What Is The Cost Of Living In Fort Collins, Colorado?
Fort Collins is the perfect college town for those who love the outdoors but want a city feel! The fourth-most populous city in Colorado, Fort Collins is home to over 170,000 residents and has continued to see growth year over year. It is home to both Colorado State University and Front Range Community College’s Larimer Campus.
The median home cost in Fort Collins, Colorado is $389,700. Fort Collins is not inexpensive, but it’s still reasonably affordable for many prospective home buyers. It’s important to also consider the additional costs like groceries, utilities, and activities that will add up to your monthly bill. With a cost of living index of 118.3, Fort Collins is a decently affordable city that has a higher index than the rest of Colorado but still within reason.
The livable wage in Larimer County (where Fort Collins is located) amounts to about $15.93 per hour for a single adult. The minimum wage in Colorado is $12.00 per hour. This is a relatively normal gap between livable and minimum wage, indicating that Fort Collins is a little bit pricey but not vastly so.
Considering the high quality of life in the area and plenty of exercise opportunities, Fort Collins may be more worth the elevated cost. Colorado is a great place to build a home and is going to be suitable to many professionals’ budgets. Below, we’ve outlined the total expenses you’ll want to account for when planning to move to Fort Collins, Colorado.
Is the cost of living worth it in Fort Collins? You be the judge – take a look at the numbers and see if it is affordable for you, or your family.
Housing Costs in Fort Collins, Compared
Homeownership in Fort Collins, Colorado is relatively achievable for the middle class. Unfortunately, it is still decently expensive considering it has a housing index of 168.6. This is largely equivalent to the Colorado housing index of 166.1, but much higher than the U.S. housing index of 100. Colorado does not compare to luxury-oriented states like California, but it’s still a pricier location due to its desirable climate and lifestyle features. The median cost of buying a home in Colorado is $384,000, which is basically the same as the cost to buy a home in Fort Collins.
Real estate in Fort Collins is accessible for those who either make big bucks yearly or save a significant portion of their salaries. Plus, you’ll get a gorgeous home with great views and crisp mountain air. If you’re not quite ready to take the plunge into the headache that can be the experience of purchasing a home, there is always the option to rent.
Median Home Values in Fort Collins, Compared
|Location||Median House Price||Homeownership Rates|
The housing cost of living index in Fort Collins is a surprising 168.6, which means it is significantly higher to buy housing or rent an apartment in Fort Collins than in the rest of the United States. These housing prices absolutely reflect that, with the median house price in Fort Collins being over $100,000 more than the national average.
Fort Collins Median Listing Prices by Neighborhood
|Neighborhood||Median List Price|
|Downtown Fort Collins||$735,000|
|Old Town West||$538,000|
|Prospect at Spring Meadows||$437,400|
Median Home Prices in Fort Collins
|Home Prices||Percent of Homes|
|$958,000 and Above||3.2%|
As you can clearly tell, the majority of homes are clustered within a few price brackets.
Homeownership rates are also much lower in Fort Collins, probably due to the high prices – and, the surprisingly reasonable rental rates, as you can see below!
56% of homes in Fort Collins were built between 1970-1999. Just 12.6% were built between 1940-1969, and 26.2% have been built more recently, since 2000. 31.5% of homes have 3 bedrooms, 20.5% have 4 bedrooms, and 29.1% have just 2 bedrooms.
Rental Costs in Fort Collins, Colorado
Over the course of 10 years, Fort Collins has experienced a significant home appreciation of 72.3%. This means houses were likely dirt cheap a decade ago, but they are still somewhat affordable nowadays. Rental properties account for about 0.9% of the Fort Collins housing market. Below, we’ve listed the prices that correspond to different sizes of homes in the area:
|Housing Size||Fort Collins||Fort Collins Metro||Colorado||United States|
Looking at the housing cost of living index, you would think rent would be more expensive than it is in Fort Collins. However, rent is not that far behind the national average and is almost on par with the average rates in the state itself. 46.9% of residents rent their homes, with 25.6% of the homes in Fort Collins being apartment complexes, and 7.8% being smaller apartment buildings.
Average Fort Collins Rent by Neighborhood
|Neighborhood||Average Monthly Rent|
For renters in Fort Collins, the most affordable neighborhoods are Brown Farm, Burns Ranch, and Casa Grande. Whereas, the most expensive Fort Collins neighborhoods are Waterglen, Water’s Edge, and Waterfield.
