Located 5280 feet above sea level, Denver is also known as the ‘Mile High city.’ And indeed, life in Denver feels like you’re floating above the clouds. A lively arts and cultural scene, sports events the year through, proximity to hiking trails and ski resorts, Denver seem to have it all. But is it the city for you to call home? Our relocation guide for people moving to Denver covers it all, from the facts about the city to the budget you’ll need to live here.
WHAT SHOULD I KNOW BEFORE MOVING TO DENVER?
Denver is Colorado’s biggest city, and it is only getting bigger by the day. Denver has an estimated 2020 population of 734,134, and is currently growing at a rate of 1.22% annually. Spanning over 155 miles, Denver has a population density of 4,789 people per square mile. And due to its elevated location, practically every square mile offers views that few others can compete with.
Getting used to the thin air may be a problem, but easy guides you can follow to get acclimatized. For one, drinks hit harder when you’re already high (pun intended), and considering Denver has some excellent beer breweries; you may want to take it easy for a bit.
Another thing Denver excels at is its harmony with the nature around it. There’s a fantastic network of nearly 20,000 acres of urban parks, bike trails, and golf courses within the city, well looked after by Denver Parks and Recreation. The Cherry Creek Bike Path is a local favorite; starting in Downtown Denver, this 42-mile paved pathway is perfect for residents to pedal those wheels.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s loads of nature around you, perfect for trips that are a day-long or longer. The Rocky Mountain National Park looms over the land, while the world-famous Red Rocks gives you live concerts in action. The Arkansas River and the Seven Falls are perfect when you need to drown your sorrows and fill your ears with the sound of cascading water.
There’s loads of fun to be had as well, particularly at the Denver Skatepark. This is where 60,000 square feet of free-to-access terrain makes for a day well spent for friends and families alike. Shopaholics, meet your greatest weakness in the top-notch, world-class retail districts. Eclectic and eccentric is more your thing? Head to Larimer Square and 16th Street Mall. Upscale fancy couture and one-of-a-kind eye-catchers are what you like? Cherry Creek, South Broadway, and Antique Row are the places to be.
Here’s a fun fact, Denver is one of the few cities where marijuana is legal. But, of course, rules apply, so don’t go smoking around the city on your first day there. Also, it doesn’t mean you don’t have to be responsible about it.
CRIME IN DENVER
Thus far, Denver seems like a great city to live in. But alongside the fun must come the safety – is Denver a safe city? The violent crime rate per one thousand residents is 7.36, higher than the national median of 4. This makes your chances of becoming a victim of violent crimes like assault and murder 1 in 136. The property crime comparison per one thousand residents is 37.31, significantly higher than the national average of 24. This means your chances of becoming a victim of property crime is 1 in 27.
While this may seem like a bit of a horrific statistic, property crimes include burglary, larceny over fifty dollars, motor vehicle theft, and arson – which are far less horrific than violent crimes. This makes the overall crime rate 1 in 45 in Denver, the average for all other cities its size. So make sure you choose a safe neighborhood when picking out were in Denver to live.
The weather in Denver will be the least of your worries, as the 300+ annual days of sunshine give you plenty of time to catch up on all kinds of recreational activities. If anything, the weather here is quite something, as it can vary drastically and change within the span of a day. Sudden dips and increases in temperature characterize Denver weather, and the temperature within a single day can vary by as much as 45 degrees.
The summer season in Denver is from June to September, with average daily highs crossing 80°F. July sees the highest temperatures with the mercury crossing 90°F and an average low of 60°F. Humidity is relative, so your days are filled with sunshine, and your evenings are pleasant. September and October is a mild fall. Keep in mind the altitude, as the sun bears down stronger. Denver has an average of around 40 days when the temperatures cross 90°F, so make sure you have enough sunscreen and water.
Winter sets in by November and is accompanied with snowfall. Average daily high temperatures hover around 45°F, and on some days the mercury even hits 60°F. Coldest days can be felt in December when the temperature drops to around 22°F. The winter season ends by March, but sometimes the city receives its last snowfall by April. These months sometimes see stormy weather, particularly hail storms in May and June.
HOW EXPENSIVE IS IT TO LIVE IN DENVER?
Figuring out whether or not you can afford to move to a city is one part of your budgeting struggle. The main question is whether or not you can actually afford to live in that city. Thankfully, Denver isn’t as expensive as cities like San Jose and San Francisco, but that doesn’t mean it’s cheap. Read on for some stats about expenses in Denver.
COST OF LIVING IN DENVER
The cost of living in Denver is 12% higher than the national average. For example, a family of 4 living in their own house in Denver will have to spend around $3,532.74 a month on expenses. Similarly, a single person living in Denver will pay around $981.64 on monthly expenses, excluding housing costs.
On a more pleasant note, groceries in Denver are 6% lower than the national average. So if you’re packing a picnic to head up on one of the trails, here’s how much you’ll spend: $3.26 on a loaf of bread, $1.90 on a gallon of milk, $1.77 on a carton of eggs, and $3.29 on a bunch of bananas. On the other hand, Healthcare is 5% higher than the national average, so a visit to the doctor will cost around $116.58, a visit to the dentist will be around $100.15, and a visit to the vet will be around $55.28.
BUYING A HOUSE
Housing in Denver costs 34% higher than the national average. The typical home value in Denver is $484,264, having increased 6% over the last year. It is predicted to increase by another 10% in the next year. The median home price in Denver is $463,245.
RENTING A HOUSE
The average rent of apartments in Denver is $1,635 a month. Renting an apartment in Denver is fairly affordable, as 44% of apartments are rented out for in between $1,000 and $1,500 a month. Another 35% are rented in the range of $1,500 – $2,000. 16% of the higher-end apartments are rented for over $2,000. Unlike several other major cities in the US, a majority of the households in Denver are renter-occupied. These 51% prove that Denver is indeed a renter-friendly city.
