Thinking About Moving to Denver Colorado? Read This Guide First.
Table of Contents
- What Are The Neighborhoods in Denver?
- How Is The Job Market In Denver?
- How Is The Denver Real Estate Market?
- How Much Does It Cost To Live In Denver?
- Is Denver A Good Place To Retire?
- What Are The People And Culture Like?
- What Are Popular Things To Do In Denver?
- Pros and Cons of Living in Denver
- Fun Facts About Denver
There are many opportunities in Denver and so much to discover.
Denver is a city of 2.8 million people and is the second-most populous city in the Mountain West after Phoenix, Arizona.
What so many love about Denver is the epic scenery and constant sunshine. Denver is also a great place to raise a family and work (the economy is booming). Many people move to Denver solely because of its energy and tech industries–especially in recent years.
Need To Sell Your Home Before Moving?
Did you know that we can help you save a lot of money when selling your house? Money that you can use to pay for your big move. ISoldMyHouse.com has 3 ways for you to sell your house and NOT pay high commissions.
- Sell It Yourself With Our Flat Fee MLS Listings
- Sell With Top Local Agents With Negotiated Discounts on Commissions
- Sell To A Pre-Qualified Cash Buyer
What Are The Neighborhoods In Denver?
If you’ve been thinking about moving to Denver you’ll find that it has diverse neighborhoods, ranging from up and coming to sleepy, suburban areas to the bustling downtown core.
Art District on Santa Fe
The first thing you will notice about this area is its Latino influence. Visit one of the many art galleries such as the Museo de las Americas and grab a bite to eat at Denver’s oldest restaurant and saloon, the Buckhorn Exchange.
Capitol Hill and Golden Triangle Creative District
This is Denver’s culture hub. Here you can find many of Denver’s finest museums, watch live music, explore the gold-domed Colorado State Capitol, and grab some yummy food from local food trucks. Be sure to explore this neighborhood on foot for the ultimate experience!
Cherry Creek is Denver’s premier outdoor shopping area and is home to the Cherry Creek Shopping Center. Find unique and charming shops as well as upscale fashion. If you get hungry after all that shopping, there are various dining destinations to check out too.
This is a hip, historical, and busy district that offers museums, shops, galleries, live music, craft beer, the famous Blue Bear art sculpture, various family-friendly attractions, and so much more. The free 16th Street Mall shuttle makes it a breeze to get around.
Colfax Avenue is a long, commercial street that offers live entertainment, independent films, award-winning ales, and authentic cuisine. Like many places in Denver, this area is best enjoyed on foot. Start at the State Capitol and head east.
Five Points, once called the “Harlem of the West” because of its jazz roots, is one of Denver’s oldest and most diverse neighborhoods. Today, it is still a very creative and vibrant area where you can enjoy delicious Caribbean food, self-guided walking tours, and African American culture. The regal Victorian homes are also a very charming feature.
Highlands consist of three districts (Highlands Square, Tennyson Street, and Lower Highland) and is close to downtown. Highlands is possibly most well known for its ice cream shop in a giant milk can. It is a commercial and residential area that features old and new architecture, art galleries, and the annual Highlands Street Fair.
River North Art District
The River North Art District, which sometimes goes by the nickname “RiNo,” has a very urban, industrial, punk-rock vibe. Many of the restaurants, pubs, and studios here were once warehouses and factories. It is beloved by many designers and artist types. Walking down the street, you will notice colorful street art murals in alleys and on buildings. Don’t forget to stop for a bite at The Denver Central Market, showcasing Denver’s top chefs and food purveyors.
South Broadway, sometimes called “SoBo,” is home to “Antique Row.” It offers vintage clothes, unique art, antiques, and collectibles. It’s a fun spot to be at with rainbow crosswalks and an underground music showcase in the summer.
This is the place for foodies who enjoy authentic, off-the-radar cuisine. A favorite of the neighborhood is the Little Saigon Market, which is a Vietnamese market. There are several dog-friendly patios, too, where you can enjoy a cold brew with your furry friend.
Central Park, Lowry, and Northfield
The Central Park, Lowry, and Northfield neighborhoods are a peaceful, suburban escape from the downtown core’s hustle and bustle. There is a shopping center close by and a community pool, and lots of beautiful outdoor space.
In Uptown Denver, you will find Restaurant Row, the Denver Zoo, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and City Park. In the summer months, you can enjoy City Park’s Fresh Market.
