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American millennials are flocking to Colorado as the pandemic wears on


  • Colorado is emerging as a top destination for millennials who are looking to relocate during the pandemic.
  • Business Insider spoke to eight 20- and 30-somethings who have moved to Colorado since April to find out why they made the leap.
  • They said they all fell for Colorado’s charm for the same reasons: job opportunities, good weather, accessibility, and plenty of outdoor activities.
  • Below are three of their stories.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The outdoors as mental healing

Name: Jessica Occean, 30

Moved from: New York, New York

Moved to: Denver, Colorado

Jessica Occean is a born and bred New Yorker. But, as she told Business Insider, she recently turned 30 and found that her city needs and wants had changed. 

“I wanted things that NYC just couldn’t offer, even on a $90,000 salary for a single, fiscally responsible person,” she said. “I wanted a good quality of life, space in my home, a less crowded existence especially in my commute and general day-to-day, and access to the outdoors for some mental healing.” 

Denver Colorado skyline

Denver, Colorado.

Brad McGinley Photography / Getty Images

When the pandemic struck, she lost her job as a sales account executive in tech and was paying $2,000 a month for a fourth-floor walk-up apartment with roach problems. “There was nothing to stay in NYC for,” she said.

But even as NYC no longer felt like the answer, she wasn’t prepared to give up her career in the tech industry or city life altogether. Enter: Denver. 

Occean said the mountain city “ticked so many boxes I needed in this stage of my life.” Despite never having visited, the practicality of the decision and the fact that her sister had just moved there was enough to prompt her to take the leap in June. Now, she’s living in a North Capitol Hill apartment where she’s paying nearly $600 less a month and living in 300 more square feet than her former NYC apartment.

A practical place to weather the pandemic

Name: Naka Canlas Potts, 27

Moved from: Denton, Texas

Moved to: Fort Collins, Colorado

Nika Canlas Potts, 27, moved to Fort Collins with her spouse in August because of the pandemic. Before the move, the couple had been living in Denton, Texas, for 10 years. Potts told Business Insider she doesn’t think the pandemic is anywhere near over.

“It came down to the idea of, ‘Where do we want to spend the next year of the pandemic,'” she said, adding that the hobbies that had kept them sane during the beginning of the pandemic — walks, hikes, and camping — became impossible as Texas grew hot and humid. Moving to a foothills city in Colorado, she said, gave them the opportunity to be outside and partake in safe, socially distant activities.

Fort Collins Colorado

Footbridge over Cache la Poudre River at whitewater park in downtown Fort Collins, Colorado, with Powerhouse Energy Campus of Colorado State University in background.

marekuliasz / Getty Images

Potts said she found leaving Denton easy because many places had shut down to never reopen, and they were working remotely for the foreseeable future. Even though they’ve only been in Fort Collins for a week, she said they’re already loving it because it allows for more physical activity, has public transportation, and has better weather. 

Colorado doesn’t offer Potts a more affordable lifestyle, but she thinks they’re getting their money’s worth. Even though they’re paying $600 more a month in rent for a house similar to the one they had in Texas, they don’t have to drive as much, run the air conditioning as frequently, or pay for a gym membership, which cuts down on other costs.

“We definitely will need to be more thrifty here, but so far, it has felt worth it,” she said.

The promise of a better lifestyle

Name: Alissa Johnson, 23

Moved from: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Moved to: Aurora, Colorado

A better lifestyle is what drew 23-year-old Alissa Johnson to Aurora, Colorado, in May. She and her boyfriend had been living in a rocky part of northern Minneapolis, Minnesota. They visited a few friends in Colorado and “fell in love,” she said, describing the state as a mix between Washington and Minnesota.

Back in Minneapolis, Johnson found herself in some frightening situations as a bystander in both a robbery at a dollar store and police search that she said involved 25 cop cars and a helicopter. “I had this gut feeling of, ‘You need to leave,'” she said.

Aurora Colorado shopping mall

Pedestrians walk by a fire pit and the clock tower along South Main Street at Southlands Mall in Aurora, Colorado.

Anya Semenoff / Contributor

She found a place for herself and her boyfriend in about two days, she said. They’re paying about $100 more a month in rent, but thinks it’s worth the swimming pool and gym in the building.

She said she’s thankful she listened to her gut. “If we would have stayed, we would have been directly in the area of the riots and protests in Minneapolis,” she said. “We had gone back to visit family, and the gas station that I had gone to every morning was burnt down and people were flooding the streets at night.”

Colorado, she said, has been good for her because she’s a “big outdoorsy person” who likes a view and clean water — two things she said Minneapolis lacked.

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