11 Most Affordable Mountain Towns in Colorado With Low Cost Of Living

In Colorado, you will love its verdant valleys, its murmuring rivers, its magnificent mountains and sequestered bales, and verdant-lined lakes and bays. It is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor adventure seekers. Did you try bungee jumping in Colorado? Apart from nature and sports, Colorado is famous for so many things!

If you can picture an image of a bright sun shining, watching the legendary peaks, spotting colorful wildflowers, and residing in the quintessential small town – it has to be in one of those mountain towns in Colorado

affordable mountain towns in Colorado

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The place has some unbeatable formula to bring peace. In winter you should explore the ice caves in Colorado, the place feels no less than a Frozen Hollywood movie set.

From the breathless views and unique culture to quite affordable places to reside, I’ll take you around the best affordable mountain towns in Colorado that won’t cause heaviness in your pocket. Also, I want you to know the pros and cons of living in Colorado before coming here.

Most Affordable Mountain Towns in Colorado

Do you want to know what life is like in Colorado mountain towns? It is the bounty of fairy tale towns. Also, Colorado is home to many beautiful residing places.

The blog takes you through the most affordable mountain towns in Colorado, where you meet picture-perfect mountains, flower-filled fields, and happy life. 

1. Crested Butte

  • Population: 1,684
  • Cost of Living Index: 110.1 (US average of 100)
  • Crime rate: 705 (100k people)

I was lucky to spend the last 10 months in the most affordable mountain town in Colorado, Crested Butte which is also called “Colorado’s Last Great Ski Town”. I was here from October to August, working, living, and enjoying my life. 

I came here in winter and loved it. The snow, the skiing, Christmas celebration were all amazing. Crested Butte is a remote town in Gunnison County where you can only breathe the fresh mountain air and no industrial population. 

In summer, the temperature rose to make me feel happy and energetic. In western Colorado, Crested Butte is surely a pretty place to live with your family and the view of lush green fields.

The town sits on the lap of the Rocky Mountains making it ideal for Aspen-going hikers to sit and relax. On average, adults working in Crested Butte pay a tax of $6,252 annually whereas working adults statewide offer an average of $7,011.  

It is a tourist spot so getting a job in the hospitality sector is not very difficult. The medical facilities of Gunnison Valley Health or Crested Butte Medical centers are up-to-the-mark. On average the total cost of living for a single adult is $36,642 per year.

Things to do in Crested Butte: 

  • In July attend the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival
  • Visit the gothic ghost town nearby
  • Take a tour strolling along the Victorian-era buildings
  • To enjoy the fall colors drive to Kebler Pass, Cottonwood Pass, and Ohio Pass
Crested Butte, Affordable mountain towns in Colorado
Crested Butte

2. Fairplay

  • Population: 736
  • Cost of Living Index: 117.7(US average of 100)
  • Crime rate: 1,597 (per 100K people)

Fairplay is a Statutory Town in South Park sitting at an elevation of 9,954 feet above sea level. It sits just on the east of the Middle Fork South Platte River, northward to Alma and Hoosier Pass, and close to Breckenridge for skiing.

This cheapest mountain town in Colorado is not only my favorite but everyone’s. Its location is very convenient. People can access and enjoy beautiful scenery, hiking trails, alpine lakes, and other attractions. Every day life seems so “easy breezy”!

Also, I’ve good news for young adults. Colorado Business Review 2022 states that Colorado outperformed in job recovery after the pandemic and became one of the 14th states in offering more stable jobs.

However, as per data collected from 247wallst, the total cost of a single adult including health care, taxes, housing, food, and other expense is around $46,573 a year. This is greater than the annual cost of living in Colorado of $40,026.

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In Fairplaya median home value cost $186,400, which is less than the national median home value of $204,900. Also, a single adult health care expense costs around $3,826 per year, compared to Colorado which cost $ 4,266 a year.