Called “Wash Park” by locals, this family-friendly area has two lakes and two gardens. Walking by, you’ll see people boating, doing yoga, or walking their dogs. Wander on over to South Pearl Street for shopping, dining, and music festivals.
Olde Town Arvada
Located just northwest of Denver, this little town offers many of the things you would find in the city with numerous restaurants, bars, galleries, festivals, farmers markets, shops, hiking trails, and parks. Some may visit Olde Town Arvada to see a show at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities. To get here from downtown Denver, simply jump on the light rail.
Belmar/Lakewood has a small-town feel, but there is still a lot going on. Some of this area’s main features are the Lakewood Cultural Center, championship golf courses, the Lakewood Heritage Center, Casa Bonita, Festival Italiano, and an outlet mall with a glow-in-the-dark mini-golf course. (They sure seem to be big on golf at Belmar/Lakewood!) This area is also very accessible via the light rail.
Upon entering Golden, you’ll be greeted by a massive “Howdy Folks! Welcome to Golden!” sign that will surely tip you off to the area’s western culture. Golden is home to the Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre and the Colorado School of Mines, and many museums, cultural attractions, and outdoor adventures. Many choose to explore Golden by bike.
Littleton is just a little bit south of downtown Denver. It is undoubtedly a cozy small town with turn-of-the-century buildings and seasonal farmer’s markets. Explore the Hudson Gardens, Town Hall Arts Center, or nearly 1,500 acres of parks and open space. This area is also very accessible via the light rail.
How is the Job Market in Denver?
One important thing to note before moving to Denver is that it had a strong economy and a pretty low unemployment rate pre-COVID. Specifically, it was 2.3% at the end of 2019.
The major industry sectors in Denver are:
- Broadcast and telecommunications
- Healthcare and wellness
- Financial services
- IT software
While Denver’s healthcare industry is proliferating, Denver is probably most known for energy and tech. The Rocky Mountain region is a leader in energy research and cleantech due to its natural resources and research facilities, bringing billions annually and attracting tech workers fleeing the Bay Area.
Colorado has been a long-time supporter of clean energy. They were the first state to pass a voter-approved renewable energy standard.
The aerospace industry is also well-respected in Colorado and has been for decades. It is the nation’s second-largest aerospace economy.
Top Companies To Work For
Some of the biggest employers in Denver are:
- Coors Brewing Company
- Newmont Mining
- Suncor Energy
- Xcel Energy
- Union Pacific
- Ball Corp
- Centura Health
- University of Colorado Hospital
- SCL Health Systems
- Denver Health
- Booz Allen Hamilton
- Davita Healthcare Partners
How is The Denver Real Estate Market?
The housing marketing in Denver is competitive. A recent CNBC article dubs it one of the most competitive housing markets in the country. Now that people are working from home more often, real estate in Denver–with the beautiful rocky mountains and sunny weather–is in high demand.
As of January 2021, the median price point is $480,000, with houses on the market for 16 days, according to Redfin. Many homes get multiple offers, some with waived contingencies. Homes sell for around list price and go pending in approximately ten days. Hot homes can sell for about 2% above the list price and go pending in around four days.
Over the past year, Denver home values have gone up 6%, and Zillow predicts they will rise 10% in the next year.
How Much Does it Cost to Live in Denver?
Before moving to Denver, it’s important to note that the cost of living is higher than the national average.
Food and Groceries
In 2018, Denver families spent 11.5% of the household budget on food, with a loaf of bread costing you around $3 and a gallon of milk costing you about $2. This is less than the 12.9% national average.
An average meal in Denver should cost around $13 per person. Of course, breakfast, fast food, and food truck food are a little cheaper.
Colorado residents don’t consume a lot of energy, and because of this, their utility bills are lower than the national average. Specifically, the bill is around $348.43 / month, putting it in the top 10 states with the least expensive utilities.
So, why exactly don’t Colorodians use a lot of energy? Why is the utility bill so low? There are a few reasons:
- Many homes do not have central A/C. It’s just not needed! And many shops prefer to keep their doors and windows open to let fresh air circulate.
- Another reason is the low cost of natural gas. Colorado is a large natural gas-producing state, so there is a readily available, local supply for residents to use.
- Homeowners and businesses invest in renewable energy sources such as solar panels or wind turbines.
The one thing that may cause your utility bill to skyrocket is water, as the cost of water is unpredictable in this state. Colorado suffered from a drought for many years, and prices depend on the amount of rain or snow. Keep this in mind if you like long showers.
Denver is easy, affordable, and convenient to get around. Take public transit such as the light rail or ride a bike.
