File photo. Photo Credit: Bill Oxford (iStock).

File photo. Photo Credit: Bill Oxford (iStock).

The rising costs of housing in Colorado are no secret, with the statewide median single-family home sale price increasing roughly 24 percent year-over-year, as of June, to $530,000. As might be expected, renters are also feeling the crunch, seeing a statewide average rent increase of 9.5 percent year-over-year, according to one report published this July. Many experts think this uptick in rent won't slow down any time soon and with an estimated 35 percent of households renting statewide, this impacts a lot of people.

Editor's Note: The key data analysis mentioned in this piece was published by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, which is a non-profit organization that may be subject to bias. Find the sources behind the data included in this report here.

According to a report published by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, one must work 72 hours a week at Colorado's minimum wage of $12.32 an hour to afford a one-bedroom accommodation at a fair market rent of $1,154 a month, assuming one spends 30 percent of their total income on rent. A two-bedroom rental costs more – $1,430 per month.

Want to limit your work week to 40 hours? You'll need to make $22.19 an hour to afford a one-bedroom space and $27.50 to afford a two-bedroom space. Annually, that's an income of $46,148 and $57,208, respectively. According to the study, this means Colorado's rent requires the 9th highest housing wage nationwide.

As one might expect, rent varies greatly based on location. In Boulder County, affording a one-bedroom with a 40 hour work week means making $27.46 an hour. Meanwhile, the same situation requires $25.08 an hour in the Denver metro area, $18.25 hourly in the Colorado Springs metro, $21.08 hourly in the Fort Collins metro, and $12.19 hourly in the Pueblo metro. Want to rent a one-bedroom in ski country? Summit County rent requires on makes $25.40 an hour to afford it. Western Slope? Look for a wage of at least $14.85 in the Grand Junction metro.

Statewide, the median wage among all Colorado workers is $23.10 per hour, which falls between a wage that allows one to afford renting a one-bedroom ($22.19 per hour) and two-bedroom ($27.50 per hour) space. Some occupations make much less than that, with the median hourly wage of wait staff and fast food workers being less than $13 an hour. Meanwhile, nurses make a median hourly wage of $37.72 per hour, while general and operations managers make $59.96.

The cheapest rent among the states is found in Arkansas, where minimum wage is $11, but rent costs just $615 a month for single-bedroom accommodations. To afford this, a minimum wage worker would need to work 43 hours a week.

See the full study here.

Director of Content and Operations

Spencer McKee is OutThere Colorado's Director of Content and Operations. In his spare time, Spencer loves to hike, rock climb, and trail run. He's on a mission to summit all 58 of Colorado's fourteeners and has already climbed more than half.


Get OutThere

Signup today for free and be the first to get notified on new updates.

(1) comment


This was a great article but why is the western slope of Colorado rarely included in Colorado news? Not all of us live in Denver. I reside in Grand Junction and would like to know the stats for us too. Employers here are trapped in a 1950's time warp!

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.