People move to Denver for job opportunities, access to amazing outdoor recreation in the Rocky Mountains, and to be where the action is. No matter what brings you to Denver, this city is easy to love and hard to leave. Situated on a high plain one mile above sea level and surrounded by mountains, Denver is an up-and-coming city with a vibrant young vibe.
Locals love the almost constant sunshine in The Mile High City. Skies are bluer, and the stars are brighter – it’s true! Known as a top beer producing and consuming city, with an innovative and exciting food scene, Denver has plenty to make your taste buds tingle.
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Living in Denver, CO: What to Know Before Moving to Denver
Denver, the capital city of Colorado, is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, and for a good reason. Home to 716,492 Denverites who love basking in the abundance of year-round sunshine, this city is a mere 12 miles east of the Rocky Mountains’ foothills. The incredible mountainside location and its 14,000 acres of parks ensure that outdoor activity is never out of reach. If you’re an athlete, training in The Mile High city will give you an edge when you’re playing away from home.
With a majority of the population of Denver under the age of 44, this is a city bursting with youth and vitality, aka some killer nightlife. Whether you’re happiest sipping a craft beer, shopping for luxury goods, or scaling a rock climbing wall, there is something in Denver to make your heart sing. Welcome to your new home town!
Pros and Cons of Living in Denver
- The weather is unbeatable
- Access to outdoor activities–snow sports, cycling, fishing–you name it
- The food scene is exploding (in a good way!)
- Booming job market
- Incredibly good live music scene and venues (Red Rocks, we’re looking at you)
- Crazy good craft beer scene
- One of the dog-friendliest cities around
- Cost of living rising annually
- Really bad traffic
- Extremely dry air
- Expensive rent and home prices
- No beaches
- Lack of diversity
- Property Tax: Denver home values are higher than the national average, but the property tax rate in Denver is only .53%–less than half of the national average.
- Sales Tax: Denverites pay a fairly average amount in sales tax with a combined sales tax rate of 8.31%. This sales tax rate, combined with one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the country, makes it a very attractive place to set up a business.
- State Income Tax: Colorado’s state income tax is a flat 4.63% rate. This tax structure means that no matter your income level, you can plan on paying 4.63% on your taxable income.
Just under half, 47.1%, of Denver residents own their homes. This relatively low ownership has everything to do with high price tags for homes and a large population of young people, many who are just getting started in their professions. The Mile High City is currently topping the list for high-income renters, which has a trickle-down effect on the housing market, in keeping with a slowing of the national property market.
Nonetheless, the median rent price for a two-bedroom apartment in Denver is currently at $2,200, making it $1,010 more expensive than the national average. Renters may find Denver expensive compared to most other large cities, but the quality of life makes up for high housing costs. Nonetheless, there are still some good deals to be found in neighborhoods such as Southwestern Denver, Park Hill, Stapleton, Highland, and Capitol Hill.
Purchasing a home in Denver will be an expensive investment. The median home value is $422,400, a 2% rise over 2018, but Zillow forecasts a drop of 0.1% in 2020. The median list price in 2019 is $494,900, and the median price of homes sold is $403,700.
Cost of Living
Compared to the national cost of living index of 100, Denver’s cost of living is 144.2. Although Denverites pay more for living expenses, they get a lot for their money – it’s ranked the number two best place to live in the country. Utilities, groceries, and health care are slightly less expensive than the national average, while transportation costs and housing are decidedly more.
The median income in Denver, $76,643, is about 10% more than the median income in the state of $69,117, and almost $7,700 more than the national average. Based on Economic Policy Institute calculations, a single person living in Denver can expect to get by on $3,180 per month, but a couple with one child will need to earn around $6,462 per month to live reasonably well.
Weather & Natural Disasters
Denver is renowned for its almost perpetually sunny skies. But how sunny is it? With 300 sunny days a year, this is one city that lives up to the hype. You can look forward to sun-soaked, mostly dry weather, but with the occasional burst of wind, rain, hail, or snow – sometimes seemingly out of nowhere. Winter average temperatures hover just around freezing, but the sunny skies and dry air prevent it from being a biting cold. Summer averages are right around 70 degrees, with highs in the 80s, making for fantastic times spent outdoors.
Only adding to the dreaminess of Denver, it’s among the safest cities in the country when it comes to natural disaster threats. Hail in the summer and storms in the winter are about all there is to worry about in Denver. Mind you, hail the size of a golf ball can do its fair share of damage, but it can’t hold a candle to the devastation of fires and floods.
