Where to Thrive in Colorado

Ava Gaiety W.
4 min readAug 25, 2023


A data driven dive into what sets the major cities apart in the state of Colorado.

My found family is looking to do a mini migration to the centennial state. Clearly SEO driven “Top X places to move to in 2023” articles exhausted me and therefore I’ve crafted a series of data visualizations to answer the questions most pressing to me. Anyways this ain’t no recipe guide, here’s what you’re looking for! Afterwards we’ll dive deeper into individual statistics this map reveals.

Interacting with the above map reveals numerous interesting perspectives. Denver scored the highest placing in the top three in all categories except commuting followed closely by it’s neighbor Aurora. Fort Collins ranks shockingly high which turns out may be thanks to it being a college town at heart. Boulder takes first place in urbanism and fourth in most others. Colorado Springs held its own if you care the most about cost of living and your commute.

Above and throughout this guide we’ll investigate the following major Colorado cities; Arvada, Aurora, Boulder, Brighton, Broomfield, Centennial, Colorado Springs, Commerce City, Denver, Englewood, Fort Collins, Greeley, Lafayette, Lakewood, Littleton, Longmont, Loveland, Northglenn, Pueblo, Thornton, Westminster, and Wheat Ridge. These cities are analyzed by cost of living by population, age group, urbanism, whiteness (with the goal of diversity), and average commute.

What is not analyzed in this article are Colorado’s climate and crime rates. I felt that climate was overdone in other articles, and crime rates are a complex topic that if not handled carefully paints people in a poor light. Even the CBI takes a cautious approach…

The CBI does not offer analysis as to the reasons for changes in the crime rates or any other interpretation of the data; rather, those questions should be directed to individual law enforcement agencies.

Examining the data points one-by-one

The following section reveals each data point in it’s own visualization followed by a brief overview of what stands out for each. Additional context is provided within the visualization where possible so that it may stand on its own if shared elsewhere.

Clearly the most expensive city is Denver, although it’s important to remember why — Denver has the largest population meaning a rich downtown to explore and other amenities. Longmont and Thornton are surprisingly high in cost of living relative to their population. Aurora neighbors Denver while being more affordable and while further away, Colorado Springs is sizable while more affordable as well.

Half of the cities have average work commutes of under 26 minutes. A clear outlier is Fort Collins with the shortest commute. Meanwhile one potential price that is paid by being the neighbor to Denver is Aurora with a longer commute.

The 18–64 age group range is a very generic one, but is reasonably suited for many people looking to move for a broad number of reasons. Assuming your priority isn’t looking for a place to raise children or retire, a general age range of what we may call middle-aged adults does show a perhaps meaningful trend line. Notable hills and valleys annotated within the visualization are Pueblo with the most under 18, Fort Collins with the most 18–64 and Commerce City with the most 65+.

Urbanism ranked by how walkable, bikeable or it’s quality of public transit options paints an interesting picture of what each city is like on it’s own merit. With the highest combined urbanism score is Denver offering a bit of everything and doing it fairly well. Clearly Boulder rocks a stellar bikeability score with the same walkability as Denver. Once again Fort Collins sticks out with a high bikeability score as well.

Growing up near Baltimore I was spoiled by the amount of Diversity that surrounded me, a diversity I miss as I’m preparing to move out of Texas. Alas Colorado is also a fairly white state, but data can at least point us in the right direction of where a variety of people tend to live. At the top for least-white are Aurora followed by Denver. All cities below 80% are highlighted in the above data visualization, which does luckily include Colorado Springs among others.

My Personal Takeaways

Coming into this I had some bias towards loving Denver; it has an air or a vibe to it that speaks to me. When I am in Denver as a queer and neurodiverse individual I feel safe or even at home already. Aurora had caught my eye for being almost Denver while being more affordable and less white leading me to assume my friends and family will feel similarly.

I’m deeply intrigued by Boulder’s bikeability and I do have a friend already in the moderately scoring Colorado Springs. Additionally, I am looking to become a college professor in the coming years which may lead me towards thinking about Fort Collins as a real possibility.

Now all that’s left is talking to my found family about what I’ve found. If you’ve made it this far, I’m curious what you think! If you wish to dig deeper all of my data is downloadable within the data visualizations for you to tweak or reweight to suit your own needs.



Ava Gaiety W.

🐕 Canine pretending to be a web engineer addicted to design 💻 (Fae/Femme or She/Her)