Don’t Regret Moving to Colorado: 11 Things You Might Hate (or Love)

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Colorado is a popular state for transplants moving from other places in the country. It gets a lot of hype for the beautiful scenery, outdoor recreation opportunities, and quality of living.

And it’s true, Colorado is an amazing place to live with some of the most beautiful cities in the country.

However, there are a few aspects about the state that aren’t as nice as you might hope. And they could become reasons why you regret moving to Colorado in the long-term.

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These may not necessarily be negative things about the state, but they are things you should be aware of when you move here. 

regret moving to colorado

Here are the top facts you need to know so you don’t regret moving to Colorado this year. Some of these things you might hate, or you might love depending on your preferences.

You can determine for yourself if the points listed are pros or cons of living in the Centennial state.

1. Tons of tourism

Depending on how you view this point, ample tourism can be both a good or bad thing for any state. 

In 2019, Colorado welcomed more than 86 million visitors that spent a total of $24.2 billion. This influx of tourism helped provide jobs and saved every Colorado household around $707 in taxes annually.

In the summer of 2022 the Colorado Cash Back program was able to refund $750 per individual tax filer. This was basically a one-time refund of state revenue for fiscal year 2021-2022.

However, some of the downsides to tourism include an increased level of crowds on the roads, on hiking trails, and at ski resorts. 

spring break ski deals colorado

Tourism can also increase costs for lodging, dining out, and general entertainment for locals who live in Colorado permanently. 

Not to mention that driving in the snow and along narrow mountain roads takes practice and skills that most tourists have not developed. 

This can make for slow drivers and cause more accidents on winding mountain roads.

Whether you love them or hate them, tourists bring an increasing surge of revenue to the state each year.

But at the cost of general wear-and-tear and overall degradation of resources that many Coloradoans consider to be their own. 

2. Bad drivers and traffic

Speaking of bad drivers, with a state full of transplants from California and Texas, Colorado does not get a good reputation for drivers. 

The state actually ranks number six in the country among other states with “worst drivers”. 

According to the study the main reason for such bad driving is due to carelessness, speeding, and ignoring traffic laws.

With an influx of new residents from out-of-state that bring their own regional driving styles or rules-of-the-road, it’s no wonder that Colorado has some of the worst drivers in the country.

colorado-traffic-and-crowds

Bad driving often leads to more accidents, especially on icy or snowy roads, which causes traffic to back up quite frequently.

During rush hour in big cities like Colorado Springs or Denver it can seem like there are crashes happening every few miles.

Due to the Rocky Mountains and the limited amount of space for developed roads, some highways are simple narrow two-lane roads. So when an accident happens, or there’s an overload of traffic, it can really slow things down.

Factors like this cause an uptick in the amount of cars on the road with increased driving times for commuting and weekend trips to the slopes. 

It’s very annoying when you have a weekend planned in Winter Park and it takes you 4 hours to go 2 miles. True story. This really happened to us on one of our weekend getaways.

3. Overcrowded trails

Another factor that might cause you to regret moving to Colorado are overcrowded trails.

In the 30+ years I’ve lived in Colorado Springs, I’ve seen a noticeable uptick in the number of people on hiking trails. Routes that I used to see only one or two hikers at most, I now see dozens each outing.

Not to mention the amount of locals and tourists alike who get out to enjoy our state and national forests.

There are so many visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park every month that you must have a reservation in order to hike or camp there. And they have a 6-month waiting list.

Increased crowds on trails means a bigger need for education around safety, responsible use, and “Leaving No Trace”.

Overcrowding in the great outdoors can also dampen the serenity that comes with escaping the city to enjoy time out in nature.

4. Homelessness is on the rise

Since 2007, the amount of individuals who are homeless in Colorado has jumped 265.8%. This is the largest percentage increase in the entire United States, nearly triple the rate.

In the 2021 AHAR Report, Colorado ranked 5th overall with 3% of the nationwide population being labeled as “chronically homeless”. This means that someone has been homeless for at least a year in the three years prior.

You can’t help but notice the homeless campsites that are visible from the highway, or the amount of people panhandling in popular areas. 

homeless in colorado

Because of these homeless camps there has been more litter and trash along the highways and in the cities.

The larger cities along the Front Range see the worst of it, but mountain towns have plenty of homeless people too.

The state has many local and government programs set up to help but the problem is growing at a rapid rate.

5. Locals blame transplants

It’s no secret that many locals who were born and raised in Colorado DO NOT want to see more people moving into their state. 

If you’re from California, Texas or Florida especially, you better be prepared to hear horrible statements from people telling you to go back to your home state.

Carrie has personally received comments like this on Instagram and via email from people telling her to go back to Texas. These kinds of comments aren’t fun to hear or to read. 

grand junction colorado

Locals tend to put blame on tourists and transplants who are changing the home they grew up in.

A lot of natives believe they’re entitled to live in this state because they were born or raised here. And that no other outsiders should be allowed to move here.

But I want to assure you that not all natives think this way. I definitely do not share this view.

Locals are just tired of everyone trashing their cities, trampling on their hiking spots, and taking over their national parks. No one wants to see their beloved state be destroyed over time.

6. Military presence

If you’re not fond of the military, you may not enjoy living in Colorado. There are six military bases in the state, most of which are Air Force bases. 

However, if you like supporting the military or don’t mind living near a base, then it’s not an issue.

Cities with a military presence include Colorado Springs which has four military bases in or near the city, as well as one in Aurora and one in Pueblo.

colorado springs pioneers museum

The state also has a strong historical background of aiding and fighting in both World War I and World War II. 

Throughout many of the small cities, you’ll find museums, statues, and memorials dedicated to the state’s war heroes.

During graduation every year we can hear and see the jets from the Air Force Academy as a way of celebrating that year’s graduates.

