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Moving to Denver

Expats moving to Denver will find that the ‘Mile High City’ is energetic, dynamic and welcoming to new arrivals. Denver residents are not simply treated to panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains but get to enjoy a great climate of moderate temperatures and abundant sunshine all year round.

Denver is an incredibly diverse city, from the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the downtown area to tight-knit suburban communities, there is a neighbourhood to suit every type of expat. Furthermore, the cost of living in Denver is far less than that of other major US cities, such as New York City, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Minneapolis.

Job opportunities are abundant and varied in Denver and the city has a thriving business climate. There is a wide range of industries that play a prominent role in Denver’s economy, including aerospace, bioscience, energy, software development, healthcare and financial services. Expats taking up employment in Denver will find that companies in the city are willing to invest in their workforce and there are excellent opportunities for further education and training.

Those moving to Denver with children will find that it is a very family-friendly city. Not only will expat kids in Denver have plenty of opportunity to spend time outdoors without safety concerns being a major issue, they will also benefit from access to the city's good schools. The state of Colorado has a well-educated population, with 40 percent of the state’s adult population being educated up to college level. Expat parents will find that there are plenty of education options open to their children, including public, private, charter, magnet and parochial schools.

New arrivals in Denver will not need to worry when it comes to healthcare provisions as the city is home to some of the country’s finest hospitals and medical research facilities.

However, Denver’s major drawcard which attracts increasing numbers to move to the city is its great lifestyle. Denver has one of America's healthiest and most active communities. The city and its surroundings offer expats the opportunity to enjoy stunning hiking and mountain biking trails as well as activities such as river rafting and skiing in the winter. Thus, expats living in Denver will find there is no shortage of activities and events to keep them entertained.

Working in Denver

Expats relocating to the ‘Mile High’ city will find that Denver has a very diverse economy and there are plenty of job opportunities for people from a number of different backgrounds and with varied skill sets. However, expats looking to land themselves a job in Denver will need to have skills and attributes that set them apart from the competition.

Denver is well-known for its highly educated workforce, with more than 40 percent of the city’s adult population having a tertiary education. Furthermore, with all its amenities and great quality of life, Denver continues to attract and retain a smart, talented and experienced workforce.


Job market in Denver

The United States Government is the largest employer in Metro Denver. Thanks to the city’s central location, one will find a large number of federal agencies based here. The US defence industry also has a prominent presence in Denver and there are a number of military bases located close to the city.

Historically, mining and energy have played a prominent role in Denver’s economy. Located in close proximity to the mineral-rich Rocky Mountains, a large number of major mining and energy companies have chosen to base themselves in Denver to allow for easy access to the abundance of coal, oil and natural gas in the region.

Other major industries in Denver include IT, high-technology, manufacturing and healthcare.


Finding a job in Denver

Most expats moving to Denver do so with a job already in hand. For those who still need to secure work in the city, the internet is a good place to start. Research local companies and enquire about any openings – making connections and networking is paramount to securing employment, especially in the tech and startup industries.

Accommodation in Denver

Finding accommodation in Denver is one the major challenges facing new arrivals in the city. With the growth of new job opportunities in Denver, the city has become a popular destination for both people from abroad and those from elsewhere in the USA.

Due to this increase in new arrivals, the demand for property has risen and although there is lots of new housing being built in Denver, supply is unable to keep up with the ever-increasing demand. As a result, both property prices and rental rates are progressively increasing.

Despite this trend, however, expats will still find that both the cost of accommodation and the general cost of living in Denver is far lower than in most major US cities such as New York, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago.


Types of accommodation in Denver

There are 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 is something to suit any expat’s requirements.

However, expats moving to Denver need to be somewhat flexible when house-hunting as they will find that their choices will be limited by the lack of supply in property in the city. Whether renting or buying, expats will 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 expats want to live in metropolitan Denver and they have to pay a premium for the privilege of living close the city’s major attractions and facilities. Exploring areas and suburbs of Denver that are a little further afield will give expats more choice and better value for money.


Renting accommodation in Denver

The majority of expats relocating to Denver opt to rent rather than buy a home, at least initially. However, people are finding it very difficult to find suitable rental properties in Denver at present.

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 useful in getting a jump on the competition and is particularly useful if expats aren't sure of what areas will best suit their needs. 

Most people moving to Denver are eager to move into the city centre because of the facilities on offer there but this is also where the shortage of properties is highest, allowing landlords to hike up rental rates. Expats who are willing to move beyond the city centre to the suburbs will find that their choices increase, as does the size of the properties.


Utilities in Denver

Regardless of whether expats are looking to buy or rent property in Denver, it is important to factor in the cost of setting up utilities and paying the necessary bills.

