Moving to Denver: 9 Things to Know

denver skyline overcast
Image by Jacquelynne Kosmicki from Pixabay

It's the tenacity and forward-thinking of Denver's forefathers that turned a desolate mining village into a thriving metropolis. Today, the Mile-High City swarms with culture because Denverites carry on with this tradition. Rated as the second most educated city in the U.S., Denverites choose to pay an additional tax devoted to cultural and scientific pursuits.

There are seven major-league sports teams housed in the city and countless cultural buildings including famous art galleries, theaters, museums, and concert venues. An innovative collection of city parks dot the cityscape, making it an easy city to travel on foot or bike.

Even the weather is idyllic, which makes it one of the best cities for outdoor enthusiasts. The thin air, stemming from Denver's mile-high elevation, traps the sun's heat and makes for a warm year-round climate. The only negative, if you can call it that, is residents have little excuse for not getting out to see what the everchanging city has to offer this week. To make things a little easier, we've put together a moving guide to help you figure out where to start your Denver adventure. Learn about the local schools, the housing market, the cost of living, and more.

1. Denver's Housing Market

If you're planning on moving to the 5280 and want to buy real estate, get ready to move on what you see. Denver, Colorado is currently a seller's market. Due to interest and mortgage rate cuts, people moving to the area are buying up homes left and right. At the same time, the drop in rates encourages current owners to hold on to their homes.

This struggle between old and new residents equates to high demand in a market of dwindling inventory which causes the housing market to rise, if only slightly. Projections show the housing market is up by 1% from 2019. Analysts anticipate this upward swing to continue and for it to rise another 3.4% by the end of 2020. If this sounds a little low to you, then consider that Denver's housing market has been on an upward trend since 2012.

Depending on the neighborhood chosen, the value of homes in the area varies drastically. Median home values in Denver range from $660,500 in South Park Hill to $186,800 in the suburbs of Windsor. If you're looking to save a bit of money, look for a home with smaller square footage and keep things you don't use at home in a self-storage facility convenient to your location. A well-organized unit can save you time when planning a city adventure or a mountain getaway.

Denver Rental Rates

One great thing about living in Denver is the relatively cheap rental rates. It costs nearly twice as much to rent an apartment in the Big Apple than it does in the Mile-High City. Whether renting or buying, plan to spend around $2 per square foot on the average renter. Buyers can stretch the dollar a little further by getting a home outside the city's epicenter. It's common for people to save as much as $575 per month by living in the suburbs.

Property Taxes in Denver

With an average effective tax rate of .55%, Colorado comes in 4th among states with the lowest property taxes. This means the owners of a home purchased in Colorado with a value of $450,000 would pay property taxes in the approximate amount of $2,475. By contrast, owners of a home valued at the same amount and taxed at the national average of 1.08% would pay closer to $4,860.

2. Denver Communities

Cherry Creek

Considered one of the best neighborhoods in Denver, Cherry Creek has a mix of upscale businesses and luxurious duplexes and townhouses. Cherry Creek is still growing and a number of new high-rise condominiums have been built in the past few years. There are more than 50 places to eat in Cherry Creek North shopping center, and 100+ different stores. Public schools in Cherry Creek are higher rated than average, making it a great place for families to settle. When you’re ready to make the move, check out our storage facilities and let us help ease the transition.


One of Denver’s oldest neighborhoods, Uptown is home to plenty of beautiful Victorian homes. But you’ll also find a mix of modern structures, upscale condominiums, and trendy restaurants. Many young professionals call Uptown home, but you’ll also find a mix of retirees, artists, and families. There’s plenty to do in this neighborhood: City Park is a great place for outdoor adventures, Restaurant Row is a must-visit for culinary delights, and the Paramount Theater is the place to be for concerts, shows and film screenings. Ready to make the move to Uptown? Stop by our storage facility and let us take care of your belongings.

Capitol Hill

Home to numerous apartment buildings, houses, and condominiums, Capitol Hill is a blend of hip and history. You’ll also find haunted mansions and historical churches. You’ll find a diverse range of residents in capitol hill, ranging from young, single professionals to artists and hipsters as well as families and retirees. Local schools are above average, and there’s plenty to do for kids and adults. When you’re ready to make the move from your current home to Capitol Hill, visit one of our storage facilities and see how we can help make that move just a little easier.