Average Rent in Fort Collins Compared to Other Cities
Between 2019 and 2020, average rent increased in 39 states across the country and Colorado was one of them. In fact, Colorado comes in seventh on the list of states with the highest average rental prices in the nation, right behind New York State. The average monthly rental price in Fort Collins, Colorado is $1,735, which is quite a bit higher than state’s average rent of $1,271 per month.
To put things in perspective, the following table outlines how the average monthly rent in Fort Collins compares to other states in the state of Colorado:
|City||Average Monthly Rent|
|Colorado Springs, CO||$1,458|
|Fort Collins, CO||$1,735|
Taxes in Fort Collins, Colorado
The state of Colorado has an incredibly low 2.9% base sales tax. However, as with many other states, local governments can choose to add their own taxes on. The sales tax in Fort Collins, Colorado is 7.55%, just over the national average of 7.12%.
Property Taxes in Fort Collins, Colorado
Property tax in Larimer County is much lower than the national average – just 0.540%, versus 1.070%. Believe it or not, this tax is actually higher than the state average as well, which sits at 0.490%. If a resident purchased a home at the median value of $450,000, they would spend just $2,430 annually on property taxes. This is nearly half of the national average for a home that price.
Income Tax in Fort Collins, Colorado
Colorado has a relatively easy income tax to understand – all residents, regardless of their income, pay the same flat rate of 4.63%. It doesn’t matter if residents are making $10,000 or $100,000 a year, they all pay the same rate.
This is a relatively low-income tax, and it makes Fort Collins have a lot of appeal for folks looking to retire and keep more of their pensions.
Fort Collins (Larimer County) Sales Tax Rate vs. Other Colorado Counties
|County||Sales Tax Total Rate|
|La Plata County||4.900%|
Colorado Gas Tax
The gas tax is low in Colorado compared to most of the U.S. The state’s gas tax is 22 cents per gallon of regular gas. Diesel is taxed at 20.5 cents a gallon.
Utility Costs in Fort Collins, Colorado
The utility cost of living index in Fort Collins is 91.3, which means it is a little cheaper than the average city in the United States. For a 915 square foot apartment, residents can expect to pay about $143/month for all of their basic utilities, including water, heat, electricity, garbage, and cooling. The average high-speed internet bill is only $54/month!
The average price for residential electricity in Fort Collins is just 9.26¢/kWh, significantly lower than the national average of 11.88¢/kWh. This is also less than the average in Colorado, which is 11.46¢/kWh.
Food & Grocery Costs in Fort Collins, Colorado
|Food in Fort Collins, Colorado||Prices|
|Average Meal for 1||$10-$15|
|Mid-Range Meal for 2||$45-$55|
|Gallon of Milk||$3.25-$3.50|
|Loaf of Fresh Bread||$2.50-$2.75|
|1lb of Banana||$0.75|
With a grocery cost of living index at 101.1, food is slightly more expensive in Fort Collins than in the rest of the United States. There are a wide variety of grocery stores in Fort Collins, including numerous locally-owned locations which may have better prices or variety.
The median household income in Fort Collins is $62,132. It’s recommended you spend 11% of your household income on food and groceries when planning your budget. That means that the average Fort Collins household spends approximately $6,834 annually on food and groceries, or $569 a month.
Transportation Costs in Fort Collins, Colorado
Fort Collins has a transportation cost of living index at just 87.4, making it much cheaper than the national average to get around. Transportation costs are another important factor that you must consider in order to determine the overall cost of living in a particular location. These include expenses such as gas prices, public transportation costs, and car insurance premiums.
The average Fort Collins resident spends just 19.6 minutes one-way on their daily commute, lower than the national average of 26.4. 72.4% of residents choose to drive their own vehicles to work, while 7.9% carpool and 2% take mass transit. A surprising 6.8% are able to work from home, with zero commute.
The Cost of a Gallon of Gas, Compared
Public Transportation in Fort Collins, Colorado
Fort Collins has a public bus system called Ride Transfort that goes through the downtown area, with limited bus lines directly to Boulder on the weekends.
A single ride is $1.25, with seniors 60+, those disabled, or residents on Medicare costing just $0.60. Transfers are free, and all youths with a valid ID aged 17 and ride the bus system for free as well.
