Live Well for Less

January 2007

Whether you are a Gore-Tex-swaddled Denverite straight out of the 80202 or an Audi-driving transplant from the Beltway or Beantown, you’re here for one reason: lifestyle. From the trailhead at the base of Lookout Mountain, to the back bowls at Vail, to the duck pâté at Duo, Front Range living has seldom been more alluring.


But these heavenly amenities come at a cost. While it may be getting more enjoyable to live in Denver, it’s also getting more expensive. Last summer, The Economist released a study that said Denver had become the eighth-most-expensive city in the country. That we ranked so high was surprising; that we ranked ahead of such burgs as Boston, Seattle, and Honolulu was downright shocking. The omission of housing costs in the study offers a partial explanation for Denver’s unexpected standing, but according to the FDIC, between 1995 and 2005, housing prices in Colorado outpaced income growth by 32 percent, and in 2005 Forbes magazine called Denver the ninth-most-overpriced city in the country because of the disparity between housing costs and income growth.

Simply put, our food, clothing, transportation, health care—our stuff—is getting harder to pay for. Chalk it up to basic supply and demand. Colorado has added about 700,000 residents in the past 10 years, and the Front Range will see about 2 million more people arriving in the coming two decades. That’s about 7 million neighbors by 2026. More people means more demand for goods and services, and especially for housing. This drives up prices, particularly when the newcomers parachute in from absurdly overpriced places like L.A., San Francisco, and New York, where they’re used to ponying up twice what we pay for just about everything.