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Colorado Springs vs Denver: Where Should You Live?

Posted by Susanna Haynie on September 6, 2022
| 5 Comments

picture of Garden of the Gods park in Colorado Springs, Colorado with "Denver or Colorado Springs" caption

So you’ve decided to move to Colorado! Congratulations and let us be the first to welcome you to the best area of the United States! You probably have several questions about WHERE to hang your hat. We won’t lie and say that we are not biased (we think Colorado Springs is one of the best cities in the US); however, we want to help you make a decision. Many people wonder: Should I live in Colorado Springs or the Denver metro area?

Download the Colorado Springs Neighborhood Guide

Frankly, it is usually an easy decision as they are two completely different cultures. So here are some side-to-side comparisons that will make your decision easier:

Outdoor Activities

  • Colorado Springs:
    Colorado Springs Downtown Museum

    Colorado Springs Downtown Museum

    The Springs are nestled next to America’s Mountain, Pikes Peak, and it couldn’t be more spectacular. The vista from any point in the city will take your breath away.  The terrain throughout the city is varied with amazing parks to visit that are a far cry from a typical city park. Local favorites include Palmer Park, North Cheyenne Canon, Fox Run Park, Bear Creek Park, and Cheyenne Mountain Park. You find yourself surrounded by cliffs, hills, pine trees, and rugged (though well-groomed) trails, including Garden of the Gods (a stunning red rock formation).  Highway 24 is easily accessible and takes you on a glorious drive up Ute Pass and to the Western Slope where you can find skiing, hot springs, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, dirt biking, zip lines, and more. Love to run or walk or do other outdoor activities? Make sure to check out the popular year-round running and walking clubs Colorado Springs offers. Or visit the challenging and very popular Manitou Incline – a favorite hike for locals and visitors alike.

  • Denver: The largest city in Colorado is also near the mountains and has its own stunning views – though many days these views are clouded by the haze of pollution usually found in a major metropolitan city. Denver has a more panoramic view of the mountain range as it sits further back from the mountains. Access to the mountains is easy, but it will be a 20 – 60 minute drive to reach the foothills depending on your location. There are communities in the Denver area that are closer to the mountains. If you are not working in Denver proper, these could be options for you to be closer to the outdoor adventures awaiting you in the Rocky Mountains.

Compared to Denver, the Springs is a more laid-back lifestyle with much of the population being outdoor enthusiasts. The quality of life is second to none and one of the defining reasons Colorado Springs residents love it here.

Related Reading: 10 Reasons to Move to Colorado Springs

Night Life

  • Colorado Springs: With its ‘small city’ vibe, there are considerably fewer nightlife options than Denver, but downtown Colorado Springs features several locally-owned bars, pubs, and clubs for those who want a more active social life. It is a clean and quaint place that offers parades and festivities in addition to wonderful restaurants, breweries, and coffee houses. However, people trying to find quality excitement until late into the night (or early into the morning) may find themselves disappointed in Colorado Springs.
  • Denver: Denver has many well-known venues for exciting nightlife.  Places like Howl At The Moon, Grizzly Rose, and the Beta Nightclub are among the many options for bars, breweries, comedy clubs, amazing restaurants, and live music venues. Since Denver is such a big city, you can find anything you are looking for.

The good news: Colorado Springs is just a short one-hour drive from Denver. You can take advantage of its active outdoor culture and downtown area while getting the occasional big night out in Denver.

Related Reading: Colorado Springs Relocation Guide

Climate/Elevation

  • Colorado Springs: Our beautiful city nearly touches the clouds with an elevation of 6035 – 6370+ feet due to the vast differences in terrain throughout the city. The city stares at Pikes Peak, the highest point of the Southern Front Range of the Rockies at an impressive 14,115 feet high. Pikes Peak tends to create its own weather pattern. Colorado Springs has an annual average of 39″ of snow which is considerably lower than Denver. Just a few miles to the north sits Palmer Divide averaging a whopping 110″ of snow every winter! It is not uncommon for the north/northeast part of the city to be inundated with a storm while the south/southwest part of the city remains dry and sunny. The summers in Colorado Springs are more temperate overall and we tend to get more rainfall. It is rare for the city to reach 100º during the summer. The downslope winds from the mountains keep the winters warmer and the summers cooler.
  • Denver: The Mile High City sits at an impressive 5280-5313 feet, which means the weather is lovely most of the time. The city tends to get more snow in the winter and is warmer and drier in the summer than Colorado Springs.  Denver averages 57.3″ of snow a year. The average high during the summer is 86º, But locals can tell you that it is not uncommon to have several days in July that are 100º or above.deer in yard colorado springs

Both Denver and Colorado Springs have fairly mild weather year-round, but the overall climate in Colorado Springs is much more comfortable (especially in the summer).

Related Reading: Colorado Weather: If you don’t like it, wait 15 minutes

Colorado Springs vs Denver: Average Home Price and Rent in 2022

  • Colorado Springs: The average price of a single-family home is $530,547 (August 2022)  with a median sales price of $480,592 (August 2022)  Average rent in Colorado Springs is $1,553 (rentcafe.com).
  • Denver: Prices in Denver are a bit higher: the median home price is $645,000 (August 2022) with the average home price is $744,589 (August 2022).  Rental rates in Denver average $1994 (rentcafe.com).

While the price differences might not seem high, the current economic conditions and inflation rates could mean that home buyers have less wiggle room for their housing expenses. Planning to rent? Expect rental prices to continue to increase to keep up with the demand of population growth in both Colorado Springs and Denver.