Economy & Job Market
Denver has enjoyed a booming job market for some time now, and it continues to grow. Denver job market growth is largely attributable to the aerospace and defense industries, tech startups, and, of course, the recreational cannabis industry.
The largest employers are Lockheed Martin, The University of Colorado, Frontier Airlines, HealthOne, University of Denver, United Airlines, and Kaiser Permanente. Job seekers are advised to look for jobs in engineering, higher education, healthcare, tech, and tourism. There is no shortage of jobs in Denver for those eager to work.
Traffic and Transportation
While Denver is known for being an environmentally-friendly city, most Denverites have personal vehicles. High car ownership may be due to wanting access to the abundance of weekend escapes, but most longtime residents complain about increasing commuter traffic during rush hour. Also, the sprawling nature of the city makes having a car a necessity for many folks. Despite complaints, the 46 minute commute time in Denver is just one minute longer than the national average.
Drivers get in and out of Denver mainly by interstate freeways. I-25 runs north-south, linking Denver to New Mexico and north to Wyoming. I-225 links to Aurora, east of Denver. I-70 is the east-west link from Utah to Maryland and gets snarled on weekends when locals hop on the interstate to access Rocky Mountain adventures.
Public transportation in Denver is inexpensive, convenient, and easy to use. The RTD light rail provides service to Boulder and Denver International Airport (DEN), as well as bus services for commuters. The main complaint of Denver’s public transportation system is that areas of high density are underserved. But many other aspects of it are on-point. It is expected to improve as the population continues to grow.
Denver’s walk score is above average at 61/100. And almost a dozen neighborhoods have walk scores in the 80s and 90s. Around 20 neighborhoods boast bike scores between 85 and 97. Downtown tops the list with a walk score of 91, a transit score of 89, and a bike score of 95. Generally speaking, Denver is a bike-friendly town with great walkability and above average public transportation.
What to Do in Denver
Denverites suffer an embarrassment of riches when it comes to things to do. The gastronomy of Denver is already great but getting even better by the day; lovers of the great outdoors have almost infinite options right outside their doorsteps; the city is chock full of arts and culture, and there are pro sports and exceptional shopping opportunities galore. In short, this is a city that’s got it going on.
Here are just a few examples:
Denver hasn’t always been known for its food scene, but that’s been steadily changing. From food halls to new-generation delis, Denver chefs are reinventing old concepts and making them new, fresh, and delicious. Don’t miss the Comal Heritage Food Incubator, where women from underserved neighborhoods dish up delightful ethnic food daily plus offer a special afternoon tea service on Thursdays. Beer lovers could easily call Denver their mecca, with so many microbreweries and beer tours that it could easily be the focus of a very tipsy vacation.
Denver is serving up arts and culture in large quantities, too. The Denver Art Museum is one of the largest art museums between the West Coast and Chicago. The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is a fantastic, interactive place to explore with kids of all ages. Seven art districts in the city hold First Friday art walks every month, and there is always fun street art to check out. The performing arts scene is rich and vibrant, with theater of all sorts for every taste. The Denver Orchestra is the only full-time orchestra in the region. Thanks to the dominant young culture in the city, many museums and institutions offer after-hours events complete with music and booze.
With over 5,000 acres of parks, playgrounds, golf courses, and trails, there is plenty of outdoor goodness to be found right inside the city limits. Water lovers can go kayaking in Confluence Park through manmade whitewater chutes or paddle across Smith Lake in Washington Park for a tranquil time in the sun. Proximity to the Rockies means that skiing and snowboarding are a short drive away in the winter; hiking, climbing, riding, and cycling are popular pastimes in the spring, fall, and summer. Denver Botanic Garden includes nature trails, a wildlife observation area, a treehouse, and more.
By population, Denver ranks as the smallest city in the country with so many professional sports teams — four in all. The Colorado Rockies are the Major League Baseball team. Their home games happen in the heart of downtown at Coors Field. The NFL’s Denver Broncos can be found in blue and white, playing home games at the Broncos Stadium at Mile High. The Colorado Avalanche, Denver’s beloved NHL hockey team, play home games September to April in the Pepsi Stadium. And of course, the Colorado Rapids, Denver’s own Major League Soccer team, can be found in their new home, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, from March to October.
Schools and Universities
Denver County School District No. 1 is the public school district of Denver, CO, serving around 92,331 students in the city in 207 schools. The school district is dedicated to increasing the quality of education provided to their large student base and had 72 schools nationally recognized as the best high schools in America in 2018.
