8 Best Places to Retire in Colorado

Colorado’s natural beauty, fresh air, and abundant outdoor activities make it a popular vacation destination and place to live. Specifically, active retirees who like to ski, hike, and fish, as well as enjoy crisp mountain air, a four-season climate, and convenient access to both urban and wilderness landscapes, might consider Colorado as their home.

When it comes to finances, Colorado is considered fairly tax-friendly for retirees, according to SmartAsset. The system provides for a deduction of $24,000 per year on all retirement income for anyone 65 years and older. For retirees between the ages of 55 and 64, the deduction is $20,000 a year. Married couples can each claim the deduction. Social Security is taxable, and these deductions apply to Social Security income. Property taxes are some of the lowest in the country, too, with an average of about 0.48 percent.

Retirees who have vacationed in Colorado over the years can look to the future in some of their favorite Centennial State locations. We’ve put together a list of best places to retire in Colorado with input from local residents and frequent travelers, as well as my own personal experience.

Fort Collins

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Located in the northern Colorado foothills of the Rocky Mountains, about 60 miles north of Denver International Airport, Fort Collins is a midsized city in Larimer County. Jala Curtis, business marketing and communications program supervisor at the Fort Collins Downtown Development Authority, tells Travel + Leisure, “Fort Collins is an ideal destination that seamlessly combines outdoor adventure with urban charm. Picture waking up to the breathtaking Rocky Mountains in the background, and then heading out for a morning hike or bike ride in the beautiful foothills. Fort Collins enjoys all four seasons, offering a variety of weather throughout the year.”

Curtis adds, “The city fosters a strong sense of community, with plenty of opportunities to connect with others through clubs, events, and senior centers like the Fort Collins Senior Center, which has social activities, fitness programs, and even ski trips. The city boasts a lively arts scene with museums, theaters, and a symphony orchestra. You can also enjoy the youthful energy brought on by Colorado State University.”

According to Curtis, downtown Fort Collins, a walkable area filled with public art, inspired Disney’s Main Street, U.S.A. More than 100 restaurants, shops, galleries, and boutiques blend past and present in the historic district.

Niche.com calls Fort Collins “one of the best places to live in Colorado,” noting the median home value is $497,400. The site also calls on the parks, restaurants, coffee shops, and highly rated public schools.

Aspen

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This year-round resort area, renowned for its downhill skiing, boasts cultural activities, annual festivals, excellent restaurants, and gorgeous scenery. Residents don’t have to be skiers to enjoy the outdoors in Aspen, where hiking trails, parks, golf, and a walkable downtown provide ample ways to soak in the fresh mountain air.

“Providing a completely frictionless lifestyle for an active and inspiring retirement, Aspen offers world-class skiing and hiking, intellectual pursuits at the Aspen Institute, performances at the Aspen Music Festival and DanceAspen, dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant, and unwinding with spa treatments — my favorite being The Little Nell’s new ski-in/ski-out spa — all without ever needing a car,” Aspen resident Erin McGuire of EMG Aspen Realty tells T+L. McGuire, who specializes in ownership sales for the Residences at The Little Nell, adds, “Owners at the Residences at The Little Nell often remark that their kids and grandkids eagerly look forward to family gatherings in Aspen.”

Quality health care is available at Aspen Valley Hospital, as well as through small clinics offering everything from orthopedic to dentistry to women’s health services. Aspen also has a free bus system in town and to the neighboring town of Snowmass.

Hartsel, Park County

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Located at 8,864 feet above sea level, Hartsel is referred to as the “Heart of Colorado.” With less than 1,000 residents, this part of Colorado is ideal for hardy, independent retirees who enjoy outdoor recreation, cold winters, fishing, hiking, and solitude. My friend, Gina, widowed at 59, moved from northwest Florida to Hartsel in 2020, leaving behind a waterfront home, and, in her words, “hurricanes, heat, and humidity” as well.

In Hartsel, Gina realized her dream of having a horse and ranch lifestyle. “Over two years, my realtor and I drove a thousand miles all over Colorado, on dirt roads and flat plains, before finding my place in the center of the state bordering the South Park National Heritage Area. My property backs up to over a million acres of the San Isabel National Forest, and I can ride out my back gate and enjoy unlimited places to ride my horse or an ATV,” she says.

She adds, “Wildlife roaming on my land and in the area include elk, deer, coyotes, badgers, bears, bobcats, mountain lions, foxes, and bighorn sheep. I have a half-hour drive to the town of Buena Vista for groceries and other services, and it’s about two hours to Denver. This is a rugged life, and you’d better be tough and love the outdoors.” If this sounds like an appealing retirement lifestyle, then central Colorado may be for you.

Denver

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“The Mile High City and Colorado’s capital, Denver features a walkable downtown with museums, a performing arts center, restaurants, parks, a historic district, a pedestrian mall, and a baseball field. Convenient and inexpensive rail service between Union Station and Denver International Airport makes travel easy. Within the city, a variety of neighborhoods offer diverse places to live and visit.

Surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, and a mile above sea level, Denver offers mild, dry, and sunny weather. I’ve visited Denver many times and experienced both warm days in summer and cold days with a bit of snow in winter. During my most recent trip, I attended a Major League Baseball game at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, near Denver, a beautiful place to visit even when there’s no event scheduled.

Retirees who appreciate all that downtown offers, along with a more suburban lifestyle, have many options in the Denver area. I’ve spent time with friends in Broomfield, about 20 miles from downtown. Niche.com lists and rates a number of Denver suburbs with excellent livability scores. The cost of living, according to Numbeo, is about 23 percent lower than in New York, and rents are about 48 percent lower.

Golden

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Located in the foothills of the Rockies, about 30 minutes from Denver, Golden is among the best places to retire in Colorado, according to SmartAsset. Per their data, access to health care is excellent, with 4.9 doctor’s offices per 1,000 residents. Niche.com lists the median home price here as $698,700.

“The city of Golden strives to improve the quality of life for older adults by providing services and opportunities for recreation, intellectual stimulation, physical activity, volunteering, and social connection through programming and resource navigation,” says Sarah E. Vaine, thriving communities director for the city of Golden, in a statement on the city’s website.

While both the cost of living and home prices are higher than the national average, according to BestPlaces, “prices for groceries, transportation, and entertainment can be lower or comparable to the rest of the country. With a vibrant and growing business climate, as well as a host of outdoor activities nearby, Golden is an attractive place for those who are willing to pay a bit more for an enjoyable lifestyle.”

Colorado Springs

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Located in the Pikes Peak region in the southern part of the state, Colorado Springs is about 70 miles south of Denver, at an elevation of 6,035 feet above sea level. Nature lovers will enjoy living near Pikes Peak, rising 14,000 feet, for its gorgeous views. A challenging, 13-mile hike, a drive up Pikes Peak Highway, or a guided tour takes visitors to the summit. Garden of the Gods features red rock formations, nature walks, and stunning landscapes. The Air Force Academy and U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum are located in Colorado Springs, too.

Niche.com notes the median housing cost in Colorado Springs is $383,000, and according to BestPlaces, the cost of living here is about 10 percent higher than the overall U.S. and 8 percent lower than the Colorado average. BestPlaces also states the typical home cost is $440,500, which is 40 percent more than the national average. Several major hospitals in the region include UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central and Penrose Hospital, a full-service acute care facility.

Grand Junction

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The largest city in western Colorado, Grand Junction is about 245 miles southwest of Denver. Named for its convergence of the Gunnison and Colorado rivers, Grand Junction offers water sports and beautiful landscapes.

Octava Reppard, director of sales at Hotel Maverick, the city’s first independent boutique hotel, was born and raised in Grand Junction. Reppard tells T+L, “Grand Junction is a great place to live because of our mild winters, welcoming community, and prime location. The landscapes are beautiful with lots of outdoor activities that include hiking, camping, hunting, skiing, and water activities in the Colorado River and several nearby lakes. Grand Junction is also the home of the stunning Colorado National Monument, which is popular with locals and visitors year-round, as well as the Grand Mesa, the largest flat top mountain in the world.”

Niche.com notes the median home value in Grand Junction is $317,700. BestNeighborhood.org states, “The most desired areas tend to be in the northwest parts of the city, while more affordable homes are in the central regions. Median house prices in Grand Junction are $268,197 … less expensive than the U.S. median of $318,879.” When compared with the entire state, Grand Junction home prices are less than the state’s average of $430,259. The destination is home to a range of hospitals and health care facilities, too, including the Grand Junction VA Medical Center.

Pueblo

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Located about 113 miles south of Denver, Pueblo is considered a low cost place to retire in Colorado. According to The Savvy Age, “Pueblo, Colorado, continues to make the lists for most affordable places to retire due to its climate, location, affordability, and livability scores.”

Strategistico states, “The cost of living in Pueblo is about 20 percent lower than the Colorado state average. The average monthly cost for living a standard lifestyle in Pueblo is less than $3,000 per month, which gives it the lowest cost of living compared to any other major Colorado city.

BestPlaces gives Pueblo a cost of living score of 90.3, meaning the total cost of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, taxes, and other necessities is 9.7 percent lower than the U.S. average and 25.1 percent lower than the average for Colorado. A typical home costs $285,300, which is 15.6 percent less than the national average and 45.9 percent less expensive than the average Colorado home, according to BestPlaces. The same source estimates renting a two-bedroom unit in Pueblo costs $1,130 per month.

The moderate climate includes mild winters with light snowfall and average temperatures of 33 degrees Fahrenheit. Summer temperatures, meanwhile, average 77 degrees with low humidity. Visit Pueblo says, “We’re not just any city in Colorado — we’re a historic and diverse place that keeps it spicy with our unique Pueblo chile and enticing experiences around every corner.” Museums, art galleries, annual events like the Colorado State Fair, farmers markets, and holiday activities create a feeling of community.

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