Things to do in Fairplay:

  • I’m a big fan of South Park, if you’re like me, I recommend going to South Park City Museum
  • Fairplay is the hotspot of the world’s best trout fishing and features many animated TV shows on Comedy Central
  • Attend Burro Days Festival
  • Hike along Beaver Creek Trail
  • Bring your kid to Cohen Park
Burro Days Festival, cheapest Colorado mountain towns
Burro Days Festival

3. Paonia

  • Population: 1,447
  • Cost of Living Index: 96.6 (US average of 100)
  • Crime rate: 1,542 (per 100K people)

Do you know the peony flower? Yes, from there it got its name – Paonia. In the north-western part of the Rocky Mountains near West Elks American Viticulture Area in Delta County sits this beautiful mountain town of Paonia.

It is one of the most travel destinations in the state with a strong economy exclusively on coal mining and agriculture. In the North Fork Valley, you’ll see a lot of people growing grapes, pears, cherries, apricots, peaches, and more.

Paoniaisa very affordable Colorado mountain town, as a single adult expenses here, are around $39,303 annually – about the same as the annual cost of living for Colorado of $40,026. Yes, Paonia is known as “Tree City USA” because of the abundance of green space.

You can buy a home that cost around $179,100, which is very less compared to the national median home value. You’ll never regret starting a family here as you’ll live a more organic and sustainable life. The air in Paonia smells all fruity!

Things to do Paonia:

  • On the 4th of July, Paonia celebrates Paonia Cherry Day
  • Walk around creative places like Blue Sage Centre for Arts, and Paradise Theatre
  • Go to Western Culture Farmstead & Creamery 
  • Sit by the Waters of Paonia River Park
Paonia, small mountain town in Colorado
Paonia

4. Manitou Springs

  • Population: 4,819
  • Cost of Living Index: 117.4 (US average of 100)
  • Crime rate: 30.42 (per 1,000 residents)

Manitou Springs air has the power to rejuvenate your mind and make you feel the best about yourself. Also, if you’re searching for cheap vacation spots in Colorado, it can be the best as you can spread out in the great outdoor activities. 

At the base of Pikes Peak, west of Colorado Springs sits Manitou Springs, a funky artistic Victorian mountain town, and a hippie haven for families, retirees, and artists to reside. You’ll surely love this mellow vibe and beautiful life here.

The roads are full of eclectic merchants, boutiques stores, pubs, parks, pretty cafes, and modern moto motels. The ambiance is very offbeat yet charming. The town sits at an elevation of 6,320 feet. The place is always booming with tourists.

Manitou Springs is one of the most affordable mountain towns in Colorado as a single adult including housing, transportation, health costs, and taxes has to pay $34,531 per year. However, the median home value is $352,800, more significant than the national median value.

Things to do in Manitou Springs:

  • Take the free mineral springs walking tour
  • Hike to reach the Garden of the Gods. You can explore nature and the rugged Rocky Mountains
  • Grab your hiking boots to climb Manitou Incline. The hike is super steep
Manitou Springs, affordable mountain towns to live in colorado
Manitou Springs

5. Mancos

  • Population: 1,154
  • Cost of Living Index: 102.4 (US average of 100)
  • Crime rate: 1,7909 (per 100K people)

Mancos is an affordable mountain town to live in Colorado where you’ll find modern-day travelers, hikers, and locals navigating among cattle drives, cowboys, horse-drawn carriages, and stagecoaches. It is a destination for tourists.

If you love reading, read the books of Louis L’Amour, you’ll know why he loves Mancos so much! Mancos sits five miles west of Mesa Verde National Park in Southwest Colorado in Montezuma County.

The streets of Mancos, the oldest building like Columbine Bar, quaint shops, and vibrant murals on the stalls – make the town very inspirational and artistic. I recommend going to Chicken Creek trail to enjoy the mountain air and some peace.

The total cost of a single adult annually is around $37,516 which is less than the annual cost of living for Colorado of $40,026. You can buy a home with an average cost of around $205,800. Don’t you think it is one of the cheap places to live in Colorado?

