13 Reasons Why You Should (Not) Move to Denver

The secret is out. By now you’ve heard or know that Denver is a great city to live in especially if you like the outdoors. So if you’re seriously considering moving to Denver either after you graduate or you just want a change of scenery or you just moved here I highly suggest reading these 13 Reasons Why You Should (Not) Move to Denver.

  1. You enjoy high rent. On the average for a 1 bedroom apt the rent is $1,200. If you’re lucky you can find studios for $900 but they are typically $1,000. If you’re cool with having a roommate then you’ll pay approximately $650 to $900 a month to share an apt or house plus bills, so $800 to $1,000. Of course, Aurora, Lakewood, Thornton, and Westminster have slightly cheaper housing in the metro area. Property taxes have increased significantly this summer — again — so I would say expect to pay more and it’s not going to slow down. Hey now! No complaining about high rent if you relocate here though. It’s the price you pay to live in a beautiful place and a vibrant city.
  2. You like competition. Whether you’re in marketing communications or you’re a social worker or a tech geek or lawyer you will quickly find that so is everyone else. I’ve been in communications for 12 years and in my most recent job search there like 250 to 400 applicants are applying for one low paying communications manager job at a nonprofit. Salary $35k to $50k. It’s very competitive regardless what field you’re in to get a job out here though. Don’t let Indeed or Built in Colorado fool you into thinking there’s tons of jobs in Denver because there are lots of jobs are posted because there are at least 200 applicants per job. And, if you don’t already live out here you’re going to be in a disadvantage unless you’re in a highly specialized field. You need to move here with at least $5K in savings while you job search and don’t be afraid to be a barista, bartender, or Lyft driver until you get that job offer. It might take 200 job applications and 20 phone interviews and 5 in-person interviews to get the one job offer though. Sales, customer service, etc. are good fields to get into with so many startups looking to hire new grads, but the salary range is $30k to $40k a year. Honestly, it’s so competitive out here you need to have a least 3 years experience for entry level gigs. But if you want to move here make sure you know it’s competitive and any job you get it you should be thankful for it, kickass, and be hopeful you move onto a bigger opportunity. Always continue to get more education or training to stay on top of your game.
  3. You like having student loans and taking decades to pay them off. Do you have student loans? You could struggle for decades trying to pay off your students loans with your meager salary and high rent. If you do get that digital communications gig with a salary of $45k you will still struggle with high rent of $900 plus bills + student loan payments of $600/mo + car payment if you have one + expensive Colorado auto insurance = not much money to save for a down payment on a home. Oh yeah, retirement…what’s that? Be realistic what your financial goals are — even in your 20s — you should have a plan. Denver might not be the place for you to achieve that.
  4. You want to buy house and pay a lot for it. In Denver you can get a one bedroom condo for like $185k to $200k in a desirable area. Most 2 bedroom houses go for $300k and that’s in least desirable areas. So if you’re lucky enough to save even 10 percent of down payment ($20k) it would take you at least 10 years to pay off your students loans and probably another 5 years to get a down payment. Be realistic that homeownership may be out of your reach as a single person without your parents helping you out. It is doable if you save money, don’t have a lot of student loans, or make like six figures a year and live with roommates until you buy. I don’t think it’s impossible, it just might take you 10 years to do it. It took me 10 years to buy my first home in Denver.
  5. You love traffic. There’s a lot of traffic everywhere. There’s traffic no matter what time of day it is and not matter what day of the week. People are always driving in traffic. So if you moved to the outskirts of Denver for cheaper rent you will pay for it sitting in traffic if you have to commute to work. Going 3 miles in Denver will take you 15 to 20 minutes. Avoid Colorado Blvd like the plague, I70 and I25 are pretty backed up — always. So if you land a job try to find housing near your work so you can bike or walk or take public transit. Also, if you move here from a place that doesn’t see a lot of bike commuters and pedestrians please make sure when you drive around to look for people on bikes or people on foot. And, if you bike and walk places in Denver please do not assume cars will stop for you — they won’t. Follow the laws and rules of the road and most of all be kind to each other.
  6. You love crowds. There’s also a new saying that Colorado should be called CrowdoRado. Denver’s population is almost 700,000 people (and that’s in Denver proper not including the metro area, which is more like 3.1 million). When I moved here 14 years the population in Denver was $555k people. But after Denver hosted the DNC we began to see more people move here, and obviously the population boom happened after the legalization of weed where we averaged 1k people moved here per week — now, I last read it’s 1k people per month. So you want to go on a hike on a Saturday afternoon, well, so does everyone else and their dog. In fact, the parking lot is full by 10 a.m on Saturday. You’ll circle around and around parking lots to go on a hike which will be crowded with other hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers. The trails can’t handle the amount of traffic so if you do go please be mindful to stay on the trail, let faster hikers/trail runners/mountain bikers pass, and practice leave no trace (Google that). I’ve seen the trails get pretty busy on the weekends and even during the week. We have tourists and locals on the trails — and they are crowded always. 14ers are also crowded during the summer. Please be patient and kind with the crowds on the trails and really anywhere.
  7. You want to smoke weed. Well, once legalization happened in Colorado we saw all sorts of people moving to our fine state. Some have contributed to Denver in great ways and others, well, let’s just say they moved here for the weed and that’s all they do. I don’t have problem with legalization, however, if you just want to smoke weed all damn day and night well that’s a problem. For legalization purposes we need people staying in their home states trying to pass it so the entire country can be legalized. If you want to move to Denver and just smoke weed please don’t smoke in public spaces, e.g., trails, parks, at that bar or club, etc. unless they specify smoking weed in places then it’s not legal.
