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LEO salary vs. cost of living throughout CO, how do you all fare?

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  • LEO salary vs. cost of living throughout CO, how do you all fare?

    I've seen a great deal of cities, towns, and sheriff's departments hiring right now throughout CO, and am attempting to gather all the facts as I look for my next job. I'll be ETSing from the Army early next year, and am planning as of now on starting my LEO career in CO. My fear is that every corner I look around, it appears the cost of living is astoundingly high throughout CO, and I'm not just talking Denver, Golden, Fort Collins, or Colorado Springs, etc, but basically everywhere. The only areas I've seen that are reasonable thus far are Greeley and Pueblo, when compared to the national averages. Now the state taxes don't seem bad, and are lower than many other states, so its primarily the median home values and rent that I'm concerned about. Maybe its that I'm from MI, where the housing is cheaper than dirt due to a failed market and bank forclosures which have made me spoiled and jaded in opinion, but CO just seems housing is high for reasons I cannot figure out.

    I'm researching like a mad man, and documenting as much information as possible to make educated decisions on where I call home next. But at the same time, you got to go where the jobs are too, which is why I'm asking the broad questions I am here.

    So I wanted to ask, how well do you all fare in your city? Are the departments for the most part salary wise enough to offset the high cost of living I'm seeing virtually everywhere? Do you have recommendations on good areas that seem more affordable with potentially hiring departments you would recommend?

    I thank you all for your time! God Bless.

    - Erik
    Last edited by Vikingr; 09-12-2014, 10:26 AM.
    "Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight."

    Sergeant, U.S. Army - 2010 to Present.

  • #2
    *not a LEO*
    If I could offer advice I would say look at agencies outside the Denver Metro. Cost of living is cheaper outside of the metro area. And competition for agencies within the suburbs of denver is instance. I would suggest looking at S/Os in the mountains to start, CSP, or going to the academy. I've been testing/applying the past two years and get squashed by guys with POST/degrees or both. A little word of advice as well, if you don't have anything against the heat NM, TX, AZ are hiring like crazy for LEOs and most agencies have or sponsor cadets. I've directed my attention that way. First, there is still some shred of understanding of rights w/in the state/local governments and the cost of living is a lot cheaper. Regardless best of luck to you.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by B00K3MD4NN0 View Post
      *not a LEO*
      If I could offer advice I would say look at agencies outside the Denver Metro. Cost of living is cheaper outside of the metro area. And competition for agencies within the suburbs of denver is instance. I would suggest looking at S/Os in the mountains to start, CSP, or going to the academy.
      I don't think putting yourself through an academy is bad advice, but if you're concerned about cost of living being a deputy sheriff in the mountains isn't a good idea. It's a great place to start your career and some people end up loving the lifestyle so much they stay in spite of the low pay and higher cost of living, but it's tough to get ahead. Most mountain police/sheriff's departments pay quite a bit less than Front Range police and sheriff's departments. The cost of living in in the mountains especially the resort areas is very high even in comparison to the metro area. There are some good departments in northern and southern Colorado along the Front Range and they pay comparable to the metro area departments. Cops in medium and large sized agencies here are paid pretty well compared to a lot of other states. It is competitive, but most departments I'm aware of are experiencing a lot of retirements right now so there are opportunities out there.

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      • #4
        GVBD59 hit the nail on the head. Just an FYI any place in Greeley or Pueblo that is cheaper is not a place you're going to want to live (especially being a cop)

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        • #5
          I thank you for your service to this great nation.

          Shotgun spraying pellets may work for duck hunting but its a bad way to start a career.....

          Pick a location/area/lifestyle (not being the entire state) you want to live and then select from the available jobs and bennies. The only thing Colorado doesn't have is an ocean view, otherwise you're looking at VERY different circumstances statewide. It sounds like your current procedure for finding work here in Colorado is gonna be doomed to disappointment and 'grass is always greener' syndrome. Good luck.
          Harry S. Truman, (1884-1972)
          “Never kick a fresh turd on a hot day.”

