Denver may have a reputation as a magnet for millennials. But there’s a place nearby that’s also becoming a powerful draw for young adults, and housing costs may be a factor.
A new report ranks Denver third in the nation for the growth of the millennial population between 2010 and 2015, but Colorado Springs is ranked first.
Over that five-year span, Colorado Springs had 14.7 percent growth of people born from 1981 through 1997, while Denver had 12.8 percent growth of that age group, according to “The Millennial Generation: A Demographic Bridge to America’s Diverse Future," from the Metropolitan Policy Program at The Brookings Institution.
The report cites U.S. Census Bureau population estimates as the source for the information.
Colorado State Demographer Elizabeth Garner doesn’t agree that Colorado Springs’ millennial population is growing faster than Denver’s. She reports that state numbers show a 31 percent growth rate for young adults in Denver from 2010 and 2015, and 14 percent growth in Colorado Springs.
"We are showing that Denver has experienced more growth in total numbers and a faster growth rate than El Paso County [home of Colorado Springs] in the number of millennials," Garner said.
Colorado Springs from Inspiration Point
Either way, a lot of millennials are moving to Colorado Springs — and some are choosing it over Denver based on affordability.
The median home value in Denver is $398,500, while in Colorado Springs it’s $267,600, according to Zillow.
Rent data from ApartmentList.com shows a smaller disparity in housing costs, but one that could still be influencing millennials to live outside of Denver. Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Colorado Springs is $940, while in Denver it’s $1,030.
Alex Armani-Munn, a recent Denver transplant who works for the Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs, said he moved to Colorado Springs from Denver because of the lower cost of living.
Munn said that he did not sacrifice the quality of life that Denver offers in deciding to leave.
"In Colorado Springs right now, you don’t lose the energy that exists in Denver — you can still benefit from that as a young person," Munn said. "We have some great urban [attractions] coming downtown, too."
In addition to a wealth of breweries and outdoor activities, Munn said housing affordability was a major incentive to relocate.
Last year, the personal-finance website rated Colorado Springs as the nation’s third-best large city for first-time homebuyers, based on affordability, quality of life and other factors. Denver ranked No. 10.
And the website Livability, which evaluates small to mid-sized cities, rated the Springs No. 9 for the quality of its downtown.
“I think we’ve kind of hit a sweet spot for folks in that age group,” Dirk Draper, president of the Colorado Springs Chamber and Economic Development Corp., told The Gazette newspaper last month. In addition to quality of life, he cited the city’s growing tech and cybersecurity industries.