With its dynamic job market, thriving cities, and unmatched natural beauty, Colorado is an alluring place to live and work. But its rising cost of living means determining an adequate salary to maintain your lifestyle can be tricky. If you’re wondering what salary you need to live comfortably in the Centennial State, this comprehensive guide will provide benchmarks tailored to Colorado’s unique economy.

In short, you’ll generally need to earn around $65,000 per year as an individual or $130,000 for a family of four to afford basic necessities in a mid-sized city like Denver or Colorado Springs. But digging deeper, your target income depends on variables like your location, household size, and lifestyle expectations.

Cost of Living Differences Across Colorado

When considering what salary you need to live comfortably in Colorado, it’s important to understand the cost of living differences across the state. Colorado offers a diverse range of landscapes and lifestyles, which can greatly impact your expenses.

Front Range vs Western Slope

One major cost of living difference in Colorado is between the Front Range and the Western Slope. The Front Range, which includes cities like Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs, tends to have a higher cost of living compared to the Western Slope.

This is due to factors such as higher housing prices, increased demand for goods and services, and a larger population. On the other hand, the Western Slope, with cities like Grand Junction and Durango, offers a more affordable cost of living, with lower housing costs and a slower pace of life.

Urban vs Rural Areas

Another important consideration is the difference between urban and rural areas. Urban areas, such as Denver and Colorado Springs, tend to have higher living costs, including housing, transportation, and entertainment. The amenities and conveniences of city life often come with a price tag.

On the other hand, rural areas in Colorado, like small mountain towns or farming communities, generally have a lower cost of living. Housing and groceries may be more affordable, but access to certain services and job opportunities may be limited.

Popular Cities: Denver, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins

When it comes to specific cities in Colorado, some are known for their higher cost of living. Denver, as the state’s capital and largest city, has experienced rapid growth in recent years, leading to increased housing costs and a competitive job market.

Colorado Springs, while still more affordable than Denver, has also seen a rise in living expenses due to its popularity as a tourist destination and a growing tech industry. Fort Collins, known for its vibrant community and proximity to outdoor activities, also has a higher cost of living compared to some other areas of Colorado.

However, it’s important to note that salaries in these cities tend to be higher as well, which can help offset the increased costs.

For more information on the cost of living in Colorado, you can visit the Numbeo website, which provides detailed data on various expenses in different cities and regions.

Average Salaries By Occupation

When determining what salary you need to live comfortably in Colorado, it’s important to consider the average salaries by occupation. This will give you a better understanding of the earning potential in different industries and help you make informed decisions about your career and financial goals.

Healthcare Jobs

The healthcare industry in Colorado offers a wide range of job opportunities and competitive salaries. From doctors and nurses to medical technicians and administrators, healthcare professionals are in high demand.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for healthcare practitioners and technical occupations in Colorado is around $90,000 per year. However, it’s important to note that salaries can vary depending on factors such as experience, qualifications, and location within the state.

Tech Industry

The tech industry is booming in Colorado, with companies like Google, Amazon, and Oracle establishing a strong presence in the state. As a result, tech professionals can expect competitive salaries and excellent career prospects.

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for software engineers in Colorado is around $100,000 per year. Additionally, jobs in data analysis, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence are also in high demand, offering attractive salary packages.

Service Industry

The service industry is another significant sector in Colorado’s economy, providing employment opportunities in restaurants, hotels, tourism, and hospitality. While salaries in the service industry can vary widely depending on the specific job, the average salary for food service managers in Colorado is around $50,000 per year, according to the National Restaurant Association.

Front-of-house staff, such as servers and bartenders, can also earn a decent income through tips, which can significantly increase their overall earnings.

Sales and Business

The sales and business sector is a lucrative field in Colorado, with opportunities in sales, marketing, finance, and management. Sales professionals can earn a substantial income through commission-based structures, while business managers and executives can expect competitive salaries.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for sales managers in Colorado is around $110,000. Additionally, professionals in finance and accounting can also command high salaries, with the average salary for financial managers in Colorado exceeding $120,000 per year.

It’s important to note that these figures are average salaries and can vary based on factors such as experience, education, and location within Colorado. To get a more accurate understanding of the salary range for your specific occupation and location within the state, it’s recommended to research job postings, consult salary surveys, or reach out to professional organizations in your field.

Income Needed By Household Size

Single Individuals

For single individuals living in Colorado, determining the salary needed to live comfortably can depend on various factors such as location, lifestyle choices, and personal expenses. However, according to recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income in Colorado is approximately $63,909 per year.

This can provide a rough estimate of the income needed to cover basic expenses and maintain a comfortable standard of living.

Married Couples

Married couples often have different financial responsibilities and considerations compared to single individuals. The income needed to live comfortably as a married couple in Colorado can vary depending on factors such as housing costs, healthcare expenses, and childcare.

