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Moving to Denver

Those moving to Denver will find that the ‘Mile High City’ is energetic, dynamic and welcoming to new arrivals. Denver residents aren't 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's 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's 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. 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 won't 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's no shortage of activities and events to keep them entertained.

Weather in Denver

The weather in Denver can be unpredictable and is heavily influenced by the Rocky Mountains to the west. The city experiences a semi-arid climate. Winters in Denver tend to be cold with temperatures averaging between 17°F (-8°C) and 46°F (8°C). Snow is common in December and January. This makes Denver ideal for winter sports enthusiasts.

Summers in Denver are hot and dry. The temperatures range between 50°F (10°C) and 89°F (32°C). Rainfall is low and the sky is usually sunny. The relatively mild weather is partly due to the city's altitude — 5 280 feet above sea level.

Late spring and early summer bring massive storms to the Mile High City. Fronts, moisture and strong winds all build together creating thunder and hailstorms that can sometimes cause severe damage.

 

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 many different backgrounds and with varied skill sets. However, those 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 a large segment 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 some military bases located close to the city.

Historically, mining and energy have played a prominent role in Denver’s economy. Located near 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 who move 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 of 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 many 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 truly is something to suit any expat’s requirements.

However, those 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. 

Rental process

The first step in the rental process is filling out a rental application form. This isn't the same as a rental agreement. The landlord will use this application to determine whether the prospective tenant meets their requirements.

The rental application form will typically ask information like references, identity numbers, credit card information, sources of income and monthly disposable income. These questions may vary depending on the landlord.

Background checks

The landlord will then ask for permission to perform a background check which includes checking the prospective tenant's credit score and criminal history.

When handing in the completed application form, the applicant will be charged an application screening fee. This fee is meant to cover the costs of obtaining a credit report and verifying the information that was given in the application. It is the applicant's responsibility to check what these fees are before applying as fees may vary.

Deposits

It is the norm for landlords in Denver to ask for a security deposit to be put down. The amount for a security deposit varies widely depending on the type of rental and the monthly rental fee.

The standard sum for security deposits is no more than one month's rent. However, if a tenant has a bad credit score, the deposit could be as high as two months' rent. Tenants with pets may also be asked to pay a higher security deposit.

Prospective tenants may also be charged a holding deposit while they're busy with the application process.

Leases

A six-month or one-year rental lease is typical when renting in Denver. However, with the market being as competitive as it is, tenants may want to consider staying in the apartment they've found for as long as possible.

In some cases, estate agents and landlords may suggest signing a two- or three-year lease. In this case, new arrivals shouldn't be afraid to negotiate a discount on the rent. Signing a long-term lease not only benefits the tenant; it also benefits the landlord.

Utilities

Regardless of whether expats are looking to buy or rent property in Denver, it's 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.

Waste management and recycling

Residents moving into their new home can visit the city of Denver's official website to find out about the trash and recycling schedule in their area. Residents can also sign up for recycling services on the same website.

There are no fees charged for trash or recycling services provided by Denver Solid Waste Management. Residents have the option to also join the composting collection service which is a fee-based program.

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 shouldn't 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

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. This area is especially popular with young professionals.

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 don't 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 be found throughout the city, along any main shopping street or mall. Many pharmacies are open 24/7. New arrivals 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

Website: www.childrenscolorado.org
Address: 13123 East 16th Avenue, Aurora

Porter Adventist Hospital

Website: www.porterhospital.org
Address: 2525 South Downing Street, Denver

Saint Joseph Hospital Denver

Website: www.sclhealth.org
Address: 1375 East 19th Avenue, Denver

University of Colorado Hospital

Website: www.uchealth.org
Address: 12605 East 16th Avenue, Aurora

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 several primary and secondary school options, including charter and magnet schools. There are also some 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 can 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. 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.


Homeschooling in Denver

The state of Colorado provides parents with some flexibility in how they choose to homeschool their children. However, it's important to understand the requirements families need to follow before choosing an option.

The basic laws for homeschooling in Denver is that all students aged 6 to sixteen need to attend school 172 days a year. Reading, writing, speaking, math, history, literature, science, civics, and US constitution are all compulsory classes. Aside from these musts, parents will have three options when it comes to homeschooling.

The first option is to enrol the child in an independent school. Though the child is enrolled at the school, they can still be taught at home. The school must keep records of the child's education. Under this option, parents won't have to send notices to the school district, keep attendance or worry about testing and evaluation.

Secondly, there's the traditional home-based program. For this option, parents are required to file a homeschool letter of intent to their state school district at least two weeks before homeschooling begins. They then have to file this letter annually until their child finishes school. Students also need to be tested regularly by taking a standardised test or being evaluated by a certified teacher or licensed psychologist to show their academic progress. Parents will also have to keep strict records of attendance and testing or evaluation results.

Finally, parents can choose to hire a Colorado state-certified teacher to teach their children at their home. With this option parents are exempt from requirements like recording attendance and testing.

Homeschooling in Denver may feel like a daunting task; however, there are many groups and organisations that can support parents in this journey like the Northern Colorado Homeschool Association.

Lifestyle in Denver

Expats moving to Denver will find that while they might be relocating for work, they'll certainly find plenty of time for leisure. Regardless of whether one enjoys 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's 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 isn't 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's 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 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 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's a fun day out for the whole family.

Cinco de Mayo (May)

Denverites enjoy celebrating Cinco de Mayo in a big way. 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 residents 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 hayrides 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 aren't sufficient outside the city centre. Therefore most residents 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 eight 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 three 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. The city's brand new G Line connects downtown Denver with the northwest suburbs of Arvada, Adams County, and Wheat Ridge.


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 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 don't live near the city centre and those who want to travel outside Denver.

The quality of roads and signage in Denver is good. 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's 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.