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When you think of affordable, does it take you back to your childhood?
Do you remember your mom making you play in the sprinkler all day because she refused to turn on the air conditioner? Or when staycations became a thing in your house because it was too expensive to go anywhere?
It's simple economics, people. The less you have to spend on bills and taxes, the more you will have to spend on things that matter: like your home, good food, and just overall good fun. This economic formula for affordability is no different for the good people of Colorado.
Most people think that Colorado cities are filled with a bunch of fancy steakhouses, snobby Aspenites, and a plethora of wealthy outdoor enthusiasts. While all this might be true for some Colorado cities, the cowboys and cowgirls of the Centennial State would beg to differ. Colorado's cities have a lot to offer to all income levels; and surprisingly, there are cities in Rocky Mountain-land that are actually extremely affordable.
Now, don't go all crazy and drown your financial woes on the Wendy's dollar menu. Just because Colorado is affordable, doesn't mean it's trailer park cheap. It means the cost of living is doable. And that means you have more money to do the fun stuff that Colorado has to offer: like whitewater rafting down the Rio Grande or soaking in the hot springs in Glenwood Springs.
So, grab yourself a pint of new Belgium Fat Tire and a basket of rocky mountain oysters, and read on.
The 10 Most Affordable Places To Live In Colorado
Yes, Colorado is the best state for those looking for a little good 'ol fashioned, inexpensive Rocky Mountain fun.
It seems like Coloradans are always camping, climbing mountains, skiing/snowboarding, rafting, mountain biking.you get the picture. This fun happens because Colorado residents know the value of a dollar. More importantly, they know the Colorado cities where your dollar will go the furthest.
What is the most affordable place to live in Colorado? Well, after crunching data from the US Census in terms of median housing costs, median income, and overall cost of living, Craig is the most affordable place to live in Colorado.
If you care about home values, cost of living, and high quality of life, take a look at the list below to find the most affordable places in Colorado, where, yes, you can have it all.
And if you already knew these places were cheap, check out some more reading about Colorado and the cheapest places in the country:
The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Colorado For 2020
Craig is small city located in northwest Colorado. This little city in Moffat County is our most affordable city in Colorado for 2020. This little piece of Colorado heaven scored an 8/10 on our snackability scale with an 8/10 for jobs that offset their cost of living.
Not only does Craig's solid household median income trickle down to their consistently strong economy, but they are known as the "Elk Hunting Capital of the World". The economically savvy residents of Craig know how to fill up their freezers without a hefty grocery bill. However, if hunting is not your shtick but affordability is, maybe a river guide on their Yampa River might be a way to earn some extra cash.
The median household income in Craig comes in at $50,455 and the median home value is $162,800 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 3.5%.
Where Colorado State HWY 52 meets Colorado State Hwy 76, is our second most affordable city in Colorado: Fort Morgan.
This little Colorado gem is fifth when it comes to home price to income ratio. We are not surprised considering they have such a strong agricultural economy with an emphasis on meatpacking. Not only is the job market strong in Fort Morgan, their public transportation is the real deal. Amtrak has a hub in this tiny city in northeast Colorado, ready to take you to any job interview and/or profitable business deal in style.
Now if farming and packing meat is not your thing, there's always a need for train conductors.
The median household income in Fort Morgan comes in at $50,184 and the median home value is $158,200 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 4.0%.
Fort Lupton is one of the coolest Denver-burbs; but more importantly, it's our third most affordable city to buy a home in Colorado for 2020. Fort Lupton's overall HomeSnacks snackability was an 8/10! Not surprising considering their employment status and degree of education both scored off the charts. Busy people = less naughty people. And busy people don't have time to waste their money on nonsense. Fort Lupton is currently super affordable, they have been affordable, and they will continue to be affordable. Heck, their town motto is "Where Tradition Builds the Future".
Did we mention they have a Motel 6? nothing says affordable like a Motel 6. We just hope they'll leave the light on...
The median household income in Fort Lupton comes in at $63,548 and the median home value is $210,800 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 5.2%.
If your city has a Walmart Supercenter, you can bet you are living where it's affordable; and we might add, convenient.
This is only 'one' of the reasons our fourth most affordable city in Colorado, Sterling, has made the list. But not the only reason for this northeastern Colorado town to crush our snackability scale. Major employers like Northeastern Junior College, the RE-1 Valley School, Sykes computer software company, and the Sterling Correctional Facility help to keep Sterling's median household income competitive.
