Lakewood is a mere eight miles west of Denver, located just east of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of 5,500 feet. This location gives Lakewood residents access to all the outdoorsy activities of the Rockies plus the culture, art, and city amenities in the Denver metro area. This Denver suburb ranks high on Livability’s “100 Best Places to Live” list due to its educational opportunities and a thriving job market. Lakewood’s public school system is highly rated, and there are opportunities for further education at the local Red Rocks Community College.
Is Lakewood a good place to live and work? The Lakewood area and the surrounding cities are known for aerospace, bioscience, and medical jobs. The cost of living here is slightly higher than the national average, and it can be a bit pricey for renters and buyers alike to get into a home. For many, this thriving community is worth the price tag. Lakewood is a social, active, and spontaneous place. The city hosts regular community events, including the Rockin’ Block Party and Cider Days. Health nuts savor all the fresh produce they find at farmers’ markets, and craft beer fans are equally delighted with the product from local breweries. There are lots of things to love about life in Lakewood!
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Living in Lakewood, CO: What to Know Before Moving to Lakewood
World Population Review reports Lakewood’s population at 156,798, making it the fifth largest city in Colorado. Conveniently located just a 15-minute drive west of downtown Denver, Lakewood’s proximity to the metro area allows residents to take advantage of employment opportunities in Denver, or live and work locally. You have terrific options when you choose to live in Lakewood.
Pros and Cons of Living in Lakewood
In Lakewood, Colorado, you’ll enjoy:
- Easy access to downtown Denver
- Proximity to the world-famous Rocky Mountains for year-round fun
- Breathtaking scenery, including the Denver skyline and the towering mountains
- Opportunity for quick weekend getaways to great places like Boulder and Colorado Springs
- Colorado residents are some of the most active folks in the country, and Lakewood is no exception
- Lots of farmers markets and craft breweries to explore
Some of the potential downsides of residing in the Lakewood area include:
- Traffic doesn’t always flow well and can be frustrating
- Altitude sickness can be challenging for some new residents
- Weather changes can be unpredictable even through spring and summer
- Transplants may feel a little disliked by some natives, as the population is growing rapidly
- The housing market can be difficult to get into except for those with well-established finances
- There’s a mix of liberal and conservative views, so political tensions can run high
- Property Tax: Lakewood is in Jefferson County. Your property taxes depend on your exact location within the county. Different areas of the county levy special taxes: school district, urban flood drainage, fire protection, and so forth. On average, for a $250,000 home that is within four taxing entities, the property tax is $1,622.97 per year. Before you put an offer in on a home, ask your realtor for your potential property tax calculations.
- Sales Tax: The combined sales tax rate for Lakewood is 7.5% according to Avalara. This rate is a combination of the Colorado sales tax rate of 2.9%, Denver County sales tax rate of 0.5%, the Lakewood sales tax rate of 3%, and a special rate of 1.1%.
- State Income Tax: Colorado’s state income tax is a flat 4.63% regardless of your taxable revenue. State income taxes, just like federal taxes, are due on April 15th.
According to a new study cited by patch.com, rents are rising in Lakewood. Based on recent reports, Lakewood has the third highest average rental rates in the Denver metro area. Best Places shows that renters make up about 40% of the Lakewood population.
The relatively high proportion of renters is largely attributable to the high median home price, which, according to Zillow, is $408,000. The median rental price for an 868 square foot apartment is $1,444 per month, according to Rent Café.
If your budget is a concern, you’ll want to know about some of Lakewood’s least expensive places to live. More affordable communities include:
- West Lochwood
- Sun Valley
- Kendrick Lake
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Lakewood, CO, is higher than the US average, according to data compiled by Best Places. They place Lakewood’s overall cost of living at 141.3, compared to the US average of 100. Groceries (95.5/100), (Utilities 95.3/100), and Health (95.9/100) costs are lower than the national average, but housing is an astronomical 211.5/100, and transportation is high at 135.2/100. What is the median income of your Lakewood neighbors? According to Data USA, Lakewood residents make around $61,058 annually.
Weather & Natural Disasters
Lakewood residents enjoy a four-season climate. You can expect freezing temperatures and plenty of snowfall in the winter, with temperatures in the 80s and 90s, ideal for swimming and hiking, in the summer. However, sudden weather changes during the warmer months might surprise you, with lightning strikes and hailstorms.
Here are a few Lakewood weather stats from Best Places:
- About 18 inches of rain each year
- About 65 inches of snow per year
- About 247 sunny days each year
- July high temperature is around 88 degrees
- January low temperature is around 18 degrees
Lakewood may have a good bit of snow, and this delights the snow sports loving residents, but it also has about 40 more sunny days each year than the average US state. Who doesn’t love skiing in the sunshine?