A day pass is just $3, a 7-day pass is $10, and a 31-day pass is $25. An annual adult pass is $145, but if you are a senior, disabled, or on Medicare and want an annual pass, it is just $25. Some businesses in the area also offer discounted passes for their workers.
Annual Car Insurance Premiums in Fort Collins, Colorado
The average cost of car insurance in Fort Collins, Colorado is $1,773 per year for full coverage and $493 for minimum coverage. Though, your rate can vary based on your age, driving record, the insurance company that you choose, and whether you opt for full or minimum coverage. To help illustrate how car insurance premiums vary based on where you live in Colorado, the following table outlines average car insurance rates in five Colorado cities:
|City||Average Annual Premium for Full Coverage|
Education in Fort Collins, Colorado
There are 43 elementary schools, 24 middle schools, and 17 high schools in the Fort Collins area. 41 of those schools are public district schools. There are also 7 public charter schools and 102 private schools total that teach over 48,000 students annually.
Fort Collins public schools regularly rank within the top 20% in the state. The public schools have an average math proficiency score of 53% (compared to the state average of 35%) and an average reading proficiency score of 53% (compared to the state average of 44%).
The student: teacher ratio is 18:1, which is higher than the state’s average of 17:1.
Entertainment Costs in Fort Collins, Colorado
There is a lot to do in Fort Collins! If you like history, wandering around the Old Town district is completely free, and full of homes from the 1800s and older shops. There is also the 1979 Avery House, a historical museum in a beautiful historic home. Tours are just $6/person, or $4/child.
Where Fort Collins really shines, however, is in outdoor activities. If you love nature, be sure to check out the Cache La Poudre River, where you can rent rafts for whitewater rafting or tubes for river tubing for as little as $32/half day.
There is also hiking in the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, walks in the Spring Canyon Community Park, or in the Gardens on Spring Creek.
Cost of Healthcare in Fort Collins, Colorado
The average employee in Colorado contributes about the same for their single coverage healthcare as the national average. The annual contribution per employee is around $1,375, while the national average is $1,414. However, the prices of health care are higher than the U.S. median.
The Fort Collins metro has health care costs that are an estimated 18% higher than the U.S. The healthcare costs in Denver are 13% higher than the national average, and the Boulder metro’s healthcare costs are 6% higher on average.
Comparing Health Care Visits
|Visit||Fort Collins||National Average|
Clothing Costs in Fort Collins, Colorado
|Item of Clothing||Price|
|1 Pair of Name-Brand Jeans||$40|
|1 Summer Dress (From a Chain Retail Store)||$40|
|1 Pair of Name-Brand Shoes||$78|
|1 Pair of Dress Shoes||$105|
Prices for food and other household goods are about on-par in Fort Collins with the rest of the United States. Fort Collins has several indoor and outdoor shopping malls, including Front Range Village and The Foothills, so there is a lot of variety for any budget.
Miscellaneous Expenses in Fort Collins, Colorado
|Beauty salon visit||$38|
How Much Money Do People Make in Fort Collins?
Fort Collins has an unemployment rate that’s lower than the national average, and its job market is predicted to grow by almost 52% over the next decade, which is substantially higher than the predicted national growth.
The median household income is $55,647. The average salary in Fort Collins is $63,000. A software engineer might expect to make an average of $77,000 a year, while a mechanical engineer’s average salary is $67,000.
Top employers in Fort Collins include Colorado State University, Woodward, OtterBox, and Hewlett Packard.
Is Fort Collins, Colorado a Good Place to Live?
If you’re considering the move to Fort Collins for work, school, or just a change of pace, hopefully, you now have a better idea of just how expensive it is to live there. While housing costs are higher than the national average by quite a bit, everything else is roughly on par with what you can expect in the average US city. While Fort Collins is often considered a college town, there is a lot more to it, with plenty of jobs for a variety of fields.
Fort Collins also regularly ranks in the top 10 happiest places to live in the United States. Lists like these often take into account income, housing prices, entertainment and activities, and feelings of security. In a poll in 2013, nearly 95% of residents said that they were satisfied with the city, and what it had to offer… that’s a huge percentage!
If these things are important to you, perhaps Fort Collins could be your new home!
We are a team of passionate homeowners, home improvement pros, and DIY enthusiasts who enjoy sharing home improvement, housekeeping, decorating, and more with other homeowners! Whether you're looking for a step-by-step guide on fixing an appliance or the cost of installing a fence, we've here to help.
More by Upgraded Home Team