  8. You want live in a “blue” city. Denver is liberal and we voted 75% for Hillary in 2016. Colorado is a purple state and outside of Denver and Boulder areas most of the state is pretty conservative. I moved from the Bible Belt so I get wanting to move away from people who think ideologically different than you. Denver will continue to vote Democratic in the future and the mindset here is very progressive. However, I beg you — if you’re liberal — to stay where you are especially if you’re from Pennsylvania, Wisconsin or Ohio. We need you to stay and cast your liberal vote in 2018 and 2020. If you’re conservative and you want to move to Denver I hope you will keep an open-mind about things. You will see gay couples kissing in public and similar things wouldn’t normally see out in the open in your current home state or city. Don’t gawk and judge. Denver is a progressive city and we take pride in that. We march progressive marches, protest racist cops, watch Pride parades, and vote for progress. We also believe in taking care of the environment. It’s not cool to leave trash on the trails or to vote against environmental issues because you want to drill for oil or frack. You can’t hike or mountain bike and simultaneously vote to allow drilling on our public lands. Those lands are meant to be used for recreation.
  9. You want to ski/snowboard. Most be people think that ski resorts are close, well, they’re not really. Denver is about 1 hour and 30 minutes from most ski resorts without traffic. Ok, Loveland is like 1 hour without traffic. On a weekend — affectionately called “weekend warrior” — you should expect to leave by 5:45 a.m. and the way home sit in traffic for an additional hour or two. Our slopes are very crowded. And, if you think, “Oh I’ll just go during the week.” Well, it’s still crowded, but not as bad. Outside of the I70 traffic ski resorts there are some really low-key, affordable places to ski/ride, but it will take 2–3 hours to get there. The average cost of a season ski pass is $600. You could buy a couple of 4 packs and only go up on powder days, but be sure to check blackout dates. Copper Mountain and Loveland have great deals. Utah, Jackson Hole, Idaho, New Mexico, and hell even Tahoe have some great places to ski/ride.
  10. You want to raise a family. Most of my friends who lived in Denver and eventually married and started a family have decided Denver is too expensive to raise a family. Since I had no concept as a single person the real costs of raising a child in Denver I asked around. 1) if you and your partner/spouse both work you will have to pay for childcare. That’s common anywhere, but with a high cost of living and lower salaries this can get expensive with an average nanny costing $15 an hour so full-time that would be $2,400 mo. Damn! 2) Denver early childhood education costs $1200 a month full-time. Of course there’s tuition assistance that can help out but if you and your partner/spouse make (gross) monthly income of $8,000 you’ll pay $666 a month for full-time ECE. I can see why many of my friends can’t afford to live here with a family. It makes sense if you’re lucky enough to pay off your student loans, save up 20 percent for a down payment for a home, have a family, and somehow you’re supposed to save for retirement.
  11. You want beautiful weather. Denver boasts like 300 days of sunshine a year. True it’s sunny out here for sure. But just like most places in the US the climate is changing. It’s getting warmer out here. Some fall seasons it will get up to mid 7o degrees in November, but you also can count on big spring snow storms in late April and early May. We also get severe thunderstorms and we recently had a major hail storm destroying roofs, cars, and gardens. It of course snows a lot here, but some years it’s been a few storms and other years we get several big storms dumping a foot of snow. It really depends on the year. So if you’re moving from a warmer climate and you don’t like the winter at all — well, Denver might not be the best place for you. It gets really cold and it snows. Most people enjoy winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, sledding, etc. Those activities help people enjoy cold winters when Netflix and chill just can’t seem to cut it. But if we don’t get a enough snow in the winter and spring we will have an active wildfire season. Not only will it limit your outdoor activities, but for some folks living in the foothills or mountains could lose their homes. We also have had too much rain in the summer and it was a 1000 year flood in Boulder in September 2013. Denver also was flooded, but not like Boulder County what they went through was indeed scary. Don’t just move here for the weather.
  12. You want to go to college out here. Denver has some great schools for grad and undergrad degrees. Whether it’s UCD, Metro State, DU, Regis, Johnson and Whales, University of Colorado (in Boulder), Colorado State University (in Fort Collins), UNC, or one of community colleges the one thing to keep in mind is cost. With the rising costs of higher education in Colorado, in-state and out-of-state tuition rates continue to rise and nearly double the costs of in-state tuition. If you definitely want to go to school in Denver or just in Colorado, before packing your bags to move to Denver and try to establish residency ASAP — find out what program/interests you have. Find out the acceptance rate are there 1000 students applying for 34 spots? Find out what requirements SATs, ACTs, GRE, etc. you need and identify the GPA requirements. What you’ll quickly find out you’re not the only one wanting to go to school in Colorado. Programs here are VERY competitive, but they might not be the best either so keep that in mind. Of course, there some schools easier to get into, but if you want to be an OT, PT, nurse, or some other competitive in-demand field. Do your homework and research the schools, what interests you, what the job market is like in Denver, what’s the forecast for the job market in your area of interest? Will atomization affect your field? If you are hard-working, smart, and still want to move to Denver — move quickly and get that in-state tuition. Also, DU is private so no in-state tuition but you can expect to pay a lot for it.
  13. You give zero fucks. Denver is a great city! If it’s your dream don’t let my reasons stop you, but also you’ve been warned.
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