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Things to do in Mancos:

  • Try to take part in the annual BurroFest, an event combining the antics of burros with interactive art
  • Go on wilderness trips like Mesa Verde Stables
  • Try to spend charismas – tasting beer at Fenceline Cider, taking part in recreational activities, and a lot more

6. Meeker

  • Population: 2,344
  • Cost of Living Index: 89.5 (US average of 100)
  • Crime rate: 1,388 (per 100K people)

Meeker sits along the White River near the Flat Tops Wilderness Area and Routt National Forests. 75% of the land is managed by the US Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the State. It sits in the northwest of Colorado.

As Field and Stream Magazine state the town of Meeker is one of “America’s Best Wild Places”. People come here to explore world-class hiking trails and ride motorized recreation trails with the best mountain bikes, camps, snowmobiles, and more. 

Meeker has a huge market for fishing and hunting. A single adult expense is around $38,795 annually which is less than the annual cost of living for Colorado of $40,026. On the other hand, the median home value is only $183,600 on average. It is indeed the cheapest mountain town to live in Colorado. 

Things to do Meeker:

  • In winter, visit the White River Nordic Council, Marvine, and the famous 178 miles trail in Rio Blanco County
  • Come to gain knowledge about history at The White River Museum
  • Take part in Meeker Summer Rodeo Series ( June – August), and Meeker Classic Sheepdog Championship Trails (September)
Meeker, best small towns in Colorado to live in
Meeker

7. Estes Park

  • Population: 5,919
  • Cost of Living Index: 127.9 (USA average of 100)
  • Crime rate: 9.01 (per 1,000 residents)

Estes Park has stored some astonishing views, fresh Rocky Mountain air, charming downtowns, and stunning views. It is the most affordable Colorado mountain town in Larimer County sitting at an elevation of 7,522 feet.

The housing cost on average is $380,800, greater than the national median value. However, the jobs are seasonal and low wages positions. Most jobs are in the hospitality sector. On average, a single adult’s expense is around $38,947 a year.

However, I heard from one of my friends that the town has now become nosier and lacks walkable space compared to the western side of the town. If you want to stay in a more peaceful area you can choose a neighborhood like Fall River Estates.

Note: Estes Park is also the safest place in Colorado.

Things to do at Estes Park:

  • Did you watch the haunted movie The Shining by Stephen King? Come to visit the well-known Stanley Hotel
  • Take the Estes Park tramway ride to enjoy some incredible views of stunning valleys and mountains
  • Spend the evening at Estes Park breweries 
Fall River Estates, best cheap mountain towns in Colorado
Fall River Estates

8. Leadville

  • Population: 2,642
  • Cost of Living Index: 94.8 (USA average of 100)
  • Crime rate: 16.7 (per 1,000 residents)

Leadville is the highest town in North America sitting over 10,000 feet above sea level offering sheer Centennial State beauty than you can imagine. The town is nested southwest of Denver and is 15 minutes drive from Turquoise Lake in Lake County. 

There is no way you’ll feel a harsh sun ray piercing through your skin. Summer is very glorious. Leadville is not only the best cheap mountain town in Colorado but a famous historic town with a lot of buildings highlighting its Wild West Roots. 

I hope in many movies you’ve seen the famous Silver Dollar Saloon, it is one of the oldest operating saloons. It is one of the major attractions of the town! From here you can drive to reach Twin Lake, a destination to spot the views of clear alpine water.

Luckily to reside here you do not have to spend much because it is one of the inexpensive mountain towns in Colorado. The median home value here is just $189,600, less than the national home value of $204,900 on average. 

Things to do in Leadville:

  • Take the Leadville Southern Railroad, to enjoy the beautiful alpine scenery
  • Hike your heart out to Mt. Massive and Mt. Elbert
  • Attend Leadville’s signature events like Leadville Boom Day

9. Cripple Creek

  • Population: 1,1,46
  • Cost of Living Index: 91 (USA average of 100)
  • Crime rate: 5,118 (100K people)

Cripple Creek once used to be bustling with gold seekers and now is like a mini Vegas in Colorado. It sits an hour west of Colorado Springs in Teller County at the base of the backside of Pikes Peak with amazing vistas. 

