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Your Guide to Moving to Denver

denver skyline at sunset
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Denver, Colorado, at a glance:

  • Denver’s population has grown by 20% in the last decade, which means you’re not alone if you’re considering a new adventure in this city.
  • Fifty-two percent of transplants are millennials, and the median age in the city is 34.
  • The current population of Denver and its surrounding area is approximately 3 million.
  • The current cost of living in Denver is approximately 12% higher than the national average.
  • Top industries in Denver include aerospace, healthcare and wellness, finance, energy, IT services, bioscience, and broadcast and communications.
  • Denver is a mountain-lover’s dream come true. There are 58 peaks in the state of Colorado that stand above 14,000 feet.

Moving to Denver: The basics

What’s the population of Denver?

The Denver metro area has a population of more than 3 million residents, but the city itself has around 717,000 residents (as of the 2018 Census). The city’s residents are relatively young, with almost 40% of the population between the ages of 20 and 39. The median age in Denver is 34 years old. There’s an even gender split in the city, and the majority of Denver residents are single.

Denver has a diverse population, with many ethnicities calling the city home. Its population is about 55% white and 30% Hispanic. The rest of the population is predominantly African American and Asian.

What’s the cost of living in Denver?

While it isn’t as pricey as Los Angeles or New York City, the cost of living in Denver has gone up in recent years and is projected to keep doing so. According to Payscale, the cost of living in the city is 12% higher than the national average.

A lot of the increased costs come down to housing. The median value of a home in Denver is $435,100, and the median rent in the city is $1,217/mo. Compare those numbers to the national medians — $204,900 and $1,023/mo., respectively.

Expect this plus when living in Denver — grocery costs are 2% lower than the national average. When you’re in the grocery aisle shopping for your essentials, expect to pay $3.26 for a loaf of bread, $1.90 for a gallon of milk, and $1.77 for a carton of eggs.

The per capita income in the city is $44,556 — 20% higher than the rest of Colorado and significantly higher than the rest of the country (which has a median per capita income of $32,621). The median household income is $68,377 — which is slightly lower than the state average of $71,953. Compare both of those numbers to the national median of $60,293.

To get a better idea of the cost of living in Denver, compare it to other cities in the U.S. Here’s how Denver stacks up:

City Population Cost of Living (Compared to National Average) Per Capita Income Median Home Price Median Rent
Denver, CO 716,492 +12% $44,556 $435,100 $1,217/mo.
Los Angeles, CA 3,990,469 +43% $35,089 $682,400 $1,376/mo.
Boston, MA 695,926 +48% $43,367 $575,200 $1,539/mo.
Albuquerque, NM 560,234 -5% $30,328 $207,300 $855/mo.

*Sources: PayScale.com, The U.S. Census, and CensusReporter.org

How’s the Denver job market?

Denver boasts a strong job market, with an unemployment rate of only about 2.5% — nearly 1% lower than the national average. There are a variety of prominent industries in the city, including biotech, aerospace, healthcare and wellness, defense, finance, and communications.

Job growth in the state remains steady, with Colorado having added almost 54,000 jobs last year. Major employers in the city include Denver International Airport, HealthONE Corporation, CenturyLink, and Kaiser Permanente, to name a few.

What do I need to know about Denver education?

Denver Public Schools (DPS) runs 207 schools in and around the city. There’s over a 70% graduation rate in the system, and 77% of students graduate on time. A few of the top-ranked public high schools in Colorado call Denver home, including D’Evelyn Junior/Senior High School, Denver School of the Arts, and KIPP Denver Collegiate High School.

DPS primarily runs on a location-based system, where parents must input their address into the School Finder to determine what neighborhood school their child feeds into. But the system also runs on an open enrollment basis, meaning that students can apply to other public schools apart from their assigned neighborhood school. If you’re a parent interested in understanding more about school enrollment, read this helpful school choice guide by The Denver Post.

Don’t want to go the public school route? There are over 100 private schools in Denver. If you’re looking for higher education, there are options in the city and the greater metro area, including the University of Colorado – Denver.

What are the safest areas in Denver?

According to NeighborhoodScout, the safest neighborhoods in Denver include:

  • Areas near Smith Road and Havana Street, to the east of the city. Nearby Neighborhoods include Stapleton, Northfield, and Montbello.
  • Areas near East Yale Avenue and South Colorado Boulevard, south of the city. Nearby neighborhoods include University Park, University Hills, and Wellshire.
  • Areas near East Bayaud Avenue and Leetsdale Drive, southeast of the city. Nearby neighborhoods include Cherry Creek and Hilltop.

Denver rates a 6 out of 100 on the NeighborhoodScout crime index, making it safer than 6% of other U.S. cities. But when you compare it with cities of a similar size, it’s right on par.

These numbers are just a high-level look at safety in Denver. If you want more information, check out the Denver Police Department’s interactive crime map to learn more about the neighborhood you’re interested in living in.

How do I get around Denver?

Denver is fairly spread out, but you can easily get around town using public transportation in the city. The light rail in Denver makes its way to many areas in the city, as well as to the outlying suburbs and the airport. It’s a great choice for commuting and helps eliminate the need to find parking downtown. You can also hop on one of the public buses in Denver. Fares for the light rail and buses depend on where you’re going and how much you plan on riding.

There are many bike paths that wind their way through the Denver area, so if you’re a rider, you might find that getting to work or going out with friends for dinner is easier by bike. Denver also offers public scooters that can be rented in the downtown area.

For those of you who prefer to travel by car, know that the average commute time in Denver is just over 46 minutes.

What’s the weather like in Denver?

