Denver at a Glance
Who needs the ocean when you have the mountains? This isn’t something you can ask just anywhere, but Denver’s appeal rivals America’s most popular coastal cities.
When you’re gazing up at the towering peaks of the Rockies, watching the bears splash through mountain streams or seeing bald eagles cresting on snowy boughs of a ponderosa pines, it’s hard to want to be anywhere else. Maybe it’s sitting down to dinner around the campfire one night and pulling up to a Michelin-rated restaurant the next. Maybe the allure of Denver for you will be whizzing down the nearby slopes, thick with fresh powder. Or perusing the art galleries at the MCA Denver. Maybe you’ll find your squad cheering on the Broncos to a (fingers crossed) fourth Super Bowl title.
Outdoorsy and cosmopolitan, laid-back and urbane. This mountain town can make the beach seem like nothing more than a hot and gritty place, where you’ll do nothing but swat at horseflies and reapply sunscreen all day.
Put on the American map by the gold rush, today’s Denver residents love great art, great food, and — most especially — the great outdoors.
Over the past 10 years, the strong job market and diverse career industries in Denver have given more than 100,000 people good reason to relocate to the city, increasing its population to 713,252, but by 2030, the sprawling metro area population is expected to exceed 3.6 million.
If you think you’d like to be one of the newest residents in one of America’s legendary boomtowns, learn more below about Denver’s neighborhoods, job market, climate and attractions.
Living in Denver
You know those “high-altitude” baking instructions you’ve seen printed on cans and in your granny’s cookbooks? Well, you’ll now need to follow them if you don’t want your next birthday cake to be a crepe. But that’s likely the only long-term shift you’ll need to make when you’re moving to this elevation. The trick to adjusting to altitude is to do it slowly and stay hydrated. If you’re moving to Denver from a sea-level city, don’t hop off the plane and head straight up the mountain. Give yourself a day or two to adjust and make that first hike an easy one.
At exactly 5,280 feet — one vertical mile — Denver has a climate more erratic than a bumblebee on a hotplate and storms can bulldoze their way into the mountains in minutes, pummeling the slopes with torrential rains, dangerously high winds and blizzard conditions. And just as curiously as these storms arrive, they leave like an unhinged houseguest, dragging a train of warm weather behind them, leaving residents to wonder in the rapidly melting snow: did that really just happen?
Positioned between the Great Plains and the highest peaks, Denver can be shielded from the brunt of this bewilderment, but it’s important to know when you’re planning a hike. Wildfires, of course, are an increasing concern in the region.
The average temperature in the winter in Denver is 31 F — mild by comparison to more northern, wind-whipped climes like Fargo — where near-zero lows are normal through March — but Denver will still feel wintry to most Americans. The city receives about 57 inches of snow a year, on average — a far cry from its snowiest season in 1908-09, when nearly 119 inches blanketed the city and tobogganing bears took the streets by storm.
Despite Denver’s snowy reputation, the city has nearly 300 sunny days per year, and if you have a mind to get out and enjoy it, you may find yourself drawn to clothing — stylishness be damned — just for its UPF ratings. Summertime in Denver may feel shockingly hot, with highs around 90 F in June — the hottest month — but evening temperatures easily drop 30 degrees, so it will feel like a different season from noon to night.
Cost of Living and Real Estate
Living in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains will cost you almost as much as any of America’s coastal enclaves. According to the U.S. Census, the median home value in Denver now stands at $540,400 — nearly twice the national average. While the median real estate prices in New York ($732,100) and Los Angeles ($822,600) still exceed Denver’s, they no longer dwarf it, and the cost of living in this Colorado mountain town is no molehill by comparison. Rental rates are shockingly high in the Mile High City, where the median gross rent has risen to $1,665/month.
Denver residents spend more on healthcare, food, transportation, energy and housing than the average U.S. resident, and the 5.4% rate of inflation in the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood area is far outpacing price hikes in the rest of the nation, where rates were only 3.7%. The cost of electricity and national gas have made some of the most dramatic spikes, increasing by 12.9% in the city.
But you’ll have more dollars to spend in Denver than you will in LA, NYC or the average city in the U.S. Denver households bring home a median of $85,853 — compared to the U.S. average of $75,149 — which is less than $1,500 below the median in the City of Angels or the Big Apple.
Economy and Job Market
Denver’s economy has been something of a mixed bag over the past year, sustaining a relatively low unemployment rate of 3.2% (compared to the U.S. rate of 3.7%). But there has been a drop in employment in some of the city’s biggest sectors.
Professional and business services employs roughly 313,000 people, but those numbers have slipped 1.3% since October 2022. The robust trade, transportation and utilities industry has 286,000 employees in the Denver-Aurora-Broomfield area, but it, too, has declined by 1.6%. Financial activities, which employs 110,000 people, saw the sharpest decline of 5.9%. The biggest gains were in the government (+4.2%), which employs 221,000 people, other services (69,000 employees, +3.4%) and leisure and hospitality (171,000, +2%) sectors.