          Capt. E.J. Land USMC,
          “Just remember – life is hard. But it’s one hell of a lot harder if you’re stupid.

          George Washington, (1732-1799)
          "I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man."

          Originally posted by Country_Jim
          ... Thus far, I am rooting for the zombies.

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          • #6
            Firstly, thank you all for the replies!

            Originally posted by B00K3MD4NN0 View Post
            *not a LEO*
            If I could offer advice I would say look at agencies outside the Denver Metro. Cost of living is cheaper outside of the metro area. And competition for agencies within the suburbs of denver is instance. I would suggest looking at S/Os in the mountains to start, CSP, or going to the academy. I've been testing/applying the past two years and get squashed by guys with POST/degrees or both. A little word of advice as well, if you don't have anything against the heat NM, TX, AZ are hiring like crazy for LEOs and most agencies have or sponsor cadets. I've directed my attention that way. First, there is still some shred of understanding of rights w/in the state/local governments and the cost of living is a lot cheaper. Regardless best of luck to you.
            I've definitely been looking into the Denver metro area, including Aurora, Lakewood, etc. There are some prospects there, and the cost of living does seem a lot more reasonable. And you're probably right, getting POST certified from the get go may not be a bad idea, I do already have 140ish college credits, so that should help.

            Originally posted by GVBD59 View Post
            I don't think putting yourself through an academy is bad advice, but if you're concerned about cost of living being a deputy sheriff in the mountains isn't a good idea. It's a great place to start your career and some people end up loving the lifestyle so much they stay in spite of the low pay and higher cost of living, but it's tough to get ahead. Most mountain police/sheriff's departments pay quite a bit less than Front Range police and sheriff's departments. The cost of living in in the mountains especially the resort areas is very high even in comparison to the metro area. There are some good departments in northern and southern Colorado along the Front Range and they pay comparable to the metro area departments. Cops in medium and large sized agencies here are paid pretty well compared to a lot of other states. It is competitive, but most departments I'm aware of are experiencing a lot of retirements right now so there are opportunities out there.
            Thats some solid advice, thank you. Its the kind of insider information like this that I really needed, should help me narrow down some areas.

            Originally posted by kaju View Post
            GVBD59 hit the nail on the head. Just an FYI any place in Greeley or Pueblo that is cheaper is not a place you're going to want to live (especially being a cop)
            Noted haha, well then I'll write those areas off. I guess trying to pinch pennies isn't always the best plan.

            Originally posted by Langford PR View Post
            I thank you for your service to this great nation.

            Shotgun spraying pellets may work for duck hunting but its a bad way to start a career.....

            Pick a location/area/lifestyle (not being the entire state) you want to live and then select from the available jobs and bennies. The only thing Colorado doesn't have is an ocean view, otherwise you're looking at VERY different circumstances statewide. It sounds like your current procedure for finding work here in Colorado is gonna be doomed to disappointment and 'grass is always greener' syndrome. Good luck.
            Thank you Langford! You are absolutely right, and I'm trying to narrow things down. I'm an avid outdoorsman, hiking, hunting, mountain biking, camping, trail running, etc. The Army has spoiled me when it comes to mountains, and I want to make sure I'm situated near some for my next home. You're likely right, and I'm already kind of driving myself crazy trying to "calculate" and figure out where the grass is greener, but.. I have a feeling its green just about everywhere, if you look hard enough. I'm going to attempt to narrow down and at least select a few places I like, and take a road trip up there after I'm back stateside from deployment.

            Thanks again guys!

            EDIT: I'm honestly liking the looks of the Golden/Lakewood/Jefferson County area, think I'm going to pursue that.
            Last edited by Vikingr; 09-14-2014, 02:59 PM.
            "Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight."

            Sergeant, U.S. Army - 2010 to Present.

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