Those renting property in Denver should consult the conditions of their lease to find out more about their utility payments. In most cases, landlords assume responsibility for setting up utilities like gas, electricity and water and tenants deal with optional extras such as telephone lines, internet and cable television packages. Those buying property in Denver will have to arrange for utilities to be set up themselves.

Areas and suburbs in Denver

The areas and suburbs of Denver are very diverse; from luxurious Cherry Creek to historic Capitol Hill and family-friendly Stapleton, there is a place suitable for every expat. Furthermore, most of these neighbourhoods have a range of housing options, including everything from luxury condominiums to trendy loft conversions and historic Victorian houses.

However, expats moving to Denver will need to be fairly flexible in their requirements and should not set their heart on finding a home in one particular neighbourhood, due to the shortage of housing. Instead, they should make a shortlist of suitable neighbourhoods and then start searching for accommodation within their budget.

Here is a list of popular expat areas and suburbs of Denver.


Recommended neighbourhoods in Denver

Cheesman Park

This picturesque part of Denver is located close to the Capitol Hill district. There is a wide range of housing options in Cheesman park, including old Victorian homes, modern condominiums, townhouses and apartments. Property in Cheesman Park is diverse in price, style and age. For those that want spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains, the best option is a towering condo. Loft apartments are also popular in this area, especially among young professionals. Residents of Cheesman Park have good access to facilities such as restaurants, bars and clubs, as well as the park itself which provides a great space with loads of leisure activities.

Cherry Creek

Cherry Creek is an upscale neighbourhood in Denver, popular with older couples looking to downsize as well as new arrivals moving to Denver for an active lifestyle. The area is a self-contained oasis for its residents who have art galleries, coffee shops, retail outlets, bars and restaurants right on their doorstep. In the summer, Cherry Creek becomes a hive of activity with musicians and artists having regular performances at Filmore Plaza. Accommodation in this neighbourhood mainly consists of modern, new-build housing and apartments.

Mayfair

Mayfair is a great place for those on a budget. The predominant type of architecture that can be found in the area is 1950s ranch-style homes. Alongside these modest properties, expats will also find some newer homes. The area is particularly popular with students and medical professionals working at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and National Jewish Hospital. Mayfair is also located close to Lindsley Park which is great for those with children and people who enjoy an active lifestyle. While there are just a handful of restaurants and shops in the area, Mayfair is only a 15-minute commute from downtown Denver and a few minutes away from Cherry Creek.

Stapleton

Stapleton is a family-friendly area of Denver. It was once home to the city’s municipal airport but now consists of a mix of residential properties, retail buildings and sprawling parks. Stapleton is also home to a large bohemian crowd of artists, and this is evident in the public murals and interactive artwork on display throughout the neighbourhood. Expats will find a range of housing options in Stapleton, including lofts, condominiums, townhouses and larger single-family homes.

Healthcare in Denver

Denver is home to some excellent healthcare facilities, so expats do not need to worry when it comes to their medical needs. Thanks to the presence of award-winning medical research institutions, such as those at the University of Colorado, Denver has become a prominent location in the USA’s healthcare industry. 

Pharmacies can easily be found throughout the city, along any main shopping street or mall. There are many pharmacies that are open 24/7 and expats should familiarise themselves with their nearest one in case there is an emergency.

As is the case throughout the USA, expats living in Denver must ensure that they have a comprehensive health insurance plan so that they can access any of the city’s medical facilities.

Here is a list of the most prominent hospitals in Denver:


Hospitals in Denver

Children's Hospital Colorado

www.childrenscolorado.org

Address: 13123 East 16th Avenue 

 

Porter Adventist Hospital

www.porterhospital.org

Address: 2525 South Downing Street 

 

Saint Joseph Hospital Denver

www.sclhealth.org

Address: 1375 East 19th Avenue

 

University of Colorado Hospital

www.uchealth.org

Address: 12401 East 17th Avenue

Education and Schools in Denver

Expats relocating to Denver with children will be pleased to find that education and learning are priorities throughout the state of Colorado. This is exemplified by the fact that metro Denver has one of the highest per capita education levels in the USA.

There is plenty of choice when it comes to schooling options in Denver. Both public and private schools offer a number of primary and secondary school options, including charter and magnet schools. There are also a number of international schools in Denver which follow the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme and various other foreign curricula.


Public schools in Denver

Public schools in Denver offer open enrolment, which means that students are able to apply for the school of their choice. In effect, expat parents who choose to send their child to a public school in Denver won’t be limited by geographic location and can instead select a school for their child based on individual student needs. As part of the application process, parents submit forms listing their top five school choices. Schools then admit students based on space availability.