3. The Cost of Living in Denver

Living in Denver, CO won't completely drain your bank account, but you may struggle to save your pennies if you don't land a good job before you arrive. As of 2020, Colorado's cost of living hovers at 12% higher than the national average. This makes it less expensive to live in Denver than it does in places like San Francisco and Los Angeles, but more expensive when compared to places like Memphis and Tulsa.

Expenses Outside of Housing Costs

The average four-person household can expect to shell out $3,500 per month on non-rent expenses while a single resident usually pays closer to $970. Note the individual expenses of one person exceeds that of the per person rate for the family of four by almost $100. Finding a few roommates willing to shoulder some of the burdens may help offset living expenses.

Sales Tax

Sales tax in Denver, CO combines multiple tax rates for a minimum combined sales tax of 8.31%. This percentage comes from the following breakdown:

  • Colorado State Sales Tax – 2.9%
  • Denver City Sales Tax – 4.31%
  • Regional Transportation District (RTD) Greater Denver Tax – 1%
  • Scientific and Cultural Facilities District Tax – 0.1%

As this is a minimum tax rate, depending on the jurisdiction in which you make a purchase it's possible for sales tax to increase.

Utility Charges

With the exception of phone services, utilities aren't too bad either. For a 915 square foot apartment, basic utilities like electricity, including heating and cooling, water, and garbage costs are right around $140 per month. You can pick up internet services with 60mbps and unlimited data for cable or ADSL for about $60. Pre-paid mobile phone services cost about 25 cents per minute, almost 25% higher than the national average.

State and local Income Taxes

Most states use a variable percentage rate to calculate taxes so people who earn more money get taxed more. Colorado is one of 9 states that tax based on a flat rate so you get taxed the same percentage whether you make $10,000 or $10 million. At present, the tax rate in Colorado is 4.63%. This has been the case since the year 2000.

Besides state taxes, there is also a local tax of $5.75 per month if you live in Denver and make more than $500 in gross earning. Similar taxes stand in Aurora and Greenwood Village where if you gross more than $250, you must pay $2 and $4 per month, respectively.

4. Education in Denver, Colorado

There are 157 pre-collegiate public schools and 220 private schools in the Mile-High City for Denverites to choose from. Of these, 23 schools made it onto the U.S. News and World Report's best high school rankings. Three of the nine local colleges and universities are on the sister list of best colleges.

On the College Readiness Index, Denver high schools outperform other metro areas of a similar size with an overall score of 8.2. At 17:1, the average student to teacher ratio is only slightly higher than the national average of 16:1.

While most schools in Denver have excellent ratings and proven results, there are a few schools with very low ratings that are on the verge of receiving state intervention. Before moving to the area, do some research to ensure your children go to a school that will benefit their education.

5. An Eclectic Collage of Things to Do

denver lodo neighborhood
Image by Quinn Kampschroer from Pixabay

The diverse city of Denver features more than 20 distinct neighborhoods and each one has something different to offer. History, art, music, antiques, breweries, and even nature if you head up the Rocky Mountains or out to Golden where the Wild West lives on.

Discover budding artists during First Friday Art Walks and Third Friday Collector's Previews in the Art District on Santa Fe. You'll also find art galleries in the River North Art District. For shopping and dining, Cherry Creek is the place to go. Spend your day exploring an impressive array of stores and touring the Denver Botanic Gardens before having a meal at Elway's, a restaurant owned by legendary Bronco's quarterback John Elway.

Get in a baseball game at Coor's Field or catch a touring Broadway show in Downtown Denver. When you're done hitch a free ride on the 16th Street Mall Shuttle and check out the beautiful Victorian buildings. Enjoy a touch of history in downtown Littleton at the Littleton Museum or throw back a beer at the ranch themed Farmhouse at Breckenridge Brewery. Bring your four-legged friends along for the trip. They're welcome too.

Visit the Fillmore for live entertainment or sip a coffee and read a good book at the Cover Book Store on East Colfax. It's the longest commercial road in the United States, The colorful assortment of establishments will keep you busy for days. Walk the streets of Little Five Points where musical greats like Miles Davis, Ella Fitz Gerald, and Louis Armstrong used to tread. You can still listen to Jazz playing in the streets while you peruse the many taprooms, clubs, museums, and soul food restaurants.

