Are you planning on retiring soon? Well, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is where to spend your sunset years. If you’re looking into Colorado for that purpose, then finding out about its pros and cons will help you solidify your decision.
Colorado has great weather, the pension taxes are lower than in most states, and lots of retirees live there with several retirement communities all over. On the flip side, Colorado’s living expenses are high, and some people have complained of overcrowding and traffic congestion in some areas.
Colorado has become a popular retirement location for many Americans, but before you take the leap, take your time and go through the merits and demerits of living in the Centennial State. This article will help you with that.
Understanding the Centennial State
Colorado is a state located in the western region of the United States. It was named after the Colorado River, whose name was derived from Rio Colorado (meaning “Red River”). Early Spanish explorers gave this name because the river carries red silt from the mountains.
As for the nickname “Centennial State,” this was based on the fact that Colorado became a state 100 years after signing the United States Declaration of Independence.
Denver is the capital and most populous city in Colorado. Its residents are known as Denverites. Interestingly, natives of Colorado seem to be divided on whether they’re officially called “Coloradans” or “Coloradoans.”
The most notable geographical features in Colorado are mountains, high plains, foothills, and desert lands. The world’s largest natural hot springs swimming pool is found in this state—Glenwood Springs.
What is more, Grand Mesa, the flattop mountain located within the Grand Mesa National Forest, is the world’s largest. This spectacular mountain stands over 10,000 feet above sea level and spans hundreds of square miles.
Clearly, Colorado does have a lot to offer. So, let’s dive in and look at the pros of retiring in this state.
Pros of Retiring in Colorado
Pension Taxes Are Low
This has got to be one of the main reasons why so many people want to spend their sunset years in Colorado—low retirement income taxes. Who wouldn’t want to save a few coins?
In most states, retirement income is taxed at the same rate as earned income. This is expected, and where these two rates differ, the difference is very small and almost insignificant.
Enter Colorado; this state offers lower pension taxes compared to other states. In fact, Colorado has a pension (or annuity) subtraction that includes retired military pay, military disability pay, Social Security, and homestead exemption for qualifying seniors.
Based on this pension subtraction, retirees between 55 to 64 years can exclude $20,000 of qualified retirement income. Those 65 years and over can exclude up to $24,000. The over 65s are also eligible for a homestead exemption of 50% of the primary residence value.
These high senior tax deductions will make your sunset years a bit more relaxed financially.
Accommodates All Income Levels
The cost of living is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a place to live, let alone retire. This will directly affect what you can or cannot do, depending on your level of income. For retirees who have worked so hard all their life and now wish to enjoy their golden years, finding a place that’s affordable and within their price range is non-negotiable.
Colorado stands as one of the states that suit a variety of incomes.
This may come as a shock since Colorado is mostly known for its high cost of living. While that is true for specific cities like Denver (with a 12% higher cost of living than the national average) and Boulder, the story is quite different in several other cities and suburbs in Colorado.
There are a number of affordable cities in the Centennial state that attract people with lower financial strengths. Take Loveland for example, commonly known as the “Sweetheart City.” The average monthly homeownership costs here are below the national rates. That makes it convenient for retirees with a lower income.
Another affordable city in Colorado to retire in is Colorado Springs. Compared to the national average cost of living, Colorado Springs is 6% lower, with housing expenses being 2% lower than the national average. The utility prices and transport expenses are also much more affordable in this city.
There are several other affordable places in Colorado that are well suited for retirees looking for a cheaper place to live and enjoy their hard-earned money. So get on with your research and find your ideal place.
Colorado is rightfully known as the star of the West. With its magnificent landscapes, soaring mountains, and scenic drives, you’ll unlikely lack something that takes your breath away.
Living in such a beautiful place is like a balm to the soul. You can wake up to stunning sunrises, enjoy relaxed afternoons out in nature, and take in incredible sunsets any day. That’s what the Centennial state offers retirees.
Top on the list of beautiful places to see in Colorado are the mountain views. Some of the world’s best mountain views are found at the Rocky Mountain National Park. The massive highlands are great for summit junky retirees as you can reach elevations well over 10,000 ft (3,048 m). Apart from the amazing views here, there is unique wildlife, including black bears, elk herds, bighorn sheep, and moose.