Public transit is priced at different levels depending on whether you want local, regional, or airport service. Between December 2018 and November 2019, 24,585,300 used the light rail. You can get discounts on public transit by purchasing an EcoPass, a CollegePass, or a FlexPass.
There are dedicated bike lanes throughout the city for those who are more environmentally conscious or are trying to get some exercise. If you don’t have a bike, you can rent one. Denver residents famously love to walk or bike their way around the city.
In 2018, Denver households spent 16.2% of their budget on transportation, which is not significantly lower than the national average of 16.8%. Most of their transportation budget went to maintaining cars or vehicles.
If you want to drive your car around the city, it will cost you around $2.75 / gallon.
Healthcare and Medical
Denver households don’t spend a considerable chunk of their budget on healthcare and medical expenses. However, healthcare in Denver is still 5% higher than the national average, with a doctor’s visit setting you back around $116.58.
If you want to go to the dentist, it will cost you a little less than a doctor’s visit. Prescription drugs, on the other hand, are costly. If you want to have medical insurance in Colorado, you will have to dish out around $488 monthly.
You’ll notice people from Colorado are very healthy in general because residents put a lot of emphasis on being outside and staying active. There are tons of outdoor activities to do, and people tend to take advantage of them.
In Colorado, there are no tax rate brackets based on income. Therefore, no matter how much money you make (or don’t make), you will be taxed 4.63% of your income. This is called a flat-tax.
In Colorado, no amount of property tax revenue goes to the government, and all of the taxes stay within your area, which many consider being a good thing.
Based on Denver’s average household income ($66K) and using the Smart Asset free calculator, you would pay $9,655 in federal income taxes for 2020 if you file as a married couple. This includes FICA, the Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax, which funds Social Security and Medicare. If you file as a single person, it would be $12,716.3 Ways To Sell A House Without High Commissions? Learn More.
Is Denver a Good Place to Retire?
Denver is a great place to retire. Many seniors enjoy the abundant green space and walkability of the city. Some may not take to the snowy winters and altitude. 12% of the population in Denver is 65 years or older.
If you’re looking to live in a retirement community, the following are some excellent options:
- Quincy Place
- Brookdale University Park
- Brookdale Tamarac Square
- Springbrooke Retirement
- Brookdale Parkplace
Many excellent home health agencies are serving Denver residents too:
- All the Comfort of Home, Inc.
- Alternative Home Health Care Connection
- Home Health Care Professionals, Inc.
- Icon Home Health
- Bayada Home Health
What Are The People And Culture Like?
Denver is a diverse, friendly, educated, young, fit, and low crime city.
You can expect to experience many festivals, celebrations, and ways of life. You can expect neighbors to lend you a hand. Over 90 percent of Denver residents have a high school diploma, and over 30 percent have a college degree. Denver is a fit city with one of the lowest obesity rates in America. And finally, Denver’s crime rate in 2020 was 4.7 violent crimes per 1,000 residents. Most neighborhoods in and around the city are safe.
What Are The Popular Things To Do In Denver?
There are hidden gems around every corner in Denver, so you certainly won’t be bored. Below you will find some of the most popular things to do in Denver, whether you want to have some family fun, check out a gallery or museum, or go out for a night on the town.
Explore the Great Outdoors
Get away from downtown Denver and check out some of these serene spots:
Rocky Mountains National Park
Possibly the best way to experience the beauty of the Rocky Mountains is at the Rocky Mountains National Park. This wilderness area has hundreds of hiking trails and lakes, almost 80 mountains, horseback riding, fishing, and bird watching.
Rocky Mountains National Park is not too far from Denver–taking just an hour and a half to drive there. Note: it will cost you $25 per automobile per day to enjoy this park.
Denver Botanic Gardens
The Denver Botanic Gardens is a public botanical garden in the Cheesman Park neighborhood. It is 23 acres and contains a conservatory, more than 50 curated gardens, and an amphitheater, which hosts concerts in the summer.
There is also a multitude of fun and educational classes you can sign up for. If you are carefully watching your budget, there are Free Days to see the gardens, thanks to funding from the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District.
Go Out For a Night on the Town
Run For The Roses
Run For The Roses is a popular underground cocktail lounge at Dairy Block. It has elegant vibes and is probably best known for its signature deck of cards cocktail menu. Many suggest ordering the White Lady drink. For $300 annually, you can join their member’s club.
SoCo Nightlife District
There are multiple clubs within a few blocks of each other. So, if you want to go clubbing, this is the place. Club Vinyl, The Church Nightclub, Bar Standard, and Milk are some of the options you will find here–each with its vibe.
