Living in Denver, CO: 10 Pros and Cons (Videos & Prices)

Are you considering a move to Denver? Is it the burgeoning job market drawing you in? Or is it the scenic mountain views and green spaces? Or, is it the gorgeous weather? If you’re thinking of relocating to the Mile High City, you can look forward to plenty of upsides, but you also need to keep in mind that it’s not all blue skies and great outdoors. Read on to discover the advantages and disadvantages of living in Denver. 

PopulationMedian AgeBachelor Degree or Higher
Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Pro: Denver is a relatively young city

Denver has a predominantly young and active population, contributing immensely to a flourishing economy across several sectors. About two-thirds of the people living in the city are under the age of 44. Although this desirability may bring about some issues with finding affordable housing, the city is also a land of opportunities in the job sector.

Con: the cost of living in the city is high

The cost of living in Denver is 12% higher than the national average. Here is a look at some of the basic expenses for the average city resident.

Denver Median Home Price in October 2021
Median Home Price
Data sourced from Zillow Median Home Sale Prices

Denver Average Cost of Utilities in October 2021
Utilities (Monthly)Prices
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 915 sq ft Apartment$132.14
Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)$63.23
Data sourced from Numbeo.com

Denver Average Cost of Transportation in October 2021
One-way Ticket (Local Transport)$3.00
Monthly Pass (Regular Price)$114.00
Gasoline (1 gallon)$3.08
Data sourced from Numbeo.com

Denver Average Cost of Groceries in October 2021
Milk (regular), (1 gallon)$3.33
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (1 lb)$2.81
Rice (white), (1 lb)$1.69
Eggs (regular) (12)$2.71
Local Cheese (1 lb)$6.31
Chicken Fillets (1 lb)$4.79
Beef Round (1 lb) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat)$6.24
Banana (1 lb)$0.71
Tomato (1 lb)$1.78
Potato (1 lb)$0.87
Onion (1 lb)$0.96
Lettuce (1 head)$1.45
Water (1.5-liter bottle)$2.04
Data sourced from Numbeo.com

Pro: plenty of great neighborhoods to live in

Denver offers plenty of desirable neighborhoods for residents to choose from.

1. Downtown

Living in Denver - 7
(Source: @alexandercatedral via twenty20)

Lower Downtown is the top pick for those who want to be in the middle of everything. The scores of restaurants and rooftop bars, as well as the area’s proximity to Coors Field (the baseball park), make this neighborhood ideal for young professionals. That said, it’s worth noting that the housing costs are pretty high here. The downtown area comprises several smaller neighborhoods:

  • The Highlands is a diverse, proud community that is located between I-25 on the east and Speer St. to the south. The central location of the neighborhood allows accessibility to major roads, but with a much homier feel than Lower Downtown. The Highlands has undergone significant redevelopment over the past few years, which has encouraged young professionals to flock to the area. This could be attributed to generally more affordable housing than other neighborhoods in Denver. 
  • Capitol Hill is located just south of 16th St. Mall. One of the main perks of living in this neighborhood is the central location. It is also highly walkable in addition to offering several bike lanes.
  • Cherry Creek is located east of downtown and is bordered by East 6th Ave. It is a predominantly residential area that offers a nice mix of houses and rental units. Most of the neighborhood’s streets are lined with trees, and there is a bike path that cuts through the area which gives residents a greener sense of living. You will find over 160 retailers in the Cherry Creek Shopping Center for all your shopping needs. 

2. West Side

Two of the most desirable neighborhoods in the West Side include:

  • Arvada 

This is a northwest suburb that has an eclectic mix of both houses and apartments. Arvada is a short 25-minute drive from downtown, which means you get to live near the hub without dealing with the crowds in the city center. Some of the highlights in the neighborhood include Kline’s, a German Beer Hall, several trendy restaurants that offer a variety of cuisines, and a convenient distance to I-70.

  • Lakewood

If you love the outdoors, you’ll enjoy living in Lakewood. There’s something for everyone with over 180 miles of biking, walking, and even horseback riding trails. 

3. East Side

  • Stapleton

This neighborhood is one of the fastest-growing home development areas in the country. It is ideal for young families or those who want to buy a home rather than rent. Perks of living in the area include proximity to the 80-acre Central Park, plenty of retail shops and restaurants, and the airport. 

  • Aurora 

Aurora is located around 20 minutes east of the downtown area, offering the convenience of living in the suburbs without compromising easy access to I-225. It is one of the most affordable suburbs in Denver, plus the Aurora Town Center is home to over 150 stores for shopping and well-known restaurants.

Con: traffic in Denver is terrible

Living in Denver - 4
(Source: @thirdplanet via twenty20)

Unfortunately, there are no breaks from traffic congestion when you move to Denver due to how the city is laid out. The main roads are always packed during the week by commuters within the metro. Then you also have to deal with all of the traffic headed into the mountains, which increases significantly during the weekends. 