Utilities in Denver are 6% lower than the national average. You can expect to spend around $156.76 a month on your energy bill, while your phone bill may come to around $167.10. Your annual average water bill will be around $458, which is not cheap by any means.
Denver ranks well when it comes to education, especially since several of its school districts are nationally recognized for education leadership. Some of these include Cherry Creek School District, Boulder Valley School District, and Littleton Public Schools. There’s a total of 157 public schools to pick from, including elementary, middle, and high schools. Denver also has 84 private schools, each better than the last.
When it comes to higher learning, the options are just as fantastic, since you also have some trade schools your kids can head to like Johnson and Wales University, and the Emily Griffith Technical College. There are 9 colleges, three of which are among the Best Colleges according to U.S. News & World Report. The University of Colorado Boulder/Denver, Regis University, and Colorado School of Mines, offering 4-year courses.
88% of the residents of Denver have at least a high school graduation degree, while 49% have at least a bachelor’s degree.
Economy And Employment Opportunities In Denver
The economy in Denver is diverse, with major players being aerospace, tech, broadcast and telecommunications, healthcare and wellness, financial services and energy. There are several major companies headquartered or functioning out of Denver: Google, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman. Some of the most popular employers in Denver are Lockheed Martin Corp, Dish Network Corporation, Charter Communications, CenturyLink, and DaVita. Collectively, they pay between $52k to $140k.
In terms of an average salary, you can get paid around 70k. Some of the most popular occupations in Denver are Software Engineer, Project Manager, and Operations Manager. These pay between $44k and $125k per year.
GETTING AROUND DENVER
The average commute time in Denver is 22.9 minutes, which is shorter than the national average. This is likely due to Denver’s excellent public transportation system, provided by the Regional Transit District (or RTD). The RTD operates buses, a light rail, and special airport transit in Denver.
There’s local, regional and airport bus routes in Denver that help you get to your destination without a hassle. There are over 125 bus routes and 10,000 bus stops that run nearly 24/7, all days of the year. Navigating the system is tricky, which is why we recommend using the RTD Trip Planner. Local buses cost $3, regional costs $5.25, and the airport route costs $10.50.
You also have an option to buy passes for one day or five days that apply to both the buses and light rail. Prices for day passes range from $5.20 to $45 depending on its length of validity and the number of zones it covers.
RTD also operates the MallRide, a free bus route along the 16th Street Mall, connecting Civic Center Station and Union Station. Buses run at intervals of a few minutes between 4:59 a.m. on weekdays, 5:30 a.m. on Saturdays, and 6:30 a.m. on Sundays. They stop at nearly every street corner.
12 rail lines run through Denver, all days of the year, providing 113 miles of rail service to residents and tourists alike. Trains run from just before 4 a.m till around 2 a.m., although schedules vary by route. Fares depend on how far you travel – the city is divided into several zones, the farther the zone, the more expensive the fare. One-way trips within one or two zones cost $2.60, while rides further afield can cost up to $4.50.
With the new University of Colorado A Line and SkyRide bus service, residents now have a convenient, affordable, and reliable way to head to Denver International Airport. What’s more, you get direct access to airline check-in, baggage check, security screening, and baggage claim. The University of Colorado A Line has services every 15 minutes from the airport, and every 30 minutes late evening and early morning. These services run 24/7, 365 days a year. In addition, SkyRide has different schedules, departing from their SkyRide stops on an hourly basis.
Apart from all of this, you can always ride your car around Denver. There’s plenty of parking garages downtown as well. You can also use ride-hailing apps like Lyft and Uber.
BEST NEIGHBORHOODS IN DENVER
Denver has around 80 neighborhoods, each with its own personality. Finding a safe neighborhood is as important as finding one that matches your lifestyle and suits your budget.
1. THE HIGHLANDS
Though this neighborhood has a suburban and residential feel, it still has a fair share of restaurants, dining options, and nightlife for the young working professionals. The Highlands is thus named because it sits up on a hillside overlooking the city, giving residents amazing views of the city below them. With a little bit for families and young folks, the Highlands is one of the top places to live in Denver. The average rent here is $1,870 for a one-bedroom apartment, and the median house value is $561,595.
Funky and eclectic, Baker is one of Denver’s hippest neighborhoods. The main attraction is Broadway, a street lined with vintage boutiques and restaurants serving Asian cuisine, bars and clubs with frequent live music. It’s Mayan Theatre has been running since the 1930s and boasts the Art Deco style of architecture. Head to Phil Milstein Park when you want your break in nature. The median house value here is $530,133, and the average rent is $1,991.
3. CHERRY CREEK
Best known for its luxurious shopping, Cherry Creek is one of the most upscale neighborhoods in Denver. There’s a range of homes and apartments up for grabs, with several even on rent. Some of Denver’s most luxurious homes are tucked away here, so those of you with fat pockets you know where to come. $910,650, is the median house value here, while the average rent is around $1727 per month.
IS DENVER A GOOD CITY TO LIVE IN?
Denver seems to have it all – a great public transportation system, plenty of activities and shopping, loads of nature, and even weed! As long as you can stomach the expenses and handle the elevation, you may find that Denver is the perfect place for you to be.
If there’s any worry, it’s the weather, considering how erratic it is. But the summers never get overbearing like in Austin, and the winter snow never shuts down the city. The Mile High City does indeed have loads to offer, so if you are considering it, we recommend doing all your research and going for it since we see no reason why you wouldn’t want to move to Denver.
Once you’ve decided to make a move, start to chalk up your moving budget. The best way to prepare is to look up the best moving companies and obtain quotes for your move.