Club Vinyl and The Church are open to ages 18 and older, but the others are 21 and up. If you aren’t sure what you’re in the mood for, buy a ticket to one club and get in at one of the others, too. In the summertime, enjoy the rooftop area–all the venues have one.
54Thirty is your more fancy rooftop experience located on the 20th floor of Le Meridien Denver Downtown hotel. It is also Denver’s highest rooftop lounge (5,430 feet above sea level). Enjoy the expansive views, cocktails, and globally-inspired cuisine next to a cozy fire pit. Keep in mind–54Thirty is seasonal–so call ahead to see if it is open.
La Rumba is a Latin nightclub that draws a diverse crowd. On Saturday nights, La Rumba showcases some of Denver’s top salsa orchestras. Don’t know how to salsa? Don’t worry–there are lessons! Ladies get in for free on Friday night until 11 p.m., and there is free parking at 9th Avenue and Broadway.
Corridor 44, named after the 44-foot corridor within the space, is Denver’s only champagne bar and an elegant and classy alternative. If you’re looking for a quiet, romantic spot, then this is the place for you! Enjoy cheeses, salads, and chocolate with a glass of champagne or sparkling wine. Celebrating with friends and family? Book a private room.
Grizzly Rose, affectionately called “The Grizz,” is Denver’s favorite saloon. You can enjoy live music six nights a week, dance your heart out on the 2,500-square-foot floating hardwood dance floor, and test your luck on the mechanical bull. If you work up an appetite, there’s a full kitchen with a menu featuring BBQ. Sunday night is family night–all ages are welcome until 11 p.m. Dress code is casual.
If you’re not in the mood for nature and you’ve got money to burn, head into one of these places.
16th Street Mall
The 16th Street Mall is a mile-long mall located in downtown Denver. The Denver Pavilions are located near the south end of the mall. Another point of interest along the mall is the D&F Tower, a historic landmark built as part of the Daniels & Fisher department store in 1910.
The 16th Street Mall is a very pedestrian-friendly area. However, if you’d like, you can hop on and off the free shuttle buses.
Cherry Creek Shopping Center
The Cherry Creek Shopping Center is just minutes from downtown and has more than 160 shops, including but not limited to Tiffany & Co., Apple, Louis Vuitton, Nordstrom, and Tory Burch. There is also a movie theatre and lots of places to eat!
Explore Art and Culture
Denver wouldn’t be complete without a bubbling arts and culture scene.
Tennyson Street Cultural District
If you’re a fan of art and culture, then you’ll want to visit the Tennyson Street Cultural District. This district is west of downtown in Denver’s Berkeley neighborhood. Many find themselves spending whole afternoons browsing paintings from local artists at the growing number of art galleries. The Tennyson Street Art Walk is the best art walk for music lovers as street musicians perform during the warmer months.
Denver Art Museum
The Denver Art Museum is located in the Civic Center. It is one of the largest art museums between the West Coast and Chicago. Visitors can partake in hands-on activities and view extensive art collections, such as its renowned collection of American Indian art.
The Duncan Pavilion and the Frederic C. Hamilton Building were added to the museum in 2006. Daniel Libeskind designed The Hamilton Building, which is called an architectural work of art.
Clyfford Still Museum
Clyfford Still was an American painter, a leader in the Abstract Expressionism movement, and is one of the most influential American artists of the 20th century. Upon his death, Still’s wife chose Denver to receive her husband’s collection. The Clyfford Still Museum has 95% of Still’s artworks. Interestingly, Still did not name his works because he wanted people to make their interpretations.
Have Fun With the Family
For activities that can include the whole family, here’s a list of great spots.
Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park
The Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park, or “Elitch’s,” is located in downtown Denver. It offers over 50 rides and attractions (with many for little kids), roller coasters, waterslides, concerts, and a Fright Fest in October. Enjoy this amusement park with the family from April through October.
The Downtown Aquarium, home to more than 500 species, is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon with the family. If you get hungry, dine in the Aquarium Restaurant and watch the fishes swim around you as you enjoy your meal.
The Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus
The Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus is a private, non-profit organization that allows kids to explore, create, and learn. Exhibits include: Investigate, Imagine, Explore, and Create. It is meant for kids up to 8. However, everyone is welcome. Get a membership for free general admission to the Museum and a bunch of other cool perks.
