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15 Things to Know About Moving to Colorado Springs

Want to live in a fitness-friendly city in a beautiful setting? You might want to consider Colorado Springs. Colorado’s second-largest city has a lot going for it and if you’re a nature-lover you’ll feel right at home. Residents also have access to some of the top financial advisor firms in the state. But before you go, check out these 15 things anyone moving to Colorado Springs should know, from the climate to the culture.

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1. The Air Is Thinner

The city is at an elevation of 6,000 feet. Take it easy when you first move to Colorado Springs. You might not be able to stick to your normal workout routine until you adjust to the elevation. You might experience some lightheadedness or shortness of breath. If you have asthma, it’s important to keep your inhaler close. The good news is that once your body adjusts to the elevation you’ll feel like a superstar athlete when you visit cities at sea level.

2. Garden of the Gods Is as Nice as it Sounds

Moving to Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs is blessed by something called Garden of the Gods. It’s both a stunning public park and a National Natural Landmark full of red rock formations. The views are spectacular and there’s a museum, too. You can hike, bike, climb or take jeep tours. And of course there’s a cafe and gift store on the premises.

If you’re new to desert living, Garden of the Gods is a great first stop after moving to the Springs (as many locals call Colorado Springs). You’ll feel like you’re in a national park but you’ll still be squarely within the Colorado Springs city limits.

3. You Can Dress Like You Just Finished a Hike

Whether or not you’ve just finished a hike, you can dress like you did, or like you’re headed on an outdoor adventure. Like many cities in the West, Colorado Springs has a casual dress code. Unless your job requires more formal attire, you can probably get away with leaving your formal wear behind when you’re moving to the Springs. You should, however, be prepared to dress for a range of temperatures, from a hot summer day to a frigid winter night.

Related Article: 15 Things to Know Before Moving to Colorado

4. Pikes Peak Casts a Big Shadow

Moving to Colorado Springs

Pikes Peak (there’s no apostrophe) is a beautiful mountain that looms over Colorado Springs – in a good way. It’s a recreation site and a symbol of the city. Colorado Springs’ city government likes to boast that Pikes Peak is the most visited mountain in North America, and the second most visited mountain in the world (after Mount Fuji, in Japan).

If you have access to a car you can spend a few hours driving the Pikes Peak Highway, a scenic road that gets you up close and personal with the famous mountain. You’ll start at an elevation of 7,400 feet and climb (by car) to the summit, at 14,115 feet. Once you’re settled in Colorado Springs, you’ll start using the mountains as a reference point to know which direction you’re facing. That’s when you’ll know you’re starting to feel at home.

5. You Might See Olympians

Colorado Springs has a nickname: Olympic City. Why? Colorado Springs is home to the U.S. Olympic Committee, the U.S. Olympic Training Center and the Olympic Museum (scheduled to open in 2018). If you see any unusually fleet runners on your favorite trail, they might be Olympians. You might find yourself rubbing shoulders with some celebrity athletes if you move to the Springs.

Related Article: The Most Fitness-Friendly Cities for 2016

6. You’ll Need a Jacket

Colorado Springs can have big temperature swings in the course of a single day. If you leave the house without an extra layer when it’s warm and sunny at midday you might find yourself regretting that decision when things turn chilly at night. It’s the high desert, so expect chilly temperatures after dark. Temperature swings in the spring can be as big as 50 degrees – seriously.

7. Please Smoke Responsibly

You may have heard that marijuana is legal in Colorado. If you use the drug, it’s important to do so responsibly. That means driving safely, being considerate about second-hand smoke and of course abiding by local laws around marijuana use. If you’re hoping to move to the Springs to make it rich in the marijuana world, you should know that it’s already quite a competitive industry.

If you want to buy pot for recreational use you’ll have to make the trip to nearby Manitou Springs. Recreational sales are banned in Colorado Springs, though there are private clubs where you can legally use the drug. And remember that most public consumption (on the street, for example) is not permitted anywhere in Colorado.

8. You May Want to Work on Your Fitness

Moving to Colorado Springs

Olympic athletes aren’t the only ones who take fitness seriously in Colorado Springs. In general, it’s a fit city, and makes frequent appearances on lists of the most fitness-friendly cities. If you’re living that couch potato life now, you might find your habits shifting after moving to Colorado Springs.

9. It’s Palmer’s Town

Colorado Springs was founded by William Jackson Palmer in 1871. Palmer was a railway man who saw the potential in the site of Colorado Springs (and nearby Manitou Springs). He was a man with a plan, and that plan included Colorado College, city parks, libraries, a newspaper, a hotel and a TB sanatorium. That’s why you’ll see Palmer’s name on plenty of streets, schools, monuments and more. He donated hundreds of acres of land to the city.

10. There’s a Military Vibe

There are many service members and veterans in and around Colorado Springs. Between the U.S. Air Force Academy, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), Fort Carson and Peterson Air Force Base, there’s a significant military presence in the greater Colorado Springs area. If you’re a service member, many area restaurants, movie theaters and other businesses offer a military discount.

11. Stay Hydrated

Did we mention that Colorado Springs is nestled in the high desert? That means it’s easy to get dehydrated. It’s important to take plenty of water with you when you go out to hike or exercise. If you drive a car, it’s a good idea to keep water in your vehicle’s emergency kit. If you own your home and have outdoor space, consider drought-tolerant plants or other lawn alternatives to reduce the water your landscaping consumes.

Related Article: 10 Things You Need in Your Winter Survival Kit

12. Colorado Springs Leans to the Right

What do you get when you combine relatively high incomes, a high density of churches, a mostly white population and a large military presence? You guessed it: more conservative voting patterns. If you’re used to the left-leaning politics of a city like Portland, Oregon, you’ll likely notice the difference after moving to Colorado Springs.

13. There are Scenic Railroads

Moving to Colorado Springs

Palmer was an early advocate of the narrow-gauge railway, a kind of track that’s well suited to mountainous terrain. You can still take a ride on Colorado Springs’ historic railway lines, which makes for a pretty special way to get into the mountains surrounding the city. There are two lines you can take: Broadmoor’s Manitou & Pikes Peak Railway and Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad.

14. Learn to Love Snow

Moving to Colorado Springs

Real talk: winters in the Springs can be pretty brutal. But residents of Colorado Springs make the most of it by getting into winter sports. That means ski season is huge in the city. Ice hockey, snow shoeing and sledding are all popular winter activities, too. Oh, and fondue is big, so there’s always plenty of melted cheese to get you through the cold winter (sorry, vegans).

15. Four Words: Labor Day Lift Off

High elevation and a spectacular mountain landscape make Colorado Springs a hot destination for hot air balloons. You can take part without climbing aboard by attending Colorado Springs’ annual Labor Day Lift Off, a hot air balloon festival that replaced the long-running Balloon Classic. There’s a morning liftoff, a weekend full of events, entertainment and demonstrations, capped off by a hot air balloon “glow” on the evening of the festival’s last day. Your Instagram followers will love it.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/erick4x4, ©iStock.com/Sherry Talbot, ©iStock.com/RondaKimbrow, ©iStock.com/Steve Krull, ©iStock.com/Evan Meyer, ©iStock.com/Catherine Lane

Amelia Josephson Amelia Josephson is a writer passionate about covering financial literacy topics. Her areas of expertise include retirement and home buying. Amelia's work has appeared across the web, including on AOL, CBS News and The Simple Dollar. She holds degrees from Columbia and Oxford. Originally from Alaska, Amelia now calls Brooklyn home.
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