The Denver area is home to a number of higher learning institutions including the private University of Denver (DU), the University of Colorado Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Regis University, Colorado School of Mines, Johnson & Wales University-Denver, Colorado Christian University, Community College of Denver, and Colorado Heights University. Two-year institutions include The Art Institute of Colorado, Lincoln College of Technology, and the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design.
Denver’s crime rates are slightly higher than the national average. Violent crimes rate 30.7 compared to the national average of 22.7. Property crimes rate 50.8, compared to the national average of 35.4. Most Denver residents report feeling safe, but there are pockets of high-crime along the northern and western boundaries of the city.
Denver residents rely on several providers for their utilities. Be sure to have your utility services either transferred or accounts opened well before your move-in date.
- Gas and Electricity: Xcel Energy is the primary provider of gas and electricity to both Denver and Colorado at large. To transfer service or start a new account, visit the website, or call 866-379-3072.
- Water: Denver Water has serviced the city of Denver for a century. To start new service, call Customer Care at 303-893-2444 from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm Monday through Friday.
- Waste Management: Waste Management of Colorado takes care of trash and recycling in Denver, as they have for over 50 years. To open an account, order bins, and discover your pick-up date, call 800-482-6406.
- Internet and Cable: For internet and cable, residents can choose between Comcast/Xfinity, Century Link, and DirectTV/DISH. Most people in Denver use Xfinity and begin their service by going online.
Best Neighborhoods in Denver, CO
True to its name, this is one of the most well-heeled neighborhoods in Denver, packed with sprawling mansions and well-manicured landscaping. Bounded by 8th Avenue to the north, E 1st Avenue to the south, Downing Street to the west, and York Street on the east, this is one of the best neighborhoods in the city.
Country Club is the ideal neighborhood for someone who seeks luxury living in the city with great access to parks and shopping. From within the neighborhood, the mature trees and chirping crickets offer the sensation of being deep in the woods. Just don’t expect much more than luxury, space, and quiet.
What Country Club lacks in amenities, it makes up for in location. It’s so close to Cherry Creek, Congress Park, and Capitol Hill that you don’t have to go far to meet all of your entertainment and shopping needs.
- Population – 3,170
- Home Price – Median home value $942,310
- Rent Price – Median rent $1,331
- Employers – Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, HealthONE, Oracle, Raytheon, University of Denver
- Schools – Bromwell Elementary School, Polaris at Ebert Elementary School, DSST: Byers Middle School, East High School, South High School
Something to try: Hit the links at the Denver Country Club.
Capitol Hill is one of the best places in Denver to live without a car. Bound on the north by Colfax Avenue, the south by 7th Avenue, Downing Street to the east, and Broadway to the west, this is the most densely populated part of the city. Capitol Hill has it all if you’re looking for a hip, artsy vibe with a big slice of history.
Dotted with mansions from the turn of the century and loaded with coffee shops, bars, restaurants, and music venues, this is just the place for someone who loves art, live music, and proper city living. Capitol Hill is a diverse and colorful community known for being LGBT friendly. Some 78% of the community rents, and rent prices are holding at an affordable rate, so far.
The location is wonderfully central with all the amenities you could need only minutes away by foot or bicycle. The proximity to Cheesman Park is a huge bonus for dog owners.
- Population – Just over 15,853
- Home Price – Median home value $209,187
- Rent Price – Median rent $1,006
- Employers – Kaiser Permanente, Great-West Financial, CenturyLink, Denver Health, Wells Fargo, University of Denver
- Schools – Polaris at Ebert Elementary School, Highline Academy, Creative Challenge Community, DSST: Byers Middle School, East High School, Denver Center for International Studies, Girls Athletic Leadership School High School
Something to try: Eat a vegetarian meal at the legendary City O’ City.
A five-minute ride from downtown, Cherry Creek is Denver’s high-end shopping and dining district. Bound by E 6th Avenue to the north, Colorado Boulevard to the east, Cherry Creek on the south, and University Boulevard to the west, access to the Cherry Creek Trail yields 42 miles of paved corridor for cycling, running, and walking.
While on the high end of budgets, Cherry Creek offers access to amenities and fantastic public transport, but don’t expect much in the way of nightlife. This neighborhood is made up of almost equal numbers of owners and renters – 51% of the community own their homes here. While family-friendly and welcoming, you can also expect many empty-nesters and retirees will be your neighbors.
Despite the cachet of high-end shopping, 70% of the 400 retailers in Cherry Creek North are locally-owned, making it fun to support local business while getting your shopping fix.