Denver Climbing Company
The Denver Climbing Company allows you to go outdoor rock climbing with your mountain guide. If rock climbing is not your strong suit, there are climbing courses for all skill levels. This rock climbing adventure is the perfect way to get your family outdoors and push yourself physically and mentally.
Learn Something New
If you’re looking to expand your knowledge, these museums may be what you need.
The Stiles African American Heritage Center
This is just one of three museums centered on African American history and culture in Denver. Take a guided tour to learn about the positive contributions made by African Americans. There are also diversity workshops and lectures offered regularly.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is an excellent resource for informal science education in the Rocky Mountain region. Its exhibitions are always changing, so check out what it’s showing now!
Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Museum
Denver loves its sports. So much so that it created a free hall of fame to commemorate Colorado sports legends. Depending on the season, operational hours may be limited, so call ahead.
Denver Graffiti Tour
See a different side of the city with the Denver Graffiti Tour. Explore street art, murals, and graffiti in the River North Art District.
See a Show
To sit back and relax for an afternoon, go see a show in one of these theaters.
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre
The Red Rocks Amphitheatre is an open-air amphitheater just a 15-mile drive from Denver. It is the place for summer concerts. Some of the stars who have played here include The Beatles, Carole King, and Jimi Hendrix.
The Mission Ballroom
The Mission Ballroom is a 60,000 square-foot ballroom that delivers a cutting-edge concert experience in the River North Art District. It opened in August 2019 and can hold nearly 4,000 patrons.
Comedy Works in Larimer Square is owned and operated by comedy veteran Wende Curtis. It is a famous comedy club in Denver and was named USA Today as one of the Top Five Comedy Clubs in the country. Tuesday night is New Talent Night if you’re looking to try out your material.
Eat Some Yummy Food
There are too many fantastic restaurants/eateries in Denver to go into great detail. So here is a quick list of the best one’s today and what they are known for:
- Jabroni & Sons – sandwich shop
- Restaurant Olivia – fresh pasta
- American Elm – bistro with American favorites
- Owlbear Barbecue – Texas-style BBQ
- Safta – modern Israeli cuisine
- Hop Alley – a must-visit spot for Chinese
- Yuan Wonton – a food truck serving handmade dumplings
Pros And Cons Of Living In Denver
Living in Denver, Colorado has plenty of pros and cons, such as:
- Denver is sunny, sunny, sunny! And you can’t beat those views of the Rocky Mountains!
- There’s a lot for families to do together and the majority of it revolves around having run outside in the fresh air.
- There are top-paying jobs in Denver because the leading companies want to be here.
- The housing market is competitive. At least, for the foreseeable future.
- As the city becomes more popular, it will become more congested.
- While Denver is sunny, it still gets pretty cold in the winter.
Fun Facts About Denver Colorado
Denver has an interesting history, and here are a couple of fun facts you might not know about the bustling city.
- Denver is nicknamed “The Mile High City” because it is elevated one mile above sea level.
- Denver is one of only two cities–Philadelphia being the other–to have seven professional sports teams.
- Denver is a great beer town and brews more beer than any other city. Each year, residents enjoy The Great American Beer Festival. Denver is also home to The Coors Brewery.
- Colfax Avenue in East Colfax, Denver, is the longest commercial street in the United States. Playboy referred to it as “the longest, wickedest street in America.”
Further Reading: Looking For More Moving To Colorado Resources? Check These Articles Out!
- Our Moving To Colorado Guide
- Read This Before Selling a House in Colorado (FSBO or with a Realtor)
- How To Sell A House In Colorado Without A Realtor
- What Are Colorado Flat Fee MLS Listings?
- Did You Know That We Buy Houses In Colorado (Fast And For Cash)?
- Cheap Moving Boxes – Best Budget Friendly Options (Reviewed)
- Best Moving Boxes That You Can Buy Online (Reviewed)
- Where Is The Best Place To Buy Moving Boxes?
- Where To Get Free Moving Boxes? Check Out These 8 Thrifty Options
- How Many Boxes Do I Need To Move? Use Our Moving Box Calculator
- Here Is a Weekly Moving Checklist To Follow When Moving Out Of Your House
About the Author: Kris Lippi is the owner of ISoldMyHouse.com, the broker of Get LISTED Realty and an official member of the Forbes Real Estate Council. He actively writes about real estate related topics such as buying and selling homes, how-to guides for around the house and home product recommendations. He has been featured in Inman, Readers Digest, Fox News, American Express, Fit Small Business, Policy Genius, Lending Tree, GoDaddy, Manta as well as other major websites. Read more about us here.