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The Cost of Living Diaries: Pueblo, CO

Get the inside scoop on what it's like to be a local in this Southern Colorado city.

By Lindsey Hyde on April 7, 2023

Solar Roast Coffee has five locations in the Pueblo, CO, region.
Jeff Adkins

Welcome to The Cost of Living Diaries. How much does it cost to live in Pueblo, CO? What’s it like to own a business here? Keep reading because we asked a Pueblo local to tell us all about the cost of living in this southern Colorado City!

Sunny days, friendly neighbors, great food, affordable living and excellent job opportunities – Pueblo provides a quality of life that can’t be duplicated. Mike Hartkop moved to Pueblo from Oregon 15 years ago. Today, he is the co-founder of Solar Roast Coffee, which has five locations in the Pueblo area.

Mike Hartkop of Solar Roast Coffee, which has five locations in the Pueblo, CO, region.

Mike Hartkop
Solar Roast Coffee

What brought you to Pueblo?
(My brother and I) came here because we wanted to roast coffee using solar power. I found Pueblo on a search for the sunniest cities in the United States, and Pueblo was tied for 13th. The other thing we were looking for at the time was a city with a university, which Pueblo has; a city with a river, which Pueblo has two; and a city with water. We have Lake Pueblo here.

How would you describe Pueblo and its residents?
The people are very friendly. They’re very interested in what other people are doing. They’re very family based. People from Pueblo typically are from Pueblo, and there are generations of people that are here. What that gives you is a lot of really old restaurants that have been around for a long time (and) a lot of specific traditions to the region … You meet somebody, and then you can really meet their entire family, like three generations, so that’s pretty fascinating.

How affordable is housing in the area?
If you have a middle-class income, you can get a five- or six-bedroom house for like $500,000, which in Colorado Springs or Denver is going to be $750,000 or more. It’s really set up here for young professionals trying to get their first step out in the real world.

What’s your favorite restaurant in Pueblo, and about how much would dinner and drinks be for two?
Probably La Forchetta da Massi. It’s a family-owned Italian restaurant, and it’s the sort of place where you walk in, and all the tables are taken. It’s very rare to have to wait for tables in Pueblo. It has a nice, long bar. It’s a romantic sort of restaurant, and it’s pretty tight quarters. It’s the sort of place where people dress up to go eat. In the back, there’s a really nice outdoor patio. You’re going to be under $100 for (dinner and drinks for two).

Since you own a coffee shop, we won’t ask you to pick a favorite. What’s your go-to and how much does it cost?
Solar Roast Coffee is 100%-certified organic coffee that’s roasted using the only commercial-powered solar coffee roaster. The cafes have really funky art. (My go-to is) a café latte. A medium would cost probably $4.50.

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