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[2018 Update] Colorado Springs vs Denver: Where Should You Live?

Posted by Susanna Haynie on November 21, 2018
| 3 Comments

Denver or Colorado Springs-

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?

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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 such as Palmer Park, Fox Run Park, Bear Creek Park, and Cheyenne Mountain Park that are a far cry from a typical city 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 other outdoor activities? Make sure to check out the popular year-round running and walking clubs Colorado Springs offers, plus visit the challenging and very popular Manitou Incline – a favorite hike for locals and visitors alike.

  • Denver: The largest city in Colorado also is 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 closer to the mountains, and if you are not working in Denver proper, these could be options for you in order 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.

Night Life

  • Colorado Springs: With its ‘small city’ vibe, there are considerably fewer 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 the wonderful restaurants, breweries, and coffee houses. However, people trying to find [quality] excitement until late into the night (or early into the morning) find themselves disappointed in Colorado Springs.
  • Denver: Denver has many well-known venues for an 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, 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.

Climate/Elevation

  • Colorado Springs: Our beautiful city nearly touches the clouds with an elevation of 6035 – 6370 feet and higher 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, an impressive 14,115 feet high.  Pikes Peak tends to create its own weather pattern. In the wintertime, Colorado Springs averages 41″ in snow, 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 and the south/southwest part of the city to be 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, usually only 2-3 times per 100 years. 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 foot elevation, depending on where you are at; which means the weather is lovely most of the time. The city tends to get more snow in the winter and are warmer and drier in the summer than Colorado Springs.  Denver averages 53.8″ of snow a year. The average high during the summer is 86º, though if you have lived there very long you know 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 

  • Colorado Springs: The average price of a single family home is $345, 770 (Oct 2018)  with the median sales price of $305,000 (Oct 2018)  Average rent in Colorado Springs is $1116 (rentjungle.com-Oct 2018).
  • Denver: Prices in Denver are quite a bit higher: the median home price is $400,000 (Oct 2018) with the average home price is $471, 321 (Oct 2018) .  Rent cost in Denver averages $1580 (rentjungle.com).

While the price differences might not seem high, there are many buyers in Denver who are having difficulty finding a home. The real estate market in Denver is “crazy”. Home sales in Colorado Springs have gained Denver-like speed only in the price ranges under $300,000 – above $300,000 is fast but finding a home is not quite as backbreaking.

The Denver real estate market does impact Colorado Springs. Homes  located on the northern part of town and close to the I-25 are purchased by Denverites who 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 than “up there”. Here is a detailed list of price differences.

Culture/History

  • Colorado Springs: There is a reason why it is not just 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 located in the heart of the city.  Also we have an award-winning zoo located on Cheyenne Mountain and the 5-star Broadmoor Hotel is a stunning attraction as well! Few people know of the wonderful museums in downtown Colorado Springs including the Pioneers Museum, American Numismatic Association/Museum, the lovely Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Space Discovery Center, Mining Museum and more!  Click here for a list of all our museums.
  • Denver: For culture, 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, 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. Also, Denver boasts major league sports from the Super Bowl Champions Denver Broncos to Denver Nuggets Basketball, Colorado Rockies Baseball, and Colorado Avalanche Hockey.  Denver will keep you busy all year if you love professional sports.

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.  Not to mention that Colorado Springs has a very strong home school community, several charter schools, and amazing private schools like Pikes Peak Christian School.  Education expenditure per student is $9076 per year and pupil/student ratio is 16.9. 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 a bit higher than Colorado Springs at $9705. Pupil/teacher ratio is lower at 16.1.

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 that wants closer access to the mountains, this is the right place for you. It is also attractive for empty-nesters. 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, sports and [international] culture.  It is much more active and a faster-paced lifestyle.

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, backcountry skiing – all this is possible right outside.

There is plenty of wildlife where we live and I enjoy it all. My choice is to have less traffic, a slower pace of life, but enjoy our little “quirkiness” that we have here.  Occasionally, Colorado Springs can feel really small, and in that case 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 >>

click here to download your Colorado Springs Neighborhoods Guide Download

3 thoughts on “[2018 Update] 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.

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