This fall marks the 42nd year I’ve lived in Colorado. And 32 of those years have been here in the Denver metro area.
When I arrived in 1978, the tallest building in Denver was the former “Anaconda Building” at 555 - 17th St. It still stands at 709 feet tall, 40 floors; however, it has dropped to 7th on the list of tallest buildings in the city.
Needless to say, the changes in the Mile High City go beyond that of the ever-changing skyline. Since the early 1990s, residents have witnessed a dizzying succession of changes in the city. From the redevelopment and the “pinning” of LoDo, the completion of Coors Field and Denver International Airport to the emergent RTD light rail system and the ongoing construction of new buildings from RiNo to Cherry Creek, the metamorphosis has been jaw dropping.
It’s a far cry from the days when the streets of downtown Denver would roll up at 5 p.m. and downtown would become a virtual ghost town until offices reopened the next day. Now, every neighborhood in central Denver is a vibrant scene for the workforce, residents and visitors alike, from morning 'til night.
Denver Remains a Popular Destination Despite the Pandemic
While the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the urban landscape and the level of activity, Denver remains a popular destination for young and old. Remote work opportunities have caused people to rethink where they live and consider locales that provide better work-play balance.
According to a recent report by Apartment List, Denver ranks first among destination cities people are searching for available places to live. And of those searches, nearly half of them are coming from users who currently live outside the Denver metro area. These Q1 numbers (mostly prior to the pandemic) indicate Denver’s burgeoning tech job market continues to attract renters from around the country.
Washington, D.C. is the most common source of out-of-metro searches for apartments in Denver. These east coast residents account fo6aFurthermore, according to a December 2019 article in Patch.com, Storagecafe partnered with United Van Lines to analyze moving data coming out of Colorado.
Citing “Colorado’s beautiful scenery and affordability,” the state attracted almost 240,000 newcomers in 2018. There were 658 people who relocated to Colorado each day and more than 28,000 of those newcomers were from California. While many of the newcomers choose to live in Denver, Boulder and Arapahoe counties, the top county for out-of-state transplants was actually El Paso, with 52,345 new arrivals, the report states. Denver County followed with 34,277, and Arapahoe and Boulder received 25,855 and 22,095, respectively.
Obviously the majority of this data is pre-pandemic but anecdotal evidence continues to support the trends that Colorado continues to attract young people.
Pool of Workforce Talent Continues to Attract New Companies
The business and commercial sector has taken advantage of the workforce living in and near downtown Denver. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it has had on various industries, Denver continues to be a popular choice for businesses looking to relocate and expand.
According to a recent article in the Denver Business Journal, the 2020 Scoring Tech Talent report from CBRE ranked Denver 7th in the nation in technology talent. Part of the Mile High City's appeal includes its high number of people 25 years and older having a bachelor's degree (53 percent), large number of millennials, and the lure of the outdoors lifestyle.
The city is home to over 650,000 people and the metropolitan area’s population boasts 2.9 million. Local higher education institutions Regis University, the University of Denver, University of Colorado-Denver, Metro State University and the Colorado School of Mines churn out an educated workforce, along with nearby University of Colorado-Boulder and Colorado State University. In addition, many of the jobs being established in the city are being filled with newcomers and people outside of the city.
Denver International Airport hosts the country’s third-largest domestic air service, and approximately 35,000 people work in many different industries and professions at Denver International Airport. Having access to a large, international airport is often a critical piece in determining where a company establishes a presence.
Furthermore, the State of Colorado offers tax incentives to attract large employers, and Denver is a great place to live thanks to its plentiful sunshine, invigorating outdoor activities, strong neighborhood character, and myriad of independent businesses, including oodles of coffee shops, restaurants, and breweries.
In 2020, Denver saw the following major companies move in: Wix, DAT Solutions, Todyl, Marqeta, Sophia Genetics, Pax8 and Gtmhub.
Denver Metro Area Residential Real Estate Surges With Record Sales
Denver is now home to one of the most competitive housing markets in the nation, according to CNBC. After a slow spring due to uncertainty with the economy and the pandemic, home sales have gone on a tear since May. The average price of a single-family home in the Denver market stands at $599,418 while the average condo sells for $384,397. Year-over-year, the price of a home has increased 12 percent. Furthermore, homes are on the market an average of only 23 days before going under contract.
A combination of low interest rates, people wanting more space and pent up demand has made Denver a hot bed of real estate activity. Home sellers' are enjoying multiple offers and bidding wars, cash offers and favorable closing terms while buyers' face increased competition and low inventory. Despite the challenges, buyers can increase the odds of finding their dream home by adjusting their approach to the buying process and pursue some tried and true practices. Patience and compromise are key, and having the right broker by your side can make a huge difference.
Transportation Options, Outdoor and Cultural Opportunities Boost Denver's Appeal
For those unable to live in Denver or who still prefer living outside of the city, RTD is making the commute much easier to get into the downtown Denver sector. From its meager roots, the RTD light rail now offers 10 light and commuter rail lines linking the suburbs to the city from all directions. The completed G commuter line has brought Arvada and northwest Denver into the fold, and now the N line is operating, which will link the north Denver suburbs to downtown.
In addition to RTD's light rail, commuter trains and bus service, there are many shared ride services in Denver as well as dockless scooters and bikes to help you get around town without having to drive a car.
Finally, the cultural and recreational opportunities, and professional sports teams of Denver rival that of much larger cities.
The pandemic has increased people's desire to enjoy the outdoors and take advantage of all the recreational pursuits available in our backyard. Denver boasts an amazing array of parks that have been meticulously groomed for over 100 years. The Denver Parks and Recreation facilities are unrivaled in the Rocky Mountain West. The park system spans over a 148-year history, from the first park created in 1868 to nearly 20,000 acres of urban parks and mountain greenbelts today. In addition to the parks, there are miles and miles of bike paths that run along the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. This trail system allows cyclists to explore the entire metro area and beyond.
And finally, if you love sports, Denver is home to four major professional sports teams -- Broncos (NFL) Nuggets (NBA), Avalanche (NHL) and Rockies (MLB) plus the Colorado Rapids soccer team (MLS), and Denver Outlaws (MLL) and Colorado Mammoth (NLL) lacrosse teams. The Mile High City is also home to collegiate sports: the University of Denver Pioneers and Metro State University of Denver Roadrunners.
So whether it’s the economy, the business climate, public transportation or recreation opportunities, Denver has it all. And 680,000 current residents can’t be wrong.
(Editor's note: This blog was originally published in May of 2017. It has been edited and updated to provide current information).
Posted by Pat O'Connor
Pat O’Connor has dual citizenship in both Wisconsin and Colorado, having been born and raised in Wisconsin Dells, but later adopted by the Centennial State. A graduate of the University of Colorado (B.S. Journalism, 1980), O’Connor began her career as a sportswriter at the Boulder Daily Camera under the tutelage of the venerable Dan Creedon. Her experience also includes stints in public relations at Aspen Highlands Ski Area, the Colorado Trial Lawyers and the Colorado Division of Wildlife. When she isn’t piecing together sentences, the self-proclaimed “Cheesehead” enjoys hanging out with her three kids and assortment of family pets, running, playing golf, hiking 14ers, horseback riding and skiing. As a mother to two (at one time three) competitive swimmers, her favorite fragrance is eau de chlorine. During football season, she can be found cheering for the Buffs on Saturdays and screaming when the Packers score on Sundays. She loves talking sports and giving recommendations on cheese curds.Facebook LinkedIn Twitter