Evergreen | 3,000 square feet (pictured, above)
Evergreen’s older yet well-loved properties present an entrée to the mountain-home marketplace. Just a 45-minute drive from Denver, half a mil here nets you a remodeled Nixon-era ranch. Who cares if the surrounding (spendier) castles dwarf your standard four-bedroom, three-bathroom digs? You all share the same stunning view.
Castle Rock | 4,000-plus square feet
Just 20 miles past the Denver Tech Center, Castle Rock boasts homes with five bedrooms, finished basements, three-car garages, and out-your-back-door access to open space. The 45- minute-plus commute to downtown is the trade-off for getting everything else you want—and staying under $500,000.
The People’s Republic
Boulder | 1,300 square feet
To afford anything near Pearl Street, you’ll need at least a million bucks. But three miles away, in neighborhoods such as Martin Acres, your money can go twice as far. Communities south of Baseline Road are full of four-bedroom ranch-style homes with backyards begging for summer barbecues—and prices that will leave you able to stock it with the requisite organic and gluten-free eats.
Arvada | 3,100 square feet
Eleven miles northwest of the Mile High City, Arvada offers family-friendly communities and commutes for $500,000. Your late-’90s house may look similar to the others on the street, but with four bedrooms, upgraded kitchens and bathrooms, two-car garages, and easy walking distance to quality schools, you’ll get over it quickly.
Denver | 1,800 square feet
To stay at or below the half-million mark, you’ll want to look in neighborhoods such as Sunnyside, where modern three-bedroom, three-bathroom duplexes and rowhomes replace scraped midcentury Craftsman houses. Closer to the Mile High City’s skyline, your options grow smaller and the price tags get bigger.