Colorado has long nurtured the growth of aerospace in the state, and it can now claim itself as the industry’s second-largest hub. Denver has DoD installations and a NASA research hub, and dozens of private companies like Ball, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin have bases in the Denver-Boulder region.
The bioscience industry in Denver is also on the rise, expanding 20.6% from 2017-2022 to employ 20,220 people across 950 companies, including Medtronic, Agilent Technologies and ViewRay, which is relocating its headquarters from Cleveland.
And it’s only fitting that one of the fittest states in the union should be a leader in healthcare and wellness. 246,850 metro area residents are employed in this sector across more than 39,000 companies, and the sector has expanded by 10.9% over the past five years.
Supporting and bolstering this diverse industry growth are several area colleges and universities, including the University of Denver, the University of Colorado-Denver, MSU Denver and the University of Colorado-Boulder.
The commute time in the Mile High City is about 26 minutes.
Denver is blessed with a robust public transportation system that includes a 10-line light rail and commuter rail system with 50 stations and a broad network of bus coverage, that can take you from the airport to downtown Denver, Boulder, Aurora, Golden, and Highlands Ranch. Fares are a bit higher than in other large U.S. cities: a standard three-hour pass costs $2.75, a day pass is $5.50, and a monthly pass is $88.00. There is a surcharge for travel outside the local zone, and a trip to the airport costs $10.00.
If you just want to get around the downtown core, the 16th Street Mall Ride provides free bus service between the Civic Center and Union Station. Learn more at the Denver Regional Transportation District.
Because of the urban sprawl in the city, many residents still rely on their cars to get around, and the average commute time in Denver is 25.3 minutes — a couple minutes less than the national average.
If you prefer two wheels to four, you’ll be in great company in this bike-centric city. Check out the official Denver Bike Map for routes that can take you from home to work to recreational destinations, like the Cherry Creek Trail.
To get the lay of the land before deciding how you want to commute, check out eTuk Ride Denver, which can take you on a guided tour of the city on a souped-up golf-cart-style vehicle, where you can learn about the vibrant street murals while doing a pub crawl of craft breweries.
With ever-sprawling suburbs, a vibrant downtown core and the nearby sister city of Boulder, there are a dizzying array of neighborhood options if you’re moving to Denver.
Denver’s amazing cultural scene is packed with museums, shops and restaurants, so in-town living options are rich and varied. There’s no better place to get acquainted with the city than at the Colorado State Capitol, constructed with local granite, a rare rose onyx, yule marble and 200 ounces of genuine Colorado gold gilding the dome. The ornate buildings and lavish grounds are truly a sight to behold, and public tours are offered during the week.
Downtown Denver’s oldest neighborhood is the lower region known as LoDo, where historic buildings line the streets. You can catch a Denver Rockies game, shop for fresh local produce at the Union Station Farmer’s Market or grab a cold one at the Terminal Bar.
Downtown is packed with excellent museums, like the MCA Denver which showcases exceptional contemporary art, and the Denver Art Museum in the Capitol Hill/Golden Tringle Creative District, whose campus houses an extraordinary permanent collection in an almost mind-blowing space. Opera, ballet, symphony, and theater fans will spend all their time (and money) at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. This seven-building venue is unrivaled in its scope, and the sculpture park and new jazz lounge are just icing on this dramatic cake.
But the big venues are certainly not the only arts game in town. The River North Art District — better known as RiNo — is a weird and wonderful paradise for those who are clamoring to collaborate on a new creative venture. This unique, industrial-chic region — bound by I-25 and I-70 and bisected by the South Platte River — encompasses the Five Points, Cole, Elyria-Swansea and Globeville neighborhoods and is dedicated to providing affordable live/workspace and a supportive community for its artists.
All paths converge in Denver’s lower Highland district, or LoHi, where many of the city’s major bike paths intersect and Denver’s two rivers meet. You can spend the morning riding the trails or the waves and the rest of the day restaurant hopping, popping from an ice cream stand to a beer garden to a trattoria. Those who are voracious for vintage will want to make a beeline (or maybe a V-line) to SecondLove for some upscale resale therapy. Kids will enjoy a trip to the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus, where the outdoor adventure forest is a magical wonderland for play.
Note: If you’re planning to move to Denver, it’s important to thoroughly research the neighborhoods and areas in the city you might be interested in living. Before you decide where you are going to reside, make sure you understand the neighborhood’s cost of living, commute time, tax rates, safety statistics and schooling information.
Living Like a Denverite
Hitting the Great Outdoors
Denver residents may not agree on everything, but when it comes to pinning one thing that makes their city great, it’s this: location, location, location. Gold may have been the draw for 19th-century prospectors, but evergreen forests, snow-white trails and big blue skies are what lures residents and visitors now.