According to usa.com, Lakewood ranks #67 among US cities on the earthquake index and #94 on the tornado index, which means it’s unlikely that you’ll see a twister coming your way in Lakewood. Other extreme weather events that have affected the area in times past include blizzards, floods, hail, thunderstorms, and winter storms. Prepare your home, get the right insurance coverage, and drive with caution during storms.
Economy & Job Market
Best Places reports that, as of July 2019, Lakewood has an unemployment rate of 3.1%, which is slightly lower than the US average of 3.9%. The city’s job market has increased by almost 3% over the past year, and predictions show that it will continue to outpace the growth of the US job market.
The median household income is $61,058 per year, which is several thousand higher than the US median household income of $53,482. Some of the top industries for Lakewood job seekers include:
- Retail trade
- Health care & social assistance
- Professional and technical services
The highest paying industries in the area include:
- Fishing and hunting
You can investigate job opportunities at the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment resources. This department helps earnest job seekers connect with employers. Another great resource for those seeking employment is Connecting Colorado, a state and county-run system that can help you find work. Some of the major employers in the area include:
- Federal Center
- Jefferson County R-1 School District
- Developmental Disabilities Resource Center
- Red Rocks Community College
- St. Anthony Hospital & Medical Campus
- City of Lakewood
Traffic & Transportation
Although Lakewood doesn’t feature the kind of light rail access that Denver and some of the other surrounding cities have, local public transportation includes:
- 125 bus routes around the Denver metro area
- Lakewood Rides Transportation for residents 60 years and older
A few of the major thoroughfares running through Lakewood, according to City Town Info, include:
- US Route 85 runs north-south along Lakewood’s eastern border
- Colorado State Highway 470 runs north-south along Lakewood’s western border
- US Route 6 transverses northern Lakewood from east to west
- US Route 285 transverses southern Lakewood from east to west
Traffic can be exasperating in the Lakewood area, especially if you’re commuting in and out of the city. Fortunately, there are a few ways to watch the traffic flow so you can prepare yourself and plan travel times accordingly. Some helpful websites for doing so include:
Lakewood’s Walk Score is just under average at 43/100. The public transit score is 38/100, and the bike score is a solid 56/100. This area is a fairly car-dependent place, although depending on where you live or work, you may be able to do some biking and walking to complete some daily tasks. According to walkscore.com, South Alameda, North Alameda, and Edgewood are the most walkable neighborhoods.
What to Do
Countless Coloradans have fallen in love with the state thanks to the opportunity for year-round outdoor adventures. But there are more than just outdoorsy options in the Lakewood area. Some of the best things to do within and nearby the Lakewood area, for both outdoor and indoor activity lovers, include:
- Bear Creek Lake Park: This park is home to three lakes that are ideal for fishing and boating. Come camp at one of the forty-seven well-kept campsites. You can also participate in hiking, biking, or horseback riding.
- Colorado Mills: Do you like to shop till you drop? This mall spreads over one million square feet with the standard chain stores like Forever 21 and Dick’s Sporting Goods, but you can also discover entertainment, mall eats, and outlet shops.
- Blue Sky Café: This unique café serves breakfast and lunch before transforming into a yoga studio in the evenings. Indulge in the coffee and juice bar or nosh on some of the most natural and healthiest meals in the city.
- Great Frontier Brewing Company: This brewery offers unique brews to taste — there are even gluten-free or gluten-reduced varieties.
- Lakewood Heritage Center: There’s no better place to learn about the history of your town than this heritage museum. Here, you can explore over 30,000 historical artifacts.
Schools and Universities
Lakewood has leading public schools and higher education opportunities. An April 2019 report from patch.com titled “U.S. News Best High Schools 2019: Lakewood Schools Make List”, highlighted Lakewood High School, Green Mountain High School, and Bear Creek High School, all in Lakewood, ranking in the top 100 Colorado high schools. Kudos to Lakewood’s high schools!
Great Schools gives some solid ratings to Lakewood elementary schools in the area, too. Dennison Elementary gets a 9/10, and Devinny, Kendrick, and Stober all receive 7/10. The Jefferson County School District serves Lakewood.
Some of the higher education opportunities in Lakewood, according to College Simply, include Colorado Christian University, a private four-year institution, and Red Rocks Community College, a public two-year college. And of course, it’s only a 20-minute drive to Denver where higher education opportunities are plentiful.
Neighborhood Scout doesn’t give Lakewood any accolades for its crime rates. Lakewood only receives a ranking of a 4 for its crime index, of which 100 is the safest. This statistic means that Lakewood is safer than only 4% of US cities.
