Denver is quickly increasing in popularity, and with so much on offer, it's no wonder. As with any city, there are downsides to life in Denver.
While the pros far outweigh these, new arrivals should still be prepared for what to expect when arriving in the Mile High City. Here's our list of the pros and cons of moving to Denver.
Accommodation in Denver
- CON: Finding accommodation can be a challenge
Denver's population is growing, and due to its location alongside the mountains, there is not much space for the city to expand. As the increasing population snatches up the available accommodation in the city, housing is in short supply, which can make it difficult to find a suitable home.
- CON: Accommodation can be expensive
The influx of people into Denver has flooded the housing market, resulting in skyrocketing prices for once-affordable homes. Many people are now struggling to afford the increased housing prices in Denver and are forced to move further afield.
Cost of living in Denver
+ PRO: Denver is relatively affordable
Although slightly above the national average, the cost of living in Denver won't break the bank. Excluding accommodation, everyday costs are inexpensive, and the lifestyle is also affordable. Denver is packed with free and fun things to do, and even visiting museums, theatres and other attractions is fairly cheap.
Location and environment in Denver
+ PRO: Proximity to the mountains
Denver's location right alongside the Rocky Mountains means incredible views from the city and great exploration opportunities. Hiking, mountain biking, skiing and more are at the fingertips of Denver residents. All it takes is a short drive out of the city, and they've arrived among the hundreds of gorgeous peaks.
- CON: Denver is landlocked
Although there are many benefits to the location of the city, Denver's inland location means access to water is limited. While Denverites make up for this in a big way with plenty of other activities available in the city, a trip to the beach requires quite a journey. Water sports are certainly not a draw card for visitors to this landlocked city.
- CON: High altitude
Called the Mile High City for a reason, Denver is situated 1,673 meters above sea level. Although new arrivals will adjust quite quickly to the decrease in available oxygen at this altitude, they may experience headaches, nosebleeds and dry skin and hair. Exercising is also made more difficult initially with the decreased oxygen.
Weather in Denver
+ PRO: There are 300 days of sunshine a year
Even though the weather in Denver can be somewhat unpredictable, new arrivals in the city are guaranteed to experience around 300 days of sunshine every year. This allows for plenty of outdoor time to enjoy the city's natural environment.
- CON: Huge storms can cause damage
Late spring and early summer can bring some major storms to Denver. These storms are the result of fronts, moisture and strong winds building together, resulting in thunder and hailstorms that can sometimes cause severe damage.
Lifestyle in Denver
+ PRO: Plenty to see and do
Denver is blessed with plenty of good weather, and its location means people can easily go out and explore the surrounding mountains. The city itself is also packed with parks and an active population that takes full advantage of them. The activities don't stop there, as there are plenty of attractions to enjoy on a beautiful day in Denver. Festivals and events also abound in the Mile High City, as locals go all out to celebrate everything from St Patrick's Day to Cinco de Mayo.
+ PRO: Professional sports teams
Denver is home to four professional sports teams. American football, basketball, hockey and baseball league games are hosted in Denver, and the city also has lacrosse and rugby teams and clubs. Sports lovers are sure to feel right at home and will undoubtedly enjoy getting involved in the fanfare surrounding Denver's major teams.
- CON: Everything closes early
Denver has strict noise ordinances in place between 7am and 10pm. This means that after 10pm, no disturbing noise can be made, including music and loud conversations. While some neighbourhoods have extended this to 11pm or midnight on weekends, these laws result in restaurants and bars closing earlier than some people would like.
Working in Denver
+ PRO: Plenty of job opportunities
With one of the best economies in the entire country, Denver has a thriving job market, and people with the right skills shouldn't struggle to find work in the Mile High City. Mining, agriculture, IT and the aerospace sectors are great industries to search for job opportunities in Denver. The healthcare and education sectors are also major employers.
+ PRO: Great work-life balance
Many people move to Denver for the lifestyle. Therefore, employers encourage their workers to make the most of it. Businesses in Denver often have unique benefits such as unlimited leave, flexible schedules and the ability to work from home. They provide these benefits to attract and retain employees.
Healthcare in Denver
+ PRO: Excellent healthcare facilities
Denver is home to some top-ranked hospitals in America, so new arrivals in the city will have access to excellent care. This is thanks to Denver's award-winning medical research institutions, such as those at the University of Colorado.
- CON: Without health insurance, costs can be backbreaking
As in the rest of the US, Healthcare in Denver is incredibly expensive. New arrivals are encouraged to purchase a comprehensive health insurance plan to cover any medical expenses they may incur while living in the city.
Getting around in Denver
- CON: Public transport is limited
Although the city is working on expanding its public transport routes, the current options available are limited. Those living in the downtown area and the suburbs closest to it will most likely have good access to buses and the RTD light rail, but as they move further from the city centre, options get fewer. This results in most locals and new arrivals having to purchase a private car to get around in Denver.
- CON: Traffic can be a problem
Due to high car ownership rates in Denver, traffic is a major issue, resulting in long rush hours. The city's park-and-ride options may be one way to avoid the brunt of city centre traffic.
This works best if the ride into the centre from the car park is via the light rail and not buses, which will inevitably be stuck in traffic too. Driving outside peak rush hour traffic times is another option, although this may not be possible for people working standard 9-to-5 jobs.
+ PRO: Parking is abundant
As opposed to most city centres, Denver has an abundance of parking. This is a significant pro for people who prefer to drive to work rather than use public transport. New arrivals who are willing to sit in the crazy morning traffic needn't stress about finding a parking space when they arrive at their destinations. More often than not, they can find a parking space close by, if not right outside the door.
►For more about the Mile High City, see Moving to Denver.
"Too few South Africans. No rugby or cricket. Few backyards with swimming pools." If these are the only things Hendrik, a South African expat, had a hard time adjusting to in the city, see what he loves about his 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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