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22 Things to Know Before Moving to Colorado Springs

22 things to know before moving to colorado springs

If you're considering moving to Colorado Springs, this article will give you insight into the city's pros and cons. Colorado Springs has a unique personality, unlike any other city in the country.

I'm a Realtor who works in every part of this city. I've worked in every neighborhood and have boots-on-the-ground experience with the beautiful area residents lovingly refer to as "The Springs." My family and I relocated to Colorado Springs from Houston, Texas, in 2014, but began visiting and researching the different areas in 2008. I've also lived in several other States, which gives me a unique perspective.

Here is a quick reference to all the topics that I'll cover. You can use the reference guide below to jump to the parts that most interest you.

Colorado Springs is a city in the midst of change. The Springs is continually evolving and adapting to its growing popularity, which brings us to our first point. 👇


Number OneRapid Growth Causes Rapid Change

Colorado Springs has experienced an explosion of growth over the last six decades. The population continues to grow with no end in sight. This city has proven to be one of the best places to live in the United States, which helps increase the demand for people moving to Colorado Springs.

In 2020, the estimated population of Colorado Springs is around 485,950 people. It has grown by 16.7% since 2010. The Springs has steadily grown at this rate since the 1970s. Here's a chart that shows Colorado Springs population growth over the past 100 years.

El Paso County has over 720,000 people in it, which is a more accurate number to determine how many people live in the area. This number includes cities like Fountain, Manitou Springs, Monument, and Peyton, which are all suburbs of Colorado Springs. As the area around The Springs gets closer to 1,000,000 residents, the dynamics change from a small town to a big one. El Paso County is in the midst of this change right now.

This explosion of growth has been fascinating for my family and I to observe. When we moved here in early 2014, Interstate-25 at Baptist Road converted from a four-lane to a six-lane highway. A few years later, they widened it to an eight-lane highway and continued this expansion all the way to Denver. Entire neighborhoods that are now commonly known areas didn't even exist when we first arrived here. Once the expansion of the freeway to Denver is complete, we can expect even more growth over the coming decades.

As the population grows, many parts of the town will change as well. The entire area has experienced real estate price increases, but specific neighborhoods have appreciated much faster than others. It's been great for home sellers and tough on home buyers over the last few years. To see a map of which areas have experienced the highest real estate appreciation during the previous five years, click here.


Number TwoNeighborhoods Vary Dramatically

Neighborhoods in Colorado Springs offer vastly different experiences based on their elevation and proximity to the mountains. In the Black Forest, the snow often takes a month longer to melt than it does near Downtown. In Falcon, you may need to water your grass more than in the Broadmoor area because it gets less rain and has shallow soil. All of this different activity happens within a few minutes' drive. The experience of living in Colorado Springs is entirely different than any other city I know.

The average elevation is around 6,000 feet above sea level. It can vary by over 1,500 feet as you travel from the Southside (near Fountain) to the Northside (near Monument). It only takes 45 minutes to make that drive. That is substantial elevation change in such a short distance. There are not many parts of the county where residents deal with that kind of elevation change on a daily basis.

Here's a map I created showing the different elevation changes around town. These areas are all within 45 minutes of each other.

Map of Elevation Changes Around Colorado Springs

I currently live on the Northeast side of town. In the Springtime, I can drive to Fountain and see plants starting to bloom. When I drive home, the temperature will drop 10 to 15 degrees, and the vegetation in my neighborhood is still dormant. Being in the middle of seasonal changes and experiencing them at different times throughout the day, based on which side of town you're visiting, is surreal.

As you study neighborhoods in Colorado Springs, notice how different they are in characteristics and price. The diversity among neighborhood experiences is vast. This dynamic means that it may take additional research to choose a part of town that you like the best. Experience real estate agents in the area can offer the best insights on each community.


Number ThreeIt's Extremely Dry Here

As you read through articles about life in Colorado Springs, you'll notice that the topic of "dry air" gets mentioned quite a bit. People visiting from lower elevations need to drink water every hour to keep from getting elevation sickness here. The dry air has its pros and cons.

The air is clean and crisp in Colorado. I'll never forget the first time I flew into town and the doors of the airport opened. When I walked outside, the temperature was the same outside as inside the airport.

Coming from Houston, this was a brand new experience. The humidity and heat in Houston are extreme and oppressive in every season. Most people rush from their car to a building to be saved by climate-controlled air. I immediately fell in love with the experience of the crisp, cool air here.

