Colorado is known for its rugged beauty and active, outdoor lifestyle. For many, it’s an alluring place to live. So why did I make the difficult decision to leave the Centennial State after over a decade there? If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: I left Colorado because the cost of living became too expensive, traffic and overcrowding increased dramatically, and the weather and wildfires made me concerned about climate change impacts.
In this article, I’ll go deeper into the factors that led to my decision to move away from Colorado. I’ll explain how the cost of living rose to unaffordable levels in many parts of the state, describe how population growth changed the feel of cities and towns, and discuss my worries about climate change after intense wildfire seasons.
The High Cost of Living Drove Me Out
Living in Colorado, once a dream come true, turned into a nightmare due to the high cost of living. The state’s booming economy and natural beauty attracted droves of people, leading to a surge in housing costs and other living expenses.
These factors ultimately pushed me to make the difficult decision to leave.
Housing Costs Skyrocketed
One of the main reasons I had to bid farewell to Colorado was the astronomical rise in housing costs. The demand for homes and apartments far exceeded the available supply, causing prices to skyrocket. As a result, finding an affordable place to live became increasingly challenging.
Even renting a small studio apartment in desirable neighborhoods became a financial burden.
According to a report by Zillow, the median home price in Colorado increased by more than 10% in the past year alone. This steep rise in prices has made it nearly impossible for many individuals and families to afford a home, forcing them to either rent or move out of the state altogether.
Other Living Expenses Crept Up
In addition to housing costs, other living expenses in Colorado also started to creep up. Basic necessities such as groceries, healthcare, and transportation became increasingly expensive. The rising cost of healthcare, in particular, was a significant burden for many residents.
A study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that the cost of living index in Colorado is higher than the national average. This means that residents have to allocate a larger portion of their income towards everyday expenses, leaving less room for savings or discretionary spending.
Furthermore, the high cost of living in Colorado extended beyond the essentials. Leisure activities, dining out, and entertainment options also came with hefty price tags. What was once an affordable and enjoyable lifestyle became increasingly unattainable for many.
Population Booms Changed the Character of Cities and Towns
One of the main reasons why many people, including myself, have decided to leave Colorado is due to the significant population booms that have occurred in recent years. This influx of people has led to various changes in the character of cities and towns across the state.
More Congestion and Traffic
With the rapid increase in population, it’s no surprise that Colorado has experienced a surge in congestion and traffic on its roads. What used to be a smooth and enjoyable commute has turned into a daily struggle filled with long hours spent in gridlock.
The once peaceful and scenic drives through the mountains have now become a frustrating and tiresome experience.
According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, traffic congestion has increased by X% in the past decade alone. This means that more and more people are competing for limited road space, resulting in longer commute times and a decrease in overall quality of life for residents.
Loss of Small Town Feel
Another consequence of the population boom is the loss of the small town feel that many Colorado residents cherished. As more people move into the state, the sense of community and close-knit relationships that once defined smaller towns has started to fade away.
With the influx of new residents, local businesses and establishments have struggled to keep up with the demand, leading to the closure of beloved mom-and-pop shops and the rise of large chain stores.
The unique charm and character that once made these towns special are slowly being replaced by a more generic and commercial atmosphere.
It’s important to note that not all towns in Colorado have been affected in the same way. Some smaller communities have managed to maintain their charm and sense of community despite the population growth.
However, for many of us who have witnessed the changes firsthand, it has become increasingly difficult to ignore the transformation of our once cherished cities and towns.
Wildfires and Climate Change Worried Me
One of the primary reasons why I made the difficult decision to leave Colorado was my growing concern over the increasing number and intensity of wildfires in the state. As a nature lover and outdoor enthusiast, it pained me to witness the devastating impact that these fires had on the beautiful landscapes that I had come to cherish.
Hotter Temperatures and Drier Conditions
Colorado, like many other regions around the world, has been experiencing hotter temperatures and drier conditions due to climate change. This has created the perfect conditions for wildfires to thrive and spread rapidly.
The combination of rising temperatures and reduced precipitation has led to a significant increase in the risk of wildfires igniting and spreading across vast areas of land.
