Colorado vs. Montana: Which State Should You Live In?

Comparing Colorado and Montana

If you're choosing between Colorado and Montana as your next home, comparing the states is key. Each state offers a distinct blend of lifestyles and opportunities that cater to different tastes and preferences. From the top mountain towns in Colorado to the vast wilderness of Montana, both states have unique appeal. Before choosing your next home, consider outdoor activities, cost of living, job opportunities, and community vibes. Explore what each state has to offer before settling down.

Differences Between Colorado and Montana

  • Montana offers a lower cost of living, better housing value, and lower taxes than Colorado.
  • Colorado provides urban amenities and diverse recreational opportunities with a higher cost of living.
  • Bozeman, Montana, is known for affordability, outdoor activities, and a thriving economy.
  • Denver, Colorado, boasts a bustling urban environment with high living costs.
  • Consider lifestyle preferences, budget, and outdoor activities when choosing between Colorado and Montana.

Cost of Living: Is Colorado More Expensive Than Montana?

Cost of living is an important consideration when you’re planning a move. After all, you want to be able to afford your new home. These factors can significantly impact your decision on where to call home.

Overall Cost of Living Comparison

What is the Cost of Living in Colorado vs Montana?

The cost of living in Colorado is 7.9% higher than in Montana. Groceries in Colorado cost 10.2% more than in Montana, and transportation expenses are 50.2% higher in Colorado. Additionally, childcare costs in Montana are 5.8% lower compared to Colorado. However, housing prices are comparable in the states, with Montana’s prices just 1.1% cheaper than Colorado’s.

When considering where to live, it's essential to factor in these cost differences to ensure that you can comfortably afford your daily expenses. Keep in mind that the cost of living can vary greatly depending on your lifestyle and location within each state.

Housing Price Comparison

Montana offers more affordable housing options compared to Colorado: the average home price in Montana is in the mid-$400s, while Colorado’s average price is in the mid-$500s. Both states have a broad range of real estate markets, from the affordable to the ultra-luxurious. In Bozeman, Montana, the average home value is in the mid-$700s, while Missoula’s average is in the mid-$500s. 

Homes in Southwest Colorado have a median listing price in the mid-$600s, while in Vail, the average value is nearly $2 million.

Taxes in Colorado and Montana

Another way to evaluate the cost of living is by comparing the tax rates in Colorado and Montana. Colorado has a state income tax rate of 4.4%, compared to Montana's range of 4.7% to 5.9%. Sales tax in Colorado varies from 2.9% to 11.2%, while Montana doesn’t have a sales tax.

Property taxes in Colorado, averaging 0.55% of a property's assessed value, are lower than Montana's average of 0.74%. 

Overall, Montana tends to have a lower tax burden than Colorado. If you value a state with no sales tax and lower property taxes, Montana might be the more financially favorable option for you. Be sure to consider these tax implications carefully when deciding where to reside.

Colorado Economy vs. Montana Economy

When considering where to live, it's essential to evaluate the economic landscapes of Colorado and Montana. Colorado's economy is more diverse, with thriving industries such as aerospace and technology; Montana relies heavily on agriculture and mining.

Both states rely heavily on tourism. Colorado’s top ski towns draw winter sports enthusiasts from around the world and Montana’s stunning beauty and wide-open spaces drive an increasing tourism sector. Understanding the key sectors and major employers in each state will provide valuable insights into the economic opportunities available to you.

Biggest Employers in Colorado

Colorado boasts a diverse economy with major employers such as Lockheed Martin, University of Colorado Health, and Ball Corporation, reflecting its strong presence in the aerospace, healthcare, and manufacturing industries.

Lockheed Martin, a global aerospace company, plays a significant role in Colorado's economy, offering numerous job opportunities in the aerospace sector. UCHealth, a prominent healthcare provider, contributes to the state's thriving healthcare industry, providing essential medical services to residents.

