Fewer people are moving to Colorado now than 12 years ago, and migration trends within the state have changed, as well, according to data from Colorado’s state demographer. Twelve years ago, data shows people were moving to more urban, liberal areas, like Denver and Arapahoe Counties, but in 2021, data shows more people moved out of Denver and headed to more rural, conservative counties in Colorado. In fact, Weld and Douglas Counties were the two counties that saw the most new residents in 2021 across the entire state.
On top of that, U.S. Census Bureau data shows tens of thousands of people have left Colorado altogether in recent years.
Some local real estate agents offered insight about the reasons they’re seeing for those changes.
“I think mainly the moving out of Colorado has to do with affordability, that’s the number one reason that I see that happen,” said Kelly Moye, a realtor in the northern Denver metro area and spokesperson for the Colorado Association of Realtors.
Moye says many people this past year have looked to get more bang for their buck with housing.
“I have one client I can think of … who sold his home in Louisville and moved to Colorado Springs, they got a lot more house for their money and because he worked in south Denver anyway, he would just commute to Denver from the other direction, and he loves his house, and it’s a lot more than he could get up here,” Moye said.
Moye also attributes the pandemic as another factor in Colorado’s internal migration shift.
“Lots of our clients, they want space, they want a home office, they want a yard, they want space from their neighbors, all of a sudden this dense environment became very unpopular. So, the mass exodus from downtown Denver was very interesting in the last couple of years,” Moye explained. “I think people started to get away from living downtown and being close to work, and saying, ‘I don’t have to live close to work. I work from home now. Get me out to the mountains, or down south to Pueblo, or Grand Junction is a good spot.'”
But Sunny Banka — a realtor in the southern Denver metro area, also with the Colorado Assocation of Realtors — says some of her clients have expressed their reasons for leaving the state are political.
“It’s also something that I’m seeing in my own real estate career that I haven’t seen in the past 44 years, where we’ve had a kind of an exodus of clients selling their homes in Colorado, and moving to other states, and some of the interesting reasoning behind that is … I’ve had many that will tell you that they’ve gone for freedom, because of some of the politics in Colorado and some of the changes that we are seeing, because of some of the political actions that have been taken, you know, at the state level and locally as well,” Banka explained.
She says in just the last year, she’s had 20 clients that have moved to Florida.
“I’ve had four or five clients that have moved to Idaho, and those families all had children, so they moved, because of schools and some of the mandates on schools,” Banka said.
The most recently available Census Bureau data shows from 2015 to 2019, Texas, California, Arizona and Florida were the top four destinations that Coloradans moved to.
Banka says of her clients, the number one place for people to move to this past year was Florida.
“It’s not because Colorado isn’t a beautiful, wonderful state. It’s just because they were very sad by some of the things they’re seeing, and some of the changes they’re seeing,” Banka said.
Krista Barker is one of those clients. She said it was a tough decision to move, but one she felt was important.
“I moved here in 1977, and I fell in love with the mountains, and it was a great cow town,” Barker recalled. “Loved it. You could go from one side of the town to the other in 20 minutes. It was wonderful.”
This year she moved from Aurora to Volusia County, Florida, near Daytona Beach.
“Crime, homeless, political atmosphere. It was it was time to pack up, go closer to family,” she said when asked why she decided to leave. “I would walk every morning with my dog and every evening with my dog. Unfortunately, it got to a point in the area that I walked where homeless were setting up tents. You would run across a syringes and bullet casings. You would hear gunshots in the middle of the night. … It was not safe anymore.”
Asked what she likes about her new community, she offered several points.
“Everybody’s friendly, people actually wave at you if you’re walking your dog or whatever, in their cars, they’ll wave at you and you wave back,” she said. “I found that not to be the case in Colorado anymore … there’s a lot of good camaraderie, a lot of like-minded people.”
Barker also said, “they don’t allow panhandlers. They do not allow the homeless to set up tents. They have cracked down on the spring breakers at Daytona Beach… It is just one of those situations to where I feel comfortable. I feel safe.”
But that sentiment is not something Moye says she’s seeing from folks moving out of the northern Denver metro area.
“I think that’s too bad, if that’s the case,” she said. “I think we live in an unbelievably perfect place for lots of reasons, and so, you know, the nice thing is, is if you don’t like where you live, you can move, and that’s why realtors are here to help you.”