The chance of becoming a victim of violent crime in Lakewood is 1/154. Some of the safest neighborhoods in Lakewood, according to Neighborhood Scout, include Alameda and W Jewell Ave / S Wadsworth Blvd.
Have you transferred your utility services yet? Don’t forget to call your current providers about transferring or canceling gas, electric, internet, cable, water, and more. If not transferring services, then be sure to set up new accounts before your move date.
- Gas and Electric: Xcel Energy is all about innovation, natural gas, and renewable energy. This utility serves the Lakewood community with both gas and electric services. If you’d like to get set up with Xcel Energy gas and electric services, go to their new customer/transfer services page by clicking this link. Alternatively, you can call 1-800-481-4700. They’ll be ready to speak with you Monday-Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Water: To get your water services set up, you’ll have to contact the Lakewood Water Department. You can access the department website by clicking here or call them to apply for a new water service tap at 303-987-7500.
- Trash and Recycling: According to the City of Lakewood’s website, several private trash collection companies operate within the city. The site recommends asking your new neighbors about which services they use, to make the trash collection process more efficient for everyone. One of the most popular trash services in the area is Colorado Waste. You can give them a call at 303-347-7432. To learn more about getting set up with trash pick-up, start at the Lakewood Public Works page.
- Internet and Cable: Highspeedinternet.com ranks CenturyLink and Xfinity as the fastest internet and cable options in the Lakewood area. You’ll find that they provide affordable rates and varying levels of internet speed, based on your needs. To get in touch with CenturyLink, go to their website by clicking here or call them at 1-855-999-8575. To talk to an Xfinity representative, call 844-389-4662. You can also explore services on their website by clicking here.
Best Neighborhoods in Lakewood, CO
Bear Creek is a 2,624-acre outdoorsman’s paradise located off Morrison Road, North of Highway 265 and South of West Yale Avenue. The neighborhood features 1100 beautiful homes, many of which overlook private golf club fairways. The Mountain Homes of Denver site raves about the beautiful views, and hiking and bike trails in Bear Creek.
The median list price in the neighborhood is $275,000. According to Zumper, the July 2019 median rental price is $815 for a studio, $1,450 for a one-bedroom, and $1,745 for two bedrooms.
Popular activities in the Bear Creek neighborhood include golfing, tennis, hiking, biking, and swimming. According to Nextdoor, some of Bear Creek residents’ favorite haunts located right in their neighborhood include Barnes & Noble Booksellers, King Soopers, Piggin’ Out Bar-B-Que, AMC Bowles Crossing 12 Theater. If you make Bear Creek your home, you’ll also have access to Red Rocks Park and Soda Creek Lakes for more fun.
- Population: 1,059
- Schools: Westgate Elementary School, Bear Creek K-8 School, and Bear Creek High School.
Alameda, or W Alameda Ave / S Wadsworth Blvd, is a classic suburban neighborhood made up of large single-family homes. These established residents were primarily built between 1970 and 1999. The demand for property is high because this is one of Lakewood’s best neighborhoods. This community’s housing is on the pricey side, with a median home price of $387,238. Neighborhood Scout says this is more expensive than almost 57% of the neighborhoods in Colorado and over 75% of all of the neighborhoods in the US.
Alameda is home to military personnel, executives, and professionals. Neighborhood Scout points out something unique about Alameda: its residents have more Croatian and Lithuanian ancestry than almost any other neighborhood in the country. Locals enjoy the Charles E. Whitlock Rec Center for its aerobics rooms, pickleball courts, a warm water therapy pool, a sauna, and more.
- Population: 1,546
- Schools: Alameda International, Alameda Junior High School, New America School
Belmar lies just 27 minutes west of Denver right next to the Rocky Mountain foothills. The borders of Belmar are W. Alameda Ave on the north, Hwy 121 on the west, W. Center Ave on the south, and S Pierce St on the east. If you decide to call this neighborhood home, you can look forward to beautiful mountain views, as well as convenient access to highways and the downtown area.
Known for its walkability, Belmar is a buzzing neighborhood where you’ll see residents strolling the streets, lining up for restaurant seating, and being active outdoors. The Villa Italia Mall is a big part of the neighborhood’s history. Belmar Plaza is a lovely area of shops and dining options decorated with creative sculptures.
Nextdoor reports that some of Belmar residents’ favorite spots include Rocko’s Cantina, Carmody Recreation Center, and Sprouts Farmers Market. The median home price in Belmar is $495,000, according to Redfin. Although a median rental price is difficult to determine for Belmar, zumper.com can show you rental prices on a helpful interactive map. Condos, townhomes, apartments, and single family homes will give you a wide choice of housing options. Even high-end luxury condos are available at around $850,000 for a two bed, two bath unit.
