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You’re thinking about moving to Denver, Colorado, aren’t you? Is it the gorgeous mountain views that are drawing you in? Or is it the exploding job market? Or, is it because cannabis is legal there?
If you're thinking about relocating to the Mile High City, watch out for Denver native Brian Pacini, who we found on Quora. He loves Denver, but he has this to say about all of the young folks moving there: "With many people moving here being younger or softer, I see around the neighborhoods kids being coddled and spoiled, and people that are more interested in the idea of being outdoorsy than a true love of nature. But hey, they have bumper stickers on their Subarus to prove it. Also, new arrivals seem to be preoccupied with a level of coolness which is quite foreign to a long-time resident."
Did Brian scare you off? No? Then allow us, your friends at Bellhops (we're movers in Denver, FYI), to guide you in your should-I-move-to-Denver-decision-making process. We have researched all you need to know about moving to Denver so that you don’t have to. And we've included links to practical resources to help you in your decision. We'll walk you through all that you need to know about moving to and living in Denver with the help of a few current Denver residents (like Brian).
Not only is Denver the largest city in Colorado, but it’s also the state capital. Its population was estimated to be 682,545 as of 2016, making it the 22nd most populous city within a 500-mile radius. The metropolitan area, however, has a much larger population of 2.8 million.
Denver is also ranked the no. 2 best place to live according to U.S. News & World Report. But that trend may be slowing down, according to the Denver Post. The Post reports that Colorado’s population growth is slowing down. Many residents are leaving citing rising housing costs, low-paying jobs, and an increase in traffic.
According to JumpShell, the cost of living in Denver is only six percent higher than the national average. Housing costs are high and getting higher, but compared to other cities like San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and Los Angeles, it’s still cheaper.
That doesn’t mean that rent is inexpensive. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the Mile High City is around $1,256. And to give you an idea of how much it would cost you to live there in a simple way (and without a car) per month, it would be approximately $2,000.
P.J. Clarke, who has lived in Denver since 1994 warns on Quora, "An average hourly wage of $12 to $14 an hour won’t be able to cover your living expenses on just 40 hours a week. And an average of 60 hours a week is what you need to survive in the metro area. And if overtime is offered, then take it, as every little bit helps."
Now keep in mind, it all depends on what type of job you get when you move. This, of course, brings us to...
U.S News & World Reports comes through for us again. Denver’s job market is growing in the aerospace and defense sectors thanks to Lockheed Martin’s new headquarters there. The University of Colorado and the University of Denver provide great opportunities in higher education and research.
P.J., who we mentioned earlier, has more to say about jobs, "Denver has a vibrant economy, and is on the cutting edge of technology in R&D. And if you're in the tech industry, job prospects and growth are major draws for employment in the metro area."
Other industries that are prominent in Denver are healthcare, finance, biotech, and hospitality. Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the recreational cannabis industry is also helping with the local economy.
Also, Denver has a low unemployment rate compared to the national average.
Getting around Denver itself is fairly simple. Most residents do have a car, but bike lanes throughout the city make it possible to travel on two wheels.
The Regional Transport District, Denver’s public transportation system, offers hundreds of bus routes. And The Train That Saved Denver is a fascinating read about the city’s quest to build its public light-rail system.
Resident Ryan Dailey comments on Quora that he likes living in Denver. "I don’t drive or own a car," he says. "With biking and busing, I can get anywhere I need to go." However, there can be a bit of traffic. We'll get to that in just a bit.
Here, we'll highlight three key West Side neighborhoods: West Colfax, Arvada, and Lakewood.
Colfax Street is the longest street in the U.S., and it spans Denver’s in its entirety from east to west. West Colfax Street offers a convenient location just west of downtown Denver. Once known as “No-Man’s Land” due to a high crime rate, the area has seen a rapid transition since 2013.
Thanks to the West Colfax Business Improvement District (BID for short), millions of dollars have been put to work to revamp the neighborhood’s main street district and bring more businesses to the area. This neighborhood includes easy access to Mile High Stadium for Broncos fans and a short travel time to I-25 and downtown. Houses in West Colfax tend to have lower prices than neighboring areas, which appeals to both young professionals and families.
