So, you’re thinking of moving to Denver?
Great choice! Denver is an amazing city. It’s full of active young people, many of whom migrate to the mountains on weekends to ski, hike, and have other outdoor adventures. It’s widely considered one of the best cities for craft beer lovers, with dozens of breweries in the area. It’s a great place for artsy folk, academics, adventurers, and foodies to come together.
Overall, I’ve found Denver to be an amazing place to live, and to offer a great balance between the urban city life and easy escape to the mountains. I’ve met many great like-minded people out here, and can’t imagine living anywhere else (except maybe a little cabin in the mountains, but that’s another story). Read on to learn more about life in the mile high city!
Apartment Hunter’s Guide to Denver
Will you need a car? Maybe. Your life will most likely be easier if you have one. It depends on where you work and live, as well as what you want to do outside of work.
Denver has pretty good public transit, with a bus system and the light rail train. The light rail doesn’t go everywhere, but there are plans in place to extend it, and there will even be a light rail station at the airport later in April of 2016!
I personally choose to have a car, because the main reason I moved to Denver was to be close to the mountains. Having a car allows me to easily make trips west, without needing to arrange transportation with someone else.
A Denver commute can be extensive. Denver’s major highways, I-70 and I-25, get very, very backed up during rush hour. I used to have a commute from the northeast side of town to central Denver, and I always opted to take surface streets rather than deal with traffic on the highway. Since traffic gets pretty bad during rush hour, you may want to consider finding a home close to where you work. If you are moving before finding a job, I recommend trying to find a home in central Denver (Capitol Hill and Wash Park are good places to start looking) so you are relatively close to a lot of the neighborhoods that are likely to house businesses where you may find a job.
Below, find profiles of some of Denver’s best and well-known neighborhoods. Rent in Denver tends to be pretty expensive across the board; if you are looking for cheaper rent, you may want to consider living outside the city in Englewood, Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, or Aurora. Just be aware of the dangerous areas in these neighborhoods, and do your research (and visit, if possible) before deciding on your new home.
About: My neighborhood of choice! Just south of downtown, it’s quiet and mostly residential, but it wonderfully close to Denver’s downtown/urban neighborhoods (long walk or super easy bike ride). The north part of the neighborhood is also quite close the Cherry Creek Bike Trail, and the neighborhood is named for Washington Park (one of Denver’s largest city parks at 155 acres), so it’s a great mix of urban vibe, historical character, and quiet outdoor escapes.
Rent: Studio/1 BR $950-$1,100 / 2 BR $1,400-$1,600
The good: Safe, great Walkscores throughout the area, proximity to lots of great shopping, dining, and recreational opportunities.
The bad: It can be fairly expensive; cheaper apartments will likely be on busier streets like Speer and Alameda, which also tend to be a little louder and not as nice as the rest of the neighborhood.
About: Denver’s Cap Hill neighborhood is named for it’s proximity to the state capitol building. Many young Denverites live in this part of town, and Cap Hill is home to many great restaurants, bars, breweries, and shops. Denver as a whole is pretty LGBT-friendly, but this neighborhood in particular is quite open-minded. It’s right in the heart of Denver and quite densely-populated, but also has access to bike paths and parks.
Rent: Studio/1 BR $850-$1,050 / 2 BR $1,300-$1,500
The good: Cap Hill has a lot of great character and interesting history, as well as many interesting local places to eat, drink, and shop. It also has slightly cheaper housing costs than much of Denver.
The bad: Crime is higher in Cap Hill than much of Denver. The neighborhood is very densely populated, which makes parking difficult if you do not have a reserved spot (and paying for reserved spots, if your apartment doesn’t provide them, can be pricey). Cheaper housing can often be found on Colfax, which runs through the heart of the neighborhood, but crime is higher along Colfax. If you are looking to move to Cap Hill, I suggest finding a home south of Colfax.
Eat, drink, and be merry: Restaurant Row is the stretch of 17th Avenue between Broadway and City Park, and it’s home to a variety of excellent bars and restaurants including Dos Santos (delicious street tacos) and Denver Bicycle Cafe (Denver’s coolest bike shop/cafe/tap house). Cap Hill is also home to the Ogden Theatre and the Fillmore Auditorium, music and performance venues that attract many renowned performers.
About: Slightly north and east of Denver’s center, this neighborhood is a little more removed from the hustle and bustle of urban life, while still being very close to great dining and shopping. It is named for Denver’s City Park, one of Denver’s largest park at 330 acres. The park has plenty of open space, as well as the Denver Zoo and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
Rent: Studio/1 BR $950-$1,100 / 2 BR $1,400-$1,600
The good: This neighborhood has great open space and is perfect if you are interested in zoos or museums!
The bad: It’s a little further from the downtown/city center than some of Denver’s other neighborhoods. This can be a good thing if you want more space from the city, but could make for a slightly longer commute if you work or spend much time in downtown.
About: Essentially the heart of downtown Denver, LoDo is a vibrant neighborhood with a lot of city hustle and bustle. Home to Union Station (Denver’s historic and still operating train station), Coors Field (where the Colorado Rockies play), and dozens, if not hundreds, of different bars and restaurants.
Rent: Studio/1 BR $1,700-$2,000+ / 2 BR $2,600-$3,000+
*Note: beware of cheaper housing in Five Points, just northeast of LoDo. Five Points is a much more dangerous neighborhood, and as a result, housing is cheaper there, but I don’t recommend living in the area just for a break on rent.
The good: Great access to vibrant urban lifestyle.
The bad: Being in the heart of downtown, crime tends to be higher, and rent can be quite expensive.
Eat, drink, and be merry: Wynkoop Brewing Company, co-founded by Denver’s governor John Hickenlooper, is a great spot and is always worth a stop. There are quite a few great bars and restaurants along Larimer Square. The pedestrian 16th Street Mall has shopping and dining opportunities galore.
About: The Highlands is the neighborhood west of downtown Denver, on the west side of the South Platte River. It’s mostly residential, but has been the subject of many gentrification efforts over the past several years, leading to neat historical dining and boutique shopping options.
Rent: Studio/1 BR $1,000-$2,000 / 2 BR $1,700-$3,000
*There’s quite a range in rent prices in the Highlands because it is such a large neighborhood; you’ll find cheaper rent along busier streets like Federal and Sheridan.
The good: Interesting historical character; close to downtown but not as busy and loud as some of the more urban neighborhoods.
The bad: Some of the busier streets, like Federal Boulevard, are not very nice and can even be a bit dangerous.
Eat, drink, and be merry: Tennyson Street, in the Highland’s Berkely area, is filled with great bars and restaurants, including Atomic Cowboy (a fantastic pizza place), BookBar (a bookstore/coffee shop/bar), and Denver Cat Company (a cafe where patrons can interact with several cats up for adoption from nearby animal shelters). There are also a variety of unique boutique and mom-and-pop shops, such as Feral Mountain Co, in the area, as well as the Oriental Theater, which hosts a variety of musical entertainment and film festivals.