Moving to Denver

Archived Responses: 

April 2006

Hi, I am considering relocating to Denver/Boulder area in the next 1-2 years. Mainly for financial reasons. I could sell our 2bed/1bath condo and pay approx 70-80% downpayment for a much bigger condo/townhouse in Denver, less in Boulder area approx 50- 60% downpayment (assuming the bubble doesn't burst by then). Does anyone have any feedback on relocating or living in these areas, particularly the Denver metro area? I checked out previous BPN reviews but these were more general and are a little old now. I am a single mom with an 8 year old son and while we love the Bay Area, I can barely make it every month financially! Any feedback would be greatly appreciated, thank you! Mama Bear

Funny you should ask, because we just moved to Denver from Oakland two months ago. We had lived in the Bay Area for 12 years and loved loved loved it, but felt forced out by the high cost of living, poor educational options for our two kids, and a hectic culture that was not as kid friendly or family oriented as we wanted it to be. Although I miss the Bay Area quite a bit, I couldn't be happier with our choice. Denver is a very progressive town, and the people here care a lot about the environment, education, and each other. And I've never met friendlier, warmer people in my life. In the Bay Area, I felt like kids were an add-on, but here they are part of the fabric of life. They are welcome everywhere. And the weather is terrific. Sunny and warm with the occassional exciting snow or rainstorm. Since we've been here, there have only been two or three days where we haven't had sunny blue skies. And the mountains are right there. Of course, the place has its drawbacks. It's big and sprawling, and I spend a lot more time in my car than I used to. Chain stores are much more a part of life here. There are only a couple of neighborhoods where you can walk to everything the way I did on Piedmont Avenue. People ask me about church and religion much more than in the Bay Area. And there is no ocean. So I guess it depends on what you want and what you are willing to give up. For us, it was definitely the right choice. Amy
June 2003

My husband and I are considering relocating to the Denver area. We had both lived in ski-towns as post college grad ski bums, however, we are unfamiliar with Denver metro area. Can anyone offer any feedback and observations both good and bad. We have lived in both NYC and the Bay Area so of course we think these are the only two places to live in the US! OF course they are also the most expensive and my husbands profession (IT) is practically at zero growth here (he is a dot com casulty). We have a young son 16 months who is of mixed race (asian/american) so it is very important to me that we remain in a somewhat diverse and open minded community. Aside from skiing and the great outdoors, I do associate Colorado with very conservative, fundamental religious types. Any comments about this as well? Where are the more community oriented places like Oakland/Berkeley? Boulder is not really in the picture for us. Thanks!

I grew up in Denver, and have lived away from there now for 15 years, but my folks still live there, and several friends. Here's my 2 cents...There is a broad range of political alliances -- something for everyone. Yes there are powerful conservatives in the area, but there are just as many people who are mainstream moderates and there is a large and vocal left. I was delighted recently to learn that the new mayor succeeding a 2 or 3 term fairly liberal, well-liked black mayor is an old boss of mine: the engaging and funny John Hickenlooper, who started the Wynkoop microbrewery downtown in the mid-eighties, spearheaded the so-called ''Lo-Do'' revitalization, and was a huge influence on the whole microbrewery boom then.

Many many people in Denver are health-minded and focused on staying healthy. They get outside a lot because the weather is near perfect for most people's seasonal tastes (except in March and April when the winter slush/mud/wind gets tiresome). I'm assuming from your post that you prefer a diverse and more urban than sub-urban area, so I'd say neighborhoods to look at in Denver are: about a 7 block radius around Denver University, the neighborhood adjacent to Washington Park, Park Hill (east of Colorado Blvd, North of Colfax, west of the old airport), and the area just southeast of downtown (south of Colfax to Spear, and over to Colo. Blvd). You might also try some areas of Wheatridge, which are appealing because they're closer to the foothills and therefore regular mountain getaways. If you've lived only in SF and NYC, the Denver urban scene is never going add up to your past experiences. However, what Denver has that the Bay Area at least doesn't have is stately neighborhoods in an urban setting that still have kids in them and local ice cream parlors and brick school houses with big trees. They have a beautiful restored river area downtown, with really enjoyable walking spaces and running paths right downtown. People get up early in the morning all over Denver to exercise or meet each other for breakfast -- something I've always missed living in the Bay Area (''Brunch'' is a concept reserved more for mother's day). By the same token, they don't stay out much past may hate this. A bit of local (and trivial) machismo is the propensity to drive stick vehicles instead of automatic transmissions...if you can read anything into this, it'll give you an idea of the rough & tough persona of the Denver crowd. It's definitely got more midwest flavor than the Bay Area, but parts of it are still strongly identified with the WILD west, and I'll bet it's more hip than you might expect.

Finally, I'll say that both my parents and many of my friends are independent business people there, and are not really involved in any large corporate endeavor. You said your partner was in IT...I know a job in a large corporation in Denver could really dictate where you can live, as most of them are located in the extant suburbs. Good luck. I'm sure you'll make a good decision.

I'm originally from Denver and visit family (a Big family of many ages) at least 3-4 times a year. Denver is a wonderful place to raise children (I have two--10 and one)and always has been. It's so close to the mountaints..I spent summers and many weekends up in the mountains. I have lived on both coasts (Providence, New York City, Los Angeles, and Berkeley). I left to pursue a career in the arts and both my husband and I have to be in California right now career wise. But, I would move to Denver in a minute.

In the past 20 years it has really developed as a city. The arts are flourishing. People are traveled and much more sophisticated than years ago. But, best of all, it's a family place. There is so much for children and families. And, the whole religious/conservative thing is overrated. That exists everywhere in this country. Denver has a large liberal contingency. The only negative growing up there was that it was a Broncos/Ski town..and I don't ski nor watch football. That has since changed.

Obviously you can see I like Denver.
5th generation Colorado-ite

I sent the question about moving to Denver to some people who recently moved there. Here is their response: We recently relocated to Denver from Albany. Besides getting used to the snow, it's been a relatively easy transition. I also associated Denver with fundamental religious types - and while there are some, it is more liberal in the city than I expected. The suburbs may be different. We live in the Washington Park neighborhood. It reminds me a lot of Albany, only a lot bigger. The park system in Denver is phenomenal - I've heard that it tops the list of cities that have reserved space for public parks. We found it really easy to meet people here and there are some great preschool options. As far as ethnic diversity.... it's pretty small. Mostly white, with a lot of Mexican immigrants, some Asians and very few African- Americans. (Ironically, most of the Asians I see are adopted from China (girls).) Here's a few websites to check out - also feel free to email me with more questions.

Sadly, a list like this one just doesn't exist in Denver - I miss it! Kathryn