What's listed here is only a taste of what you'll find in Denver. There's much more to discover when you explore this incredible city including a vast number of festivals that always bring something new to the table.

Traveling beyond the Denver city limits for a day (or weekend!) is fun too. Get to know the surrounding areas during a day trip and appreciate more of what Colorado has to offer.

6. Getting Around the Mile-High City

Denver has one of the best public transportation networks in the country. When you arrive at the airport, get a day pass for the Airport Rail and about 37 minutes later you'll find yourself at Union Station. Union Station is the beating heart of Denver and from this one location, you can access practically any part of the city.

The Light Rail

The RTD light rail runs from Union Station throughout the city extending to the suburbs with a total of 36 stations, 19 of which have free park-n-ride lots. Each station has a ticket vending machine where you can get and validate a ticket before boarding the shuttle. Day and monthly passes, MyRide Cards, 3-Hour Cash Passes, and ticket books make it even easier to travel the city by offering convenient fare payment options that often result in discounts.

The Buses

Once you're in the metro area, bus rides to most locations become possible. You can even use transfer slips given to you by bus drivers to hop on another bus or the light rail by paying the difference in fare instead of paying the full fee. Some buses, like the 16th Street Mall Ride and the Mall Ride Connectors, get you to your destination for free. Specialty buses, like the BroncosRide, SeniorRide, and RunRide take people to and from games and other events.

Get on Your Bike and Ride

You don't have to pay a dime to get around Denver if you don't want to. A robust network of interconnected bike paths weaves their way throughout the sprawling city streets. If it becomes necessary, you can use the light rail to transport you and your bike to your next destination. All you need is a printed permit from the RTD website and a validated ticket.

7. Sports: It's Not All About Football

Denverites take sports seriously. It's no secret football is a big deal and fans are fervent supporters of the Bronco's housed at Empower Stadium at Mile High. With three Superbowls under their belt and celebrated football heroes like John Elway and Peyton Manning living in their midst, who can blame them? Football isn't the only sport, though!

Baseball thrives in Denver at the Coor's Field, home to the Rockies. You can also visit the National Baseball Museum to learn more about the game's history and get a glimpse of one of a kind memorabilia. NHL's Colorado Avalanche and NBA's Denver Nuggets share a home at the Pepsi Center in Downtown Denver.

Want to experience something a little less mainstream? Visit Dick’s Sporting Goods Arena to cheer on the Colorado Rapids at a soccer game or to watch the Barbarians dole out punishment in rugby. There are also two Lacrosse teams in this athletic city: The Denver Outlaws and the Colorado Mammoths. If you're a sports fan, Denver is the premier place to be. It'll keep you busy year-round.

8. Surreal Weather Conditions

denver outdoors
Image by Inna Sherman from Pixabay

The Mile-High City gets its nickname from being exactly one mile above sea level. This high altitude also accounts for Denver's surprisingly mild weather. Being this high up, there is very little precipitation. On average Denverites only see about 65 days of rain while the other 300 are filled with sun. These arid conditions significantly reduce moisture in the air, so be prepared to stock up on lip balm and moisturizers.

During the hottest months of summer, temperatures are warm but rarely hot with an average annual high of around 86 degrees in August and 88 in July. While temperatures do often go below freezing in the winter, it almost always warms up later in the day to the usual winter high of 45 to 50 degrees. Between these unseasonal temps and the bright sun warming the ground, any snow that falls quickly melts. The sunny winter days and tepid summer months make it possible for Denverites to enjoy outdoor activities and festivals year-round.

9. Marijuana in the Mile High City

You can’t talk about Denver without addressing the laws regarding the recreational use of marijuana. If you're 21 or older, you can purchase and possess up to one ounce of recreational marijuana in Colorado. Residents of the state between the ages of 18 and 20 can also buy marijuana for medical purposes with a card. Anyone with a medical card can have up to two ounces at a time.

Moving to Denver

Now that you know more about what to expect, it's time to get moving. CubeSmart Self Storage is here to help. Our team makes things as easy as possible for you and your family. You can even use our dollies or handcarts and you can purchase packing supplies in the office at most locations. We look forward to seeing you soon.

About the author

The Storage Queens

We know a thing or two about moving. Together, we share the best tips in organizing, storage, navigating your city, and more!

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