Looking to move out of your current hometown? If you’re looking to move to a big city which offers a little bit of everything, Denver, CO, may be the right choice for you.
Denver is the 19th largest city in the US, according to the 2020 Census (1). Additionally, Colorado’s capital city is a rapidly growing area as its population has increased by 25.97% since the 2010 Census. With 715,878 residents, it’s also the largest city in Colorado (2).
The “Mile High City” is located exactly one mile above sea level and is nestled next to the base of the Rocky Mountains, so there are ample parks, green space and trails to enjoy. You’ll definitely be able to get outside and enjoy all the outdoor activities the city has to offer because Denver sees an average of 300 days of sunshine per year (3).
If you’re more of a social person than an outdoorsy person, you’ll be happy to know Denver features a vibrant downtown area which contains world-class restaurants, museums, art galleries, bars, and breweries, and prides itself on being home to many thriving cultures.
The city features 13 distinct neighborhoods, each just as unique as the next (4). They include:
- This neighborhood also contains “Historic Lower Downtown,” also known as LoDo.
- In LoDo, you can find Larimer Square, the city’s oldest block, which features Victorian-era buildings which have been transformed into popular modern restaurants, brewpubs, coffeehouses and more.
- Art District on Santa Fe
- This neighborhood showcases its traditional Hispanic roots with colorful murals, over 30 art galleries and studios, and authentic Hispanic restaurants.
- Capitol Hill and the Golden Triangle Creative District
- This neighborhood revolves around the state’s capitol building, Civic Center Park, and various art museums.
- There are many stately, single-family homes in this neighborhood, as well as historic buildings which have been converted into bed-and-breakfasts, inns and hotels.
- Cherry Creek
- This neighborhood features many renovated, modern homes and is one of the nicest neighborhoods in all of Denver.
- There are also 16 blocks of unique, independent storefronts as well as the Cherry Creek Shopping Center, which is home to 160 stores, including 40 exclusive stores to the area.
- East Colfax
- This neighborhood is home to some great live music venues such as the Ogden and the Bluebird Theaters.
- It’s also home to the longest commercial street in the US; it was first known as a dirt road in 1868, then a trolley route, and now a place with a great mix of restaurants and shopping.
- Five Points
- This neighborhood is one of Denver’s oldest, most historic, most diverse neighborhoods and is the pulsing heartbeat of Denver’s African-American community.
- The neighborhood is known for its creativity, vibrancy and great-tasting Caribbean food and Soul food.
- This neighborhood features many historic Victorian-era buildings, but also mixes in ultra-modern architecture; it’s a great place for tourists to visit.
- There are three distinct districts in this neighborhood: Highlands Square, Tennyson St., and Lower Highland (LoHi).
- River North Art District (RiNo)
- This neighborhood features many historic warehouses and factories which have now been converted into modern restaurants and bars, giving the area a unique, urban, industrial vibe.
- South Broadway (SoBo)
- This neighborhood exudes a hipster vibe thanks to its taverns, vintage clothing stores and international restaurants.
- “Antique Row” is just south of Alameda St. in SoBo and is home to 100 antique stores.
- Federal Boulevard
- This neighborhood is home to a plethora of cultures; you can simply tell by all the different types of authentic restaurants (Asian, Vietnamese, Mexican, etc.), shops and more in the area.
- Central Park/Lowry/Northfield
- This neighborhood features 46 miles of trails (biking, nature and urban), parks, green space and access to the 17,000-acre Rocky Mountain Arsenal Natural Wildlife Refuge.
- Uptown Denver
- This neighborhood is just east of Downtown and is considered to be “the Capital of Cool” thanks to its hipster vibes.
- City Park, Denver’s largest green space, is also in this neighborhood.
- Washington Park
- This neighborhood fosters a very family-friendly atmosphere and culture.
- It’s also home to two lakes.
Most of Denver’s neighborhoods are very walkable, though there are certain aspects of the city that bring down its overall walkability. According to Redfin, Denver has a 62/100 WalkScore®, which is classified as “somewhat walkable” (5). It’s a “very bikeable” city with a 72/100 BikeScore®.
If you’re in Denver and trying to get around, it might be better to walk or bike because its TransitScore®, according to Redfin, is 45/100, which is considered to be “Some Transit.”
Denver’s Housing Market
Purchasing a Home
Before making the jump to move to the Mile High City, you should know it’s the second most competitive housing market out of the 50 largest metro areas in the United States (6) behind California’s Bay Area.
Despite interest rates being around 5.5%, 70% of Denver homes sold for above listing price. On average, the homes would sell for nearly $33,500 over asking. If you’re planning on moving to the Denver area, make sure you’re prepared to pay much more for housing than where you’re coming from, regardless of if you’re purchasing a home with a traditional mortgage, renting an apartment, or signing a rent-to-own agreement.
As of April 2022, Denver home prices were up by 17.1% compared to the previous year with the median price being $632,000, according to Redfin (5). Homes are getting snatched up quickly in Denver with the average home only lasting five days on the market before it goes under contract.
In fact, a 2-bedroom, 3-bathroom, 1,880 sq. ft-single-family home recently sold on May 31, 2022, in Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood for $855,000 which is incredibly pricey compared to other neighborhoods and cities in the US.
