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Guide to what it's like living in Denver
Moti Perez

Living in Denver 🌄 | What to Know Before Moving to Denver

Have you always dreamed of living in a breathtaking city that offers mild weather and an abundance of outdoor recreation? Then you'll love living in Denver.

Known as the Mile High City, Denver is the capital city of and the most populous metro area in the state of Colorado. Denver is known for its high elevation and location in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, as well as its fantastic food, craft breweries and lush parks.

Denver was settled in 1858 after gold was discovered in the Rocky Mountains. Two land developers from the Eastern Kansas Territory, General William Larimer and Johnathon Cox, originally platted the land.

They named the new settlement Denver City, after a local politician named James W. Denver, hoping to win his favor. It was officially incorporated as a city in 1861, although the modern consolidated city and county of Denver was created by referendum in 1902.

Today, Denver is a good place to live for a wide range of people thanks to its thriving economy, unique culture and access to outdoor recreation. So, if you're considering a relocation to the Mile High City, here are all the things to know before moving to Denver.

Where Is Denver?

Denver is a consolidated city and county in northern central Colorado. It's in the heart of the Front Range Urban Corridor in between the Rocky Mountains and the High Plains.

Its nickname, the Mile High City, refers to its high elevation, which is precisely 5,820 feet or one mile above sea level (from the steps of the State Capitol Building). It's also famous for its outdoor recreation and several state parks and nature preserves surrounding the city, including the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, Golden Gate Canyon State Park, Red Rocks Park, and the Amphitheater.

Denver is surrounded by Adams, Arapahoe and Jefferson counties. There are also several adjacent cities, towns, and home rule municipalities, including Aurora, Lakewood, Arvada, Commerce City, Wheat Ridge, Edgewater, Littleton, Englewood, Centennial, and Greenwood Village.

It's also about 30 miles or a 38 minute drive from Denver to Boulder, CO.

Denver Information

  • Denver County: Denver
  • Area: 154.726 square miles
  • Denver Zip codes: 80012 - 80299
  • Denver Area code: 303/720/983
  • Elevation: 5,280 ft
  • Time zone: Mountain Time Zone (UTC -6 and -7)
  • Closest airport: The Denver International Airport (DEN) is 22 miles from downtown Denver.

 

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Denver Population & Demographics

The Denver population is 715,522 within the city limits according to the 2020 census. That makes it the largest city in Colorado by population and 19th largest in the United States. However, the total Denver metro population is around 2.9 million residents, while just over 5 million residents live in the entire Front Range corridor.

The number of residents living in Denver has increased significantly over the past ten years and the population went up by 17.5% since 2010. Denver has a spacious, urban atmosphere with a population density of 4,659 residents per square mile.

Denver is a young and diverse city with a lot to offer residents of all different backgrounds. The median age is 35.1, which is 7% lower than the statewide average. About 21% of residents living in Denver are in their 30s, while 18% are in their 20s. The racial and ethnic breakdown is 65.7% white (53.9% non-Hispanic), 29.2% Hispanic or Latino, 8.9% Black or African American, 3.6% Asian, and 12.7% two or more races.

Other Denver Demographics

  • 51% of people living in Denver are male and 49% are female
  • The Denver median household income is $88,213, which is roughly on par with the rest of the state
  • 90.9% of Denver residents have a high school diploma, and 57.1% have a bachelor's degree or higher
  • The foreign-born population is 13.8%

Countless famous people have enjoyed living in Denver, including actor Tim Allen, filmmaker David Fincher, and former NBA player Chauncy Billups.

Denver Transportation

Moving to Denver offers access to a robust highway and public transportation system. The main thoroughfares serving the city include I-25 and I-70, along with US routes 6, 36, 85, 87, and 285 and State Highways 93 and 470.

The Regional Transportation District (RTD) manages the public transit in Denver and operates more than 1,000 buses making over 10,000 stops in and around the city. FasTracks commuter rail, light rail and bus network also connects downtown with the surrounding suburbs that are at least an hour away.

Bustang is a service run by the Colorado Department of Transportation that connects Denver to nearby cities such as Grand Junction, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Gunnison.

Greyhound and Amtrak also offer bus and train services to other parts of the country, from San Francisco to Chicago, while the Denver International Airport (DEN) accommodates domestic and international travel.

Cost of Living in Denver

If you're debating moving to Denver, affordability is likely a pressing concern. Although living in Denver is slightly more expensive than the rest of the country, it's still fairly affordable for all the city offers. A good way to assess the Denver cost of living is to examine the cost of living index. It compares the prices of normal consumer goods to the rest of the United States, which is represented by 100.