During the fall, Colorado has some of the most glorious colors. If you retire here, some of the best spots to enjoy this beauty include the shores of Marron Lake, along the Kebler Pass, and Peak to Peak Byway and San Juan Skyway. Once winter sets in, the Centennial state turns into a real-life winter wonderland.
Colorado also boasts of beautiful lakes, waterfalls, and hot springs. Imagine being able to access the world’s largest natural hot springs pool at Glenwood Springs all year round. The Alta Lakes, Grand Lake, and Hanging Lake (just to name a few) are among the spectacular water bodies one can visit while living in Colorado.
Being so close to all these beautiful places offers a great incentive to retire in Colorado.
There Are Lots of Retirees
As a retiree, you’ll quickly discover that living in a neighborhood full of young people is not so interesting. The feeling of alienation gets real, and age is no longer just a number in such a situation.
One of the best ways to deal with this is moving to a neighborhood with other senior citizens like yourself. Colorado is among the ideal states to move to because it already has lots of retirees. What is more, retirees in Colorado are among the most critical sources of income in the state economy. According to the 2014 reports, retirees contributed more than $4 billion to Colorado’s economy.
Offers High-Quality Medical Care
Healthcare is a crucial part of retirement. Once you hit your fifties and sixties, your body will begin requiring certain kinds of medical attention sooner or later. For this reason, you’ll need to be both financially prepared for the medical bills that will follow and also have access to reliable and strong healthcare services.
Living in Colorado can be a plus for retirees when it comes to accessing great medical care. It boasts over 100 hospitals. Out of these, nine meet the “strong performance” standards, and a good number are nationally ranked.
The UCHealth University of Colorado in Aurora is the top-rated hospital in Colorado. Seven of this hospital’s specialties are nationally ranked, and the hospital is one of the major partners of the University of Colorado Cancer Center.
According to the Healthcare Affordability State Policy Scorecard from Altarum (a nonprofit organization that carries out research and helps improve communities’ health), Colorado ranked 11 out of 42 states. That’s a pretty high ranking, and in 2017, Colorado ranked seventh, out of the 50 states, in America’s Health Ranking.
Colorado is also one of the leading states in health coverage reforms. All citizens are required to have health coverage based on the federal Affordable Care Act, which Colorado follows. Because of this, many hospitals and doctors in Colorado accept many kinds of insurance.
The Centennial State has also keenly been strategizing on how to reduce insurance costs, and they are targeting to have a Public (state) Option available by 2022.
If you’re still undecided about living in Colorado after retiring, the fact that your health will be in good hands should give you the push to make a move.
Apart from accessing one of the top-notch medical care in the country, retiring in Colorado offers many opportunities to live a healthy lifestyle. This is especially important for senior citizens.
There are numerous outdoor recreational activities available in Colorado that encourage people to keep fit. You can go hiking, skiing, swimming, or simply taking walks. The fact that most Coloradans engage in a lot of these activities, meaning that retirees who move here can easily end up adopting the same lifestyle and, therefore, keep healthy.
To show just how much Coloradans are keeping healthy through living healthy lifestyles, Colorado has, for years, held the title of the least obese state in the nation. In 2017, the Centennial State also bagged the title according to the United Health Foundation’s “America’s Health Rankings” annual report.
There is even an organization in Colorado that’s dedicated to seeing that all Coloradans can access opportunities for health and wellness. This is especially encouraging for retirees who may be living on a tight budget. Such organizations see to it that under-resourced communities get access to active living and healthy eating.
Living in Rural Areas and Access to Cities
For retirees looking to settle down in a quiet environment with fewer people, or a place that’s more budget-friendly, Colorado has such options.
There are a number of rural or suburban places in Colorado that are just a short distance from the big cities. It’s like getting the best of both worlds; you get to live the small-town life and have all the amenities you may need at an affordable cost.
Fort Collins or Loveland are examples of such suburban places. Both of them are within range of Denver, one of Colorado’s major cities. Another great example is Colorado Springs. Here, you’ll find several retirement communities so you can meet other senior citizens.
Access to Great Retirement Communities All Over
Have you ever thought of living in a retirement community once you retire? There are a number of them in Colorado, and these communities offer unique opportunities for retirees.
