This article was written by Megan Ivy | Broker Associate, Usaj Realty
If you attend to the many variations of the “Top 5 Cities” lists issued annually by major publications like Business Insider and U.S. News & World Report, you’ll quickly notice that Denver and Austin, Texas are two cities that consistently find their place near the top. Given how unique and livable both cities are, it's no surprise that there are record numbers of people moving to or between them every year.
Since moving to Denver from Austin in 2011, I’ve come to appreciate both of these cities’ laid-back energy. And while they certainly share popularity, Denver and Austin have their own unique personalities that sometimes overlap, but ultimately set them uniquely apart from one another. If you’re considering the move from Austin to Denver, there are a few major things that I recommend considering.
If you’re considering the move from Austin to Denver, there are a few major things that I recommend considering.
One of the “Top Five” lists where you can find both Austin and Denver is Business Insider’s Healthiest Cities in America. One of the many reasons that both locations have such fit populations is their accessibility to the outdoors. Austin’s rolling Hill Country is home to Lady Bird Lake and the Greenbelt, providing a unique experience of nature in the city. But Denver’s location at the base of the Rockies takes the “outdoor lifestyle” to another level.
Within the city, Denver has invested in its innumerable parks. These can be found dotting the landscape and are typically swarming with runners, dog walkers, volleyball players and professional park loungers from March to October. With 300 days of sunshine a year, there’s no shortage of opportunities to get outside and enjoy the scenery no matter the season.
Whether you’re into winter activities like skiing, snowboarding, ice climbing, snowshoeing or dog-sledding, or summer ones like mountain biking, fly fishing, hiking, mountain climbing or river kayaking, you won’t have to go far from home to make it happen. You can take a quick 30-minute drive into the mountains to find the perfect spot, or venture a few hours further and the number of destinations calling to be explored grows exponentially. I’ve spent nine years adventuring in Colorado and still have a long list of amazing cities I have yet to make it to!
Because I was born and raised in Austin, I grew accustomed to having a multitude of exceptional eateries at my fingertips no matter the day, time or location in the city. Denver though, as it turns out, has its fair share of renowned chefs establishing both fine dining options as well as local foodie destinations. In fact, both cities have shared a number of locally established restaurants between them.
Denver originally gave birth to Snooze, Snarf’s, Punch Bowl Social and Infinite Monkey Theorem before exporting them to Austin. Conversely, you’ll never have to miss out on your Chuy’s, Torchy’s, Hopdoddy, Lustre Pearl or Uchi fix as all of these businesses have set up shop in the Mile High City. True, you’ll have to search a bit harder for legit BBQ or TexMex in Denver, but you’ll learn the fine art of smothering everything in green chili.
Additionally, with 92 breweries in the city of Denver alone, Denver will make up for any possible shortcomings in food fare by offering more local beer variety than any Austinite could possibly dream about. Combined with the rotation of visiting food trucks at the majority of the breweries, I can’t imagine any disappointment when it comes to this scene.
Given that Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World, I would be remiss not to spend time discussing the music scenes in both cities. I will readily admit that I do miss popping into any local restaurant on any day of the week to find someone strumming a guitar on a makeshift stage.
However, Denver is no slacker when it comes to music. Just ask Rolling Stone Magazine who recently highlighted Denver as one of eight U.S. cities where the live music scene has exploded. Not only does our city have one of the coolest outdoor live music venues in the world at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, but we also boast a number of smaller venues all over the city that attract world-renowned bands and artists all year long. Historical theaters like The Blue Bird, The Gothic and The Fillmore combine with newer, stat- of-the-art facilities like The Mission Ballroom to give Denver its own take on the live music scene.
If you’re considering a jump from the Capital of the Lone Star State, to the Mile High City, one other important component to consider is the landscape of housing. Denver proper, an older city than Austin, displays a varied and historically deep assortment of housing options. From trendy, modern townhomes, to restored industrial loft spaces and century old Tudors and bungalows, Denver is an extremely architecturally diverse city.
Along with this historical vibe at its core, the surrounding metro Denver area offers many flourishing suburbs with similar lifestyles and a younger housing stock. With the mountains as a backdrop, the heart of Denver is as aesthetically beautiful as it is enjoyable to live in.
Just like Austin, as Denver’s popularity has grown, so has the cost to live here. According to the Austin Board of Realtors’ September 2020 Central Texas Housing Report, Austin's median price for a single-family home rose 8% percent year-over-year to $415,500. Similarly, according to DMAR’s September 2020 Housing Report, the median price for a home in Denver hit $464,0000. Both cities boast fast-moving housing markets with low inventory and steadily rising prices.
Yet, while housing prices in Denver are slightly higher than Austin’s, there’s a tangible trade off when comparing Colorado’s considerably lower property taxes to Texas’ much higher rates. This difference often makes Denver’s average monthly payment for a mortgage more palatable than that of Austin’s. Combined with a solid and steady pool of renters, Denver is also a fabulous city to invest in real estate as a passive income-producing asset.
Regardless of whether a move is in your future or not, both of these popular and growing cities have much to offer and will likely maintain their appeal for some time.
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