Off grid living in Colorado ( The Centennial State )

Colorado is famous for its rich history and beautiful nature, this is the home of the Rocky Mountains and a lot of dinosaur fossils. Colorado is located near the center of the country with a population of 5.75 million people, and this state attracts a lot of people who want to move to another state. Back in the year 2000, Colorado’s population was just around 4.13 million and over the past couple of decades, the population growth is faster than ever.

At first glance Colorado might seem like an excellent state for off grid living, the truth is that this is probably one of the worst states for off grid living. Although living off the grid in Colorado is legal, the main problem is that harvesting rainwater was illegal at a point and currently there are some restrictions and regulations. On top of this, the 66% higher cost of housing and the overall high cost of living will make living off the grid not only difficult but also expensive.

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Colorado has 13 cities with a population of over 100k people, and the areas surrounding these cities have a fairly high population density. The biggest cities in Colorado are Denver with a population of 695k people, followed by Colorado Springs with 457k, Aurora 363k, Fort Collins 162k, Lakewood 153k, and Thornton with 134k residents. Even though the population density in some areas can get fairly high there are still plenty of places with untouched nature.

Colorado has several national forests like the Rio Grande National Forest, White River National Forest, San Huan National Forest, Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest, and the Uncompahgre National Forest amongst others. If you love nature you will love Colorado, although living off the grid here is hard work. Due to its geographical position, Colorado tends to have a somewhat unpredictable weather.

It can snow one day and the next day you could be sunbathing. Colorado is famous for its harsh winters, and people who live off the grid in this state prepare during the summer for the winter. Luckily this state has everything you need for off grid living, although like all other states it has its own drawbacks when it comes to off grid living. If you are looking for a state near Colorado that has a lower cost of living and property then check out my recent article Off grid living in Kansas ( The Sunflower State ).

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Colorado climate

Due to Colorado’s large size, it has several types of climates like continental, subarctic, semi-arid, and humid subtropical. In general, the average summertime temperatures are around 90°F, and the wintertime temperatures are around 30°F. Do note that the average temperatures both during the summer and wintertime will fluctuate a lot, it is not uncommon to have a couple of hot days followed by cold days or even days which have below-freezing temperatures. If you want to take a look at a state on the east coast then check out my recent article Off grid living in Connecticut ( The Constitution State ).

Types of crops grown in Colorado

When it comes to growing crops, Colorado is fairly similar to Kansas. The main crops grown here are wheat, potatoes, beans, sugar beets, hay, and corn. Generally speaking, the areas which are the best for growing crops are in the western and in the central parts of the state. Although you will be able to grow crops in almost all areas but you will have to use a greenhouse and compost in some of the areas. If you want to take a look at one of Colorado’s neighboring states then check out my recent article Off grid living in Utah ( Cheap Land & Low Property Tax ).

Freshwater availability in Colorado

Colorado has some problems with freshwater, the annual rainfall is fairly low at around 20″ and the average yearly snowfall is around 80″. The problem is that most of the rain and snowfalls are at a higher elevation in the mountainous regions. In my opinion, one of the main requirements to be able to live off the grid is the ability to harvest rainwater, unfortunately, harvesting rainwater in Colorado was illegal at a point and there are certain restrictions and regulations today.

If you want to move to Colorado and live off the grid, water will be your main problem. Groundwater is not available in most areas, and even if it is there is a fairly high probability that it is contaminated. People who live off the grid in Colorado either use above-ground sources of water or simply buy water and store it in large water tanks.

Colorado wildlife

Due to its large size, Colorado has a lot of animals like the colorado bison, bighorn sheep, mountain lion, black bear, elk, wild horses, and beavers. In the local rivers and lakes, you will find lake trout, tiger trout, mountain whitefish, white bass, spotted bass, walleye, bluegill, and Kokanee salmon among others. You will need a license bout for fishing and hunting https://cpw.state.co.us/buyapply/Pages/Fishing.aspx.

Generating power off the grid in Colorado

  • Solar power: A couple of years ago Colorado had a statewide program for renewable energy, unfortunately, this is no longer available although it might come back in the future. The good news is that you can still apply for the federal tax credit which is 30%, just keep in mind that every year this tax credit gets lower and lower by around 5%.
  • Wind power: Unfortunately there are no statewide incentives for setting up a wind turbine, although you can still apply for the federal tax credit.

Colorado off grid laws

Living off the grid in Colorado is legal, there are no laws prohibiting you from living off the grid. With that being said, even though it is legal to live off the grid in Colorado you will find it extremely difficult, mostly because harvesting rainwater is regulated, and in certain areas, there are restrictions on how much water you can store. If you follow the news regarding off grid living then you have probably learned that some counties in Colorado make living off the grid almost impossible,

Costilla County, for example, has banned camping on the land that you own, now some might say that this is because the authorities do not want people to live off the grid in this county. On the other hand, some people are saying that these people were doing something illegal. The main problem is that a lot of people settled in an area trying to live off the grid and some of them didn’t actually own that land. If you want to know where are the best places to live off the grid in this state are then check out my recent article Best Places To Live Off The Grid in Colorado ( Top 7 Counties ).

If you want to homeschool your children you can easily do it as long as you follow the local homeschooling laws.

Colorado road access

The quality of the roads in Colorado are not the best, in areas where the climate is semi-arid will have hot temperatures during the day and freezing temperatures during the night which is not the best for the roads and they end up cracked or with a lot of potholes. During the wintertime, the road access can be somewhat problematic, especially in the higher elevations.

Price of land in Colorado

Colorado is fairly expensive when it comes to housing and the price of land, generally speaking, you will pay around 66% more than the national average. Usually, you would see such high prices on the east and the west coast and not in the middle of the country. The good news is that you will still find land and housing which costs less than the national average although most of them will be in semi-arid areas which are not the best for off grid living.

Colorado property tax

Colorado has one of the lowest property taxes in the country, currently, the property tax is 0.55% and the national average is 1.08%. Just keep in mind that even though the property tax is fairly low you will still pay more due to the high cost of housing and property.

Cost of living in Colorado

The cost of living in Colorado is significantly higher than the national average, you will pay around 66% more for housing, 7% more for transportation, and 1% more for groceries. On the other hand, you will pay around 5% less for healthcare services, and around 2% less for utilities.

Colorado jobs

Colorado’s unemployment rate is at 2.6% which is below the 3.6% national average. The unemployment rate has seen a sharp drop off recently, in 2019 the unemployment rate was at 3.7%. The minimum wage is at $11.10 which is higher than in the neighboring states. The biggest industries where most of the people work are agriculture, manufacturing, mining, tourism, and different types of services.

Colorado crime rate

Colorado’s crime rate is just below the national average, currently, there are around 3.97 crimes per 1000 people and the national average is 4 crimes per 1000 people. The safest areas are around Creede, Marble, Hooper, Cotopaxi, Florissant, and Divide. The areas with the highest crime rates are around Pueblo, Canon City, Glenwood Springs, Fraser, Alamosa, and Denver.

Colorado natural disasters

Due to its many different types of climates, Colorado has a lot of natural disasters although not all of them are due to the local climate. The most common natural disaster are blizzards, hail storms, floods, heatwaves, droughts, flash floods, forest fires, and earthquakes.

In conclusion

Overall I can not recommend Colorado for off grid living, there are simply way too many factors that drag it down, like the high cost of living and the regulations and restrictions regarding off grid living. I am not saying that you can not live off the grid here, but you would probably have an easier time in one of its neighboring states.