The COLI for the Denver area is 113.5, indicating it's 13.5% more expensive than the rest of the US. The Family Budget Calculator by the Economic Policy Institute is another handy tool for assessing the cost of living. It shows that a family of four with two adults and two children needs to make about $127,095 per year to afford the average cost of living in Denver.

The MIT Living Wage Calculator also indicates the same family with both adults working needs to earn at least $33.71 to afford a comfortable standard of living.

Typical Denver living expenses:

  • Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: $20
  • A gallon of milk: $4.19
  • Cappuccino: $5.66
  • Bottle of water: $2.25
  • Loaf of bread: $3.94
  • 12 fresh eggs: $4.27
  • Average cost of utilities in Denver: $191.90

Source: Numbeo

Taxes are another consideration if you're thinking of moving to Denver. Here is a breakdown of what you can expect:

  • Sales tax: Combined state and local tax rates in metro Denver and Northern Colorado range from 2.9% to 9.25%. The state of Colorado levies a 2.9% sales tax and allows other cities and towns to assess their own rates. The Denver Revised Municipal Code also levies a 4.81% city sales tax. Plus, the RTD levies a 1% tax, and the Cultural Facilities District imposes a 0.1% tax. So, most Denver residents pay around 8.81% in combined sales taxes.
  • Income tax: Colorado has a flat income tax of 4.4%. Meaning all residents living in Denver pay the same rate, regardless of how much they make.
  • Property tax: Denver property taxes are calculated based on the value of the home. The tax rate is based on a "mill rate" which is equal to $1 of tax for every $1,000 in assessed value. Your tax bill is determined by taking the actual value of the home, minus any exemptions, and multiplying it by the assessment rate and mileage. While the mill rate is subject to change, for 2023 it was 77.486 mill or 0.077486 for every $1 in assessed value.

Before moving to Denver, you'll also want to consider the housing costs. Living in Denver offers access to a wide range of different types of housing, from modern apartment buildings and luxury condos to modest starter homes and multi-million estates. So, no matter what your budget may be, you'll be able to find great Denver real estate.

Denver Real Estate | Average Rent & Home Prices

Redfin reports that the median listing price of homes for sale in Denver, CO is $600,000, which is a 4.3% increase since last year. That means the average home price in Denver is 35% higher than the amount in the rest of the country, but right on par with the rest of Colorado. The median price per square foot of homes for sale in Denver Colorado is $374.

The Mile High City also has plenty to offer renters as 50% of residents living in Denver are tenants, while 50% own a home. Rentcafe shows that the average rent in Denver is $1,974 per month. About 66% of rental buildings are low-rise garden style apartments, while 16% are high rise buildings. Rent in Denver starts around $620 for a studio and goes up to $18,500 for a 3 bedroom.

According to the ATTOM Out of Reach Rental Affordability Report, it's cheaper to rent in Denver than it is to buy.

 

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Denver Neighborhoods | Where to Live in Denver

Denver has 78 official neighborhoods, each offering a unique charm and ambiance. No matter where you look, you'll find tree-lined streets, well-kept homes and access to conveniences. However, naturally, some areas are better than others. Here are a few of the best places to live in Denver.

Washington Park | A Family-Friendly Denver Neighborhood with Views of the Park

Washington Park is a lush residential neighborhood named after the city park that straddles its western border. It's one of the best areas to live in Denver and features a selection of brick bungalows, and restored Victorian and Tudor homes on quiet blocks and great schools.

University | One of the Best Denver Neighborhoods for Students and Young Professionals

University is a popular neighborhood centered around the University of Denver campus, making it a popular destination for students and professors. With walkable streets lined with bars, restaurants and coffee-shops, University is one of Denver's liveliest and most prestigious neighborhoods.

Berkley | An Upscale Neighborhood in Denver with Access to Attractions

Located in northwest Denver, Berkley is a bustling residential neighborhood that offers beautiful views of the Rocky Mountains and easy access to attractions like Berkley Lake Park and Lakeside Amusement Park. With a mix of restored Victorians and modern condos and townhomes, it's a popular destination for families and young professionals.

Denver Weather & Climate

The Koppen Classification system indicates that Denver's climate is continental and semi-arid, with four distinct seasons: hot summers and cold, snowy winters. Most of the time, the temperature stays between 22°F and 89°F. However, in the winter, it can get as cold as 6°F, and summers can get as hot as 96°F. The best time to visit a friend living in Denver is typically June through September.

But if you plan on moving to Denver in the winter, get ready to deal with precipitation. The Denver annual rainfall is only about 17 inches. However, the Denver annual snowfall is 59 inches. So make sure to bring your parka and snow boots.