I was also amazed by how fast ice melts at higher elevations. It sounds strange, but when you put ice in a glass of water, it vanishes with a few minutes. When you get out of the shower and hang up your towel, it will be dry within hours. It would take more than a day to dry a towel by hanging it in a humid climate. The dry air also helps take the chill out of the winter air, which is why you'll often see people in shorts during 40-degree weather.

The downside to the dry climate is that water evaporates quickly. When it rains here, the surface water doesn't stay as long as it does at lower elevations. This dryness causes Colorado to have severe water issues, which I'll cover in the next topic.


Number FourWater is Complicated

Much of the water in Colorado stays in the Mountains due to the topography.

Most of the population lives on the front range at a lower elevation, so water needs to move from the mountains to the people. This dynamic creates a problem. Colorado is continuously working to move water from one place to another to keep up with the demand of the growing population.

How Do Colorado Water Rights Affect Real Estate?If you're planning to buy a house on acreage in Colorado Springs, you should read this article by Casey Fortune. He breaks down the different issues these properties face, especially when trying to build a new home with a water well. New rules are established every year, making it harder and more expensive to have land with a well on it.

The water issues in neighborhoods can change, as well. You may find a great community with no water restrictions today only to have new neighborhoods zoned by the county, causing water rights to be divided again. Water rights are an evolving issue here, so be sure you know what areas to avoid and what areas are safe.


Number FiveThe Snow is Not Bad

When I first told my friends that I was moving to Colorado Springs in 2014, their first response was, "How are you going to handle the snow?". I had prepared myself to take two or three months off of work to be snowed-in. Fast forward many years later, and I have yet to be snowed-in for more than one day at a time.

Snow in the mountains versus snow in the front rangeThe weather on the Rocky Mountains' front range is much less harsh than being directly in the mountains. This dynamic is one reason why the vast majority of Colorado residents live on the front range. The snow in Colorado Springs only affects the area while it's coming down. It rarely snows for an entire day here.

Once the snow has fallen, the roads are plowed, and the sun melts the snow on the pavement within a few hours. The sun is intense in Colorado, and we enjoy an average of 300 days of sunshine per year.

If you have snow tires and/or all-wheel drive, there's minimal threat of sliding around. Even without snow tires, the conditions are generally good throughout the winter. Some winters, we hardly get any snow at all. For the most part, the Winter months are very active here, and people commute and go outside all year long. Some of our family's favorite hikes have been in the middle of winter.


Number SixMountain Life is Hard

Many people moving to Colorado Springs expect to live in the mountains when they get here. The Springs is not "in the mountains," though.

People from out-of-state typically want the "mountain life. When they realize that most homes in Colorado Springs are not directly in the mountains, they start looking into Woodland Park and the surrounding mountain towns.

People idealize "mountain life" in Colorado. They envision building a beautiful log cabin in the mountain and retiring in a snowy bliss. That's not a realistic scenario, though. A much more harsh reality meets this dream for those who attempt it.

I've had home sellers contact me a winter or two after buying their dream home, wanting to sell. Mountain life is brutal in the cold months, and it's not for everyone. This is especially true if you are an extrovert and like to be around people often.

Those who live in the mountains can find themselves isolated for months during the winter. Around the time they're getting stir crazy from so many months of snow, the front range starts experiencing Spring. This season comes much later in the Mountains. Not many people can handle the long winters up there.

If you buy a house on the north side of a mountain, you'll likely lose direct sunlight around 3:30 pm, depending on how much sun it covers. That lack of sun can play games on your mood. It's a genuine problem that many people do not realize until they move into this harsh environment. Once again, this is why most people do not live in the mountains in Colorado. Life on the front range, at a lower elevation, with level land, is much easier and more practical for day-to-day life.


Number SevenFashion is Not A High Priority

Colorado Springs is always near the top of Worst Dressed Cities lists. Fashion is not a priority for most of the residents here. I love this characteristic of The Springs.

Colorado Springs FashionMy wife is a home stager and designer. She has a natural eye for design and fashion that is entirely foreign to me. She can take a regular boring house and make it look like a magazine. I can barely match my clothes. When we lived in Houston, style and design were in high regard. It was something that everyone was aware of. That is not the case here. I was quickly made aware of this within a few weeks after moving to Colorado Springs.

