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Cost of Living in Colorado Springs - 2021

December 2, 2021
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If you have kept up with the Colorado Springs housing market over the past year, you have likely noticed dramatic price increases for single-family homes and increased competition between buyers. How has the cost of living in Colorado Springs Co been affected?

Colorado Springs houses are selling for 15% more than they were this time last year, according to an article in 5280. And CPR reports that the median home value in August was $450,000—up from $432,000 just 3 months before.

Colorado Springs Median Sales Price

Add that Colorado Springs zip codes 80916 and 80911 have been named the hottest zip codes in the country for the past 2 years, and you may be thinking—can I afford to buy a home in Colorado Springs?

But is Colorado Springs really that expensive?

Certainly not compared to Denver where the median home price sits at $535,000.

In this article, we’ll break down the cost of living in Colorado Springs compared to the rest of the country. And, perhaps more importantly, cost vs. value of Colorado Springs living.

Quality of Life

Colorado is certainly not the cheapest state to settle down in, but few of us choose our home or community based on cost alone.

We want to live in an area that aligns with our hobbies and lifestyle, where we can build community, AND that fits our budget and financial goals.

Additionally, there is a wide range of choices available when it comes to where you want to send your kids to school. From public, and private institutions to lots of choices in the Charter School category as well.

Colorado Springs ranks on several lists of the best places to live in the U.S., including ranking #2 on Cinch Home Services data analysis on “most desirable places to live.

This is no surprise to most of us. What’s not to love about great weather, low crime, and a killer view of Pikes Peak from almost anywhere in the city?

Outdoors

A major draw for people moving to Colorado is the beautiful scenery and an active lifestyle. El Paso County, where Colorado Springs is located, boasts over 8,000 acres of parks and open spaces with 130 miles of hiking and biking trails.

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If you venture a bit outside of city limits, Colorado has much to offer in terms of state parks, national parks, and national forests. A few local favorites include Eleven Mile State Park, Mueller State Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and San Juan National Forest.

Hiking 14ers is also a bit of a state sport. In addition to being nestled at the base of Pikes Peak (Colorado’s most famous 14er), Colorado Springs is within a 2-hour drive of several other impressive peaks.

Parks and trails offer plenty of free and low-cost activities for Colorado Springs residents, including camping, fishing, kayaking, and more. Depending on your choice of activity, you may have to invest in equipment, but after the up-front costs are taken care of, you can enjoy years of entertainment for free.

Due in large part to an abundance of outdoor activities, Colorado Springs is ranked as the 44th healthiest city in the United States on Niche.com.

Arts and Culture

Colorado Springs is home to the Olympic Training Center and Olympic museum but also features a rich local history and budding nightlife.

Olympic Museum

You can check out our article on Colorado Springs museums to explore the Springs’ varied offering of exhibits on science, art, and local history.

Colorado Springs also features a number of concert venues, including the Black Sheep, World Arena, and the Pikes Peak Center, where you can enjoy performances from small indie bands and world-class musicians.

Craft cocktail bars, quality local restaurants, and craft breweries also continue to pop up around the city, concentrated primarily in the downtown region, but spreading to the north and east regions of the city.

Surrounding Area

Though you may not feel the need to venture out of the Springs often, residents enjoy exploring nearby cities like Denver, Fort Collins, and Boulder.

Catch an off-Broadway show at Denver’s Buell Theater or visit the Colorado location of the legendary bar, Death & Co.

Many locals even choose to live in the Springs and commute to Denver due to its close proximity.

Cost of Living

Cost of living refers to how much of an individual’s income will go toward basic necessities like food, housing, childcare, transportation, clothing, etc. You can also think of cost of living as how far your dollar will stretch in a given region.

Most cost of living indexes set a base cost of living represented by 100. This base cost could be equivalent to the cost of living in a specific city, like Chicago or Detroit, or could be an average of several metro areas.

An index score of 85, for example, would indicate that the city is 15% cheaper to live in than the base city.

Several organizations, like ACCRA COLI and the Economic Policy Institute, conduct economic research to compile cost of living indexes based on the national average. (You can read about ACCRA COLI’s methodology here.)