Denver Restaurants

Denver is an up-and-coming food city, with more delicious restaurants opening every year. Covering them all would take a separate guide, but to help you get started, here is a list of the best restaurants in Denver.

The Wolf's Tailor

The Wolf's Tailor is a Michelin-star-rated restaurant in Denver serving sophisticated menu items made from wild game in a hip, industrial setting.

4058 Tejon St, Denver, CO 80211 (720) 456-6705

 

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Corrine Denver

Located in the Meridian Hotel, Corrine Denver is one of the best places to eat in Denver if you're craving upscale American cuisine like wagyu beef tartare and spicy tuna bruschetta.

1455 California St, Denver, CO 80202 (720) 996-1555

Beckon

Beckon is an immersive Denver restaurant curated by executive chef Duncan Holmes with a pre-paid, ticketed menu and constantly involving seasonal menu.

2843 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205 (303) 749-0020

Things to Do in Denver

Moving to Denver offers easy access to a wide range of exciting attractions, including parks, museums, sports stadiums, zoos, art galleries, and more. From Cherry Creek State Park to the Denver Mint, there are so many options for entertainment. But with so many exciting options, it can be tough to know where to begin. To help you decide, here is a list of some of the best things to do in Denver.

Top Denver Attractions

  • Denver Zoo: One of the best things to do in Denver with kids, the zoo has over 3,500 animals representing over 500 species and welcomes 2.2 million visitors annually.
  • Coors Field: The home field of the Colorado Rockies MLB team, Coors Field is a must see for baseball fans.
  • Downtown Aquarium: This massive complex centers around a 50,000 square foot aquarium housing over 500 species of fish, making it a great Denver family activity.
  • Elitch Gardens: If you're looking for fun things to do in Denver on a hot summer day, Elitch Gardens is a theme and water park with over 50 rides, live shows, water slides, and roller coasters.
  • The Denver Mint: An active branch of the US Mint, the Denver Mint produces circulating and collectible coins and offers tours six days a week.
  • Empower Field at Mile High: A football stadium and home of the Denver Broncos that hosts other fun events like motocross and monster truck rallies.
  • The Colorado State Capitol: Colorado's iconic, gold-domed capitol is open for tours Monday through Friday, offering a glimpse into local politics and the process of passing laws.

Denver Entertainment & Arts

Denver Museums

  • Denver Art Museum: For art lovers, the Denver Art Museum is one of the best things to do in Denver with a diverse selection of works spanning multiple centuries and cultures.

 

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  • Denver Museum of Science and Nature: Another one of the best things to do in Denver with kids, the Museum of Science and Nature features interactive exhibits designed to spark curiosity and encourage a love of learning.
  • Meow Wolf Denver: An innovative walk-through art experience featuring interactive rooms, eclectic sculptures, and other multi-media exhibits.
  • Clyfford Still Museum: An upscale gallery in the Civic Center neighborhood showcasing over 3,000 works from the legendary abstract expressionist painter Clyfford Still.

Denver Parks and Outdoors

  • Denver Botanic Gardens: A 23-acre park featuring North America's largest collection of plants from cold temperature climates.

 

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  • Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater: An outdoor amphitheater located about 10 miles southwest of Denver that features massive redstone cliffs that are great for hiking and biking, plus a concert venue that brings in big-name acts.
  • Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge: One of the best things to do in Denver for nature lovers, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National WildLife Refuge covers over 1500 acres of land that is home to over 330 species of animals.
  • Confluence Park: A beautiful urban park at the confluence of the Cherry Creek and South Platte Rivers that features grassy lawns, hiking and biking trails, and a kayak launch.

Shopping in Denver

  • 16th Street Mall: An iconic outdoor shopping mall designed to resemble a rattlesnake, 16th Street Mall is home to over 40 shops and restaurants.
  • Larimer Square: A historic district on the site where Denver was originally founded that is packed with boutiques, cafes, and attractions.
  • Cherry Creek North: An upscale shopping district with over 600 businesses in a vibrant, outdoor setting.

Map of Denver Things to Do

Denver Sports

Sports fans will love moving to Denver because there is no shortage of major league teams. The Mile High City is home to six professional teams and four local teams.

Denver pro sports teams:

Denver local sports teams:

  • Denver Barbarians (Rugby)
  • American Raptors (Rugby)
  • Colorado Summit (Ultimate Frisbee)
  • Colorado Rapids 2 (MLB Next Pro team)

Denver Crime Rate

Crime is likely another if you're thinking about moving to Denver. Like many large urban areas, Denver crime is higher than the national average. However, most of the crime tends to be contained to certain areas. Here is a breakdown of how crime in Denver compares to the Colorado crime rate, as well as the national average.