You truly are a 'Colorado Treasure,' Sterling.
The median household income in Sterling comes in at $41,220 and the median home value is $129,900 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 5.2%.
The fifth most affordable city in Colorado for 2020 is Brush. Kudos to Brush. They moved up 11 from last year to become a Morgan County gold star city.
Located in the northeastern corner of The Centennial State, agriculture and The Brush Rodeo have kept their economy moving in right direction. The median income in this cowboy and cowgirl town is around $45,144 with average home prices up around $153,200.
Brush scored off our charts scoring an 8/10 on our snackability scale. They are the 3rd most affordable city when we looked at home price to income ratio. Affordability = happiness. We get why your city's motto is "Homegrown Happiness!"
The median household income in Brush comes in at $45,144 and the median home value is $153,200 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 8.2%.
You don't have to live on ramen noodles and the McDonald's dollar menu to live in our seventh most affordable city in Colorado for 2020: Lamar. This city in Prowers County is our second most affordable city for home ownership in line with median income.
Once a city with an agricultural-based economy, this Colorado city has gravitated towards the traditional with most jobs, now, in the trucking industry, medical profession, and fast food. But if you're looking for a little moonlighting cash, we suggest mountain bike mechanic. We hear they're in high demand in the southwestern corner of this Rocky Mountain mecca.
The median household income in Lamar comes in at $37,554 and the median home value is $87,500 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 9.2%.
Located just north of I-70 and the Colorado River in the western part of the state, Rifle is the eighth most affordable place to call home in Colorado. Rifle's median rent of $969/month is less than half of the statewide average. With residents earning a median income of $64,832, Rifle has a very impressive rent to income ratio. The median home price is $231,800, giving Rifle the 23rd best home price to income ratio in the state.
Thrill-seekers will be happy with all the rock-climbing options at Rifle Mountain Park, while the more relaxation-inclined people can spend a day chilling at Rifle Falls without opening their wallets once.
The median household income in Rifle comes in at $64,832 and the median home value is $231,800 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 5.4%.
Just north of Denver, nestled between the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland, is our ninth most affordable Colorado city, Millikin.
This 'Hub of Northern Colorado' is home to the greatest percentage of young folks concentrated into one city on our list. And if we've learned anything about Millenials, they know a good deal. The Millikin Millenials are working so hard, here, that they've catapulted this city to the eighth most affordable Colorado city for home to median income ratio. And if you're looking for a Millikin side hustle, we're thinking something in forestry might be doable, here.
The median household income in Milliken comes in at $72,101 and the median home value is $232,800 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 3.4%.
Some might think that our 11th most affordable city in Colorado, Firestone, is so affordable because it's backed by Firestone tires.
While this is not the case, this little city in Weld County does have great job opportunities with warehouse positions, healthcare work, and sales positions up for grabs right now. Heck, something has to keep that household median income at a staggering $97,102. And if your looking to pad your wallet, we suggest park ranger. Firestone has more than 35 parks and miles and miles of scenic trail.
The median household income in Firestone comes in at $97,102 and the median home value is $329,000 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 4.3%.
You don't have to win the lottery to live in this affordable Colorado city. And if you're looking for a strong side hustle to offset your bills, our 12th most affordable city in Colorado for 2020, Trinidad, is crushing the cannabis industry.
Trinidad is experiencing a new found $4.4 million in tax revenue from $44 million in annual sales of the recreational drug, representing over 5% of the states total sales. No wonder you're the 19th most affordable city in terms of home ownership to median income.
Trinidad, you are every real estate agents dream.
The median household income in Trinidad comes in at $37,870 and the median home value is $130,400 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 8.0%.
How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Centennial State For 2020
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:
- How much do money do I make?
- How much do I have spend to live there?
You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.
For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it's actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.
With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2014-2018 around incomes and costs. They are:
- Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
- Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
- Median Home Price
We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).
You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in Colorado to figure out which is the least expensive.
What you are left with is a "Cost of Living Index" by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.
So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 76 places in Colorado that have more than 5,000 people.
The place with the lowest cost of living in Colorado according to the data is Craig. You can download the data here.
There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. Colorado Cheapskate
If you're looking at the cost of living numbers in Colorado, this is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in Colorado for 2020.
Here's a look at the most expensive cities in Colorado according to the data:
For more Colorado reading, check out:
The Most Affordable Places To Live In Colorado
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