Retire in Colorado, retirement at altitude

To retire in Colorado would be heaven for an outdoorsy person who perhaps likes to fish or ski, downhill or cross country.

If this is you... this is the place.

By saying you enjoy skiing removes the primary obstacle to retire in Colorado...the winters are cold, that's where the snow comes from.

I spent my college years at Colorado School of Mines, one of the best engineering schools in the world.

They are still shaking their head at how I graduated in 1967...with honors no less...Lawdy How Come.

Ride a narrow gauge railroad

narrow gauge

Think Butch and Sundance on the Durango /Silverton narrow gauge railroad.

One of many scenic rides you can take when you are a retiree in Colorado.

Durango is close to great skiing and cliff dwellings, at Mesa Verde national park.

The drive from Ouray to Durango is absolutely beautiful.

Colorado Facts

  • How much altitude? Colorado boasts the highest average altitude of any state, since 75% of all US land over 10,000 feet is in Colorado.
  • Colorado is the home of the United States Air Force Academy, located north of Colorado Springs.
  • Colorado has a bit of maverick in it's citizens. They voted down hosting the 1976 Winter Olympics, not wanting the influx of construction that the Olympics brings, they like it just the way it's waiting for you to enjoy.
  • The largest natural hot springs in the world is located in Glenwood Springs.
  • The highest, 1043 feet, suspension bridge in the world is located in Canon City...also where the state prison is located.

Where in Colorado

According to Money Magazine it would be Fort Collins... Money was very impressed with the overall lifestyle of the Fort Collins area. A town with a population of 142,000.

 It is a university town, Colorado State University, and contains all the sports and culture that comes along with being around a major campus, there are 25,000 students, 80% Colorado residents.


The largest city, 2.3 million in the Greater Denver area making it the 10th largest city in America. Denver is "the mile high city", 5,260 above sea level.

What you might be surprised at, is Denver doesn't get that much rain or snow being in the foothills of the Rockies. Annual precipitation is 8 to 15 inches per year, about the same as LA .

The city receives 300 days of sunshine as well. Winter temperatures average a high of 45 degree...too cold for me, but for the skiers, Yahoo. 

There are also 200 parks in Denver, that's a bunch.

Colorado Springs

My old stomping grounds...last 2 years of high school. Colorado Springs has grown to over half a million in the city and suburbs. It is the home of the Air Force Academy. it is also home to Focus on the Family, making it a center for Christian worship, if that is your preference.

Colorado Springs has the same amount of rainfall as Denver, around 17 inches a year. I can almost promise you rain in the late afternoon during the summer. It seems you get all the annual rainfall in one day, but it cools you off and the air smells great when it is over.

Retire in Colorado to the mountains

This would include the pricier Aspen and Vail, but take a look at Grand Junction, Durango, and Steamboat Springs. They all offer great opportunities for recreation if you don't want to drive too far to ski.

That is a big attraction to live in Steamboat due to it's about an hour and a half further from Denver than say Vail. This keeps the weekend population down a bit, and helps it retain a small town feel.

 We go to Steamboat every summer to fly fish the Yampa and White rivers, as well as Lake Dumont for lake fishing. The locals say it is like Vail 15 years ago, it's catching up but I would take a look and see what you think.

 If you want a little bigger town to retire in Colorado try, Grand Junction, it's the largest city in western Colorado at 50,000. Lots of retirees call this home. Believe it or not the area has a growing wine industry and you can spend a some great times visiting the wineries.

It's Healthy to retire in Colorado

retire in Colorado get outdoors

According to the US government, 50% of Americans are overweight, not so in Colorado, where only 20% of the population is considered overweight, making it a very healthy place to live by the weight criteria.

This should not be too surprising since there is so many outdoor activities that you can choose from in Colorful Colorado. If skiing is not your thing, there is always hiking, camping, hunting,  and my favorite fly fishing.

 Since the government owns 33% of all the land in Colorado it is not likely that the opportunities for outdoor recreation, and the subsequent health benefits will disappear anytime soon.

Frugal Lifestyles in Colorado

Colorado is not a cheap state to live in due to it being a tourist mecca especially in the winter for ski season. To reduce costs I would take a look at Park Model Living as the best way to frugally retire in Colorado.

Tax stuff

  • Income tax...4.63% of your Federal Income, Social Security is taxed over $20,000 or $24,000 depending on age
  • Inheritance tax...none at state level
  • Sales tax...varies by county, up to 9.9%


Retire in Colorado is great for the outdoor type and/or skier. It is a young feeling state and the 20% overweight figure speaks volumes for the lifestyle opportunities it offers. If  this is you I would check it out. But remember try before you buy, always.

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