 

Crimes per 100K residents % difference from state % difference from country
Total Crime 5507 69.1% higher 134% higher
Violent Crime 858 102.8% higher 121.3% higher
Property Crime 4,649 121.3% higher 137.4% higher

 

It also helps to put the data in context and see how it stacks up against other similar urban areas. Here is a look at how crime in Denver compares to other nearby cities.

  • Boulder: 29% lower than Denver
  • Lakewood: 1.7% higher than Denver
  • Aurora: 24.8% lower than Denver
  • Broomfield: 56% lower than Denver

So, while it does experience more crime, living in Denver isn't significantly more dangerous than any other city in Colorado. The Denver Police Department handles crime in the city with the assistance of 1818 staff members including 1552 total officers and 266 civilians.

Economy & Jobs in Denver

Moving to Denver also offers access to fantastic job opportunities in a wide range of competitive industries. The gross metro product of the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood MSA is just under $250 billion. Its central location makes it a natural hub for transportation, storage, and distribution. Plus, the Denver Airport's strategic location, about halfway between each coast, makes it a popular destination for regional and international headquarters.

Other major industries in the Denver area include aerospace and aviation, bioscience, digital communications, renewable energy, financial services, food and beverage production, healthcare and IT. Plus, Many top companies have offices in Denver.

Some of the best places to work in Denver include:

According to Payscale, the average salary in Denver is $80,000 per year. Salaries for common jobs in Denver start around $50,000 for an operations manager and go up to $156,000 for a senior software engineer.

Employment seekers will find all kinds of exciting Denver jobs in positions such as research assistants or project superintendent. Plus, you can also find great city of Denver jobs offering great benefits and competitive pay.

 

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Denver Healthcare

Moving to Denver also offers access to top-rated hospitals and healthcare institutions. Colorado's healthcare system ranks 6th in the nation and many of the top facilities are in Denver.

Denver Health is recognized as one of the top hospitals in the nation for social responsibility, equity, value, and outcomes, according to the Lown Institute. Plus, many of the top hospitals in Colorado are within the Denver metro area, including UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora and AdventHealth Littleton. The Swedish Medical Center in Englewood is also recognized as one of the top trauma centers in the state.

Denver Schools

Fantastic schools are another good reason to consider moving to Denver. According to a study by US News and World Report, Denver ranked within the top 25 metro areas in the US for top ranking high schools. It found that 56 Denver high schools, or about 39% of those in the district ranked within the top 25% nationally.

Denver public schools is the main district and educates approximately 92,000 students across 92 elementary schools, 44 K-8 schools, 34 middle schools, 18 high schools and 19 charter schools.

D'Evelyn Junior/Senior High Schools is generally regarded as the best high school in Denver. It's the top rated high school in Colorado, as well as 59th in the country with a 99% graduation rate and 92% AP participation rate. A few of the top elementary schools in Denver include Stargate Charter School, Peak to Peak Charter School, Challenge School.

Denver also has plenty of fantastic private schools. A few top choices include Colorado Academy, Kent Denver School, and St. Mary’s Academy. Denver is also home to several colleges and Universities.

The University of Colorado Denver, the Metropolitan State University of Denver and the Community College of Denver collectively make up the Auraria Campus. Private universities in the city also include the University of Denver, Johnson and Wales University and Regis University. For books and other media, the Denver public library system has branches all over the city.

Denver Utilities & DMV Change of Address

Before moving to Denver, you'll want to take care of a few housekeeping items, such as setting up utilities and changing your address with the DMV.

The top Denver utility providers include:

You can find the contact info for each utility provider on the Metro Denver website, along with resources on how to set up service.

There are a few different ways you can update your address with the DMV, including:

Ready to relocate to the Mile High City? Whether you’re staying local or moving long distance, Move 4 Less has your back. Trust our reliable Denver movers to make your relocation easy and affordable. Call (702) 381-1200 today for a free, custom moving quote.

Moti Perez
As a cofounder and business owner of Move 4 Less, my passion is to deliver the highest quality of moving services in the industry. My varied background has thought me the value of seeking new challenges, working hard, keeping customers happy and focus on success. In 2002, I got my first taste in the moving industry, working for Nationwide Moving&Storage. For a little over two years I worked in a number of frontline and management positions, learning the ins and outs of the moving industry. The business is now one of the largest moving companies in the Las Vegas metropolitan area. I also had some time in between to open, manage and sell few restaurants and retail business. I continue to invest in Realestate and any other interesting business opportunity.
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