Ski traffic is a serious concern that you’ll want to consider if you plan to move to the city since Denver is close to dozens of world-renowned ski resorts. There’s usually heavy traffic on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings during the winter. Depending on the season, day of the week, and the time of day, driving along the I-70 corridor into ski country can be a quick 1.5-hour drive or a slow 6+ hour crawl. Remember that all of those travelers need to make their way back into the city on Sunday as well.

Median Denver Commuting TimeMedian U.S. Commuting Time
25.9 Minutes26.9 Minutes
Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Pro: plenty of attractions and fun things to do in Denver

Living in Denver - 9
(Source: @Nixler via twenty20)

Denver is an intensely fun place to live. Some of the activities and attractions to enjoy include:

  • The Denver Skatepark covers 60,000 square feet of terrain. It is open to every age and skill level, which makes it the ideal setting for family-friendly fun in the sun. Admission to the park is free and you get to enjoy skills presented by BMX-ers, boarders, and bladers alike.
  • Golf enthusiasts may want to spend a leisurely day at Top Golf, where they can hit some golf balls further than you normally would. This is due to the high altitude which allows golf balls to reportedly go up to 10% farther.
  • Red Rocks Amphitheatre is the place to be if you want to see one of your favorite big-time musicians live. It is the most acoustically perfect outdoor amphitheater in the world, which means that music of all genres sounds spectacular here. You can also take in the unforgettable breathtaking views of your surroundings.
  • Glenwood Springs is made up of more than 30 hot springs that provide a relaxing year-round getaway in Denver.
  • Rocky Mountain Ziplines – thrill-seekers will enjoy zipping through sections of the Rocky Mountains and taking in the scenic views on over 6,000 feet of cable.

Con: it can take some time to acclimate to the thinner air

Denver is often called the Mile High City because its elevation is 5,280 feet above sea level. If you decide to move here, be sure to take some time in your schedule solely for acclimating to the thinner air.

It is not uncommon for some people to experience an illness directly attributed to their position above sea level. If ignored, altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), can become a medical emergency. You can experience breathing difficulties because you’re not able to take in as much oxygen. It can be several weeks before your body starts to feel normal again. Ensure that you drink plenty of water, moderate your physical activities, and always apply sunscreen even in winter.

Pro: the economy of the city is surging

Denver offers plenty of competitive jobs because many top companies are based in the city, boosting the economy. Some of the leading industries and companies in Denver include:

  • Technology

 The startup scene in Denver is thriving thanks to companies like newcomers Baker Technologies and more established companies like Google and HomeAdvisor.

  • Agriculture

Denver’s food and agriculture industries are substantial, with companies like Nutrien, Love Grown Foods, and Leprino Foods leading the charge. Colorado ranks third in the nation for craft beer sales and production, with Denver’s primary producers.

  • Aerospace

Denver is keen on becoming “Aerospace Alley” with major companies like Northrop Grumman, The Boeing Company, and Raytheon, located in the city.

Con: public infrastructure in Denver is lacking

Living in Denver - 6
(Source: @Grizz_McCuddles via twenty20)

Although there is light rail available in Denver and a fairly extensive bus system,  the infrastructure for these provisions is not well developed. Even accessing public transport can be highly frustrating if you live anywhere but in the city center.

Pro: the weather is pleasant for most of the year

Living in Denver - 5
(Source: @mtroche3 via twenty20)

Denver gives you plenty of bright and sunny days. Although the summers can be hot in the city, the humidity levels are typically lower because of the city’s high-altitude location, making even the hottest days a bit bearable. 

Best month to visit Denver, CO

Best months to visit: May, June, July, August, September, October.

MonthTemp. Low. Avg.Temp. High Avg.
Data sourced from numbeo.com – October 2021

Pro: Denver is a beloved beer destination 

Living in Denver - 8
(Source: @wolfspriestess_az via twenty20)

If you’re a craft brew, you will love the fact that Denver is home to the second-most microbreweries next to Portland. Some of the best places to enjoy a drink include:

  • First Draft – This is a great place to try several local microbrews. All you need is a swipe card to pour your own tastings.
  • Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales – Specializes in barrel-aged sour beers with industrial airplane-inspired decorative elements and meticulous brewing processes.
  • Epic Brewing Company – Features a community tasting room that includes a lineup of dozens of flagship and elevated craft beers.

Final thoughts

Denver’s impressive growth indicates that many new people still flock to it despite the negative aspects of living in the city and making it their new home. It’s often been ranked in the top 10 cities in the USA regarding the quality of life. For many people, the pros seem to outweigh the cons in Denver, but the decision of whether it’s right for you is entirely yours.

Denver compared to other cities (June 2021 rent price data from Zumper national rent report)
Cities1-BR Avg. Rent2-BR Avg. Rent
San Antonio$1,040$1,300
San Diego$2,060$2,730
Data sourced from Zumper national rent report October 2021

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author, and she enjoys traveling, reading, and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC.

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