Considering a move to a hip metro area? Most people immediately think about the coast cities: D.C., Boston or New York City in the east; or San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego and L.A. in the west.
But what about that jewel in the middle of the country —Denver? It’s the city-meets-intrepid-adventurer spot. Want to white-water raft or ski during the day, then enjoy a microbrew or hit a club at night? Denver is your spot.
In this article, we’ll describe why Denver is an awesome spot to call home. From amazing restaurants, trendy bars and a thriving music scene, to modern high-rises that overlook the Rockies, you won’t want to discount the Mile High City.
Thanks to Denver’s elevation (one mile above sea level) and high-desert climate, the skies above the city feature some of the clearest and most vivid blue hues in the country.
Likewise, the sunsets erupt into incredible oranges and reds, with mountains silhouetted against the backdrop. There’s a good reason why many Denver residents have bumper stickers on their cars that read, If God isn’t a Broncos fan, why are sunsets orange?
Those same factors — a desert climate that doesn’t keep moisture or humidity in the air, coupled with high elevation — also result in mind-blowing views of the stars at night.
If you’re in the central core of downtown Denver, the light pollution will interrupt this view. But, fortunately, you don’t need to drive far to see for yourself what we’re talking about. Just head a mere 20 minutes outside of Denver for spectacular stargazing. (Bonus points if you bring a date.)
Not to over-emphasize the benefits of ultra-low humidity, but there are many pluses: Your hair doesn’t get frizzy; your pets (usually) don’t get fleas; and you don’t often need to deal with blowing leaves, ousting termites, pulling weeds, clearing gutters or fighting mold. Why? It’s a semi-arid climate. (Imagine a mild desert.)
Sure, there are some trees (mostly evergreens), but for the most part, all the maintenance that comes with living in a tree-filled environment isn’t a big issue. And because it’s semi-arid, weeds don’t pop up all over the place, the way they do in more temperate climates. You might get the occasional dandelion, but your yard maintenance will be far easier than the hassles you’d deal with in most parts of the Midwest, the South, the Northeast, or the Pacific Northwest.
What about snow? There’s lots of it! You’ll need to own a strong shovel. But here’s good news: Even when it snows, the roads almost never ice, so shoveling and driving is relatively simple, especially if you’re already accustomed to Midwestern or East Coast winters.
Compared to many other major metro areas, Denver offers a low cost of living. Median rent is $742 per month, according to HotPads research, a steal compared to the median rent of $1,332 in San Francisco or $1,043 in Washington D.C.
Of course, a low cost of living means nothing if you can’t find a job. Which leads to the next benefit …
In 2013, Forbes Magazine ranked Denver #6 in the category of “Best Places for Business and Careers.” Translation: You’ve got a great chance of landing a job here.
The largest area employers represent the public sector: The federal and state government, followed by the University of Colorado system, took the top three spots. If you’re interested in private industry, large companies such as Lockheed Martin, Kaiser Permanente and Comcast are major job sources.
Looking for a job in the startup scene? Nearby Boulder has developed a reputation as a tech hotspot. It’s not quite on par with San Francisco or New York, of course, but at least as a competitor with Chicago and Las Vegas.
Not to be outdone, the LoDo (lower downtown) district in Denver has recently begun fueling a tech scene of its own. If you want to be an “early adopter,” Denver might be your spot.
Thanks to its convenient location in the center of the country, Denver is the fifth-busiest airport in the world (based on aircraft movements). It’s the main hub for Frontier Airlines, as well as a hub for United Airlines and Southwest.
Flights to either coast (especially the west) are relatively quick and inexpensive, and flights to Europe and the Middle East often head due north, to Canada, and then over the Arctic, making for an abridged route.
Denver is one of the most chill-out cities in the country. But if the adventurer in you wants to head to the mountains for some skiing, snowboarding, hiking, kayaking, rock climbing or white-water rafting, it’s no problem.
Denver is arguably the best city in the U.S. for office workers who double as weekend warriors. Some of the nation’s top outdoor destinations, including Breckenridge, Arapahoe Basin, Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Crested Butte, Buena Vista and Winter Park are close enough for an easy weekend trip.
Head to the mountains on Friday after work, shred powder or kayak the rapids all weekend, and then be home in time for dinner Sunday night.
Okay, Denver’s not exactly the cultural mecca of the U.S., but don’t write it off completely. From the Colorado Symphony Orchestra to the Denver Art Museum to the Denver Performing Arts Complex (where touring Broadway shows like The Lion King and Book of Mormon please the crowds), the Mile-High City offers its fair share of cultural attractions.
If you like live music, head to the Ogden or the Fillmore to catch major touring acts. If you’re searching for smaller bands, check out the Hi-Dive, Bluebird Theater or head north to the Boulder Theater.
If you’re into independent movies, the Esquire Theatre (just south of Cheesman Park) shows plenty of indy and foreign films, while the Mayan Theatre (on Broadway, between 1st and 2nd) shows a blend of big-box and indy flicks.
Denver has long been hailed as one of the best beer cities in America, thanks to its disproportionate concentration of breweries and microbreweries.
A few downtown standouts: Wynkoop Brewery, Breckenridge Brewery, Great Divide Brewery, Blue Moon Brewery, Falling Rock Taphouse, Renegade Brewing, Denver Beer Company, Denver Chophouse and Brewery, and Rock Bottom Brewery. Whoa, just writing the list makes us thirsty!
Brewpubs outside of downtown include Avery Brewing, Left Hand Brewery and, yes, we have to mention Coors.
Stay tuned next week when our Denver spotlight continues with a look at the up and coming LoDo district.