It’s no surprise that more and more people are packing up and moving to Denver to live close to jobs, nature and community. Although it’s considered a big city, Denver can have a homey feel that many people who grew up in small towns appreciate.
Denver has all the advantages of big-city life plus the wild beauty of the Rocky Mountains right in its backyard. And it’s pretty hard to get bored in this city, even when the weather is less-than-perfect.
In case you’re looking for excuses to move to the Mile High City, keep reading to learn some of our favorite things about life in Denver, as well as some tips to help you prepare for your big move.
Image by Larry Johnson
Best Places to Work in Denver
It’s a good thing you’re moving here, because Denver needs you! Denver is an entrepreneurial town that keeps growing and adding jobs even as traditional Colorado industries such as oil and gas, mining and construction have slowed down. If it weren’t for people moving, Denver would have a severe worker shortage.
Finding a Job in Denver
You’ll be joining a smart, professional workforce — only Massachusetts has a higher percentage of people with a bachelor’s degree — which is a big reason the economy is expected to grow at twice the national rate.
Image by Nick Nunns
Living in Denver: It’s Getting Expensive
Denver’s economy is sizzling, the outdoors is amazing and the climate is mild, which means lots of people want to move here. It’s no wonder rent prices are going up. Housing costs in Denver are significantly higher than the national average, and basics such as transportation and health care are more expensive, as well. But compared with many other big cities with job growth, Denver can still be affordable.
Since more major metro areas at the foot of the Rockies are not springing up, the cost of living in Denver will continue to rise because there are not a lot of places people can go. In fact, 2016 data shows people were moving away from Colorado at the fastest pace in years. Why? Living expenses seem to be a major factor.
Denver Public Transportation is an Option
Traffic can be a doozy in Denver. Don’t be surprised when weekend traffic backs up on the I-70 from the Eisenhower Tunnel to Idaho Springs. And I-25 can be a parking lot from Littleton to Thornton during the work week. Thankfully, living near public transportation can be a great option for locals. Bus and light rail can get you around town, and there’s a commuter line to the airport. Public transportation may even be easier in the future, as the city has laid the first section of track on the northern corridor to Boulder and Longmont.
Image by Robert Rynerson
Denver’s Climate Can Get Pretty Dry
Denver’s official elevation is exactly 5,280 feet above sea level. Moisture evaporates quickly,especially in the winter, because of Denver’s mile-high altitude. Don’t be surprised if you get chapped lips, dry skin and a dry nose and throat – especially at night. Load up on moisturizing sunscreen for dry skin and make sure it blocks UVA and UVB rays. Solar radiation is more intense above 5,000 feet, and it’s surprisingly easy to get a sunburn. For dry noses and throats, use a humidifier in your bedroom — you’ll likely sleep a lot easier.
Denver’s altitude is likely not high enough for full-blown mountain sickness, but it is high enough to cause shortness of breath and give you a headache if you’ve just arrived. Take it easy during your first few days in town, and make sure to stay hydrated. Don’t worry, your body will get used to the altitude in about six weeks.
If you head up into the mountains to ski or bag a fourteener, pay close attention to how you feel, even after you’ve lived in Denver for a while. If you start getting headaches or feeling queasy, head down to a lower elevation.
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Things to Do in Denver
Best Hikes in Denver and the Great Outdoors
According to the American Fitness Index, Denver has been among the top 10 fittest cities for a long time. People move and live here because of hiking, kayaking, skiing and pretty much anything that involves being outside.
Denver has 85 miles of paved bike trails. These are not striped sections on the side of a six-lane mega-street, like in Los Angeles. They are separate, beautiful trails along scenic rivers that bicyclists get to enjoy without a car in sight. Don’t have a bike? Grab a B-cycle from Denver’s bike-sharing program and see what the hype is all about!
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When you’re in Denver, you’re less than two hours from the best skiing, snowboarding and all-round ski-town fun in the world: Arapahoe Basin, one hour and 15 minutes from Denver; Winter Park, one hour and 20 minutes; Breckenridge, one hour and 30 minutes. Vail? An hour forty. If you’re a backcountry kind of skier, the terrain is endless, and it starts 45 minutes from downtown.
Even if you’re not constantly biking, hiking, skiing or soaking up the sun in the great outdoors, you might start to dress like it.
Haute couture in Denver is like nowhere else. North Face and Columbia trump Prada and Chanel, and Patagucci — um, sorry — Patagonia reigns supreme. Whether you’re in a boardroom or a brewery, the fashion vibe in Denver is super-casual. If you look as though you just free-soloed the Bastille in El Dorado or cut first tracks down the chutes of Telluride, you’ll fit right in. Unless you’re in finance. You might need a shirt with buttons for that.
Root for the Denver Sports Teams
Denver is a serious sports town. People bleed Broncos orange around here; some have even named their sons Manning (or Elway, back in the day). The town has a bad case of Bronco fever for quite some time. So, come game day, or any day really, you might want to show a little team spirit.
Image by Heath Alseike
After football winds down, the town turns out for the Nuggets and the Spurs. Come spring and summer, it’s all about the Rockies. Then there are the Rapids, the Avalanche, the Raptors (rugby) and the Outlaws and the Mammoth (two professional lacrosse teams!).
In all, Denver has seven pro sports teams, plus the CU Buffalos up the road in Boulder. You can see an excellent game, match or scrum just about any day of the week.
Denver Breweries Are Among the Best
Denver and beer go way back. The Rocky Mountain Brewery opened in 1859, the same year the city was founded. Coors tapped those springs around Golden, Colorado, in 1873. But that’s all macro brewery suds. In 1979, Boulder Brewery opened with three beers—a porter, a stout and an ESB. Today, there are more than 40 breweries pouring over 200 unique brews of beer every day in Denver alone.
The city is so beer-friendly, they’ve created the Denver Beer Trail. We recommend doing it in sections of two or three pints. At that rate, you’ll be able to take a hundred or so sojourns before you reach the end of the trail.
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If you’re planning to drink alone, grab a book to keep you company. Denver is home to one of the country’s largest independent bookstores, the Tattered Cover. Somehow, in this post-brick-and-mortar age, the people of Denver have done more than keep their hometown bookstore alive; they’ve made it thrive. There are four Tattered Cover stores in the city, plus three more in the concourses of Denver International Airport.
Experience Live Music in Denver
El Chapultepec has been serving up burritos since the 1930s and amazing live jazz music almost as long. Beatniks such as Jack Kerouac used to frequent the joint back in the day, and the once-drab-now-fab venue is still doling out great beats and treats.
If you’re looking to catch your favorite pop stars on tour, they’ll likely stop for a show at the Red Rocks Amphitheater, which seats 9,500 people in a near-perfect acoustic bowl of Jurassic-era Morrison sandstone. From the top row, you can see Denver International Airport—39 miles away. At night, you’re far enough away from the city’s lights that you can see the Milky Way.
Image by Adam Sonnett
Who’s played Red Rocks? Who hasn’t? Ray Charles, the Grateful Dead, U2, R.E.M., Busta Rhymes, Willie Nelson, Mumford & Sons … Red Rocks is the place to play.