Arvada is a popular northwest suburb with a mix of both houses and apartments. A short 25-minute drive from downtown, you're still near to the action. Best of all, you don’t have to deal with the crowds in central Denver. What's more, Olde-town Arvada has something for just about everyone. Highlights include Kline’s, a German Beer Hall, several centrally located restaurants of all cuisines, and convenient distance to I-70.
Smack dab between I-25 and I-70 and a little southwest of downtown Denver lies Lakewood. An outdoor lover's dream, Lakewood is home to over 180 miles of trails for biking, walking, and even horseback riding. Another perk: in the summer, the Lakewood Public Library hosts summer concerts on their front porch for free. Finally, Lakewood provides easy access to shopping options and chain restaurants. For some, this makes Lakewood a majorly convenient West Side neighborhood to call home.
LoDo (short for Lower Downtown) is perfect for people who want to be in the middle of everything. With plenty of restaurants, rooftop bars, and proximity to Coors Field, this neighborhood is perfect for young professionals. Be warned though--housing costs are higher here (as one would expect). The downtown area is made up of several different neighborhoods, so let's dig into a few of the more popular ones.
The Highlands is a diverse, proud community with something for everyone. Located between I-25 on the east and Speer St. to the south, the central location provides accessibility to major roads, yet with a homier feel than LoDo. The Highlands has gone through some redevelopment over the past few years, resulting in an increase in young professionals in the area. This is probably due to generally more affordable housing than other neighborhoods in Denver. Also, residents of The Highlands will likely boast that their neighborhood is home to the best ice cream in the mile-high city, Little Man Ice Cream. And they might just be right.
Capitol Hill is located just south of the 16th St. Mall. The best part of the Capitol Hill neighborhood is the central location. With a walk score of 92/100, one could walk or bike practically anywhere.
To round out our list of popular downtown neighborhoods, we have to mention Cherry Creek. Cherry Creek is just east of downtown bordered by East 6th Ave. and, of course, Cherry Creek. Predominately a residential area, there is a nice mix of houses and apartments here. Most streets are lined with trees, and the Cherry Creek bike path cuts through the area, giving residents a greener sense of living. And, with over 160 retailers, you can do plenty of shopping at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center.
To understand the East Side, let's talk about two neighborhoods: Stapleton and Aurora. Once the site of the old Denver airport, Stapleton has been revamped into one of the fastest-growing home development areas in the nation. Perfect for young families or those looking to buy a home rather than rent, the majority of real estate in Stapleton is less than 10 years old. For those who are active, the 80-acre Central Park provides a wide range of recreation for all ages. Businesses and restaurants are popping up all the time. And being near the airport is a plus.
Aurora, located about 20 minutes east of downtown Denver, has the convenience of the suburbs and easy access to I-225. Frequently named one of Denver’s most affordable suburbs, the median house price is about half that of the neighborhoods in Denver proper. Aurora Town Center provides over 150 stores for shopping and well-known restaurants.
Up to this point, we've mostly discussed the pros of moving to Denver—and it makes sense, there are a lot. But just like any city, living in Denver has its share of drawbacks as well (aside from the high cost of living that we mentioned). Here, we'll briefly list a few more of those. If you're still asking yourself "Should I move to Denver?" right now, our goal is to help you answer that question as honestly as possible.
Traffic: Denver is quite close to the Rocky Mountains. The Rockies are a popular destination more or less year-round. This can add to the traffic burden. After all, Colorado is the number one destination for skiing in all of North America. In the summer, tourists flock through Denver on their way to the mountains. In the winter, weekend traffic with outgoing skiers can cause some frustration as well. That said, it’s a small price to pay for having the most beautiful scenery in the country right in your backyard.
Food: Denver's food scene is as diverse as it is delicious. Check out the links below to view list of best eats in Denver.
We’ll let our buddy Brian from the beginning of this post end this guide by commenting once more on the change he sees in Denver. "Being part of an older group of Denverites, I'm seeing the change from Libertarian, western cow-town to a techy, millennial’s city, which is a bit weird," he says.
"It’s why we overwhelmingly saw recreational marijuana pass with a 20-point victory, why motorcyclists don’t don helmets, and why mountain folk are just tougher and less whiny than many of the people that move here." Or, as Mark Sanders puts it more succinctly, "It’s a [frickin’] blast."
If you decide to take the plunge and move to Denver, don't hesitate to reach out to your friends at Bellhops. We coordinate local and long distance moving services in Denver and we would love to help.