In Searching for a Perfect Small Mountain Town

In light of the desperate desire to convince Mr. CodeJunkie to move to Colorado, we made a week long trip out there in January to see what it’s like to live next to the mountains. I have conducted a very caveman style experiment of comparing living expenses in Colorado vs. Bentonville.

I visited two grocery stores while in Colorado. One in Estes Park outside of Rocky Mountain National Park, and one in Colorado Springs (Old Colorado City King Sooper). Below are the results.

NW ArkansasEstes Park,
Colorado
%
Banana$0.42$1.38228.57%
Coconut Milk$1.98$4.99152.02%
Jasmine Rice$17.48$27.9860.07%
Salad$4.96$7.9860.97%
Seltzer Water$3.38$4.9947.63%
Chicken Thighs$8.65$22.06154.96%
Ground Beef$13.97$10.83-22.51%
Shin Noodles$6.76$7.297.84%
Total$57.61$87.5051.90%

Estes Park was noticeably higher than Bentonville (by 52% to be exact). We noticed it even before walking out of the store because a bag of groceries usually costing us about $50 at home were $105 that night. The only thing on this list that was cheaper than Bentonville was the ground beef, which actually isn’t very true because in Estes Park we only found 80% lean beef while we usually eat 93% lean at home (more expensive beef). 

NW ArkansasColorado Springs,
Colorado
%
Dark Chocolate$3.18$2.99-5.97%
Banana$0.21$0.49133.33%
Potatoes$2.47$1.99-19.43%
Sausage$4.98$4.990.20%
Barilla Pasta$1.28$1.4916.41%
Coconut Milk$1.98$2.3920.71%
Noodles$2.88$2.79-3.13%
Jasmine Rice$17.48$19.9914.36%
Total$34.46$37.127.72%

Colorado Springs was a lot more friendlier to my wallet than Estes Park. Some of the items are even cheaper than Bentonville, which is surprising considering Walmart pride themselves to be “the lowest price retailer.” 

Even though Colorado Springs is quite comparable to Northwest Arkansas in terms of groceries, real estate is a slightly different story. A 3 bedroom 2 bath usually costs about 220k in Bentonville will cost at least 300k in Colorado Springs. This alone will set us back for a good 80k (which is about 1.5 years) behind on our early retirement calculation. However, the impeccable location near the mountains, rock climbing areas, and many impressive hiking spots makes Colorado Springs an easy decision.

Colorado Springs is a great next-step city in the next 2 years. In the meantime, we plan on visiting Wyoming, Utah, Oregon, and Washington in hoping to find similar small economical mountain towns not too far away from a good airport. Comment below if you have any suggestions!