Finding accommodation in Denver is one of the major challenges facing new arrivals in the city. With increased job opportunities in Denver, the city has become a popular destination for both people from abroad and those from elsewhere in the US.
Due to this increase in new arrivals, the demand for property has risen, and although there is a lot of new housing being developed in Denver, supply is unable to keep up with the ever-increasing demand. As a result, both property prices and rental rates are on the rise.
That said, newcomers will be pleased to know that both the cost of accommodation and the general cost of living in Denver are far lower than in many major US cities such as New York, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago.
Areas and suburbs in Denver
Denver offers its residents a diverse range of areas and suburbs, and new arrivals from all walks of life are sure to find something suitable. Newcomers looking to be within the hive of activity in Denver's centre will love neighbourhoods such as RiNo, Lower Downtown (LoDo) and Golden Triangle. These neighbourhoods are all home to some of the best nightlife, restaurants and cultural attractions in Denver, making them the perfect base for revellers and art lovers who want to be in central locations.
The Mile High City offers families and outdoor enthusiasts plenty of green spaces and sporting activities. Washington Park, Capitol Hill and Berkeley are some of the best neighbourhoods to enjoy these pursuits and the city's natural landscape. Littleton, Stapleton and Mayfair are other family-friendly neighbourhoods in Denver.
See Areas and Suburbs in Denver to learn more about the city's neighbourhoods.
Types of accommodation in Denver
There is a range of different housing options available in Denver, from luxury apartments and condominiums in the city centre to larger ranch-style family homes in the suburbs. There truly is something to suit any newcomer's requirements.
Whether renting or buying, new arrivals would need to act fast if they want to secure a home in the city, and being flexible on one's requirements will make it easier to find a suitable place.
Generally, most foreigners wish to live in metropolitan Denver, and they have to pay a premium for the privilege of living close to the city's major attractions and amenities. Exploring areas and suburbs of Denver that are a little further afield would give house hunters more choices and better value for money.
Finding accommodation in Denver
The majority of foreigners relocating to Denver opt to rent rather than buy a home, at least initially. The internet is usually a good starting point in one's accommodation search, though many of the properties advertised online get snapped up very quickly.
Hiring a real estate agent can be helpful in getting a jump on the competition and is particularly useful if expats aren't sure what areas will best suit their needs. Local and expat social media groups are also a fantastic place to start the search, as locals may know about rental properties that are not formally listed.
Renting accommodation in Denver
Once newcomers have found their ideal home, they would need to submit an application along with the required documentation. We recommend acting fast, as rentals in Denver are snapped up quickly.
Making an application
The first step in the rental process is filling out a rental application form. This isn't the same as a rental agreement. The landlord will use this application to determine whether the prospective tenant meets their requirements.
The rental application form will typically require information like references, identity numbers, credit card information, sources of income and monthly disposable income. These questions may vary depending on the landlord. The landlord will then ask for permission to perform a background check which includes checking the prospective tenant's credit score and criminal history.
When handing in the completed application form, the applicant will be charged an application screening fee. This fee is meant to cover the costs of obtaining a credit report and verifying the information that was given in the application. It is the applicant's responsibility to check what these fees are before applying, as prices may vary.
Leases, costs and fees
A six-month or one-year rental lease is typical when renting in Denver, but with the market being as competitive as it is, tenants may want to consider staying in the apartment they've found for as long as possible. In some cases, estate agents and landlords may suggest signing a two- or three-year lease.
In this case, new arrivals shouldn't be afraid to negotiate a discount on the rent. Signing a long-term lease not only benefits the tenant; it also benefits the landlord.
It is the norm for landlords in Denver to ask for a security deposit to be put down. The amount for a security deposit varies widely depending on the type of rental and the monthly rental fee.
Security deposits are usually no more than one month's rent, but if a tenant has a bad credit score, the deposit could be as high as two months' rent. Tenants with pets may also be asked to pay a higher security deposit. Prospective tenants may also be charged a holding deposit while they're busy with the application process.
Read Accommodation in the USA for more on rental processes in the country.
Regardless of whether new arrivals are looking to buy or rent property in Denver, it's essential to factor in the cost of setting up utilities and paying the necessary bills.
Those renting a property in Denver should check the conditions of their lease to find out more about their utility payments. In most cases, landlords assume responsibility for setting up utilities such as gas, electricity and water, and tenants deal with optional extras such as internet and cable television packages. Those buying property in Denver will have to arrange for utilities to be set up themselves.
Electricity and gas
Xcel Energy is Denver's leading electricity and gas supplier, and new tenants in the city will likely only need to contact the company to change the account to their name. Newcomers whose electricity or gas is turned off can simply call the company or fill in an online form with their address, contact details and billing information.
Most of Denver's drinking water comes from the snowmelt and run-off water from the Rocky Mountains, and the supply is managed by Denver Water. To start water service, tenants can call Denver Water during working hours and provide them with the service address, billing address, their phone number and start date.
Customers will then receive a unique identification number they can use to set up a self-service account and make payments. The water meter is usually read monthly, and the bill is then due 21 days after it has been sent.
Waste management and recycling
Residents moving into their new homes can visit the city of Denver's official website or download the city's rubbish and recycling app to learn about their area's rubbish and recycling schedule. Residents can also sign up for recycling services on the same website.
There were initially no fees for rubbish and recycling services in Denver, but the city's government introduced a pay-as-you-throw system in 2023. Residents will now pay a rubbish pick-up fee based on cart size, which can be changed and paid for online. Residents also have the option to join the composting collection service, which is a fee-based programme.
As a major city in the State of Colorado, Denver boasts many excellent ISPs that offer competitive rates. CenturyLink, AT&T and Xfinity are some of the most popular.
Buying property in Denver
Expats looking at putting down roots and buying property in Denver will find that the city's housing market, much like its rental market, is incredibly competitive. First-time buyers find it especially tough to get their foot in the door.
One of the best things foreigners buying property can do is to get pre-approval on a home loan. New arrivals need to take the time to organise their supporting documents and prove that they are legally employed in Denver. Having pre-approval will give foreign buyers an advantage and increase the likelihood of one’s offer being accepted over others.
Newcomers are also advised to enlist the services of a real-estate agent to assist them in finding a suitable property in Denver. This will give access to a wider pool of potential properties, some of which have not even been publicly advertised yet.
►Visas for the USA provides essential information on what expats need to do before moving to Denver
"House prices have risen vastly over the last 10 years, so it can be expensive to buy. Given that the city’s growing, one can find more affordable options further out of town." Read more about Hendrik, a South African expat, and his experience of expat life in Denver.
Are you an expat living in Denver?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Denver. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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