Firstly, you can easily make new friends of your age when living in retirement communities because they live right there with you. Secondly, retirement communities highly prioritize the health and wellness of their residents and offer exercise sessions and other initiatives that look out for the health of the seniors.
You’ll also find events organized for residents, which further creates an environment for mingling and creating new senior friends.
Colorado’s weather is mild and great to live in. There are 300 days of sunshine every year. Coloradans enjoy four seasons yearly, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
If you retire in Colorado, you’ll get to enjoy the cool, colorful, and relaxed autumn seasons, exciting winters with the numerous skiing opportunities, bright springs, and dry but beautiful summer days. For each of these seasons, there are great activities to engage in and events to attend.
The calm Colorado weather is a huge plus for retirees as there are not too many limitations as to what one can do. What is more, having so many sunny days means extra exposure to sunlight, which has a number of health benefits.
One of the main benefits of sunlight exposure is blood pressure reduction. As you may already be aware, blood pressure tends to increase with age, and, therefore, retirees are bound to be keen on anything that affects their pressure levels.
Retiring in Colorado and getting access to 300 days of sunshine is a great benefit for seniors since the sunlight will help keep their blood pressure down. Additionally, exposure to sunlight could lower the risk of stroke and heart attack.
Another health benefit of sunlight is the stimulation of serotonin production through the skin. Serotonin is a hormone that boosts a person’s mood and attitude and helps to maintain focus and calmness. Because of this, you’ll tend to be in a great mood most of the time, and that’s great for your sunset years.
Exceptional Culinary Experience
If you love to eat, then culinary experience is one factor to consider when choosing where to spend your golden years. Being able to sample foods native to a place is always an exciting and fun experience, and the more variety there is, the better.
The Centennial State is one of the states with a wide range of food options. You can enjoy the delightful edibles at restaurants or simply grab a bite from a food truck, and there’s always something for everyone to cater to the different taste buds.
If you’re wondering what to start with when sampling Colorado’s cuisines, we suggest the Colorado bison dishes, which are some of the best in the country. As the 4th largest sheep producer, Colorado boasts the tastiest sheep.
When it comes to seafood, Colorado doesn’t disappoint. Trout in Colorado is known to be among the most delicious in the region. You can have this at any restaurant, or go fishing, catch some for yourself, and cook it at home.
Juicy cantaloupes and Palisade Peaches are some of the mouth-watering fruits found in Colorado. In summer, buy these fruits in any market in Colorado. If one of your goals in old age is to maintain a healthy lifestyle, then including these nutritious fruits in your diet would be something to consider doing.
An Outdoor Sport and Recreation Haven
When it comes to adventure and outdoor activities, Colorado is the place to be. Some of the world-famous activities are found here, and the best part is that it doesn’t matter whether it’s summer or winter, there’s always something to do.
Biking is one of the popular activities to enjoy in Colorado. Many ski resorts open up for biking during the summer months. You can choose the trails you want according to your level of expertise and enjoy the biking styles of your choice. If you don’t want the rough trail in the wild, you can also bike in the city-run bike parks—these are probably the best for retirees as they are paved and more relaxed.
Colorado has over 300 golf courses. Out of all these, you can get something that suits your preference. You can also enjoy discounted tee times at selected courses, check out Golf Colorado, Colorado Golf Pass, and Golf Link.
Another popular activity in Colorado is fishing. All you need is a valid fishing license and fishing gear, and you can cast your line in any of the rivers, lakes, or ponds. There are nice fishing spots in city parks, the national monuments and forests, and state parks.
Other outdoor activities include camping, horseback riding, zip-lining, ballooning, and hunting. You can go skiing, ice fishing, ice skating, snowshoeing, and snow tubing in winter.
There’s truly never a dull moment in Colorado.
Cons of Retiring in Colorado
High Living Expenses
Generally speaking, the cost of living in Colorado is high. When evaluating the different costs, the amounts are compared to the US average of 100. If the amount is below 100, it means Colorado is cheaper than the US average. If the cost is above 100, it means Colorado is more expensive.
Overall, the cost of living in Colorado is at 121.1 compared to 100 for the nation’s average. One of the biggest factors affecting the cost of living in the Centennial State is housing, which stands at a whopping 166.1 (compared to the US average of 100).
