There’s a universal truth to Denver that everyone – natives and transplants alike – acknowledge to be true: this city is growing exponentially with no end in sight. With this growth comes plenty of variety, opportunities, and new people. Here’s our honest guide on what to know before moving to Denver. (If you’d like a free personal assistant for your Denver apartment search, learn more here!)
What to Know Before Moving to Denver
What makes it the best:
- Denver summers. They truly are unlike any other – warm, dry, and sunny; long days end with late, but unbeatable sunsets.
- The people. The residents are active, healthy, and friendly people who promote inclusion.
- So many activities. There’s plenty to do, and it’s all very accessible. Breweries, restaurants, art exhibits, sports games, musicals, movies, festivals, hikes, live music, rooftop bars, and parks… just to name a few.
- Public transportion. The RTD bus system is punctual and affordable. With Denver’s booming population, RTD is continually expanding the Light Rail, which connects downtown Denver to the surrounding areas.
- The mountains. Few other cities are backlit by a Rocky Mountain relief. When urban living becomes too hectic, head an hour west for a rejuvenating weekend surrounded by the best mother nature has to offer.
- Jobs. Employment in Denver is booming with many employers relocating people from all over the country. Given the competition for great people, some also provide perks like RTD passes, gym memberships, and staff luncheons to help with the cost of living.
- Great food. From totchos to tacos, Denver has amazing food.
So Why Doesn’t Everyone Live Here?
- Cost of Living. Not everyone is moving here from California or New York City so there’s no point beating around the bush. For many, apartments and homes are expensive to rent or buy. Denver is desirable, and real estate is limited.
- Denver winters are unpredictable. Sunny days can be followed quickly by bouts of thick snow and ice.
- Public transportation. Depending on where you live, public transportation can be a blessing or a curse. Commuting from downtown during rush hour means packed busses, and getting to Denver’s outlying neighborhoods might take multiple modes of transportation.
- Traffic. Downtown Denver is a major city, which means traffic can be challenging at peak times.
Things locals know that you might not:
- You can’t smoke marijuana in public. It’s no secret that many out-of-state visitors are curious about this taboo topic, but many don’t know that it’s still illegal to consume cannabis in public. Save yourself disdainful looks and potential trouble by keeping your “extracurricular activities” within the designated areas.
- Take the train to and from the airport. With traffic, it can take over an hour to drive to DIA from downtown. However, Union Station has direct one-way tickets for $9.50 (and it only takes about 35 minutes!)
- Rent prices are seasonal. Summer months are busy for Denver rentals. Signing a lease in December could save you up to 20% compared to the summer months for a similar unit. Unsurprisingly, prices tend to go up in the summer when the weather is nice and employers hire people from universities.
- It’s very dog-friendly. Most apartment buildings, shops, and restaurants with outdoor seating areas are dog-friendly. Certain breed restrictions may apply, but compared to other cities, Denver is a great place for pups!
- Move-in costs are low. Because competition is high, very few places require first/last month’s rent plus a deposit. Most will require a small deposit (usually less than $1,000). Sometimes you can move in for as little as $1 when buildings are trying to fill empty units quickly.
- Hail in the early summer is common. Sometimes hail is light, and sometimes it is softball-sized, but frequently it causes vehicle damage and surprises many transplants. Covered parking is a must, as is “inclusive” vehicle insurance. Many collision plans don’t cover weather-related damage, so make sure you specifically ask for “inclusive” coverage!
- How to drive in the snow. Cars with two-wheel-drive will struggle to get up hills, and driving in the slush causes plenty of accidents in the winter. If you’re from a region that doesn’t get frequent snow, be careful!
- Ice scraper – Don’t get stuck scraping your windshield with your credit card during the first freeze!
- Snow shovel – if you live in a house, duplex, or townhome, you might be required to shovel your sidewalk.
- A puffy jacket. Your basic puffy will do and it will be your go-to jacket all winter long. You’ll throw it in the backseat, tie it around your waist when the sun suddenly bursts through the winter sky, and you might even lay on it at your favorite park.
- Water resistant boots. Unpredictable winters mean snow one day and sun the next. Which is great for morale, but causes very soggy roads and sidewalks. Buy a sturdy boot for trekking to the corner store, getting to your car, and taking the dog out.
- A solid backpack. It’s a good idea to invest in a durable, comfortable backpack for adventuring! From evening picnics to weekend hikes, you’ll get a lot of use from a good backpack.
Things you don’t need
- Snow tires. They’re helpful if you are driving to the mountains, but not always needed in the city. In the spring you’ll need to store them somewhere, so if you live in an apartment, you might not have a good place keep them. (Again, if you’re not from a place that gets frequent snow, be careful!)
The Denver Housing Landscape
- Apartments go fast here. It can be really difficult to find a rental all by yourself. You’ll most likely need to have an application ready and a check book in hand during your tours.
- Prices are climbing. The city’s housing costs are continuing to stretch skyward.
- Affordable luxury. Because competition is high, buildings battle to be the most desireable. Luxury features and amenities have become increasingly prevalent, and free rent, perks, and concessions are common as newer buildings try to attract renters.
- Ample outdoor space. A lot of apartment buildings have rooftop or courtyard pools, community grilling stations, dog runs, and patio space.
Denver is one of the fastest growing cities in the US right now, and with good reason. People are flocking to this mile-high haven in search of a fresh start, new friends, and a holistic approach to enjoying life and all it has to offer.