In ACCRA COLI’s study, New York City has the highest cost of living for any U.S. urban area at 239.3, and Kalamazoo, MI has the lowest at 76.5.

Colorado Springs scores 109.1 on the Cost of Living index, meaning that it is slightly above average, but still significantly lower than other major Colorado cities. (Denver has a cost of living index of 114.7).

Cost of Living Colorado Springs CO

Average Income

Before addressing the basic cost of living, let’s discuss the average income in Colorado Springs.

According to Census.gov, the average median household income for Colorado Springs in 2019 was around $65,000. This is slightly below the national median of $67,500, which can make it difficult for some Springs' households to make a living wage.

If you know your gross income, Smart Asset offers a Colorado paycheck calculator that can estimate your take-home monthly income after taxes.

When used in conjunction with EPI’s family budget calculator, the paycheck calculator will give you a fairly accurate picture of how much you would need to make to maintain your desired standard of living in Colorado Springs.

The Springs is home to a number of tech companies and government contracting entities. An average salary in one of these industries is typically well above the median, so be sure to factor in your prior work experience and typically salaries in your field when estimating your income.

Now let’s break down the cost of living categories.

Housing

Housing costs are going to be your largest cost of living expenditure in any region of the country, and Colorado Springs is no exception.

Colorado Springs has a score of 117.3 on the housing category of the cost of living index but has lower rates in the other categories, including utilities that bring down the overall average.

While the median home sales price in Colorado Springs is higher than the national median sales price, it is at the lower end within the State of Colorado. Colorado Springs is located in El Paso County which ranks in the lower end for the State of Colorado. Pitkin, County takes the number one spot with a whopping $5,250,000 median sales price.

colorado median home prices
Data Provided by The Colorado Association of Realtors

Buying a Home

As discussed in the introduction, the Springs housing market is booming. The median price for a single-family home sits at around $450,000, and it’s rare to find a listing under $250,000.

That being said, Colorado Springs is still one of the most affordable urban areas in Colorado. According to the Colorado Association of Realtors, the statewide median is $525,000 with Denver and Boulder topping the charts for highest home prices.

Homeowner’s Insurance

Colorado Springs can also have higher than average rates for homeowners insurance due to the risk of hail damage in the summer, which can result in the need to replace damaged roofs and/or windows.

Utilities and HOAs

Colorado Springs Utilities is predicting an increase in the cost of utilities for the month of November, estimating that the average household will spend nearly $290 for electricity, gas, and water for the month of November, which is still well below the national average of $370 per month.

These numbers will fluctuate based on individual usage and season. If your home is equipped with air conditioning, you will likely spend more on electricity during the summer months, as well as water for your yard. Gas rates will increase in the winter due to the cost of heating your home.

Both Colorado Springs Utilities and Mountain View Electric Association offer rebates for home improvements that increase energy efficiency, however. And there are utility assistance programs available for lower-income families.

Depending on the neighborhood that you choose to live in, you may also owe HOA or metro fees to help maintain community services and infrastructure.

Renting

Increases in the price of rentals is keeping pace with the price of purchasing a home. Apartment List estimates that the price of renting an apartment in Colorado Springs has increased 15% over the last year.

With a studio or one-bedroom apartment averaging around $1550 a month, they suggest that you should be making $56,000 a year or higher to rent an apartment.

A study by Statista in March of 2021, puts the national average cost for renting an apartment at $1100, so in this category at least, Colorado Springs does not stack up very favorably.

Townhomes and apartment complexes are continuing to spring up around town, however, so hopefully, we will begin to see some more affordable rental options in the near future.

Single-family rental homes are naturally going to have higher monthly rent. Patch.com suggests that a fair monthly rate for a 2-bedroom home in Colorado Springs ranges between $1,700 and $1,800.

Food

Numbeo estimates that Colorado Springs families should plan about $350 per month in food per person, which is, again, slightly higher than the national average.

Food prices may run slightly high, but you will not need to worry about food deserts in Colorado Springs. Colorado has a large agricultural community that supplies beef, fruit, and vegetables in plentiful quantities to local supermarkets.

