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Which city is better: Denver or Colorado Springs?

Denver7 is going 360 to look at all sides
Posted: 8:06 PM, Aug 06, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-07 05:51:08Z

Editor's Note: Denver7 360 stories explore multiple sides of the topics that matter most to Coloradans, bringing in different perspectives so you can make up your own mind about the issues. To comment on this or other 360 stories, email us at  360@TheDenverChannel.com . See more 360 stories  here

DENVER -- Denver and Colorado Springs — are we rivals or friends? And which city is better to live in?

Several recent surveys are giving the nod to Colorado Springs.

U.S. News and World Report ranked Colorado Springs as the second-best place to live in 2018 , and the most desirable city in the country . Meanwhile, Denver was ranked as the third-best place to live and barely squeaked into the top ten for desirability.

The state demography office also recently predicted  that over the next decade Colorado Springs will surpass Denver as the state's largest city.

Did these surveys get it right? Or are they all wrong? It depends who you ask!

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers weighed in on the hype of Olympic City U.S.A, and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock shared his perspective on what he thinks makes the Mile-High City great.

Let's start with Colorado Springs.

"Denver's a great city, but Denver is a big city. It has quite a bit of traffic congestion," said Mayor Suthers.

There's no denying it, Colorado Springs has less traffic and faster commute times than its neighbor up north, but drivers might as well throw in the towel if they want to drive between the two cities.

"Monument to Castle Rock, I think has one of the worst traffic situations in the country," said Suthers.

The Colorado Springs metro area also has fewer people than Denver's metro, with a population of a little over 700,000; while metro Denver is home to nearly 3 million people.

"Prices are going up, but still at this point and time it's much more affordable," said Suthers.

Which brings us to another win for Colorado Springs: It's more affordable to live in and buy a house.

The average single-family home in the springs is selling for $350,000, according to June figures from the Colorado Association of Realtors . In Denver, a single-family home costs $590,000 on average.

"We feed off each other. Denver was first with its growth, and impacts and now you're seeing what's happened in Denver some five years ago, beginning to happen in Colorado Springs," explained Mayor Hancock.  

While living in Denver comes at a cost, the Mile-High City beats the Springs when it comes to its job market. Denver's unemployment rate is 2.4 percent, while Colorado Springs is 2.9  percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statics.

"You've got the capital city here. Most of your corporate headquarters are in Denver," said Hancock.

Denver residents are also more likely to make more than their neighbors down south. The average weekly wage in Denver is more than $1,300 compared to a thousand dollars in the Springs.

"There's a lot to do in Denver. Never a down time, unless you chose to do it intentionality, that you can just be down and bored," said Hancock.

That's another win for Denver, one not easily tracked by a metric. The Mile-High City is booming with activity: nightlife, restaurants and all the lures of big city living.

Now that we've broken down the pros and cons let's take this matchup to the streets to get perspectives from people living in each city.

"I love living in this area because we can really literally walk out of our backyard and be on a trail," said Colorado Springs resident Kerr McGee.

McGee recently moved to the Springs from Austin. For her and her wife, she said it was the lure of the mountains, and slower way of life, mixed with the essential amenities of city living the Springs provides.

"We wanted to be somewhere that was still like a city but not quite so much city," said McGee. "There are a lot of birds in our backyard that is not in Denver (laughing).

The flip side of her argument comes from Denver transplant Mike McArthur.

"I love the fact that it's vibrant, and growing and being close to the mountains," he said.

McArthur also just moved to Colorado, but he came from Los Angeles. He has spent time in the Springs but believes Denver has much more to offer and is worth the price.

"Listen I came from L.A., so things feel very affordable here," said McArthur.

Other views speak to each cities reputation.

Denver is seen as more urban; Colorado Springs more suburban. Denver more progressive; Colorado Springs more conservative.

Mayor Suther's believes his city gets a bad rep for being religious.

When in reality, he said, "no more percentage of the population goes to church here than any other big city in America."

While each city has its positives and negatives, both mayors agree on one thing: It's pretty cool to have Colorado's two largest cities on the map, no matter their ranking.

"What we really have to do is bring Denver and Colorado Springs together and figure out how we take out cities like Austin," said Hancock.