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What It's Like Living In Fort Collins, CO

by Shannon Steinberg on May 28, 2024

Living in Fort Collins is like living in a poster for small town America. In the 1950s, its elegant homes and shops are rumored to have inspired Walt Disney’s Main Street. Fort Collins has grown by leaps and bounds since then. Its population has quadrupled in the past 50 years, as the city’s business leaders have pushed it to the forefront of some of the nation’s most exciting and innovative industries.

At the same time, its strong schools, beautiful scenery, and well-built infrastructure have made it a top-ranked destination for families and professionals looking to escape the urban grind. If you’re considering life in the Rocky Mountains, here are a few of the benefits you have to look forward to.

Diverse, High-Income Economy

Fort Collins began as a military outpost that grew into a college town and agricultural community. As time moved on, the city’s farming and food processing plants gradually closed, but new industries moved in to take their place. While Colorado State University is still the city’s largest employer, the area has also become a leader in technology, bioscience, and engineering, with several major firms operating facilities in and around town, including:

  • Hewlett Packard 
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise
  • Intel
  • AMD
  • Broadcom
  • Schneider Electric
  • Woodward, Inc.

But it's not just established businesses moving into the city. New ones are springing up as well. OtterBox and WaterPik were both founded in Fort Collins and have their headquarters here. To foster other entrepreneurs, Fort Collins helped found the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance, a group of towns, businesses, and academics who work together to improve the state’s infrastructure and pave the way for future investment.

The city’s diverse economic landscape not only protects it from financial upheaval (Fort Collins unemployment rate has remained steady at rates significantly below the national average for the past several years), but has also created a competitive job market that benefits workers across nearly every sector of the economy. Individual and household incomes are above the national average, especially in advanced industries, and are expected to rise further as the business community continues to grow.

Beer Capital of Colorado

Fort Collins brews more beer than any other city in Colorado by far. Besides the Anheuser-Busch plant, which produces ten million gallons of beer for 33 different brands every year, the city is also home to 24 craft breweries. Together, these companies are responsible for approximately 70 percent of all beer produced in the state.

Most is shipped out to stores and supermarkets across the country, but a large portion is consumed by residents and visitors. Brewery tours are one of the central planks of the city’s tourism. Odell, Zwei, Equinox, and New Belgium have some of the most popular tasting rooms in the area, but with new ones popping up every year, you won’t have to settle for the same old same old every time you go out.

Efficient and Accessible Transportation

The Fort Collins transit network keeps residents moving swiftly through town. The Transfort Bus System has 20 fixed routes criss-crossing the city, plus several specialty services for the disabled and disadvantaged. Buses run at regular intervals from six in the morning until ten o’clock at night, though a few commuter lines are only active during the middle of the day.

During summer, the city operates a trolley line that carries passengers between its two busiest attractions, Old Town and City Park. Open exclusively on weekends from May-September, it’s a fun way to move around the city. You can hop off anywhere along the route to enjoy a drink, grab a meal, or buy an ice cream cone to enjoy along the way. It’s even available to rent for parties, engagements, and weddings!

Bike Friendly Infrastructure

In addition to its rapid and reliable public transit system, Fort Collins also maintains more than 200 miles of dedicated bike lanes, plus another 50 miles of marked or signed bike routes. These create an alternate transportation grid that connects every neighborhood in the city, as well as the surrounding countryside. Cyclists can explore the Poudre River Trail, which meanders along the banks of Colorado’s only nationally designated wild and scenic waterway, or zip along the Spring Creek Trail linking the eastern and western halves of the city.

The paved, soft-surface paths are gently graded, making them accessible and easy to navigate for all bikers, regardless of their ability. What’s more, the city has established incentive programs to encourage residents to take advantage of its cycling infrastructure, including:

  • SPIN. A bike share program that rents scooters and e-bikes to residents through a smartphone app, with convenient pick-up and drop off stations all over the city.
  • Bike Co-Op. A volunteer organization that repairs and maintains bicycles for residents. It also runs a donation center, providing bikes to socially and financially challenged individuals and families.
  • Bike Parking Program. To encourage more people to adopt cycling, the city has installed public bike racks outside popular businesses and destinations downtown. New bike corrals have increased capacity even further, replacing on-street car parking spaces with stands that can accommodate 10-20 bicycles.
  • Bike Bingo. To help familiarize children with the city’s bikeways, parks, natural areas, neighborhoods, and public art, Fort Collins created a bicycle bingo game. After completing all five challenges, your kids will be experts on the city’s bike network.

Family Friendly Environment

Fort Collins is a fun and exciting place to raise a family. Besides its tight-knit community, the city also offers:

  • Excellent Schools. Fort Collins is part of the Poudre School District, which operates 31 elementary schools, ten middle schools, four high schools, three alternative high schools, five charter schools, one hybrid school, one online school, and six choice schools around the city. Qualified teachers, small class sizes, and advanced coursework have made it one of the best educational programs in the state, reflected in its high graduation rates and outstanding test scores.
  • Parks and Playgrounds. Almost every household in Fort Collins lives within a 10 minute walk of a park. Besides play structures, kids have access to disc golf, tennis, basketball, pickleball, volleyball, horseshoe pits, skateboarding facilities, fitness courses, BMX bike tracks, and splash pads where they can cool during summer. Older children can even practice archery!
  • Wholesome Entertainment. When it comes to keeping their kids entertained, parents living in Fort Collins have a lot of options. The Museum of Discovery helps kids learn about science and technology through interactive games and exhibits. The Lagoon Summer Concert Series lets them experience some of the best funk, soul, and folk bands in the state. They can swim, skate, and play hockey at the Edora Pool and Ice Center. Thrill seekers can check out the ziplines, hanging chair, and ropes course at the Open Air Adventure Park. For birthdays, head down to Fort Fun ‒ Northern Colorado’s number one destination for laser tag, go-karts, and mini-golf.

Year-Round Adventure

Perhaps the greatest benefit of living in Fort Collins is its proximity to nature. Situated at the base of the Rocky Mountains, Fort Collins offers unparalleled access to the outdoors. Even though it snows regularly throughout most of the year, the snow rarely lasts longer than a week, giving you plenty of opportunities for:

  • Hiking. Explore rolling hills, grasslands, crystal lakes, and alpine forests. Not even the snow deters local mountaineers. After a blizzard, they snap on a pair of snowshoes and go out to marvel at the white, wintery landscape.
  • Biking. The plains, rivers, and valleys outside the town provide an inspiring backdrop for bikers as they traverse winding tracks and rocky terrain. Whether you're looking for a casual ride, an invigorating challenge, or heart-stopping excitement, you’ll be certain to find a trail on your level.
  • Fishing. The wilderness outside Fort Collins is dotted with prime fishing spots, including Horsetooth Reservoir, Poudre Canyon, and the McMurray Nature Area, where you can catch plenty of bluegill, walleye, yellow perch, and smallmouth bass.
  • Skiing. Skiers and snowboarders looking for killer runs can tear up the slopes at Loveland, Echo Mountain, Seven Utes, Eldora Mountain and Arapahoe Basin, where they’ll find paths, courses, and trails packed deep with powder.

Moving to Fort Collins

At Allied, our mission is to take the stress out of moving. Our agents aren’t only equipped to handle shipping, but they’ll coordinate every aspect of your move, from packing to storage to final delivery and setup. We tailor our services to your needs, providing all the resources you require to plan and prepare with ease. Contact us today for a free quote!

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