Charter and magnet schools

Charter schools are institutions that receive funding from the local district and the state of Colorado. While these schools are approved by the local school district, they have a greater degree of freedom when it comes to teaching methods and curricula.

Magnet schools are public schools with specialised courses or curricula, in areas such as science or the arts. These schools attract a range of students from all over the Denver metro area.


Private and international schools in Denver

There are a large number of private schools in metro Denver which tend to offer a wider range of facilities than are usually found at public schools. Many of these schools offer education based on a particular religion or alternative teaching philosophy. There are also those which teach a foreign curriculum, known as international schools.

International schools are often a good choice for expats. particularly those planning to only stay in Denver for a short period of time. Though fees are typically high, attending an international school allows expat children to meet other international students and assists them in being better equipped in making the transition to life in Denver.

The majority of international schools in the Denver metro area follow the International Baccalaureate curriculum and a number of these schools offer language immersion classes.

Lifestyle in Denver

Expats moving to Denver will find that while they might be relocating for work, they will certainly find plenty of time for leisure. Regardless of whether one enjoys a spot of retail therapy, dining out or partying the night away, there are plenty of opportunities in Denver.

However, one of the main advantages of living in Denver is the city’s outdoor culture thanks to the region’s mild climate. With plenty of national parks and world-class ski resorts, new arrivals to the city will enjoy spending time taking in the beautiful surroundings and enjoying nature.


Shopping in Denver

While most Denverites prefer to spend their money on camping and sports equipment, expats looking for opportunities to spend their hard-earned dollars won’t struggle in the Mile High City. Whether one is looking for luxury labels or bargain finds, there is a shopping experience to suit everyone’s requirements in Denver. For designer names, shoppers can head to the luxury stores at Cherry Creek, while those on a tighter budget are likely to find what they are looking for at Colorado Mills.


Nightlife and entertainment in Denver

Although Denver is not famous for the bright lights, the city actually has a great after-hours culture with everything from chic cocktail lounges to trendy craft breweries and unique wineries. Neighbourhoods like Cherry Creek are full of sophisticated partygoers while the Lower Downtown (LoDo) area and South Broadway (SoBo) are more popular with a younger crowd. Unfortunately, thanks to strict noise ordinances, much of the city’s nightlife spots close earlier than most of the revellers would like.


Eating out in Denver

Denver has a lively and thriving dining scene. Each of Denver’s neighbourhoods has its fair share of eateries but the most dynamic restaurant scene can be found in the city centre. Denver’s downtown restaurants take advantage of the Mile High City’s beautiful weather with plenty of al fresco dining options.

Whatever cuisine one is after, there is likely to be a restaurant to satisfy that craving. Expats in Denver can enjoy dining on a wide variety of options, including Chinese, Indian, Thai, Italian, French and African.


Outdoor activities in Denver

Denver is perfectly located for outdoor enthusiasts and the Mile High City boasts a very athletic population. With the Rocky Mountains to the west and the High Plains to the east, Denver residents are blessed with access to naturally beautiful landscapes and a whole host of exciting outdoor activities.

First and foremost, Denver is considered a great spot from which to explore the Rockies. From hiking and mountain biking trails to pleasant camp spots, there are plenty of opportunities for expats in Denver to spend time in nature. Golf and fishing are also popular activities amongst Denver’s population. In the winter months, residents head to the slopes to take part in a variety of winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling. 

See and Do in Denver

Expats living in Denver will find that it offers plenty of activities to keep them occupied in their spare time. Whether one prefers interacting with the animal world at the city's zoo or aquarium, or just spending the day lazing in the sunshine at one of the city's parks, the Mile High City has something to suit everyone.


Attractions in Denver 

Denver Zoo

The city’s zoo covers an area of about 80 acres and is located in City Park. It is a popular attraction in Denver with over 1.6 million visitors each year. The Denver Zoo houses more than 4,000 animals from across the globe and is a fun-filled outing for the whole family.

Denver Botanic Gardens

Expats with green fingers will find lots of gardening inspiration at the Botanic Gardens. Despite the dry climate found in Colorado, visitors will find over 32,000 types of plant species. The gardens also provide a fabulous setting for a picnic or family day out, particularly in the summer when outdoor concerts are held in the amphitheatre.

Colorado State Capitol Building

A spectacular example of 19th-century classical architecture, complete with its distinctive gold-leaf-covered dome, Colorado's state capitol is a must-see. The building is situated a full mile above sea level, lending Denver its nickname of the ‘Mile High City’.

Denver Art Museum

Expats who appreciate art will get the chance to admire collections from throughout history, though the museum is especially well-known for its excellent collection of Native American art. There are also imaginative hands-on exhibits and games to keep the little ones entertained as well.