The impact of these changing weather patterns can be seen in the state’s vegetation. As the temperatures continue to rise, plants and trees are struggling to survive in the arid conditions. This not only increases the risk of wildfires, but it also affects the overall health and biodiversity of the region’s ecosystems.
Intense Wildfire Seasons
Colorado has always been prone to wildfires, but in recent years, the intensity and duration of the wildfire seasons have reached alarming levels. The combination of dry conditions, strong winds, and a build-up of flammable material in the forests has led to a vicious cycle of destructive fires.
According to data from the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, the number of acres burned by wildfires in the state has been steadily increasing over the past decade. In 2020 alone, over 625,000 acres were consumed by wildfires, making it one of the most devastating wildfire seasons in Colorado’s history.
These intense wildfire seasons have not only posed a threat to human lives and property but have also had significant economic consequences. The cost of fighting wildfires, as well as the damage caused to homes, infrastructure, and natural resources, has been staggering.
It is important to note that wildfires are a natural part of the ecosystem and can have some positive effects, such as clearing out dead vegetation and promoting new growth. However, the increasing frequency and severity of wildfires in Colorado and other regions are clear indicators of the impact of climate change on our environment.
As I reflect on my decision to leave Colorado, I can’t help but feel a sense of sadness and loss. However, I also feel a renewed determination to advocate for climate action and do my part in mitigating the effects of climate change.
It is my hope that by raising awareness about the connection between wildfires and climate change, we can work towards creating a more sustainable and resilient future for our planet.
The Decision to Move Was Difficult but Necessary
Leaving Colorado was not an easy decision for me. The state’s breathtaking natural beauty and active outdoor lifestyle had captured my heart. I had spent years exploring the Rocky Mountains, hiking through picturesque trails, and immersing myself in the vibrant culture of cities like Denver and Boulder.
However, despite my love for Colorado, certain factors pushed me to make the difficult choice of leaving.
Saying Goodbye to the Beauty and Lifestyle
One of the hardest aspects of leaving Colorado was saying goodbye to its unparalleled beauty. From the majestic peaks of the Rockies to the stunning vistas of national parks like Rocky Mountain National Park and Mesa Verde, this state is a nature lover’s paradise.
Every weekend, I would embark on new adventures, whether it was skiing in Aspen or mountain biking in Crested Butte. The abundance of outdoor recreational activities made Colorado an incredible place to live.
Moreover, the vibrant lifestyle in Colorado was something I cherished. The thriving arts scene, world-class breweries, and diverse culinary experiences made every day feel like an adventure. The sense of community and the warm, welcoming nature of the people I met along the way made Colorado feel like home.
However, as much as I loved the beauty and lifestyle, there were practical considerations that made the decision to move necessary.
Starting Fresh in a More Affordable Place
One of the main reasons I left Colorado was the cost of living. While the state offers incredible opportunities, the high cost of housing, healthcare, and daily expenses began to take its toll. As a young professional, I found it increasingly challenging to make ends meet and save for the future.
Moving to a more affordable place allowed me to start fresh and regain financial stability. I found a city where the cost of living was significantly lower, enabling me to save more, invest in my future, and pursue new opportunities.
The relief of not constantly worrying about finances was immeasurable.
Additionally, the decision to move allowed me to explore new horizons and expand my career prospects. I found a thriving job market in my new city, with a lower unemployment rate and a range of industries to choose from. This opened up exciting possibilities for personal and professional growth.
While leaving Colorado was undoubtedly difficult, it was a necessary step for me to take control of my financial future and explore new opportunities. I will always cherish the memories and experiences I had in the beautiful state, but I am excited for the new chapter in my life.
Leaving Colorado was one of the hardest choices I’ve made. The natural splendor and active lifestyle always enchanted me, and I have many fond memories from my time there. However, the rising costs, congestion, and climate change impacts ultimately drove my decision to seek a new home. While I’ll always miss the mountains, I know I made the right choice to find a place I can better afford with the lifestyle I want. For me, it was time to turn the page on the Colorado chapter of my life and start a new one elsewhere.