Academy and Peterson Air Force Base, there are few places that you will go in Colorado Springs where you will not run into the military presence.
While this isn’t a bad thing, it can be a bit much from time to time. The military runs 24 hours a day, and even at night, you may experience the sounds and sights of military operations. You’ll have to get used to these sounds if you decide to call Colorado Springs your home.
10. Recreational Marijuana is Everywhere
For some people, the availability of legal recreational marijuana could be a selling point. However, for others, the industry is a turn-off. When you come to Colorado Springs, you will quickly discover that recreational marijuana stores are very abundant. Driving down the street, you’ll pass cars with people who are smoking or vaping marijuana.
Outdoor concerts have become overrun with the smell of pot. While the industry has created a windfall of tax revenue for the state and local cities, it really is an annoyance for those of us that don’t care for marijuana.
11. High Altitude and Dry Air
Colorado Springs sits at just over 6,000 feet above sea level. It is also situated in a high desert climate, which has very low humidity. This combination of high altitude and dry air can be problematic for some people. Colorado Springs’ higher altitude can cause dehydration, difficulty breathing, a higher risk of sunburn, and even some exhaustion.
These conditions can be exasperated by the dry air. Add to your dehydration, dry itchy skin, chapped lips, and static hair and clothes, and you might be a bit uncomfortable. All of the side effects of dry air and high altitude can be managed, and some you’ll get used to after some time, but it takes time and extra effort to be outside in Colorado Springs.
12. Winter Driving Conditions
Winter driving is not fun. Even for those of us that are natives of Colorado Springs, driving a car in the winter is a nerve-wracking experience. If you have never driven in snow or ice before, your first winter in Colorado Springs will be a lesson in a completely different way of driving.
And, even if you have experience with winter driving, you’ll be surprised that Colorado Springs, like most other cities in Colorado, doesn’t use salt to manage ice on roadways. Sand is applied to provide traction, but that is all you’ll get.
How Many People Live in Colorado Springs?
In 2023 the estimated population of Colorado Springs is 492,353 people. However the population of Colorado Springs, plus the surrounding communities is just over 600,000 people.
This population makes Colorado Springs the second largest city in Colorado. Colorado Springs is also the largest city in terms of land area, even exceeding Denver. The city is spread across 195.36 square miles.
What are the Safest Areas in Colorado Springs?
The safest neighborhoods in Colorado Springs are Village Seven, Stetson Hills, and Wolf Ranch. These newer neighborhoods are popular with established families with a bit more income available for housing. Affordable neighborhoods in Colorado Springs that are also safe include Briargate and Northgate.
Is Colorado Springs a Good Place to Start a Business?
Colorado Springs is one of the most business friendly cities in Colorado. More than 90% of the employers in Colorado Springs are small businesses, employing fewer than 500 people. The city is really supportive both from the economic and social aspect of small businesses. There is a big push for locals to shop small businesses, The city of Colorado Springs has a number of incentive programs that new business owners can take advantage of. These include tax incentives for locating a business in particular areas of the city and loans and grants for utilizing water and energy saving features in business facilities.
What Salary Do You Need to Live in Colorado Springs?
Colorado Springs is slightly more affordable than Denver, so you don’t need to have the same salary to live here. However, like other places in Colorado, Colorado Springs does have a higher cost of living than many other places in the country.
To afford the average rent of a 2-bedroom apartment in Colorado Springs, plus all of the other necessary expenses, you will need to make around $70,000 per year.
Is Colorado Springs a Good Place to Retire?
Colorado Springs, like Colorado, is an attractive place for retirement. Colorado has a number of tax benefits for seniors, including no state taxes on social security income and some other government income sources like military retirement or pensions. Lower rent and cost of living also make Colorado Springs an attractive spot for retirees.
Health care in Colorado Springs is relatively affordable, and there are good hospitals in and around the City. Colorado Springs also tends to have less snow than other locations in Colorado, so for seniors, getting around during the winter can be easier than other places in the state.
What’s the Median Home Price in Colorado Springs?
According to Realtor.com, the median home listing price in Colorado Springs is $499,900. The median sale price for a home is $440,000. Colorado Springs housing prices are about 5% lower than other cities along the I-25 corridor, making it a more affordable place to live in Colorado.
What is the Weather Like in Colorado Springs?
- The summer time average temperature: 76 degrees
- The winter time average temperature: 51 degrees
- Average annual snowfall: 57 inches
- Number of sunny days: 247
- Hottest month: July
- Coldest month: December
Despite being higher in elevation than its northern neighbor, Denver, Colorado Springs actually has a more mild climate. Colorado Springs has a warmer average winter temperature, and a cooler average summer temperature than other cities in Colorado. Summers are mild with low humidity.
Winters have cold days, but with an average winter temperature of 51 degrees, many people find that winters are fairly pleasant. Colorado Springs averages 16-inches of precipitation per year, and gets less snow than Denver.
Colorado Springs weather is very consistent with a typical alpine desert climate. Particularly in the summer, you will experience warm days with cool nights. Residents in Colorado Springs never leave home without a coat, as weather here can change dramatically in just a short amount of time.