Downtown Aquarium

A trip to the aquarium is a delight for the whole family. Young visitors enjoy interactive experiences such as the touch pool and the old shipwreck. Afterwards, families can enjoy a meal at the aquarium restaurant seated beside a 150,000-gallon tank filled with all sorts of sea creatures.

What's On in Denver

Expats in Denver will be treated to a busy events schedule. Regardless of whether one is looking for sports events, food festivals or family-friendly days out, Denver has a range of varied events to suit everyone.

Here are some of Denver’s most popular yearly events.


Annual events in Denver

St Patrick’s Day Parade (March)

Attracting more than 200,000 people a year, this is Denver’s biggest annual parade and features horses, stagecoaches, marching bands and eclectic floats. It is a fun day out for the whole family.

Cinco de Mayo (May)

Denverites enjoy celebrating Cinco de Mayo in a big way and this annual extravaganza draws more than 400,000 people to Civic Center Park where hundreds of different stalls sell Latino food, crafts and memorabilia. Two stages provide plenty of live entertainment, while attendees can also enjoy fun events like the taco-eating contest and the green chilli bowl cook-off.

Denver Summer Brew Fest (July)

This event gives expats a chance to sample some of the best local craft beers, with plenty of options from Denver and beyond. Live music and food stalls offer entertainment for what is sure to be a fun day out.

Pumpkin Festival (October)

A highlight of the fall season, this festival is held at the Denver Botanic Gardens and is an ideal family excursion. There are plenty of activities for kids, from hay rides and carnival games to pumpkin picking and face painting.

Denver International Wine Festival (November)

This festival is a delight for wine lovers, consisting of tastings, local winery tours, and even a food-and-wine-pairing competition between local chefs. A superb selection of wine will be on offer, with hundreds of wines from around the world available for tasting.

Getting Around in Denver

Expats moving to Denver will find that transport options are a little more limited than what one would expect in larger US cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

While Denver has a public transport network that is relatively efficient and continuously improving, the services it provides are not sufficient outside the city centre. Therefore the majority of expats and locals living in Denver own vehicles and find that driving is often the fastest way to get from place to place.


Public transport in Denver

Public transport in Denver is overseen by the Regional Transportation District (RTD). While there are ongoing plans to improve and expand the city’s public transport network, public transport is presently lacking outside Denver’s downtown area.

Buses

RTD buses are the backbone of Denver’s public transportation network. It operates around 1,000 buses which serve over 10,000 bus stops in the Denver and Boulder areas.

Travelling by bus in Denver is comfortable and fairly convenient, unless one is travelling to or from one of the city’s more distant suburbs. Expats should consult the bus timetable when planning their journey as the frequency of services varies from one route to the next.

Light rail

Denver's light rail system is comprised of nine lines across more than 50 stations. Light rail tickets must be purchased from ticket machines which can be found at the stations before boarding the train. The price of the ticket varies according to the distance travelled.

Train

There are currently two commuter rail lines in Denver: the University of Colorado A Line, and the B Line. The A Line provides a direct link from downtown Denver to the city's airport and can be easily accessed via light rail and bus routes, while the B Line travels from Union Station to Westminster, with further extensions planned in the future.


Taxis in Denver

Taxis are readily available in Denver. They can be found at the airport and main transport hubs, such as Union Station. Taxis in Denver are usually metered but firms generally set their own rates. Prices are generally similar as taxi companies need to remain competitive. Fares do, however, increase in the evenings.

Ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft have a presence in Denver and are useful for when one wants to know upfront how much a trip will cost.


Driving in Denver

The majority of expats living in Denver own a car and find driving to be the most convenient way to get around the city. Having a car is especially important for those who do not live close to the city centre and those who want to travel outside Denver.

The quality of roads and signage in Denver is good and most expats have no difficulty getting around. Parking is fairly easy to find but fees are high within the downtown area of Denver.

Expats resident in Denver will need to convert their driver's licence from home to a local licence. The state of Colorado has reciprocal agreements with some countries, meaning that a licence from that country can be exchanged for a Colorado licence without having to retake a driver's test. Citizens of countries not party to such an agreement will need to pass a local driver's test in order to legally drive in Denver.


Cycling in Denver

The city has an excellent network of cycle trails that cover a great deal of the city. Cycling is an integral part of Denver’s culture and this is apparent in the number of bike lanes and secure cycle storage facilities that can be found in the city centre.

Drivers in Denver are generally mindful of cyclists, so the roads tend to be far safer here than in other cities. However, cyclists must be aware that the rules about cycling in Denver are strictly upheld. It is common for cyclists to be fined for ignoring stop signs or running a red light. Furthermore, cyclists are required to wear a helmet and have lights at the front and back of their bikes.

Reports of bike theft are quite common in Denver, so cyclists are advised to invest in a good quality lock.