If you are eating out, plan on spending around $15 per person depending on where you choose to eat. There are plenty of thriftier options available as well.

Child Care

Child care in any part of the country is going to be a large expense unless you are lucky enough to have friends or family that are willing to help with childcare.

Infant care has a higher cost than care for older children who require less one-on-one attention. Expect to spend around $1300 a month on care for an infant and around $1000 for toddlers or older children.

Some centers do offer discounts for multiple children, or you can look into hiring a nanny. A nanny’s hourly rate usually starts around $15 an hour, but can be as high as $20 an hour.

Transportation

Colorado Springs is a sprawling metropolis that requires at least 45 minutes to cross with minimal traffic, so transportation is a priority for Springs residents. Most residents opt for personal or family cars to get around, but there are a few public transportation options available.

Bus Systems

Mountain Metro Transit offers bus routes primarily in downtown in central Colorado Springs with a few stops on the north side of town. Cash fare is $1.75 per ride or they offer several discounted bulk passes. Though the Colorado Springs bus system has never been ideal, it can help reduce transportation costs.

Denver commuters can take advantage of FLEX RIdes by Bustang for $12 a trip or can buy multiple passes for a discounted rate.

Bike Rentals

If you live and work in Downtown Colorado Springs, you can take advantage of PikeRide, a local bike share program. You can pay with your phone or credit card at any PikeRide bike station to rent an electric-assist bike for your commute. They offer 24-hour, monthly, or yearly passes.

Gas

KRDO’s gas tracker is showing prices around $3.50 a gallon for November, up over a dollar from this time last year. Gas prices do seem to be dropping slightly from last month, however.

Auto Insurance

An average Colorado Springs resident will spend $1900 a year on car insurance, with cheaper options, like USAA and Geico, costing around $1200. Rates can be affected by your driving history, age, and marital status.

Since Colorado is an at-fault state, where individuals can file claims directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier, our state requires more comprehensive auto policies than some other regions.

Health Care

The Colorado Health Institute states that the average deductible for an employer-sponsored healthcare plan was around $4000 a year in 2018. You will hopefully not meet your deductible every year, but it’s important to be aware of your financial responsibility for potential medical bills.

If your employer does not offer health insurance, you can find plans starting around $150/month on Connect for Health Colorado.
(Note: this is for an individual in good health for catastrophic care only. E-Health Insurance estimates that a Colorado individual would pay about $369/month for a major medical plan.)

Other Expenses

When calculating your cost of living budget, consider including other lifestyle expenses as well, like pet care, clothing, and entertainment.

Each of these categories will vary greatly depending on the individual. Layers and warm clothing are important for our capricious Colorado weather, but local shopping options range from thrift stores to expensive boutiques with something for everyone.

Colorado Springs has a lot of great free museums and outdoor activities, but if you plan to frequently attend concerts or like to ski, you’ll want to factor those expenses into your cost of living.

Pet care doesn’t vary greatly across the country with websites like Chewy offering consistent pricing on food, toys, and prescriptions, but consider researching local vets for your fur-baby, and budget for at least a visit or two a year.

So Is Colorado Springs Expensive?

Colorado Springs's cost of living is well above average in several categories—food and housing immediately come to mind. But our utilities remain low, and the real estate market seems to have plateaued for the time being.

Our cost of living is about 7% higher than the national average, but in an index that reaches heights of 239.3, 106.8 doesn’t seem so bad.

If you are considering buying a home in the Springs or moving here for the first time, look closely at your income and use a cost of living calculator to make sure it's a good financial fit.

We love living at the base of the Rocky Mountains, and for us, the cost of living is worth every penny. There is something new to explore every weekend, and the Springs quickly starts to feel more like a tight-knit community than a sprawling metropolis.

Colorado Springs is not right for everyone. There may be another region of the country that is a better financial or lifestyle choice for you and your family.

If you are interested in settling down in the Springs you should start by downloading our Free Relocation Guide. If you are considering a move, our team would love to talk with you. We look forward to showing you why Colorado Springs is a great place to live.

 

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