Since Colorado is such a large state, industries and employers vary greatly by location. One of the largest employers in Durango, for example, is Purgatory Ski Resort, which employs approximately 1,000. These top employers not only drive economic growth but also offer a wide range of employment opportunities across different sectors. 

Biggest Employers in Montana

Montana's economy, rooted in industries such as agriculture, tourism, healthcare, education, and government services, features notable employers like Benefis Health System, Logan Health, and Montana State University. These entities stand as some of the biggest employers in Montana, playing a crucial role in the state's economic landscape.

Benefis Health System and Logan Health contribute significantly to the healthcare sector, providing employment opportunities and essential medical services to the community. Montana State University, a prominent institution in the education sector, also ranks among the top employers in the state, offering diverse job prospects and educational resources.

With a focus on these major employers, Montana showcases a diverse economy that supports various sectors, creating a robust job market for its residents. By understanding the significance of these key players in Montana's employment scene, individuals can gain insights into the state's economic stability and job opportunities.

Best Places to Live in Colorado

Where to Live in Colorado

When considering the best places to live in Colorado, Durango, Denver, and Boulder stand out as top contenders. Each city offers unique attractions and amenities, catering to a variety of lifestyles and preferences. Whether you seek outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or a vibrant urban environment, these cities have something to offer for everyone.


Nestled in the heart of La Plata County in the southwest corner of the state, Durango stands out as one of the best places to live in Colorado. Known for its stunning mountain views and abundant outdoor recreational opportunities, Durango offers a lifestyle that many Coloradans dream of.

The town boasts a vibrant cultural scene with art galleries, music festivals, and local breweries, providing a perfect balance of nature and entertainment.

The lower cost of living in Durango sets it apart from communities like Breckenridge and Boulder, making it an attractive option for those seeking affordability without sacrificing quality of life. Residents enjoy easy access to hiking, biking, skiing, and river activities, ensuring there's always something exciting to do.

Most homes for sale in Durango list from $300,000 to $1.5 million, but a number of luxurious estates in town carry prices in excess of $5 million. Additionally, the real estate market in Durango is diverse. From modern mountain homes to historic residences in Historic Downtown Durango, there’s something for every preference and lifestyle. 


Denver, the capital of and largest city in Colorado, offers a vibrant lifestyle with a mix of urban amenities and abundant outdoor activities. The dynamic city attracts residents with its proximity to the mountains for outdoor adventures and a high concentration of breweries.

It provides a unique blend of city conveniences and access to nature. Residents benefit from major airport facilities, numerous green spaces, and mild winters, and its large and diversified economy makes it one of the top choices for those moving to Colorado.

Housing prices in Denver are higher compared to other parts of Colorado, but the city's diverse recreational opportunities and lively atmosphere make it a desirable place to live. With a reputation as one of the best places to reside in Colorado, Denver strikes a balance between urban living and the recreational opportunities offered by the great outdoors.


Frequently ranked as one of the best places to live in Colorado, Boulder offers a high quality of life and abundant outdoor recreational opportunities. Situated in the picturesque Rocky Mountains, Boulder provides easy access to hiking, biking, and rock climbing, making it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.

The city's emphasis on sustainability and environmental initiatives aligns with the values of eco-conscious individuals, attracting a community dedicated to preserving the natural beauty of Colorado.

The city is home to the University of Colorado Boulder, which enrolls more than 30,000 students and employs more than 3,000 academic staff members. Beyond its academic prowess, Boulder boasts a vibrant cultural scene, featuring art galleries, music venues, and a diverse food landscape.

Whether you seek outdoor adventures in the Rockies or cultural experiences in the city, Boulder offers a unique blend of nature and urban amenities that make it a desirable place to call home in Colorado.

Cities in Montana

Where to Live in Montana

If you're considering cities in Montana, you might want to look into Helena and Bozeman. Helena is the capital and has a population of about 34,000. Bozeman, known for outdoor recreation and home to Montana State University, has around 57,000 people.