Denver is a big draw for nature lovers and people who enjoy spending time in the great outdoors. The climate in Denver is arid, only seeing about eight to 15 inches of rainfall a year. Denver locals also enjoy an average of 300 sunny days a year. But make sure to pack your winter coat — the city can see an average seasonal snowfall of around 56 inches.

Temperatures in the summer months range from the 50s to the upper 90s, while winter weather ranges from the upper teens to the high 40s. Spring and fall are mild, with temperatures ranging from the 30s to the 70s. If you’re someone who loves experiencing the best of every season, you’ll love living in Denver!

What are Denver’s fastest-growing neighborhoods?

In Denver:

If you’re thinking about moving to Denver and want to explore the best areas, take a look at the fastest-growing neighborhoods in the city, according to The Denver Post’s “The Know:”

Central Platte Valley

With a 58% population growth since 2010, this neighborhood spans parts of Five Points near Coors Field and the western portion of Union Station, as well as the Auraria campus near Elitch Gardens. This means there’s plenty of public transportation and close proximity to dining and shopping downtown. More than 6,600 people live in this area. Median list price for homes in the area is $617,500, and the median rent is $2,862/mo.

Ballpark

This neighborhood has had a 52% population growth since 2010, with more than 4,700 people calling it home. It encompasses areas east and southeast of Coors Field in the northern part of the city. You can use public transportation easily in the area for commuting and after-work fun in the downtown area. List prices for homes in this neighborhood on Zillow range from $399,000 for a one-bedroom, one-bath, to about $2.5 million for a four-bed, six-bath. Rents range from $1,500/mo. to $1,900/mo., depending on the home type.

Central Business District

With a 39% population increase, more than 7,000 people live in this part of Denver. The area has plenty of public transportation, and its perimeters are 14th Ave and 20th Ave, with the theatre district and upper downtown located within it. The median list price of homes in the area is $469,000, and the median rent is $2,100/mo.

Golden Triangle

The 31% population growth in this area can be attributed to the neighborhood’s close proximity to public transportation, shopping, dining, and workplaces. More than 2,400 people live in this area that has Speer Blvd and Civic Center Park as its boundaries. Homes listed on Zillow range from the mid-$300,000s to over $1 million, depending on home size and type. Rents range from $1,100/mo. to $1,895/mo.

Five Points

Seeing a 26% population increase, this neighborhood that spans from uptown toward the Platte River and the RiNo art district has experienced quite a bit of revitalization in recent years. There’s lots to see and do in Five Points, and plenty of ways to get around. The population is over 5,600. The median list price of homes in the area is $504,000, and the median rent is $2,300/mo.

In the Greater Denver Metro Area:

If you find that you prefer suburban living rather than living in the city, there are some great neighborhoods outside the city limits.

Holly Hills

With a population of 2,909, this neighborhood is in nearby Arapahoe County, which is east of Denver. It has high-ranking schools and lots of parks, restaurants, and coffee shops. The median home value is $404,378, and the median rent is $1,750/mo.

Castle Pines

Found in neighboring Douglas County, south of downtown Denver, this area gives you that rural feel close to the city. It has lots of open space, highly rated schools, and easy public transport. The population is 10,573. The median home price is $522,726, with the median rent being $2,300/mo.

Living in Denver: The fun part

For the sports fan:

Denver is a big sports city that features several professional teams. Empower Field at Mile High is home to the football team, the Denver Broncos. Pepsi Center is the place to catch the Nuggets play basketball or the Avalanche play hockey. Head to Coors Field to see the Rockies play baseball, or to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park to see Colorado Rapids play Major League Soccer.

If college sports are more your speed, drive to Boulder to see the University of Colorado Buffaloes play football and basketball.

For the culture seeker:

The big Museum of Nature and Science is a fun, family-friendly place to see rotating exhibits, as well as animal dioramas, dinosaur history, and an interactive health exhibit. You can also take the kiddos to the Denver Zoo, home to animals of all kinds, both those native to Colorado and elsewhere.

For you art lovers, there are a variety of works to see at the Denver Art Museum. History buffs will love the History Colorado Center, as well as the Molly Brown House and the Mexican Cultural Center. You can also enjoy concerts at nearby Red Rocks Amphitheatre and at the Bluebird or Ogden theaters.

This is just a mere taste of all of the arts and culture Denver has to offer. Click here to find out more.

For the foodie:

If there’s something you’ve got to try in Denver, it’s Rocky Mountain oysters (hint: the dish doesn’t contain seafood). There’s also the Denver steak and the Denver omelet, which contains ham, bell peppers, onions, and cheese.

Denver is well known for its craft beer scene, and you can try local brews at the many bars and breweries scattered throughout the city.

There’s also a lot of authentic Mexican food to be found due to the city’s Latino and Hispanic population. Breakfast burritos are a definite Denver must-try!

For the traveler:

World travelers are in luck — Denver International Airport (DEN) flies to 28 destinations in 14 different countries.

If you’re looking for your next “staycation,” head west into the mountains for skiing and other outdoor activities in Vail, Aspen, and Breckenridge. You can also enjoy boating and water skiing at Standley Lake, or you head into Boulder or Fort Collins for a college town experience.

For the outdoor explorer:

You can’t walk around town without seeing Denver residents biking, hiking, or skiing (when there’s snow on the ground). The city also has plenty of trails to explore. You can adventure into the mountains to hike one of Colorado’s 58 “14ers” (14,000-feet mountains).

What you probably didn’t know about Denver:

The bottom line:

Denver is a diverse city, and this guide is merely a slice of what you’re going to find when you move there. Living in Denver is adventurous, friendly, fun, and educational. There’s always something going on, from the annual Pride Parade to the National Western Stock Show. You’re never going to be bored.

To discover more of what Denver has to offer, check out Denver.org. To catch up on the latest city news, check out The Denver Post or the independent publication, Westword.


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