It’s been about a couple of years since we last looked at Colorado’s cost of living. With the valuation of homes in Colorado, stagnant high interest rates, and nationwide inflation, the overall cost of living is going up. The index, compared to the rest of the nation, is surprisingly steady year-to-year. Let’s look at what we’re seeing.


What is the Cost Of Living & How Is It Calculated

The Cost Of Living Index is a numerical representation of how much it costs to live in an area when compared to an average or base.This index is compiled by individual companies and is used to help people understand how their income compares to different areas or markets. Each index has its own variables and puts different weight on data points, so when you look at an index make sure to understand what they’re looking at. In this blog, we compare the cost of living in our local areas compared to the national averages. This base number (represented as 100) looks at the cost of food and groceries, transportation, healthcare, utilities, prices of real estate, and cost of recreational activities. When comparing an area, like Durango, Colorado, to the national average we’ll be given a number like 128.9. This means it’s 28.9 percent more expensive to live in Durango than the national average cost of living.

Many companies take this Cost of Living Index and create calculators for people to show the comparable incomes of differing locations. For instance, a person living in Denver making $50,000 a year would need to make $113,000 a year in Manhattan to experience the same quality of living.


Colorado’s Cost Of Living

Even with rising home valuations, inflation, high interest rates, and a seemingly unstable economy, Colorado’s overall cost of living has moved more towards the national average than it was two years ago. Currently the cost of living index for the state overall is 105.5, down from 121 two years ago, at the tail end of the pandemic’s measures. We all know Colorado has become more expensive to live in. This means that the rest of the country is catching up to the general cost of living in our state. The highest measure pulling the index rating high is the cost of housing, sitting at 116.1. This is down considerably from 166 two years ago, again indicating that housing costs across the nation have risen. It is apparent that Colorado has struck some good deals with our energy providers, increased our eco-friendly energy sources, and/or reduced our energy consumption as a state because our cost of energy index dropped to 90.9 from 96. Transportation is relatively expensive in Colorado, sitting at 107.4. Healthcare is also slightly more expensive in Colorado than the rest of the nation, sitting at 102.


Denver’s Cost Of Living

Denver proper remains consistently more costly to live within than the rest of the state (except for Boulder). Over the past two years, Denver’s cost of living has remained around 128, with housing skewing that measure as it sits at 184. This hasn’t moved much over the past two years, and we can definitely say property owners in Denver know it. An interesting measure to note is that transportation costs have increased over the past two years, whether that be the cost of RTD, parking in Denver, the cost of gas, or new and used cars. The cost of transportation in Denver rose to 116.1 (from 107 two years ago). Other cost of living measures in Denver are as follows: food and grocery sits at 101.9, utilities is around 96, and healthcare is low at 83.9 (which actually dropped from 93!).


Boulder’s Cost Of Living

It costs to live in Boulder. The overall cost of living is currently at 167.6! This has remained consistent for the past two years, much like Denver. The cost of housing is the main reason for such a high cost of living. Housing is at 319.4, again – a statistic that has not changed much over the past two years. The cost of food in Boulder has gone up, rising to 106.5, probably the highest cost of food in the Front Range metro area. Redeeming factors of living in Boulder come with the cost of transportation (95) and the cost of healthcare (85) and utilities (92).


Longmont’s Cost Of Living

Longmont’s cost of living is more along the lines of the rest of the Denver Metro Area, with some benefits! In general , the cost of living is 120.3. The cost of housing is at 172.1, which means it’s easier to find an affordable home in Longmont than in Denver, but compared to the rest of the nation Longmont is still expensive. The cost of food and groceries is at 101.4, holding strong with the rest of the metro area, but considerably cheaper than Boulder.  The cost of transportation in Longmont is down to 92.5 – which is wholly because of our free local RTD bus routes. Healthcare and Utilities are very similar to Boulder, sitting at 85 and 92 respectively.


As inflation continues to push the market in different directions and mortgage interest rates remain steady around 7%, the cost of living in Colorado will continue to skew higher than the rest of the country. It doesn’t help that Colorado is a very desirable state for people moving from even more expensive markets (like New York and California).


What’s your experience of the cost of living in Colorado, or the area you’re living in? Leave a comment below.