You do not have to live near or participate in the military in Colorado but you will see its presence everywhere.

7. Cost of living is expensive

Living in a gorgeous state like Colorado doesn’t come cheap and the cost of living is rising every day.

A U.S. News & World Report listed Colorado at #43 in affordability rankings. This compares the average cost of living in each state with the average household income. 

That is to say that Colorado is a pretty expensive state to live in, with 42 other states that would cost less to live in. 

According to this report, Colorado has a higher average cost of living than the entire state of New York. And that is really saying something!

buying a house in colorado

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2020 the average total personal consumption cost in Colorado was $46,642 per year. Which is comparable to WA, CA, and NY. 

This means you will need to earn at least $46,600 to be able to comfortably afford to live in Colorado.

However, this figure does not necessarily include expenses like saving for retirement, or traveling in the state for a day trip or vacation. 

Even some of the cheapest places to live in Colorado are still expensive when compared to other states in America.

8. Lack of water and rainy days

There’s no argument that the sun in Colorado can be very intense for anyone who didn’t grow up here. 

Most of Colorado’s population is located in an arid or desert climate so it’s often quite hot and very dry. You should expect dry skin, cracked lips, and even a bloody nose from time to time.

The state doesn’t get a lot of rain nor does it have many rainy days or thunderstorms.

Colorado’s average yearly precipitation is only about 17 inches. But this does vary based on where you live in the state.

Paint Mines trail in Calhan CO

While Colorado receives a lot of snow, that’s not the same as rain soaking into the ground during spring, summer or fall.

Water shortages are common in Colorado and implementation of water restrictions happens regularly, typically May through October.

Wildfires are also more common that we’d like to see and are a massive risk in the hot, dry summer months. Fire bans and no burn zones are highly regulated.

With lots of moisture comes an increase in humidity which Colorado has a low amount of. This can be viewed as a good or bad thing.

Individuals who move to Colorado from the East Coast often mention how much they miss thunderstorms and overcast days. 

If you’re someone who loves the rain, then you will find that quite lacking here and could make you regret moving to Colorado.

9. Gardening is limited

This next point may seem obvious, but lack of rain water means that gardening in Colorado can be very difficult.

Living in a desert-like climate means very hot and dry weather during the day and massive temperature drops at night.

While melons, squash and peppers thrive in a climate like this, other lowland crops tend to fare more poorly. 

Not only that but the soil doesn’t make it easy to grow plants because it’s mostly made up of pebbles, sand, and granite. There are rocks everywhere, I mean it is the Rocky Mountains afterall.

colorado festivals wildflowers

The best kind of plants and flowers that grow in Colorado should be able to withstand the heat and cold as well as not need a lot of water.

The fluctuation in Colorado’s weather makes for erratic and unpredictable growing seasons as well. Some years there will be an early fall cold snap, or a late spring freeze and it will wipe out certain crops.

The shorter growing seasons in Colorado can make it difficult for farmers and those who enjoy lush green gardens.

But there are a few places in Colorado that are known for its agriculture and fantastic growing conditions.

The San Luis Valley, Grand Valley and the Great Plains are all places built on the back of agriculture. 

10. Marijuana culture 

Speaking of grass (hehe), despite issues with a short growing season and lack of good soil, marijuana still flourishes in Colorado.

The state legalized the possession and sale of marijuana in December 2012 so this recreational drug has been available to the public for nearly a decade.

Depending on which city you choose to live in Colorado, the retail sale of marijuana is a completely normal thing. 

Adults must be over the age of 21 to buy and possess it. There are also limits to selling marjiuana and only licensed retailers can do so.

conundrum hot springs

But it’s a common occurrence to run across the culture and consumption of weed in the state.

It’s likely that some of your friends, neighbors, and even family members will purchase marijuana occasionally, and offer it to you as well. 

The culture of living around and near the sale and distribution of marijuana is not considered taboo at all. 

Some people even move to Colorado simply to enjoy this recreational drug, while others are okay living near it but choose not to participate. 

Fortunately, there are many cities in Colorado that do not allow retail sale of marijuana within city limits. So you can choose to buy and enjoy using it, or opt to not be included.

If you want to purchase marijuana or any of its other cannabis forms for recreation, or even medical purposes, you will need to consider this when choosing the best place to live in Colorado.

11. The high altitude

No matter how long you have lived in Colorado, the altitude still takes a while to acclimate to.

Denver is called the “Mile High City” for a reason at 5,280 feet above sea level. But what most transplants don’t realize is that Denver is one of the lowest elevation cities in the state. 

Colorado Springs is almost a thousand feet higher in elevation than Denver. And mountain towns like Aspen, Vail, and Breckenridge sit more than 8,000 feet high. 

Living at higher elevation takes time getting used to, from days to weeks and even years for some people. The air is thinner and there is a lower level of oxygen.

best hiking spots in colorado

Even after living in Colorado for years you could still get winded and find it hard to catch your breath in higher altitude situations.

Another aspect for living at high altitude is learning how to adjust the cooking and baking times. Cooking at high altitude alters your recipes from ingredients to cooking times. 

With each 500-feet increase in elevation the boiling point of water is lowered by about 1 °F. For example, at 7,500 feet above sea level the boiling point for water is about 198 °F versus the normal 212 °F.

Finally your consumption of alcohol is altered by altitude. At higher elevations, alcohol has a greater effect on your body since you are getting less oxygen to your bloodstream.

You may not be able to consume as much alcohol as you once could while at sea level.

Life in Colorado definitely has its perks. From snow-packed days to sunny summers, there is no lack of amenities and things to do.

Personally, I love my life in Colorado but it’s definitely not a place for everyone.

I hope this list helped make you aware of some things that you might regret when moving to Colorado this year.