Denver has been one of the country’s fastest-growing big cities in recent years and it’s easy to see why. Located along the Rocky Mountain Front Range, the Mile High City is surrounded by beautiful scenery and has direct access to some of the best skiing and mountain climbing in the world. It is the engine of a booming regional economy, with strong job and income growth in recent years. If you’re considering a big move you may want to consider working with a financial advisor to help prepare your finances.
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1. The Cost of Living Is Increasing
Among major U.S. cities, Denver’s cost of living is somewhere near the middle of the pack. It’s not nearly as expensive as Los Angeles or Boston (not to mention San Francisco or New York) but it isn’t as cheap as the big cities in Texas or other places. That being said, housing costs have been rising rapidly in recent years, so this could be changing. It’s important to understand the cost of living in the area and the part of town you would want to live in before moving there. Read our full breakdown of Denver’s cost of living.
2. Choose Your Neighborhood Wisely
Denver’s different neighbors all have their own vibe and personality. Cap Hill, for example, is eclectic and lively. Uptown is filled with young people and drinking establishments. Country Club is upscale and expensive. If you can explore a little bit before signing a lease (or buying a home) it will be worth your while to find a neighborhood you can fall in love with. The right neighborhood for you in Denver can change your entire experience.
3. Colorado Has a Flat Income Tax
The state income tax rate in Colorado is 4.55%, which places it close to the middle of the pack for U.S. states. It is also nice to have a flat tax because you don’t have to worry about what your changes in income are going to do to the taxes you’ll owe from a year-to-year basis. While this may not be as ideal as no state income tax, it can be a good system that might work for you. Additionally, the sales taxes are a little bit above average while property taxes are quite low.
4. The Weather Is Almost Too Nice
Denver gets 300 days of sunshine a year, which ranks it in the top five of the entire nation. Though the city gets over 50 inches of snow a year, this often falls in big storms and rarely sticks around long. Springtime in Denver is beautiful while summers are hot but not humid. Really, if there’s any complaint about Denver’s weather it’s that it is too nice. Those drizzly Saturdays or Sundays that give you an excuse to wear your pajamas all day are few and far between.
5. The Weather Is Also Unpredictable
The other thing to keep in mind about Denver weather is it can change on a dime. One day can be snowy and the next can have highs in the 70s. Because of the altitude, temperatures can rise or fall by 40 degrees in a number of hours. While this could be a bonus to a lot of people, it can be hard to adjust to if you’re not used to that happening. It makes wearing layers during certain times of the year an important choice.
6. Denver’s Food Is Underrated
Outside of Colorado, Denver isn’t really known as a food city, but it should be. It has some of the best Mexican food in the country, which many may not realize. It also has terrific Vietnamese and Ethiopian food. And of course, if you love steak, Denver’s got plenty of great steakhouses. There’s even a cut of beef called the “Denver steak.” Visitors of the city tend to rave about the great variety of terrific food options.
7. Bring Sunscreen
Because of the high altitude, the sun is a lot more powerful in Denver than it may seem. You can easily get a sunburn walking around outside for an hour or two, especially if you haven’t seen the sun much recently. Over time, the strong UV rays also increase the chance of skin cancer, so make sure to screen up before heading out for the day.
8. Great Outdoor Park Options
Everyone knows about Rocky Mountain National Park, but you don’t have to leave city limits to find a great green space in Denver. The city has a ton of lovely parks. Washington Park (or Wash Park) is a favorite with locals because of its trails, its flora and its two ponds. City Park is the largest park in Denver at 330 acres. Confluence Park, which sits along the river, is great for a picnic.
Those are the most well-known parks in Denver, but there are lots of smaller neighborhood parks as well. In fact, within city limits, the Denver park system has over 200 separate parks. With all the sunshine the city receives, you won’t be lacking for opportunities to get out and enjoy them.
9. Dress Down
If you’re moving to Denver, you can leave most of the formal attire behind. The t-shirt & blue jeans look is pretty standard no matter where you go in town. It’s a laid-back city even though it’s pretty well educated. In fact, the people who like to dress up might feel out of place quite often depending on what activities they participate in.