For the first year that we lived here, my wife would point out the crazy clothing styles she would notice while we were out in public. We used to laugh about this. Now it is entirely normal, and we rarely bring it up anymore. I love it, as I have no interest in whether my clothes match or are "in style." I'm more interested in being comfortable and dressing to match the weather patterns, and I suspect most of the residents here feel the same way.


Number EightWe Dress in Layers

coloradans be like need anything from king soopesOne of the reasons our fashion sense is so bad (see above) is that we tend to dress in layers in Colorado. Our weather can vary from 40 degrees in the morning to 80 degrees in the afternoon. People tend to be more concerned with being hot or cold than with the matching of their clothes. My wife, however, somehow manages to pull off coordinating several layers. It can be done but is pretty rare here.

If you're moving to Colorado Springs at any time other than Summer, you'll want to have plenty of layers ready. Since it's dry here, the "layers" that you may be familiar with in humid climates won't work the same at high elevations. You'll rarely see leather jackets or heavy coats. We tend to stick to thin layers that are easy to remove as the temperature changes throughout the day.

It's easy to adapt to the temperature once you have the right clothing. Just be aware that you'll likely change most of your wardrobe if you're moving here from a warm, humid climate.


Number NineYou May Smell Marijuana

Maggies Farm Colorado SpringsIf you live in a state where marijuana is illegal, it might seem weird to smell weed while walking through downtown. It's a common occurrence that took me a while to get used to.

I remember the first time we went to Breckenridge, CO. My kids were young, and we were walking down the beautiful flower-filled streets. Suddenly, a hipster opened the door to a building, and a giant cloud of pot smoke came out. I remember thinking that I hoped it wouldn't impact my kids in any way.

Now I know that it's not a big deal. The legalization of marijuana hasn't had much of a negative impact on the state. I don't even think about it much until I am confronted with a strong smell while I'm out in public with my family. That scenario lasts for about 20 seconds, and then we move on. Marijuana has not been as much of a topic as I thought it would be when we first moved to Colorado Springs.


Number TenOur Restaurant Scene is Behind the Times

Many big cities are known for their food. Houston has some of the best Mexican food in the country. Sadly, you will not find that experience here. It took my wife and I several years to adapt to the restaurants here. Many big cities will have great restaurants within a few blocks of any location. In Colorado Springs, we typically have to do some driving to find good food. Standards are much lower here.

With that said, there are a few favorites that we love, but the choices are slim. There are only three Mexican restaurants that we will eat at, and one is a hole-in-the-wall in Fountain that doesn't even have a dining room. You have to eat in your car or take it home. It's challenging to find many types of food, not just authentic Mexican food.

I will say that this problem has become less of an issue over the past couple of years as the city grows. A few successful restaurants from Denver have started to move into our area, which raised the bar a bit. As the city continues developing, more restaurant options become available. Back in 2014, it was rough.


Number ElevenPikes Peak Never Stops Inspiring

No matter where you are in town, you can see Pike's Peak. Every day, the ridges and shapes of its face become more familiar. After a few years, you'll find "America's Mountian" has become like the face of an old familiar friend. Not a week has gone by since I've lived here that I don't look at it and get a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart.

Rarely do cities have one giant mountain as the focal point of all visual guidance. Mount Fiji in Japan may be the best comparison that I know of. It's a special thing that makes this city stand out from others.

People post pictures of Pikes Peak on social media daily. Here is a photo I took a few months ago from Palmer Park. My phone is filled with photos like this one.

Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs city council has done a great job of protecting the views here. They do not allow buildings to develop above a certain height. They have been bullish on maintaining the natural sights for everyone, something I sincerely appreciate.


Number TwelveReal Estate is a Mad House

As I write this blog, Colorado Springs has been in the top 3 hottest markets in the U.S. since the beginning of the year. Even throughout the COVID pandemic, our real estate market dominated. The popularity of the Springs has taken off, and the housing market can't keep up with the demand.

I've added a screenshot of the last 10-year price increases below. This image was taken from our Market Insider video for July. You can CLICK HERE to see the current market stats for the El Paso County area at any time.

10-year price increases in Colorado SpringsToday, the median home price is $377,000. If you are looking for a home in that price range, you'll likely experience falling in love with multiple homes and watching them disappear within a few hours. Numerous offer contracts happen on most listings at or below the median home price.

