Westminster, Colorado is a vibrant city that has a seemingly perfect balance between living in a big city and having access to the beautiful mountains nearby. In my experience living there for 19 years, I found many reasons to love and hate Westminster. It is important to consider the large variety of downsides when it comes to moving there, and I will talk about them below.
Colorado was the first state to legalize weed and it is incredibly obvious, even in the smaller cities. In Westminster, there is one dispensary in town. In the surrounding area, the number goes up substantially.
I remember driving on the highway and seeing two or three dispensaries right off the road. There are a variety of laws to restrict marijuana use, such as having to be 21 years old to buy it recreationally. Yet, that doesn’t seem to stop people from overusing and misusing it. I had several friends in high school who smoked pot. Some even grow their own plants at home.
Beyond the casual use, some people become a danger to themselves and others under the influence of marijuana. Unlike alcohol, there is no defined way to check and measure how high someone is. So, people who have smoked can drive under the influence and not realize how dangerous it is until it is too late. There are even some stories of people jumping off buildings without realizing it due to the drug’s influence.
Unless an individual enjoys marijuana or does not care about it, the use of marijuana in all age groups and its overuse should be heavily considered by those thinking of moving there.
2. Drug Use
In Westminster, there are twelve other drugs that are considered prevalent:
- Magic Mushrooms
- Anabolic Steroids
Colorado, as a whole, has a large and prominent issue with drug use. In a study, Colorado was ranked 9th out of 50 for rates of drug abuse.
Locally, there are not nearly as many reports on drug use. An indicator of how large a problem this is in the community is the fact that there are 6 local drug rehab centers and 14 more in the nearby area. It is good that there are many options of places that offer help to those in need. But Westminster is not a large city geographically, so to have this many rehabilitation centers is alarming.
3. Suicide Rate
The suicide rate in Colorado has been high for a long time. While I was in high school, there was typically 1 person every year who would die of suicide from my high school alone. Other high schools had similar problems. According to the CDC, there have been 1,302 deaths that have occurred because of suicide in Colorado.
It was a dark spot in my childhood and early adult years. It was an incredibly taxing experience for individuals and for the community to have so many lives lost to mental illness.
Many suppose the suicide rate in Colorado is high due to different factors specific to Colorado, such as the snow and lack of consistent sunlight/warm temperatures in the winter months. However, there is no clear or definite reason why this is the case. All we know is that the rate is increasing nationwide, and Colorado’s rate is almost double that of the national rate.
4. Crime Rate
The crime rate in Colorado, especially Westminster, is dismal. The national crime rate per square mile is 26.9. In Westminster, the crime rate per square mile is 129! That is around a 480% increase in crime. Luckily, most of these crimes are property crimes. However, an individual in Westminster is almost twice as likely to be a victim of a property crime than others nationwide.
This is a highly concerning statistic because property crimes cover a wide range of criminal activities. It can be as simple and harmless as trespassing or as intense as car robbery or vandalization. No one wants to get their stuff damaged or stolen. Thus, it would be wise to consider these facts before moving there.
Construction is a huge problem in Westminster, Colorado. A prime example is the Westminster Mall. The mall was getting a renovation that started around August 2013. It is still under construction in August 2022 and is planned to be under development for the next 10-20 years. This is a ridiculous amount of time to be spent renovating a mall.
In other areas of construction, a similar pattern is commonplace. This lack of urgency in construction can lead to a large amount of frustration and noise, especially when it comes to road construction.
6. Road Quality
The roads in Westminster have a large discrepancy in quality. Some of the roads are super nice and smooth, others are not so lucky. The city has a list of projects they plan on starting and finishing every year, but they often don’t start or finish them. In 2021, they were supposed to finish many resurfacing projects. Yet, they are just being completed in June 2022. This is because of two main problems: a lack of resources and weather.
Westminster is a city where nasty weather can come quickly and unexpectedly. This leads to many projects being started and worked on at a snail’s pace. If a person is not willing to handle detours/construction on roadways, Westminster is truly not the city for them.
The scenery available in Westminster is minimal. This seems odd to many people, as there are the beautiful Rocky Mountains nearby. However, Westminster is just close enough to Denver to have a limited view. The businesses, neighborhoods, and even trees can block and impede the view of the mountains.
The area is also busy enough that it takes immense effort to capture beautiful moments. If someone is not consciously searching for natural scenes, the majority of Westminster is homes and shopping centers. It can become standard and boring after a while.
