Coming out of the 2007-2009 Great Recession, Denver was the nation’s hot spot. The resurgent front-range markets of Denver, Fort Collins, Boulder, and Colorado Springs led the charge as millennials flocked to Colorado. Jobs were aplenty, housing was affordable, and the possibilities seemed limitless. Fast forward to 2023, more people are now expected to move out of Colorado than move in. It was not that long ago that Colorado and Denver were considered the ideal place to live, work, and retire.
What happened? What is the biggest reason either keeping you from moving here or causing you to consider leaving the Centennial State?
This outflux of residents is a turnabout from the 2010s, during which Colorado gained 750,000 people. State demographers warned that the trend was slowing in the late 2010s and early 2020s, despite the homebuying frenzy and skyrocketing real estate prices and rental rates.
Colorado gained 27,761 people in 2021, which is the smallest population gain since 1990. Colorado’s population growth peaked in 2015 with nearly 100,000 net new residents and has slowed most years since then. Data from the United States Census Bureau shows that from July 2021 to July 2022, Colorado’s population increased by 0.00-0.59%. Governor Polis is now understandably predicting population declines going forward.
State migration data from the previous year explains some of what’s happening within the state itself. Some Denver metro counties in particular are losing people to farther-flung counties south and north of the metro area. Collectively, over 16,000 more people left Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Denver, and Jefferson counties from 2020 to 2021 than moved in, led by Denver, Boulder, and Jefferson. Denver lost the most, with 8,867 moving out of the county. Jefferson saw 3,414 move out, Arapahoe 2,285, Boulder 1,413, and Adams 468.
A United Van Lines study concluded that these are the biggest reasons people left Colorado:
The biggest age group to leave the state was people 55 years and older but younger families and young job seekers are finding it more difficult to find affordable housing in the front range.
Do not despair – there are still a number of positives about living in Colorado:
- Colorado is the healthiest state in the United States
- Colorado is one of the most outdoor-friendly states in the country
- Colorado has one of the highest median household incomes in the country at $77,727
- Colorado is the second most educated state in the United States
- Colorado is one of the top pet-friendly states in the country
- Colorado is ranks in the top 10 for work-life balance
- Colorado is top states for jobs in the United States
- Colorado is one of the sunniest states in the country, ranking number six
- Colorado has one of the best healthcare systems in the country. It has the lowest heart disease rate in the country, as well as the fourth lowest cancer rate in the country
- Colorado is one of the top states for pro sports. MLB: Colorado Rockies NFL: Denver Broncos MLS: Colorado Rapids NBA: Denver Nuggets NHL: Colorado Avalanche NLL: Colorado Mammoth
Has Colorado’s red-hot run ended for good? Share your thoughts.
Photo credit: City & County of Denver
3 thoughts on “Has Denver lost its Mojo?”
Left Denver for Phoenix in 2019 right before the pandemic. Housing prices back then were significantly lower down here with plenty of career opportunities and weather that personally suits us better. I miss many things about
Colorado but the truth is our quality of life down here is significantly better. Bought a reasonable house. Getting around is easier. My commute is a breeze. Plenty of very safe neighborhoods. Non-outdoors amenities are similar. People seem to be less obsessed/enveloped by politics. Can actually get to the mountains for a hike within 30 minutes. Etc.
Don’t get me wrong, Denver/CO is awesome if you can afford it. I lived briefly in Wash Park and that was phenomenal. But you would easily need 7 figures to get anything in those inner, nicer neighborhoods. Both our parents still live in the suburbs but at that point the CO suburbs just aren’t THAT nice to justify the price, imo. Ultimately we will move back to be closer to family but I’m not looking forward to it in the same way that I would be if it were 2010 again.
If fewer people moving here means that Denver is losing its mojo, then Denver will get better the more that it loses its mojo.
For thirty years we planned to retire early ( as soon as kids out of school) and move to Colorado, then Southern California decided they had ruined their state, so they moved to Colorado and gegin trying to turn it into Cali.
Now we are looking elsewhere.