If you're planning to move to Colorado Springs and buy a home here, be sure to use an agent who has been licensed for at least four years. Also, be aware that we currently have 4,900 agents in our MLS and only sell about 1,000 homes per month. Many real estate agents only sell 3 to 4 homes per year. They may have a harder time getting you the home that you want, just based on a lack of experience. Be careful who you choose to hire.


Number ThirteenPeople Enjoy Being Healthy

You'll find that many of the "healthiest cities in America" articles include Colorado Springs. Many Olympians train here. Our gyms are typically full of people who consistently exercise. Heath is an integral part of people's lives here, and it shows.

The beautiful outdoor setting and numerous trail systems inspire people to get outside and explore. The higher elevation causes the lungs and heart to work harder when we're active. The dry climate motivates people to drink more water regularly. The combination of these things caused me to lose 50 pounds within six months after moving here. This has been the experience of other people that I know, as well.

I used to hike trails in exhaustion and watch guys much older than I was run right past us. Now, I'm one of those guys that run miles on the trails for hours at a time. I never expected that. I completely shattered my left foot in 2004 and was told that I would never run again. Colorado has inspired me to overcome that diagnosis. It was a gradual progression that has dramatically changed my life. I am forever grateful to this beautiful state for helping me gain control of my health.


Number FourteenWe Love Our Military

Colorado Springs Military CommunityThe military has a significant presence in Colorado Springs. More than 40,000 active duty service members and 80,000 veterans live in the area. It's a special privilege that the locals are proud to celebrate. Our 4th of July and Memorial Day celebrations are top-notch!

Many businesses offer military discounts and special incentives to active duty personnel throughout the year. You can feel the love for our military throughout the community. It's inspiring.

Some of the best people that I have met since I've lived here have been military folks. They are disciplined and intelligent. They also move a lot, so it makes the Springs feel more transient than most cities. I've appreciated the time I've had with my military friends, and I look forward to meeting more of them. This is an added benefit that I did not expect when I first moved here.


Number FifteenMost New Development is North of Downtown

If you look at a map of Colorado Springs, you'll notice that there's not much new construction south of Downtown. Fort Carson Army Base and Fountain are the last hints of development before miles of undeveloped raw land all the way down to Pueblo.

If you look north of Downtown, you'll notice new developments all the way up to Monument. The space between Monument and Downtown is where most of the activity is in the area, except for a few unique communities like Broadmoor.


Number SixteenTraffic is Not Bad, In Comparison

Denver Traffic Versus Colorado SpringsTraffic issues in Colorado Springs are typically overblown by the people who live here. There's really not much traffic in this city, compared to others.

If you're moving from a large city like Denver, Los Angeles, or Chicago, you'll be surprised how little time you spend stuck in traffic here. There are a few hot spots around the city that get worse in the morning, but rarely will you lose more than 5-10 minutes stuck in one place.

In the years that I've lived here, I have only been stuck in traffic a few times. When the Air Force Academy holds their yearly graduation, the President of the U.S. comes to town, and our one major freeway is stopped for hours. Other than that, we rarely have traffic jams. Coming from Houston, this was a huge relief! I would waste hours every week stuck in Houston traffic.


Number SeventeenWe're Not a "Mini Denver"

Many cities that are suburbs of larger cities tend to be a mini-version of the larger city that they are close to. This is not the case with Colorado Springs. It's altogether a very different city than Denver.

Colorado Springs is a small city that has recently experienced rapid growth. Multiple neighborhoods still have that small-town feel. In Denver, there are stores and malls every few miles. It takes years to learn about all of the areas and what they have to offer.

Colorado Springs only takes a couple of months to learn about all of the different areas within it. It's not a city yearning to build, grow, and dominate. Many people here complain about the growth and want it to stay small. It's a less progressive city than Denver, which results in a totally different vibe.

As the city has grown over the last few years, I see more Denver influence than ever before, but it's still very different. Northgate has a lot of newer development, reflecting some of the Denver characteristics there, but our Downtown is nothing like Denver.


Number EighteenThe Roads Are Always Under Construction

Colorado Springs Road ConstructionWinter is very hard on the roads here. One of the biggest challenges that our city faces is keeping up with road damage from the ice. If you live in a warm climate that does not include snow and ice, your roads will stay good for many years. Here, a road may last 2 to 3 years before it needs to be repaved.