The Denver real estate market impacts Colorado Springs. Homes located in the northern part of town and close to the I-25 are sometimes purchased by people who work in Denver and don’t mind the drive in order to save an easy $100,000. Overall, the cost of living in Denver is much higher than in Colorado Springs, which is enough of an argument in itself for people to rather live here. Here is a detailed list of cost of living price differences.

Download the Colorado Springs Neighborhood Guide

Related Reading:
Is the Cost of Living in Colorado Springs High?
Steps to Buy a Home in Colorado Springs

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Culture/History

  • Colorado Springs: There is a reason why Colorado Springs is not only one of the best places to live, but also a popular tourist destination.  We offer so many wonderful attractions including Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, Cave of the Winds, Seven Falls, and Manitou Cliff Dwellings. Don’t forget we are also the home of the International Olympic Committee with the Olympic Training Center and brand new Olympic Museum located in the heart of the city.  We also have an award-winning zoo located on Cheyenne Mountain and the stunning 5-star Broadmoor Resort! Downtown Colorado Springs offers multiple museums including the Pioneers Museum, the American Numismatic Association/Museum, the lovely Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, the Space Discovery Center, the Mining Museum, and more!  Click here for a list of Colorado Springs museums.
  • Denver: Denver has some of the best shows and museums in the country. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science is one of the top museums in the nation. The Denver Art Museum, the Federal Reserve Money Museum, and the Molly Brown House are all popular attractions. The Buell Theatre and Paramount Theatre bring top Broadway shows to the city. There is never a lack of quality entertainment in Denver. Denver also boasts major league sports from the Super Bowl Champions Denver Broncos to Denver Nuggets Basketball, Colorado Rockies Baseball, and Stanley Cup Champions Colorado Avalanche Hockey.  Denver will keep you busy all year if you love professional sports.

Related Reading: Things to Do in Colorado Springs

Public Schools

  • Colorado Springs: One of the best aspects of Colorado Springs is the top-quality schools found in our area.  Our public school systems are some of the best in the country and rate nearly 20 points higher than the Denver public schools.  Colorado Springs also has a very strong home school community, several charter schools, and amazing private schools like The Colorado Springs School.  The best education for your children is right here in Colorado Springs!
  • Denver: Colorado Springs has 3 school districts listed in the top 10 for the state (schooldigger.com), but Denver delivers a slight advantage for certain statistics often considered for education (bestplaces.net). Education expenditure per student is higher in Denver ($12,637)  than in Colorado Springs ($9,886). The pupil/teacher ratio is slightly lower in Denver (16) than in Colorado Springs (17).

To sum it up, Colorado Springs is perfect for you if you are looking for a city with a family atmosphere, a lower cost of living, and a small-city vibe. Similarly, if you are an outdoor enthusiast who wants closer access to the mountains, this is the right place for you. It is also attractive for empty-nesters and retirees. We find that many people come to Colorado Springs for vacation and then turn it into their home! We also have a strong military presence: Fort Carson Army Base, the Air Force Academy, and Peterson Air Force Base are all military bases in or near the city.University Village Shopping Center

Denver is more suited to those who are looking for a hip and cool vibe, nightlife, urban life, professional sports, and [international] culture.  It is a much more active and faster-paced lifestyle.

Related Reading: School Options in Colorado Springs

Why do we live here?

I will admit: I am a small-town girl. I think Colorado Springs is about as large of a city as I can handle it. The fact that I can practically step out the door into the mountains and onto the trails is invaluable for me. Running, biking, hiking, snowshoeing, and backcountry skiing – are all possible close to home.

There is plenty of wildlife where we live and I enjoy it all. My choice is to have less traffic, and a slower pace of life, but enjoy the little “quirkiness” that we have here. Occasionally, Colorado Springs can feel really small, and then I simply zip up to Denver.

If you are ready to establish your roots in Colorado Springs then give us a call and let us show you why it was ranked among the Best Places to Live in the United States by US News and World Report! We would love to help you find your perfect place to call home.  Contact me, Susanna, at 719-321-0800 or send an email to: susanna@co-regroup.com

Interested in moving to Colorado Springs? Read our Relocation Guide 

 

5 thoughts on “Colorado Springs vs Denver: Where Should You Live?

  • Pamela Walsh
    on November 25, 2016

    Great article that really helped put focus on where we are going to move….thanks!

  • Shawn
    on April 30, 2018

    Great writeup. Can you list the good school districts of Springs, a couple of them atleast. Thanks.

    • on May 5, 2018

      Shawn, you can go to greatschools.org and look at their ratings that will be a great indicator on quality of schools.

  • Cathy
    on July 13, 2020

    Wow, great article. I might end up moving to Colorado but not sure where since my husband might get a job in Denver however we love nature and would like to be in a calm place like the springs…so it’s hard to balance the 1h distance and to be closer to nature. if you have any suggestions? would love to know em. Thank you! btw is there any Latinos in these areas? I’m Colombian and my guy is Russian.

    • Sarah Steen
      on July 14, 2020

      Hi Cathy! You can view demographics by race for Colorado Springs here: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/coloradospringscitycolorado

      Colorado Springs is definitely more of a small town vibe than Denver. If you’re looking for a slower pace but closer proximity to Denver, Castle Rock might be a good option. You’ll still be further away from the mountains than Colorado Springs. Let us know if you have any questions about Colorado Springs or if you need an agent in the Denver area. We’re happy to match you with an agent wherever you end up!

      Best,
      Sarah

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