In our last post, we looked at some of the most popular Colorado Front Range cities, focusing on larger locations, and discovered Colorado Springs as the most affordable of the metropolitan areas we covered. This week, we are taking a look at the small towns of the Front Range.
Most of these little gems have vibrant histories and thriving modern amenities. Every town on this week’s list has a population of less than 150,000 and resides near the I-25 corridor. Whether you are a Colorado native or someone from out-of-state interested in a new home, each one of these vibrant communities offers a small-town feel paired with first-class amenities. Towns that made our list were required to have livability scores above 50, as determined by AreaVibes. These scores are based on amenities, cost of living, crime, education, employment, housing, and weather.
For our top picks, and ultimately our TurboTenant winner, we took into consideration both the ability to afford rental housing paired with the livability of each town.
Counting down from the top, check out this week’s number one pick for TurboTenant’s Best Affordable Colorado Front Range Small Town.
Average Rent For 2 Bedroom Rental – $1,749
Livability Score: 78
Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Golden, Colorado, offers a backyard that beckons all nature lovers. With nearby trails, breathtaking views, crystal clear rivers, and a charming downtown, Golden may be small in population, but the town is definitely not small in amenities.
If you visit Golden, you will want to schedule plenty of time for outdoor activities to soak up the Colorado sun. Take a hike up the famous Lookout Mountain to enjoy breathtaking views of the area, including downtown Denver. The summit also is well-known for the gravesite of “Buffalo Bill.”
You can also enjoy the rich history of Golden by spending time in the historic downtown. Golden was settled by gold seekers in the early 1850’s and the town’s “Welcome To Golden” arch acts as a gate to the heart of downtown. Today, the historic downtown district is home to restaurants, breweries, shops, and an array of community events.
Speaking of breweries, while you are checking out the local brew scene, be sure you take a tour of the iconic American brewhouse, Coors Brewery, which is the largest single-site brewery in the entire world. The current brewery resides on the same grounds that the original brewery founded by Mr. Coors sat in 1873.
TurboTip: If you are considering a move to Golden, Colorado, take note of the higher cost of living. The good news is that due to the convenient location of Golden, the Denver job market is only a short drive away. While the price tag might be higher, you will be rewarded with some of the best views of the Front Range.
Average Rent For 2 Bedroom Rental – $1,708
Livability Score: 81
Centennial comes in fifth on our list in the cost of rentals, but first on our list for livability scores. With low crime rates, exceptional amenities, and a renowned school district, Centennial is a small town nestled in the big city Denver corridor. Of the towns on our list, Centennial is a newer Colorado addition, incorporated in 2001.
Due to the newness of Centennial, there is no classic, historical downtown, but those looking for restaurants, shopping, and activities will enjoy The Streets At Southglenn. This modern outdoor shopping center features luxury apartments, offices, and restaurants, and acts as Centennial’s center for entertainment. The Streets At Southglenn also host events year-round, as does the city of Centennial. Some notable events to take part in include outdoor concerts, Brew-N-Que (a BBQ and beer tasting festival), the Chalk Art Festival, and a charming holiday lighting event.
One of the natural gems of Centennial is Cherry Creek State Park. This beautiful park is centered around a beautiful reservoir, featuring camping, boating, trails, and other outdoor activities. Center Park is another beautiful recreation area located in Centennial. This park has won awards for the best playground and features 11-acres of outdoor space.
TurboTip: Centennial is a great place to relocate if you work in the tech industry. Home to giants like Comcast and United Launch Alliance, a strong job market exists within the town limits. However, you can also take advantage of the 35-minute light-rail trip to arrive in downtown Denver to tap into the metro’s job market as well.
Average Rent For 2 Bedroom Rental – $1,373
Livability Score: 67
Coming in fourth on our list for affordable and fun Front Range small-towns is Lakewood, Colorado. Located west of Denver, this suburban development was started back in 1889 by W.A.H. Loveland and Charles Welch. Incorporated in 1969, Lakewood quickly became the center of westward growth for the Denver metro area. With motels, movie theaters, roller rinks, bowling alleys, and more, Lakewood quickly made itself a place on the map.
Over the years, Lakewood has seen change and growth, resulting in the thriving community that exists today. With fun summer concerts held at the Bonfils-Stanton Amphitheater, fall festival Cider Days, and other community gatherings, Lakewood provides a small-town feel in the midst of big city surroundings.
Although Lakewood does not feature a traditional downtown, the Belmar development has become a central hub for shopping, eating, and family-friendly events. With block parties, music on the plaza, and an authentic Italian festival, Belmar is a well-loved staple of Lakewood.
Not only does Lakewood provide a great community environment, it is also home to the famous Casa Bonita. No trip to Lakewood is complete without a visit to this iconic and charming Mexican restaurant with indoor cliff-diving and fun for the whole family.
TurboTip: If Lakewood seems like the perfect fit, spend a weekend checking out the local area and neighborhoods. A visit to the city can help you decide how to prioritize where you want to land. For example, if you love hitting the trails, a rental near Bear Creek Lake Park might be the perfect fit. If community events and an evening nightlife are your cup of tea, check out rentals near Belmar. Don’t forget, Lakewood is only a few miles from Denver, so you will be able to enjoy the amenities of the big city from the comfort of a small-town.
