There’s a universal truth to Denver that everyone‚ natives and transplants alike, acknowledge to be true: this city is developing exponentially with no end in sight. With this growth comes plenty of variety, opportunities, and new residents. With so many new faces flocking to this city, we’ve decided to research and ask our team of locals their honest opinion on what to know before moving to Denver.
Looking for your dream apartment in Denver? Reach out to AptAmigo for your own personal Denver apartment locator. Just let us know your preferences and we’ll compile a list of buildings that are perfect for you. Pick your favorites from the list and we’ll schedule a day of tours and even provide ridesharing to each building. The best part? It’s completely free.
Related: Denver Rental Market Update
What Makes Denver The Best
Denver summers. They truly are unlike any other— warm, dry, and sunny. Long days end with late, but unbeatable sunsets, and locals can be found brewery hopping or laying out at a local park.
The people. The residents are active, healthy, and friendly people who promote inclusion and adventure. It’s easy to make friends here with all of the community-oriented events!
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 transportation. 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 pizza to tacos, Denver is full of amazing food. New locally-owned restaurants are always popping up and the warmer months bring plenty of food truck festivals to the area.
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. For many, the sunny days provide relief in the gloom of winter, but for others the uncertain weather is a dealbreaker.
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. Fortunately, parking is less expensive and more abundant than other large cities like New York and Chicago.
Things Locals Know That You Might Not About Living in Denver
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 $10.50 (and it only takes about 35 minutes!)
Rent prices are seasonal. Summer months are busy for Denver rentals. This is mainly due to new graduates and people looking for a fresh start moving to the area for work and attractive weather. This means signing a lease in December could save you up to 20% on rent compared to similar units in warmer months.
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 apartments 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 with the first few months free 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! Looking for a cheap but reliable car? Many car dealerships will have hail damage sales where cars go for way less than expected.
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 and go slow!
Must-Haves When Living in Denver
Ice scraper. Don’t get stuck scraping your windshield with your credit card during the first freeze! Pro tip: make sure you wake up earlier than normal on snowy days— scraping ice off your car takes longer than you’d think!
Snow shovel. If you live in a house, duplex, or townhome, you are required to shovel your sidewalk. In accordance with ADA laws, Denver has made it mandatory to provide safe access around the city for everyone. Check in with your landlord or HOA to see if you personally need to do it or if they’ve hired a company to do the shoveling.
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 and water-resistant 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 When Living in Denver
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 to keep them. For the most part, Denverites get by with four-wheel-drive cars and all-season tires.
The Denver Housing Scene
Apartments go fast here. It can be really difficult to find a rental all by yourself. In the Summer months, you’ll most likely need to have an application ready and a checkbook in hand during your tours. Apartment locators are the favored way to find an apartment that is perfect for you in Denver, especially for relocators who don’t know where to start the search.
Prices are climbing. The city’s housing costs are continuing to grow. With Denver attracting large corporations and adventurous people looking to live in a city right next to the Rockies, rental prices are skyrocketing. Luckily, you can occasionally still find great concessions on apartment complexes, such as 1 or 2 months of free rent.
Affordable luxury. While overall, Denver’s prices are increasing, luxury living is still more affordable than cities like San Francisco or New York. Because competition is high, buildings battle to be the most desirable. 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. It may be hard to believe but you can still get a taste of nature while living in the heart of downtown Denver. Many apartment buildings have rooftop or courtyard pools, community grilling stations, dog runs, and patio space.
Find Your Dream Apartment in Denver
Now that we’ve covered what to know before moving to Denver, it’s time to find the apartment that’s perfect for you. People are flocking to this mile-high haven in search of a fresh start, new friends, and a holistic approach to enjoying life— but with all of the apartment options, how will you know what the best fit is?
Thankfully, there’s a done-for-you apartment hunting service in Denver called AptAmigo. Don’t spend your precious time apartment hunting when you can have apartment experts do all the hard work for you.
If you’re moving to or within Denver, AptAmigo can help you find an apartment with zero stress. It’s the easiest way to rent an apartment, so stop searching and let us help you find your dream place. And like we said before, it’s absolutely free!
Abigail is a freelance writer who loves exploring new places - especially in the southwest - and moved into her van full time last fall. When she's not working on writing gigs to support her #vanlife endeavors, she loves packrafting alpine lakes, floating lazy rivers, and trail running.