One of the greatest outdoor treasures in the area is Rocky Mountain National Park. Just over 60 miles from the city, hiking through this wondrous terrain acts like a reset button for whatever is wrong with your life. The cold months are one of the best times to experience the park, because you’ll have the snowy wonderland all to yourself. Winter arrives early and stays late at 8,000-foot elevations — expect frosty conditions from late September through May. Learn more about the best national parks in the western U.S.
Of course, skiing and snowboarding are popular activities in this neck of the woods. About an hour away, Loveland is the closest ski spot to the city, but the resorts at Breckenridge, Vail and Beaver Creek are all within two.
But you needn’t travel far to experience the joys of living near the Rocky Mountains. Denver’s urban park system and the impressive state park system can satisfy the outdoorsiest members of your crew. Ruby Hill Bike Park has everything you need to turn yourself into a certifiable slopestyler or dirt jumper. If you don’t know what those are — and you don’t dare find out — you might prefer biking on the picturesque South Platte River Greenway, playing a safe round of golf at City Park or ice skating at Skyline Park, instead.
Getting Unique Experiences
Denver’s indoor activities certainly rival its outdoor treasures, from the visual arts to historical landmarks to the uncategorizable. Meow Wolf’s Denver location — Convergence Station — offers a trippy (but still PG) experience for visitors looking for an immersive art experience.
With its stage carved into the prairieland and iron-rich stone outcroppings, Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre offers an immersion all its own. This concert venue dedicated in 1941 is unlike almost anything in the country, and in 2015 it was designated a National Historic Landmark. It is the place in the state to see the stars under the stars.
While you can see fossils in situ at Red Rocks, you’re unlikely to find a whole dinosaur standing on its skeletal feet anywhere else but the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, unless you have made the geological find of the millennium. After you’ve compared footprints and tail lengths with the museum’s resident diplodocus, you can travel back in time to visit ancient Egypt or warp through space, where you might drive a Mars Rover and show off your moonwalk.
Going to a Sports Event
In addition to its outdoorsy and cultural sides, Denver is all about their pro sports teams, who make their home city proud. Well, fairly, the Denver Rockies can’t claim to have done that in 2023, their worst season in their 30-year franchise history. They were the only team in the National League to make the St. Louis Cardinals look good. The Denver Nuggets, on the other hand, were 100% golden in 2022-23, finishing out the season as NBA champions. But if we’re honest, Denver is a Broncos town, through and through, despite a less-than-stellar showing in 2022. The team has three Super Bowl wins to its name, and that’s a trend that’s hard to buck.
Enjoy Local Culinary and Delights
Even if you hate hiking, fear skiing and really aren’t the museum type, Denver has one thing that brings everyone together, and that is its food. From the impeccable French farmhouse delights of Noisette to the spunky, expectation-shattering spirit of Hey Kiddo, Denver has put itself on the Michelin map and won the hearts and bellies of the city.
Housed in a converted mortuary of all things, the food and drink at Linger are…to die for. This LoHi establishment turns death on its head with a high-octane, pan-Asian, impossible-to-pin-down menu that will resuscitate your taste buds with 300 volts of electric flavor. The char siu pork belly bao bun, the charred curried cauliflower and the king trumpet mushrooms with black garlic will revive even the lowest of spirits and keep you above ground for another day.
And when it comes to beverages, Colorado has long been the nation’s brew master, giving us standbys like Coors and craft magic from New Belgium, Oskar Blues and Left Hand. The best way to sample all of Denver’s hoppy, malty, sudsy delights is on a tour of the city’s craft breweries in LoDo, where you can hit Rock Bottom and bridge the Great Divide.
Start Planning Your Move to Denver
Have you decided to make the move to Denver? If so, now is the time to decide on the right moving company to help you relocate to the Mile High City. Here are some tips to get you started on how to hire the best movers.
When you’re moving cross-country to Denver, Mayflower’s team of trusted movers will be there for you Every Step of the Way®. For nearly 100 years, we have been the nation’s most trusted moving company, and you know that when you work with a long-distance moving company like Mayflower, your move to Denver will be worry-free. Mayflower offers full-service moving solutions, and our dedicated moving agents can help you build custom moving packages to include services like packing and unpacking, storage, car shipping, debris removal and more.
The details of your relocation are easy to access in the Mayflower Move Portal, so your move will stay organized and on track.
Are you moving to Denver from another city in the Centennial State? Mayflower can also help you find local movers in Denver and Colorado. Our Colorado movers and our movers in Denver perform local moves in the independently under their own brands and business names.
Planning on doing your own heavy lifting for your move? Even if you’re making a DIY move to Denver, Mayflower can still help! Take a look at our moving resources and this clever moving checklist and planner to keep your move on budget and on schedule.
Worried about what to do when you arrive in Denver? We get it. Here are some great tips for settling into a new home.