10. Ignore the Bumper Stickers – Denverites Are Friendly
You may see some bumper stickers on cars in the Denver area that suggest, in one way or another, that locals don’t appreciate all the newcomers in town. This is not the prevailing opinion. Most Denverites are quite welcoming and friendly to newcomers. In fact, given that the city’s population has increased by 200,000 since 1990, many of your neighbors may be relatively recent arrivals themselves.
11. Denver Has More Single Guys Than Single Gals
This is good news for the single ladies, bad news for the single fellas. Its tech workforce is particularly skewed toward men. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t a great singles scene, because there is as long as you’re living in or going to the right neighborhoods. The men will just have to work a bit harder since there are fewer single women around town.
12. The Skiing Is Great, but the Ski Traffic Is Not
Denver is just 75 miles from some of the best ski areas in America. If you plan on being a “weekend warrior,” however, expect to face some severe traffic getting to the mountains. It’s not unusual to sit in ski traffic for several hours on a Friday evening or Saturday morning in the winter. On the other hand, if you’re schedule is flexible or you can take a few weekdays off, getting to the slopes should be a breeze.
13. The Public Transit System Is Growing
Just 7% of commuters in Denver use public transit to get to work, but that number is growing. In 2016, several new light rail lines are opening, including one that goes to Denver International Airport. Light rail most serves to connect the suburbs to the city. Within the city, the bus system is adequate for getting between most systems. There’s a free bus that runs up and down the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver.
14. Denver Is a Great Sports Town
Denverites love their sports teams, but they especially love the Broncos. Even before winning three super bowls, the team was always the most popular team in town. Even when other teams are having success, Denver will still support the Broncos first regardless of how they are doing at the time. It should be noted that the selling rights to the Broncos stadium currently name it “Empower Field” but all the locals still refer to it by the old stadium name of “Mile High.”
15. The Elevation Takes Some Adjustment
The air really is thinner in Denver. It will take a few days for your body to adjust to the lower levels of oxygen, but even after you’ve been in Denver for a few months or years you may notice the effects of altitude when you’re climbing a staircase or going for a run. Likewise, alcohol will have a greater effect on your body. You’ll also have to cook your pasta for a little extra time as water has a lower boiling point at higher altitudes.
16. Bring a Bike
Denver is a great city for biking. As mentioned above, it’s almost always sunny so a bike can serve as a pretty reliable means of transportation throughout the year. The city also has lots of bike trails. A favorite is the Cherry Creek Bike Path, which stretches from downtown Denver through Cherry Creek State Park, covering more than 24 miles. Plus, parking can be hard to find in Denver so it’s often easier (and cheaper) to hop on your bike than to drive.
17. Also Bring a Water Bottle
Between the high altitude, the constant sunshine and the typically dry air, it is very easy to get dehydrated in Denver. Whether you’re heading to the park or going for a long bike ride, remember to bring a bottle of water. This is especially important if you’re not native to the town because you don’t want to be caught in an area without water if you plan on being outside for a long period of time.
18. So Much Beer
Denver has more microbreweries than any city outside of Portland, Oregon. The Denver area has even been called the “Napa Valley of Beer.” This likely adds to some of the other things on the list, such as the common stance to dress down. Denver is a laid-back city and they really enjoy their beer.
19. Marijuana’s Legal and It’s Not a Big Deal
Colorado was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. For the most part, people in Denver are pretty relaxed about this state of affairs. It’s not a largely political issue like it is in other parts of the country but it is very common for you to see or smell the substance quite a bit around town.
The Bottom Line
Denver can be a great place to live, but obviously, the right area for you will depend on what you’re looking for. Between the great weather, sports atmosphere and laid-back culture, Denver offers a large variety of people a nice location to call home. If you’re prepared for the nuances of the city then you can find the right neighborhood to live in that might suit your needs.
- Moving is a big ordeal that your finances need to be prepared for. A financial advisor can help you navigate big life changes like a move to a new state, or just help you to meet your financial goals in general. SmartAsset’s financial free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- Now that you’ve decided to move to Denver, one tip you may consider is funding your move with a 0% APR credit card. This will allow you to defer the cost of your move for 12, 15 or even up to 21 months. (Just be sure to budget to pay off the expenses before the offer is over to avoid additional fees and interest.) You can check out the best 0% APR cards here.
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