#3: Castle Rock
Average Rent 2 Bedroom Rentals – $1,420
Livability Score: 80
Castle Rock is a charming and family-friendly town located south of Denver among rocky buttes and outstanding views of the mountains. Named after the notable rock formation on the edge of town, this small-town is the perfect fit for outdoor enthusiasts who are ready to take on life at a higher elevation, 6,202 feet above sea level. Although Castle Rock’s average rental prices clock in slightly higher than Lakewood, their high livability score has won them third on our list for affordability paired with livability.
With parades, festivals, and other family-friendly events, Castle Rock is a popular location for those looking to raise families in a location with a hometown feel. During the summer months, Castle Rock is host to an array of annual community events, such as the Wine Fest, the Hometown Rodeo, and the Classic Rock Cruise In Car Show Street Party.
Events aside, the city offers year-round activities. Take a hike up the rock that gave the city its name, or take on the PS Miller Challenge hill, a 200 timber step climb. During the summer months, grab local produce from the Castle Rock Farmers Market. Want to make a family event extra special? Rent the town trolley to cruise the city limits in style.
For those looking for something to do in the evening, Castle Rock’s nightlife offers everything from dancing at Buckskin’s Saloon to enjoying a craft beer at the 105 West Brewing Company to enjoying a German beer garden at Maddie’s Biergarten. For a creative take on American classics, eat a meal at the beautiful and historic Old Stone Church Restaurant.
TurboTip: Thinking of visiting Castle Rock and potentially relocating here? Check out Castle Rock’s relocation webpage to learn more about the city and to request information.
Average Rent For 2 Bedroom Rental – $706
Livability Score: 59
Pueblo tops our list as the most affordable small-town on the Front Range. Located significantly further south than most of the cities that made our list, Pueblo deserves a place on the charts for affordable living with a community culture that is on the rise. In recent years, Pueblo has been pouring their heart and soul into creating a thriving downtown culture, complete with a beautiful river walk.
Pueblo was once the thriving center for the steel industry. When the steel industry declined in the 1980’s, Pueblo ran into economic hardships. However, with the influx of newcomers to Colorado, Pueblo is making a new name for themselves. If you haven’t considered Pueblo before, now might be the time. With extremely affordable living options when compared to the rest of the Front Range, this southern Colorado gem may not stay off the charts for long.
If you enjoy the great outdoors, then Pueblo offers you the perfect backyard with trails, camping, and skiing all a short drive away. In town, residents flock to the beautiful and expansive City Park complete with playgrounds, dog parks, access to river trails, and the Pueblo Zoo.
The Arkansas River winds through town and the community has recently revitalized the downtown Historic Arkansas Riverwalk into a truly vibrant urban waterfront. Riparian restaurants, breweries, and an amphitheater make this part of downtown the central focus for events and recreation. Sip a cold, craft brew at Brues Alehouse with rooftop seating overlooking the river or take part in a boat tour to hear more about the city’s dynamic past. If you are in the mood for sampling a few other local pours, Shamrock Brewing Company and The Walter Brewing Company are also located nearby, offering delicious Colorado brews and delectable eats.
TurboTip: If you are interested in the low cost of living Pueblo offers, take a weekend visit to check out the city. With over 300 days of summer and the amenities of a big city, this small-town offers the most affordable living options on our list.
Winner Of TurboTenant’s Best Affordable Colorado Front Range Small Town
Average Rent For 2 Bedroom Rental – $1,003
Livability Score: 66
Although Greeley ranked second on our list for most affordable rental options, their high livability score paired with outstanding rental prices has won them the award for being the best affordable Colorado Front Range small town. Once simply a center for agriculture and considered off the Front Range beaten path, Greeley is now rising to the forefront of the Northern Colorado scene due to affordability and ever-improving amenities.
True to the Northern Colorado cultural love of craft brew, Greeley is home to five breweries and a craft distillery. Each location is worth a visit, with many local beers winning major national awards. Not only does Greeley host a growing craft beer scene, it is also home to a thriving downtown nightlife. Want to go back in time? Check out Greeley’s best-kept secret, 1908, a speak-easy with acclaimed ambiance and choice craft-cocktails. If you are looking for a place for great drinks and live music, check out Patrick’s Irish Pub, the Mad Cow, or Syntax Spirits.
During the daytime, downtown is the center for entertainment, festivals, art, shopping, and dining. Noteworthy downtown Greeley events to mark on your calendar include Friday Fest, Arts Picnic, Blarney on the Block, and Oktobrewfest. No talk of Greeley events would be complete without mentioning the internationally renowned Greeley Stampede. This year’s 96th annual stampede includes everything from bullfighting, to demolition derbies, to classic rodeo events, and big-name country artists like Toby Keith and Clay Walker.
Greeley has retained the best parts of being a small town while offering an increasing number of big city amenities. From an indoor ice skating rink to a Creative District to the beautiful Poudre River Trails, this growing town is well-worth the journey off the beaten track of I-25. If you haven’t given Greeley a try in a while or you are looking for a more affordable Northern Colorado option, it is time to book a trip to visit this up and coming Colorado Front Range gem.
TurboTip: If you are considering a move to Greeley, spend some time getting to know the different neighborhoods. For those looking to enjoy the nightlife, a downtown apartment might be the perfect fit. For those who are interested in raising a family, take the time to explore parks and schools scattered throughout the town.