According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, the median household income for married couples in the state is approximately $97,117 per year. However, this amount can vary significantly depending on individual circumstances.

Families with Children

When it comes to determining the income needed to support a family with children in Colorado, there are additional factors to consider. These can include expenses related to education, healthcare, and extracurricular activities.

According to a report by the Economic Policy Institute, the cost of raising a child in Colorado can range from around $9,000 to $24,000 per year, depending on factors such as family income and location.

It is important to note that these figures are averages and can vary greatly depending on individual circumstances. To get a more accurate estimate of the income needed to live comfortably in Colorado, individuals and families should consider their specific financial obligations and consult with financial advisors or online resources such as Colorado Department of Labor and Employment or Economic Policy Institute.

Ultimately, determining the salary needed to live comfortably in Colorado is a personal decision that depends on various factors. It is important to consider not only basic expenses but also factors such as savings, retirement planning, and future financial goals.

By carefully assessing individual needs and consulting with financial experts, individuals and families can make informed decisions about their income requirements for a comfortable life in Colorado.

Lifestyle Considerations

When determining the salary you need to live comfortably in Colorado, there are several lifestyle considerations to take into account. These considerations include housing costs, transportation needs, leisure activities, and retirement savings. Let’s take a closer look at each one:

Housing Costs

Housing costs in Colorado vary depending on the city or town you choose to live in. According to Zillow, the median home value in Colorado is $400,000. Rent prices also vary, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Denver being around $1,600 per month.

It’s important to factor in these costs when determining the salary you need to live comfortably.

Transportation Needs

Transportation is another important consideration when calculating your salary requirements. If you plan on owning a car, you’ll need to budget for gas, insurance, and maintenance costs. Alternatively, if you prefer using public transportation, you’ll need to consider the cost of bus or train passes.

Additionally, Colorado is known for its outdoor activities, so you may want to budget for hiking gear or a bike if you plan on exploring the beautiful scenery.

Leisure Activities

Colorado offers a wide range of leisure activities, from skiing and snowboarding in the winter to hiking and camping in the summer. These activities can add up, so it’s important to consider them when determining your salary requirements.

Whether you enjoy dining out at restaurants, attending concerts or sporting events, or exploring the local art scene, budgeting for leisure activities is essential to maintaining a comfortable lifestyle in Colorado.

Retirement Savings

Planning for retirement is crucial, no matter where you live. In Colorado, it’s important to consider the cost of living when determining how much you need to save for retirement. According to a study by GOBankingRates, the average retiree in Colorado needs about $63,000 per year to live comfortably.

This includes housing, healthcare, transportation, and other expenses. It’s important to start saving early and contribute regularly to your retirement fund to ensure a comfortable retirement in Colorado.

Using Cost of Living Calculators

When it comes to determining what salary you need to live comfortably in Colorado, cost of living calculators can be a valuable tool. These online calculators allow you to compare the cost of living between different cities or regions, taking into account factors such as housing, transportation, groceries, healthcare, and more.

By using these calculators, you can get a better understanding of how your salary may need to be adjusted depending on where you choose to live in Colorado.

Entering Location and Salary

To use a cost of living calculator, you typically start by entering your current location and salary. This gives the calculator a baseline for comparison. You can then choose a specific city or region in Colorado that you are considering moving to or living in.

The calculator will then provide you with an estimate of how much you would need to earn in that location to maintain a similar standard of living as your current location.

Estimating Taxes

One important aspect of determining the salary you need to live comfortably in Colorado is understanding the tax implications. Cost of living calculators often include a feature that allows you to estimate your taxes based on your income and location.

This can help you get a more accurate picture of your take-home pay and how it may be affected by different tax rates in Colorado.

Comparing Places

Cost of living calculators also allow you to compare the cost of living between different cities or regions within Colorado. This can be especially helpful if you are considering multiple options for where to live.

By comparing factors such as housing costs, transportation expenses, and healthcare costs, you can make a more informed decision about which location may be the most affordable and comfortable for you.

It’s important to note that while cost of living calculators can provide valuable insights, they are not perfect. They are based on averages and generalizations, and individual circumstances may vary. Additionally, factors such as personal preferences, lifestyle choices, and individual financial goals should also be taken into consideration when determining what salary you need to live comfortably in Colorado.

If you’re interested in using a cost of living calculator for Colorado, websites like Numbeo or BestPlaces offer comprehensive tools that can help you estimate the salary you need to live comfortably in different cities and regions within Colorado.


Determining an adequate salary in Colorado takes some research to balance earning potential, expenses, and lifestyle goals. While averages provide starting guidelines, analyzing specific costs for your situation is key. Overall, Colorado offers tremendous quality of life if you can secure a salary on par with its higher than average costs.

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