The pandemic certainly left a mark on the world, altering the way in which we live our lives, including such an important aspect as employment. In March 2020, companies all over the world sent their employees home, transitioning into entirely remote work environments — and many have stayed that way with no plan on returning to in-person work. In fact, a Gallup poll showed that around 60% of workers in the U.S. were working from home full-time in late March 2020, which was up significantly from about 10% before the pandemic. And perhaps even more noteworthy, Gallup also reported that about two-thirds of remote workers wished to stay that way.
This massive shift to remote work has significantly impacted real estate all over the country, as homeowners are reevaluating the very idea of home. Guest bedrooms were transformed into home offices, garages became gym studios, and dining rooms doubled as homeschooling headquarters. Many began seeking more square footage to hold all aspects of their life, as their homes functioned as a sanctuary and safe haven during a particularly difficult and chaotic time.
Not to mention, the pandemic has unveiled a completely new term for real estate: Zoom Towns. A play on the term “boom town,” popularized during the oil boom in the west, a Zoom town refers to a community that has experienced significant migration with the rise of remote work, especially in the wake of the pandemic. It is, of course, nodding to Zoom, everyone’s favorite video conferencing tool that we’ve seemed to live on since March 2020.
Zoom towns typically are situated outside of major cities, are close to open spaces like national and state parks, and provide a relatively lower cost of living. So as you can imagine, Colorado is a hotspot for Zoom towns, as we have an abundance of remote mountain towns scattered throughout the Rockies, several of which are within reach of Denver. Many have relocated to these towns, prioritizing the quality of life that they provide over big-city amenities, which they can still access if needed.
Let’s take a tour of the most popular Zoom towns in Colorado, from some Northern Colorado favorites to some secluded mountain towns. If you’re looking to relocate with your laptop and your dog, these just might be the place! All you need is a good WiFi connection and a sense of adventure.
Centennial has made a name for itself as one of the top Zoom towns in the entire country, so it deserves a spot at the top of our list. Established in 2001, this southern suburb of Denver is one of the newest cities in the state — and yet, it is quickly emerging as one of the largest, home to more than 110,000 residents. It was originally prized for its proximity to the Denver Tech Center, which many Centennial residents could easily commute to. And now, it is a well-established Zoom town, as many are working from home while enjoying access to the variety of amenities in the city, plus additional attractions just up I-25 in Denver.
Centennial has a variety of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and all the other necessities you need — like a Target, Costco and Trader Joe’s! Plus, there is plenty of green space to explore, including Centennial Center Park and the massive Cherry Creek State Park, just northeast of the city.
Named for the abundance of evergreen trees surrounding the town, Evergreen is an adorable town just 30–45 minutes west of Denver in the foothills of Jefferson County. This unincorporated town of about 10,000 features a historic Main Street lined with bistros and cafes, gift shops, coffee shops, live music venues, art galleries, plus all the services you might need. Plus, with Bear Creek flowing by and Evergreen Lake nearby, there is no shortage of water to kayak or swim in — not to mention, exceptional scenery all around. This is an idyllic town to settle down in, as it has a tight-knit community, and is just a short drive away from Denver for big-city amenities.
Even more remote is the quaint mountain town of Aspen, a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders from all over the country. In fact, you could say it’s a place where people “instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano.” (Dumb and Dumber, anyone?) With a charming historic downtown, stunning scenery, and outstanding recreation, it is attractive for both visitors and residents alike. In fact, many families moved here during the pandemic, resulting in higher enrollment numbers for Aspen schools this past fall. With a population of under 10,000, Aspen is an excellent choice for those looking for a small-town feel, where you can easily get to know your neighbors and get involved in the local community.
We may be a bit partial to this one, as many of us here at The Group choose to call Fort Collins home. But for very good reason! During the pandemic, there was a massive migration from bigger cities like Denver to Northern Colorado, with a particular focus on one of the area’s largest cities, Fort Collins. With CSU in our midst, a family-friendly atmosphere, and immediate access to outdoor recreation, this town of more than 165,000 has become a popular destination for remote workers. Many have taken advantage of the opportunity to work from wherever, placing a higher value on quality of life, which is certainly something that Fort Collins provides.
One of the city’s most alluring features is our historic Old Town, which contains some of Fort Collins’ best local businesses, from restaurants and bars to art galleries and boutiques. And those living in Old Town are within walking distance of these attractions — while remaining close to I-24 to access other nearby cities — including Denver to the south. But Fort Collins is constantly growing and expanding, with a variety of new construction communities to choose from.
Also in Northern Colorado, the mountain town of Estes Park has become a home base for those exploring the renowned Rocky Mountain National Park, which attracts more than 4.5 million visitors each year. And more recently, with the flexibility of remote work, it has become the hometown for many, who crave the peace and tranquility of mountain living, with top-tier outdoor recreation in their backyard. Estes Park is a year-round community with nearly 6,000 residents. The downtown offers unique shops, galleries, restaurants and places to explore. The area is dotted with cozy cabins and mountain retreats, which serve as both primary and secondary residences. In fact, there is always the option to live part-time in Estes Park — spending the spring and summer in the mountains and the fall and winter in a larger city, or vice versa.
Interested in Retreating to Estes Park? We can help with that, too! Contact us to learn more about the unique opportunities awaiting in Estes Park.
Photo Courtesy of Eddyl, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
A March 2021 article from the Wall Street Journal explored the reshaping of America’s geography, specifically examining the emergence of Zoom towns. “Smaller cities like Gilbert, Arizona, Boulder, Colorado, Bentonville, Arkansas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma have joined the competition as well, some of them launching initiatives specifically designed to appeal to remote workers.” Even though Boulder is just 35-45 minutes from Denver, it remains its own contained community, with a thriving downtown, abundance of educational opportunities, and beautiful homes. It has long been a satellite community of Denver, providing a more laid-back pace of life for city dwellers. Just one downside that needs to be mentioned: with a 2021 median home price of $865,000, Boulder is increasingly becoming more expensive, making it a less attainable destination for home buyers. So why not consider one of the nearby communities that offer a lower price tag, like Longmont or Berthoud?
Are you looking to call one of these Zoom towns your home? We are happy to help with your relocation to Northern Colorado! The Group Real Estate has a strong presence in NoCo, from Fort Collins to Estes Park, and a number of communities in between. Contact us to get connected to a local real estate agent.