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. Although these are far outweighed by the pros, new arrivals should still be prepared for what to expect when arriving in the Mile High City, which is why we’ve put together a list of pros and cons of moving to Denver.
Cost of living and accommodation 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.
- 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, and we recommend .
- CON: Accommodation can be expensive
The influx of people into Denver has flooded the housing market, resulting in skyrocketing prices for once affordable homes, which means many people are now struggling to afford the increased housing prices in Denver and are forced to move further afield. Along with the limited options available, this makes finding accommodation even more difficult for new arrivals in the city.
Location and environment in Denver
+ PRO: Proximity to the mountains
Denver’s location right alongside the Rocky Mountains means incredible views from the city, but also great opportunities for exploration. 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 being situated inland 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 and 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
Although 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 time spent outdoors and enjoying 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 and resulting in thunder and hailstorms that can sometimes cause severe damage.
Lifestyle in Denver
+ PRO: Plenty to see and do
Denver is blessed with a lot of good weather, and its location means people are easily able to 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 Patricks Day to Cinco de Mayo.
+ PRO: Professional sports teams
Denver is home to eight professional sports teams, and it has leagues for all four of America’s favourite sports right in the city. 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 in Denver and will certainly enjoy getting involved in the fanfare and support 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 noise can be made that will disturb members of the public, 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 skill sets shouldn’t struggle to find work in the Mile High City. Mining and agriculture, IT and aerospace 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 and employers therefore 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 employees and encourage them to stay. It also tends to lead to a happier work force and a stronger company in the long run.
Healthcare in Denver
+ PRO: Excellent healthcare facilities
Denver is home to some of the top-ranked hospitals in America, and new arrivals in the city have nothing to worry about when it comes to their medical needs. 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. It is therefore necessary for new arrivals to have a comprehensive health insurance plan to cover any medical costs that may crop up while living in the city. With this in place, newcomers in Denver can rest assured they’ll have access to the best medical treatment the US has to offer.
Transport 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 centre of the city, options get fewer. This results in most locals and new arrivals having to own a private car to get around in Denver.
- CON: Traffic can be a problem
Due to most people in Denver driving their own cars to get around the city, traffic is a major issue and results in long rush hours. The city’s park-and-ride options may be one way to avoid the major city centre traffic, provided 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 of 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 major 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 will not have to stress about finding a parking space when they arrive at their destinations. More often than not, they will be able to find a space to park extremely 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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