- Population: 1,902
- Schools: Belmar Elementary School and Belmar School of Integrated Arts.
Carmody is east of South Kipling Parkway, north of West Yale Avenue, west of South Wadsworth Boulevard, and south of West Jewell Avenue. This neighborhood has a decent biking infrastructure for those who prefer to pedal over driving.
This community’s prized feature is Carmody Park and Recreation Center, which has some incredible amenities: an Olympic-size swimming pool, weight rooms, a universal playground, play fields, trails, a duck pond, and an outdoor fitness zone. You could spend all day exploring Carmody’s park and rec center. Individuals from surrounding neighborhoods also spend a lot of time in the facility, because it has something for everyone.
Carmody housing is on the pricey side because of its amenities and schools, with a median house price of $430,000. According to Apartment Home Living, the average rent for a studio apartment is $1,459, a 1-bedroom is $1,684, and a 2-bedroom is $1,996.
- Population: 1101
- Schools: Green Gables Elementary School, Carmody Middle School, and Bear Creek High School
Colfax is a beautiful neighborhood bordered by Sloan’s Lake Park and Sheridan Boulevard on the west, Federal Boulevard on the east, 19th Avenue on the North, and Lakewood Gulch on the south. This multi-ethnic neighborhood is known for its diversity and friendliness. The area has a unique character and is set apart by its support of local shops, dining options, healthcare facilities, and commercial offices.
Zillow lists the median home price as $500,200 and a median rental price of $2,116. You can find your dream home here, whether it’s a small studio condo or a multi-bedroom home.
- Population: 4,124
- Schools: Colfax Elementary School, Cheltenham Elementary School, Field Academy, and Montessori Allegro.
Coyote Gulch, located in western Lakewood on the south side of Green Mountain, typically has large three-bedroom, two-story homes that offer spectacular views of the foothills. The neighborhood is bound by Coyote Gulch Park on the west, Gladiola Way on the northwest, Bear Creek Blvd on the east, and W Yale Ave on the south. Median rent prices vary, but you can find more than just apartments in the area. Many residents rent larger multi-bedroom homes in the area. The median home price is $477,000.
What is there to do in Coyote Gulch? Residents love to get out to 44-acre Coyote Gulch Park to play on the competition baseball field or basketball courts. There is also a playground for the kids, bike paths, a short paved walking trail, and a playfield.
Locals take advantage of outdoor activities in Hayden Green Mountain Park, located on a 6800-foot high mesa just north of Coyote Gulch. Horse trails, challenging hiking, and mountain bike trails, plus beautiful city vistas give residents a chance to enjoy undeveloped nature.
- Population: 1,421
- Schools: Rooney Ranch Elementary School, Dunstan Middle School, and Green Mountain High School — all awarded with 7/10 ratings from greatschools.org.
Union Square is desirable for its prime location near the Rockies foothills and its good access to the RTD bus system and the light rail. The northern boundary is Old Army of the Republic Hwy, Kipling St on the east, West Alameda Pkwy on the south, and the Sixth Avenue West neighborhood on the west.
Locals love Union Square Park, a stunning place to take a bike ride or picnic with the family. The park features 10 acres of turf and greenery, a lake, short biking and walking paths, picnic tables, and a kids’ playground. Other popular venues are the Charles E. Whitlock Recreation Center, Wright Park, and Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Locals like to grab a bite at 240 Union or Szechuan Chinese Restaurant.
Most residents depend on their cars to get to work and run errands but getting around by bike is do-able. Union Square has earned a walk score of 35/100, a transit score of 50/100, and a bike score of 54/100.
Union Square is known as being one of the more affordable locations in Lakewood with a median home sale price of $235,000.
- Population: 6,330
- Schools: International High School at Union Square, Foothills Elementary School, and Long View High School
The Eiber neighborhood a vibrant, growing, and thriving community. It lies between West Colfax Avenue and Wadsworth Boulevard in the northeast area of Lakewood. Hwy 70 runs along its northern border and Hwy 6 along the southern edge of the community.
In days gone by, this area consisted of plum and apple orchards. Today, Eiber is part of the Sustainable Neighborhoods Program and goes above and beyond in efforts to maintain its status as a green community. Holbrook Park, James J Richey Park, and Sunset Park are popular green spaces.
Eiber has established spacious multi-bedroom homes that are still in great shape. The median home value is $402,100. You’ll enjoy front and backyard spaces with mature landscaping. Don’t be surprised if your neighbors own horses, because Eiber maintains a rural feel even amidst all of its urban amenities. You’ll find either single-family homes, townhomes, or apartments on tree-lined streets. The median rent is $1,370.
- Population: 8,303 according to Redfin
- Schools: Jefferson County Open School, Lakewood High School, Eiber Elementary
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