8. Population Size
The population of Westminster, Colorado is another important factor to consider. Westminster is the eighth largest city in Colorado with around 119,001 people as of 2021. Usually, towns of this size have some unique things to offer like fancy restaurants or cool businesses. Yet, Westminster is rather stereotypical for a decent-sized city. In order to see or do many activities, people need to travel to Denver or Boulder. This can be frustrating and time-consuming for people living there.
This population size can also be detrimental if someone prefers small towns. There are not nearly as many community events as people prefer in small towns. There is also a culture in the area where people don’t really reach out to each other. Some will, but oftentimes, even neighbors don’t really have tight bonds. Some people have never even met their neighbors even though the people in each house have lived there for years.
9. Political Atmosphere
With Denver nearby, Westminster has become a more politically intense area. The majority of people in Westminster continue to vote democratically during elections. People in the area also tend to be the kind of people who will go out and go to protests or parades. This can lead to a strong division between people if they are not willing to listen and understand each other.
10. Religious Atmosphere
The religious atmosphere in Westminster, Colorado is pretty much nonexistent. People in Westminster usually are not the most outwardly religious people. Many say they are spiritual, but not religious. There are a few that do attend church or follow a faith. Most of the religious people in Westminster are Christians, but there are a few exceptions.
If a person values being vocal about religion or doesn’t prefer having typical Christian values being tested, this city might not be for them.
11. Living Expenses
The average cost of living after rent for an individual in Westminster is $1,898 a month. This is a massive cost, putting it in the top 11 percent of the most expensive cities to live in worldwide! In order to cover that kind of living expense, a person must be willing to work an incredibly large number of hours or be making a large amount of money. Either way, most people cannot afford to pay that kind of expense monthly.
12. Cost of Rent/Mortgage
When breaking down living costs a little more, it is sad to say that the majority of the cost of living is rent. The average cost of rent with utilities is around $1,195 a month. In comparison to other places, this can be up to $300 more a month! This drastic increase makes it nearly impossible for someone to move out on their own without roommates or significant financial help.
The housing market in Westminster is also skyrocketing in price. The median price of a home in Westminster is $505,100. With houses selling for over half a million dollars on average, a person needs to deeply consider the price and what kind of home they will be able to afford if they choose to move to Westminster.
13. Too Many Houses
In Westminster, they are constantly building more and more homes every day. This has led to a ton of crowding. Near my old home, there used to be a big, grassy field full of groundhogs that would pop up every now and then. Now, it is home to a massive number of apartments. If a person values having a yard, backyard, or garden, they would be severely disappointed in the options that Westminster has.
14. Lack of Small Businesses
One of the saddest parts about Westminster is that it doesn’t have a variety of options for people to shop at. Most of the options available to people are places that can be found nearly anywhere else in the country. These include places like Walmart, Target, the Dollar Store, Old Navy, and many more! I didn’t even realize that there were other grocery stores, like Smith’s or Piggly Wiggly, or any other kind of smaller store until I moved.
There is nothing bad about having an abundance of brand-name places nearby, but it does make it hard for small businesses to get a foot in the door.
15. Overabundance of College Students
In Westminster, there are 3 colleges in town. These 3 colleges have (in total) around 20,000 students. With these 20,000 students come the different issues of a college town, such as drug use, alcohol use, car accidents, and noise complaints. These students can help with keeping entry-level jobs alive but are not as helpful to the community. If a person is not open to seeing or being around college students, Westminster is not a city for them.
Traffic in Westminster can be pretty nasty at times. Around rush hour there are intersections a person might sit at for several minutes before they can go. One intersection that comes vividly to mind is the intersection between West 92nd Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard. This intersection is right next to a large hub of businesses and usually is packed. A car could wait in the left turn lane for 5 minutes before being able to go. There also have been a few fatal accidents on West 92nd Avenue and one on a portion of Sheridan Boulevard, which brings additional concern.
The other struggle with Westminster traffic is that there are a ton of highways and 4 lane roads. For families with younger children or young adults that need to learn how to drive, this can be a terrifying experience. Traffic is a big detriment to living in Westminster.
Colorado is infamous for having intensely diverse weather. One of the craziest aspects of growing up in Westminster, Colorado was that the weather changed nearly daily. There are flash floods, hailstorms, fog, tornados, and fire warnings that can happen regardless of the season. A funny example of this from my experience is that it nearly always snows on Halloween but rarely snows on Christmas. In order to enjoy Westminster, a person should be okay with random bursts of snow and heat throughout the year.