- Population – 7,140
- Home Price – Median home value $672,391
- Rent Price – Median rent $1,719
- Employers – Cherry Creek School District, SLC Health System, Healthone Corporation, Kaiser Permanente, State of Colorado
- Schools – Steck Elementary School, Cory Elementary School, Polaris at Ebert Elementary School, DDST: Byers Middle School, Highline Academy, George Washington High School, East High School, South High School
Something to try: Attend the annual three day Cherry Creek Arts Festival in July
Lower Downtown, referred to as LoDo, is one of the oldest settlements in Denver, though you would be hard pressed to guess that today by how lively it is. Cherry Creek bounds this north-central Denver to the southwest, Wewatta Street to the northwest, 20th Street on the northeast, and Larimer Street to the southeast.
Despite being the premier historic district of Denver, this area is home to Coors Field and is notorious for its strong party scene. Having gone through a housing boom in recent years, area rents are climbing fast, making it one of the more expensive places to rent in Denver. Nonetheless, renters still make up over 60% of the community, as access to amenities, entertainment, and public transportation make this area a good fit for anyone interested in art, fashion, food, or design.
Union Station gives Lodo residents easy access to anywhere in the city, which is one of the big neighborhood selling points.
- Population – 8,519
- Home Price – Median home value $441,900
- Rent Prices – Median rent $2,149
- Employers – Apto, Arrow Electronics, Angi Homeservices Inc, Vertafore, Wells Fargo
- Schools – Sandoval Elementary School, Downtown Denver Expeditionary School, Polaris at Ebert Elementary School, Highline Academy, DDST: Byers Middle School, East High School, Denver Center for International Studies
Something to try: See the Colorado Rockies play at Coors Field.
Uptown (North Capitol Hill)
One of the oldest neighborhoods in Denver, Uptown boasts beautiful old Victorian houses and a disproportionate number of young professionals. The population is 84% renters, and the neighborhood is one of Denver’s best for young professionals.
Bordered by 20th Avenue to the north, Park Avenue to the northeast, Downing Street on the east, Colfax Avenue on the south and Broadway to the west, this diverse neighborhood has been experiencing significant redevelopment in recent years. Uptown runs alongside City Park, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and the Denver Zoo. The main drag, 17th Street, is bustling with coffee shops, bars, boutiques, and restaurants.
When it comes to culture, food, nightlife, and a place for young people to live, Uptown is the place. Families, however, make up a very tiny percentage of the community, and probably would be happier living elsewhere in the city.
- Population – 6,040
- Home Price – Median home value $257,668
- Rent Price – Median rent $1,218
- Employers – Bluprint, Evolve Vacation Rental, Fareharbor, Gusto, Ibotta, SALT
- Schools – Polaris at Ebert Elementary School, DSST: Byers Middle School, Denver Center for International Studies, Girls Athletic Leadership School High School
Something to try: Check out the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
If you can look past the fact that Cheesman Park was once a large graveyard, this is one of the most idyllic spots in the city for renters who make up 66% of the community. Bounded to the west by Downing Street, to the east by New York Street, on the north by Colfax Avenue and the south by 8th Avenue, an 80-acre park lies at the heart of the neighborhood. There are plenty of affordable rentals right around the park.
This community primarily rents, and it has the highest density of any part of Denver. Despite this, Cheesman Park is a family-friendly and safe neighborhood where people stay put because they love it. On weekends, the park is teeming with people playing, jogging, hula hooping, and more. And the Denver Botanic Gardens run right alongside the park.
There are plenty of amenities in this area, with everything you need within a few blocks’ walk. Additionally, RTD buses run through the neighborhood, making it easy to get to downtown and other metro areas when you want to leave your car at home. Parking, however, is not a breeze, so be prepared.
- Population – 8,895
- Home Price – Median home value $295,235
- Rent Price – Median rent $1,168
- Employers – Arrow Electronics, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Company, Centurylink, Raytheon Company
- Schools – Polaris at Ebert Elementary School, Bromwell Elementary School, DSST: Byers Middle School, Highline Academy- Southeast, East High School
Something to try: Visit the Denver Botanic Gardens to see the largest collection of cold-climate plants in the world.
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Denver is a beautiful city with something to offer everyone. Regardless of what brings you, take your time to find the neighborhood that you’ll be most comfortable calling home. If you need help planning your move or could use some muscle to do the heavy lifting, give us a call. Taking the hassle out of your move is what we do best.