These cities are significant in size for Montana but closer in size to some of the best small towns in Colorado. Both cities have their unique charm and attractions worth exploring.


Consider relocating to Helena, Montana, a charming capital city nestled in the western part of the state. If you were born and raised in a bustling city but now seek a quieter, more community-oriented lifestyle, Helena might be the perfect fit for you.

With a population of around 34,000, Helena offers a mix of historic charm and outdoor recreation opportunities, making it an ideal place to settle down.

Surrounded by the stunning Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest and the majestic Missouri River, the city provides a picturesque backdrop for outdoor enthusiasts. As the hub for government activities in Montana, Helena maintains a strong sense of community pride and involvement.

Despite being the state capital, Helena boasts a reasonable cost of living comparable to the national average. In Helena, you can enjoy the best of both worlds: a close-knit community with access to nature's wonders right at your doorstep.


Bozeman, home to around 57,000 residents, offers affordability and abundant outdoor recreational opportunities. Many homes in Bozeman are available in the $600s and $700s.

If you're looking to get back to Montana's roots and enjoy a continental climate with cold winters and warm summers, Bozeman might just be the place for you. The city's proximity to Yellowstone National Park provides easy access to one of the most iconic national parks in the country, perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.

Bozeman's economy thrives on tourism, agriculture, and technology, offering diverse job opportunities. Whether you seek a tranquil lifestyle surrounded by natural beauty or exciting career prospects in growing industries, Bozeman has something to offer for everyone looking to live in Montana.

Skiing in Colorado vs. Montana

When comparing skiing options between Colorado and Montana, you'll find distinct features that cater to different skiing preferences.

Skiing in Colorado offers world-class destinations like Aspen, Vail, and Breckenridge. The state boasts 28 ski resorts, easily accessible from major cities like Denver. These resorts provide diverse terrain suitable for all skill levels. 

Real estate near these ski towns is typically expensive, but thankfully, there are great ski resorts in Southern Colorado, and homes around them are far more affordable. For example, ski-in, ski-out homes near Purgatory Resort range from the $200s to $1.5 million, with the top-end prices closer to the lowest prices in towns like Aspen and Vail. Colorado's ski season typically spans from late November to early April, offering a lengthy window for skiing enthusiasts.

On the other hand, Montana's ski resorts such as Big Sky and Whitefish Mountain Resort prioritize uncrowded slopes and breathtaking mountain views. Visitors to Montana can expect a more laid-back and authentic skiing experience, emphasizing the preservation of the natural beauty surrounding the resorts. Montana's ski season can kick off in November and extend until April in some areas, providing an extended period for enjoying the slopes amidst stunning landscapes.

Whether you prefer the variety and accessibility of Colorado's ski resorts or the tranquil beauty of Montana's slopes, both states offer unique skiing experiences tailored to different preferences.

Call Colorado or Montana Home

Ultimately, the decision between living in Colorado or Montana comes down to your personal preferences and priorities. There’s never a shortage of things to do in Colorado, which also offers a bustling urban environment in certain areas. Montana, on the other hand, provides a more affordable and laid-back lifestyle.

Whether you prefer the mountains and ski resorts of Colorado or the wide-open spaces of Montana, both states have unique advantages to consider for your next home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it cheaper to live in Montana or Colorado?

Living in Montana may be more affordable for you compared to Colorado, but the higher costs in Colorado may be well-worth the amenities, and Colorado residents may have higher salaries to offset their expenses.

Is Colorado a good state to move to?

Colorado is a fantastic state to move to. Its diverse economy, higher median income, vibrant arts and music scene, and universities make it an attractive choice. Plus, the semi-arid climate with lots of sunshine is a bonus!

If you're ready to move to Colorado, call Colorado Property Group of RE/MAX with Durango Homes for Sale at (970) 946-0601 to reach a local real estate agent who can help you find your dream home.

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