The view of rolling hills and mountains is unimaginably gorgeous. In 1896, Colorado is well known as the “mining capital”. Donkey Derby Days are the most beloved events Cripple Creek has to offer.

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A single adult costs around $38,928 annually and the median home value is around $145,300. It is the most affordable mountain town in Colorado to taste history and sweet treats. You can watch wild donkeys too here!

Things to do in Cripple Creek:

  • Go to Victor Lowell Thomas Museum
  • You can take the Historic train rides at the historic Butte Theatre
  • Go for antique artifacts like Jail Museum and the Heritage Centre 

10. Westcliffe

  • Population: 396
  • Cost of Living Index: 96 (USA average of 100)
  • Crime rate: 14.65 (per 1,000 residents)

Between the Sangre de Cristo and Wet Mountains sit Westcliffe, one of the best small towns in Colorado to live in. The place is bustling with gorgeous scenery, ranches, and adventurous biking trails. You’ll find cowboys and cattle roaming in the streets!

You’ll fall in love with this small mountain town in Colorado which sits at an elevation of 7,867 feet. You can spot Pikes Peak in distance. I recommend going out on the terrace at night to stare at the stars. 

I’ve been to Westcliffe six times in my lifetime. My sister brought me here, I was in college, my second year in 2016, and she use to stay in Pueblo. I remember vividly when I stepped out of the car for the first time I was stunned and felt connected. 

A single adult on average spend $37,668 annually – less than the annual cost of living for Colorado of $40,026. A median home value is around $183,300, less than the national median home value of $204,900. On the other hand, the health care cost is around $5,020 per year, higher than in other places in Colorado.

Things to do in Westcliffe:

  • Hike the Rainbow trail through Sangres to witness gorgeous views of the State
  • I recommend going to Venable Comanche Trail too
Westcliffe, Most affordable mountain towns in Colorado
Westcliffe

11. Idaho Springs

  • Population: 1,800
  • Cost of Living Index: 113.8 (USA average of 100)
  • Crime rate: 4,864 (100K people)

Idaho Springs is not only a cheap place to live in Colorado Mountains but a great place to stop to reach the famous Colorado ski resorts. It sits along Clear Creek Canyon commonly famous for radium hot springs for its therapeutic properties. 

Though Idaho Springs has a lot of population, it is still an affordable mountain town in Colorado. A single adult needs to spend $ 40,522 annually to afford a good standard of living. 

Things to do:

  • Did you miss out on Frozen Fire Rink?
  • Click a photo with Tayler Water Wheel
  • Enjoy the adrenaline rush with Liquid Descent Whitewater Rafting

Conclusion

So, which one is calling you? The dramatic landscape and refreshing clear air are so welcoming and appealing that you should spend at least a day in any of these most affordable mountain towns in Colorado to understand.

I’m sure you’ll have some great memories here! Also, if you’re coming for two days to Colorado, include these places in your itinerary.

Read More:

FAQ: Affordable Mountain Towns in Colorado

1. Where is the cheapest place to live near the mountains?

A. The cheapest place to live near mountains in Colorado is Leadville. It is an ideal place to be close to nature with a cost of living index is 94.8 (USA average of 100). It sits 10,000 feet above sea level.

2. What is the most affordable area of Colorado?

A. Westcliffe sits in the south-central part of Colorado and is the tiny and most affordable area in Colorado. Its cost of living index is 15% below the Colorado average. Also, it is the most wonderful green space in the USA. 

3. Where is the cheapest place to live in the Rocky Mountains?

A. Leadville is a warm, close-knit community to live in the Rocky Mountains for all outdoor enthusiasts and retirees. The cost of living is 15% below the Colorado average.

4. What city in Colorado has the lowest cost of living?

A. Colorado Springs is the most affordable city to live with an average rent of $1553 per month whereas $1994 per month in Denver. However, the cost of living recorded here is 108.3 (USA average of 100) which is a little higher compared to the state average, but still affordable. 

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