Cherry Creek, one of Denver’s nicest neighborhoods, is also one of Denver’s hottest neighborhoods in terms of the housing market as of April 2022 (7). According to Redfin, home prices are up by 54.3% in Cherry Creek compared to one year ago. Due to that, the median home price in the neighborhood is $1.4 million.
As of June 2022, a 2-bedroom, 3-bathroom, 2,700 sq. ft-condo sold for $1.625 million and a 4-bedroom, 5-bathroom, 7,346 sq. ft-single-family home sold for $5.010 million.
Denver’s Washington Park neighborhood is also a relatively hot market for home sales (8). According to Redfin, home prices were up by 34.3% in April 2022 compared to the previous year while the median home price was $1.5 million.
In June 2022, a 2-bedroom, 3-bathroom, 1,880 sq. ft-condo sold for $1.275 million and a 5-bedroom, 5-bathroom, 4,100 sq. ft-single-family home sold for $2.950 million.
One of Denver’s neighborhoods that has seen a bit of a drop off in sales and prices is the Lowry neighborhood (9). As of April 2022, home prices were down by 3.2% from one year earlier and the median home price was at $658,000.
As of June 2022, the Lowry neighborhood saw a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom, 1,277 sq. ft-townhome sell for $526,000 and a 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom, 2,430 sq. ft-single-family home sell for $889,000.
The median home prices in other prominent Denver neighborhoods in June 2022 include (10):
- Capitol Hill at $350,000
- Downtown at $595,000
- Five Points at $625,000
- West Colfax at $700,000
Renting and Rent-to-Own Options
Finding a place to rent or sign a rent-to-own agreement on may be just as difficult as finding a house to purchase in Denver. The 2020 Census says out of the nearly 288,000 households in the city, 50.4% of housing units were owner-occupied between 2016 and 2020 (11). This means only 49.6% of housing units at that time were eligible to be rented.
As of June 2022, there were approximately 1,400 rentable places to live in Denver (10). Of those 1,400 places, only 123 were eligible for rent-to-own agreements (12).
Since you typically agree upon a home purchase price up-front when you sign a rent-to-own agreement, it’s important to know the median list price on rent-to-own agreements was $524,900 in June 2022. You could be looking at a $310,000 purchase price for a 3-bedroom, 1 ½-bathroom, 924 sq. ft-single-family home in Denver on the low end of the spectrum. On the high end, you could be looking at a $600,000 purchase price for a 4-bedroom, 3 ½-bathroom, approximately 3,000 sq. ft-single-family home.
You can always check for updated rent-to-own listings in Denver on websites like HomeFinder (13) and ZeroDown (14), but it might be a better move to rent a place to live while the housing market bubble continues to grow larger and larger until it eventually pops.
In June 2022, you could find apartments to rent in Denver such as (10):
- A 404 sq. ft-studio for $550 per month
- A 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom, 576 sq. ft-apartment for $1,319 per month
- A 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom, 862 sq. ft-apartment for $1,582 per month
- A 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom, 1,076 sq. ft-apartment for $1,828 per month
Typically though, a standard 2-bedroom, 2- to 2 ½-bathroom apartment between 1200- and 1500-sq. ft will run around $5,500 per month.
Cost of Living in Denver
The Denver housing market may have grown so large so quickly that it hasn’t allowed the average salary by a resident to catch up to it. According to the 2020 Census, from 2016 to 2020, the median household income in Denver was $72,661 (11).
According to Payscale.com, the cost of living in Denver is 12% higher than the national average (15). Based on the current housing market, the 2020 median household income, and the cost of living, you would most likely have a tough time affording an average-sized home on that income alone.
Additionally, medical bills tend to cost 5% above the national average in Denver as well.
While housing costs are astronomically above the national average, a new Denver resident would be happy to see utility costs tend to be 6% below the national average while grocery bills tend to be 2% below the national average.
Depending on what area of the country you’re moving from, you may find relief at the gas pump in the Mile High City. On June 1, 2022, AAA reported gas was $4.35 per gallon in Denver while the national average for gas was $4.67 per gallon (16).
There’s much to consider when you decide to move to a new city or state. If you’re considering moving to Denver with the intent of traditionally purchasing a home, renting a place or signing a rent-to-own agreement on a property, this information should help you make a decision on if Denver is going to be a good choice for you and your family.
(1) — World Population Review – Largest Cities in the US
(2) — Largest Colorado Cities by Population
(3) — Denver.org – Denver Facts
(4) — Denver.org – Denver Neighborhoods
(5) — Redfin – Denver Housing Market
(6) — The Denver Post – “Metro Denver Second Most Competitive Housing Market in Country”
(7) — Redfin – Cherry Creek Housing Market
(8) — Redfin – Washington Park Housing Market
(9) — Redfin – Lowry Housing Market
(10) — Realtor® – Denver Housing Market and Rental Market
(11) — Census.gov – Denver Facts
(12) — Kenna Real Estate – Rent-to-Own Homes
(13) — HomeFinder
(14) — ZeroDown
(15) — Payscale.com – Cost of Living in Denver
(16) — AAA – Denver Gas Prices