Some areas have giant potholes that will destroy your car's suspension. This problem is a running joke with the locals here. Although, sometimes the joke is not funny because the roads can cause severe damage to cars and trucks. I was surprised by how bad the roads were when I first moved to Colorado Springs. It's a serious problem.


Number NineteenWe Love Our Dogs

I've never lived somewhere that dogs are held in such high regard. People rarely leave their dogs outside in Colorado Springs. Everyone seems to have at least one dog, and they are treated as family members, as they are. In the winter months, other than a good frolic in fresh snow, these pets stay inside most of the season. In the Summer, they enjoy some time outside but spend most of their time inside.

If a person from another State moves here and keeps their dog outside all day, people will complain about the neighbors on Facebook and in the Nextdoor app. People who don't attend to their dog's needs immediately are often called out for it. Dogs are treated as having equal rights as people in Colorado Springs. There are wonderful dog parks all over the city where locals meet and let their dogs play together. It's another unexpected quality that I love about this amazing city.


Number TwentyPlan for Wind

I was watching a PBS documentary recently about "sprites". It was a fascinating show about lightening that travels between the clouds and the ionosphere that can only be seen from an airplane above the clouds. To capture footage of these sprites, scientists from all over the country come to Colorado to fly up and down the front range of the Rocky Mountains because this is where the weather is the most chaotic. I have witnessed the most dramatic weather changes that I have ever seen while living here.

When the heat of the great plains meets the cool, dry air found in the higher altitudes, crazy things happen. No matter what the results, you can always expect high winds. The further East you travel from the mountains, the windier it gets. Places like Peyton and Calhan can have intense winds every time the weather changes. There is a huge line of wind turbines out east that take advantage of this. Homes that are at the top of the bluffs with amazing views often have violent winds as well. This is something that I learned soon after moving to Colorado Springs.


Number Twenty OneLandscaping is Difficult in Some Areas

high versus low elevation landscapingWhen the elevation in your city varies by 1,500 feet depending on where you live, the chances are high that vegetation requirements will be complicated.

People located at the foothills of the mountains in Colorado Springs have to choose plants that will not simply become a great lunch for the deer. If you move to this side of town, talk to your neighbors before buying flowers and plants. Many people have lost their beautiful new landscaping to deer and other critters within a few months of installing them.

If you're moving out East, you may be surprised at how often your yard needs new sod. The terrain is drier and takes a beating from the sun and wind. New grass will only last a few years before it needs to be replaced. It's amazing how different the landscaping requirements are as I drive around the different parts of town.


Number Twenty TwoYes, We Have Bears

Colorado Springs does have bears, but attacks are extremely rare. True to her city roots, my wife was scared to death of a confrontation with a bear when we first moved here.

If a bear wanted to, it could rip you to shreds, so people have every right to be afraid. However, in reality, I couldn't find one story online from anyone ever dying in Colorado Springs from a bear attack. If you research the topic, you may be surprised and perhaps relieved at how rare it is.

bears in colorado springsYou will inevitably see photos of bears on Facebook from friends around town anytime a bear is spotted. They look so cuddly and cute. I've had clients who would plant certain bushes in their yards to attract bears because they loved them so much. Bears are fascinating creatures that instill awe and wonder into people when they encounter them.

After years of hiking the mountains and around town, my wife is no longer afraid of bears attacking us. Experience has taught her that it's safe to be here. All of the data points to bears being more of a mental threat than an actual physical threat.


Final Thoughts

I hope that the points in this article give you a well-rounded understanding of the pros and cons of Colorado Springs. It's not a city for everyone, but my family and I love it. After living here for years, it's hard to imagine living anywhere else. All of its special quirks and features are now part of our memories and daily lives. Moving here has been one of the best decisions of our lives.

If you have any questions about the area, feel free to reach out to me. If you're moving to Colorado Springs and need a Realtor to show you around town, just let me know. Someone on my team will be happy to share all of their insights on Colorado Springs with you. It's a wonderful city that has inspired my family and me in many ways. I hope that it inspires you as well. 🙂

Andrew Fortune

Hi! I'm Andrew Fortune, the founder of Great Colorado Homes and the creator of much of the content on this website. Thanks for taking the time to read this article. Please feel free to share this article with someone who might benefit from it. I appreciate your time here on this site and am always open to suggestions and ideas from our readers.


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