When you compare the average rent prices in Colorado with average national prices, the difference is distinct. A studio’s rent in Colorado costs $902 per month while the nation’s average is $821. A two-bedroom in Colorado goes for $1,306 per month while the average price nationally is $1,148.
Some of the areas with the highest housing costs in Colorado are Denver, Colorado Springs, and Boulder. The housing prices in these places have skyrocketed due to increased demand for housing as a result of the growing population. Builders focus on expensive luxury homes and lower interest rates.
Transportation is only slightly above the US average at 106.7 while grocery is at 100.7.
With these costs in mind, retirees looking to settle down in Colorado should be well prepared financially to sustain themselves in the Centennial State.
Overcrowding and Traffic Congestion in Some Areas
Due to the Centennial State’s popularity, some residents have been irked by the overcrowding, and in very populated areas, traffic congestion is also a problem.
These are somehow inevitable consequences of a popular place. As more and more people move to live there, the population increases and overcrowding continues.
For retirees wishing to live in Colorado, the overcrowding can be a problem if you were hoping to move into a quiet and calm environment.
Winters Are Extremely Cold
Winters in Colorado are very cold. It often snows during this time, and even though people enjoy skiing during this season, extreme temperatures can be a problem for senior citizens. Older people often find it harder to keep warm and need to layer on more than younger folk.
If you’ll be moving to Colorado for your golden years, keep this in mind and prepare yourself for the cold season.
The Best Places to Retire in Colorado
Well, by now, you’re probably convinced that Colorado is indeed your retirement destination. So, the only thing left is to decide which town you’re going to live in.
This is the part where most people get torn between whether to stay closer to mother nature or live where modern technology is at its peak. Lucky for you, you don’t need to worry about that because Colorado offers the best of both worlds.
The following are our suggestions of ideal places in the Centennial State for retirees to live in. Here goes:
With more than 165,000 people, Fort Collins is Colorado’s fourth-largest city. It’s one of the best places to stay if you desire the city life minus the annoying crowds and traffic congestion.
Fort Collins has a strong business community with multiple Fortune 500 big names, including Hewlett-Packard, Anheuser-Busch, Agilent Technologies, and Eastman Kodak.
This city has a wide array of cultural and entertainment opportunities. You can go hiking or join the cycling community to keep physically fit every once in a while.
This beautiful town is probably Colorado’s largest mountain town. Its population in 2017 was at 18,465.
The Southwest town in Colorado stands at the height of 6,512 ft (1,988 m). Therefore, it’s warmer during summers and has mild winters. All the same, there are a number of skiing spots like the Purgatory Resort, Chapman Hill, and Hesperus Ski Area.
The Trimble Hot Springs is one other amazing natural feature in Durango that, as a retiree, you’ll probably enjoy indulging in every so often. A swim there will relax not only your muscles but also your mind.
One of the advantages of living in Longmont is that it’s located close to Boulder and Denver, so you can easily access the cities whenever you wish. Even so, Longmont in itself has a lot to offer. From shopping to arts and cultural attractions to dining.
Longmont has many outdoor recreation opportunities. Mile-Hi offers skydiving sessions. Cycling is also very popular here; in fact, Longmont is recognized as a silver-level bicycle-friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists. This is the only Colorado city awarded the silver level yet is not a major university city or tourist center.
Salida is a historic district with about 6,000 residents. It’s found on the Arkansas River and is a whitewater mecca. Over the summer seasons, Salida gets tourists who come to enjoy its beautiful nature. During winter, people can indulge in skiing on Monarch Mountain.
Salida is only about 3 hours from Denver and 2 hours from Colorado Springs and Pueblo. It’s definitely one of the best places for seniors to live in during their golden years.
In the pursuit of the best and satisfying golden years, finding the right location to live in is key. This is something you shouldn’t rash into or assume, and if you end up settling for Colorado, you will be in for some of the best years of your life.
In summary, the benefits of living in the Centennial State include having some of the lowest pension taxes in the country, high-quality medical care, access to awesome retirement communities, and living among many fellow retirees. As a bonus, Colorado is such a beautiful state with great weather, and numerous outdoor sports and recreational activities.
The only downsides you should brace yourself for are the extremely cold winters, overcrowding with heavy traffic congestion in the major cities, and high cost of living. But these are perhaps a reasonable price to pay, considering all the things you’ll enjoy in this western state.
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