Go West – The insider’s guide to moving to Denver’s Front Range
posted by: Mile High Mamas
Majestic Rocky Mountains, black forests, hogbacks, big skies, deserts, and a strong agricultural community; Colorado is well known for its beautiful and diverse landscapes. Its cities are bustling, and the economy is strong. As one of the healthiest states in the nation, Colorado offers a variety of outdoor activities such as skiing, hiking, biking, and plenty of options to explore other activities.
According to Business Insider (1), the state’s capital, Denver, is the 2nd best place to live in the nation, and Colorado Springs is the 3rd best place to live.
If you’ve chosen to call Colorado “home”, here’s a guide to ease your transition.
Where should I live?
What are you looking for in a home? Do you want a bustling city life? Do you want wide open spaces? Are you looking for forest or big sky? Are you seeking nightlife or family-friendly? Colorado has them all! Most of Colorado’s communities are family and pet-centric.
For bright lights and city vibes you’ll want to check out Denver, filled with opportunity, teaming with community, and plenty to do for both the young and old. Denver has a legendary history rooted in the Wild West and the Gold Rush and its popularity continues to bring new and good changes. A popular family-friendly neighborhood within five miles of downtown is the Washington Park neighborhood. This neighborhood is home to plenty of historic homes and the neighborhood namesake – Washington Park itself has 165-acres of grass, lakes, waterways, and gardens to enjoy. Here, you’ll find Old South Gaylord Street which is filled with boutiques, restaurants, and bars with a strong local feel.
Other bustling areas are Colorado Springs, home of Peterson Air Force Base, Castle Rock known for its incredible views and outlet mall, Westminster with its dense suburban feel, Greeley home of University of Northern Colorado (UNC), and in the Northern area – Fort Collins home of Colorado State University.
Colorado also offers plenty of opportunities to live where the antelope play. You can choose a town with wide-open space on the plains such as Keenesburg with smaller schools and opportunities to own acreage and start that hobby farm. Loveland has a quiet small-town feel. Brighton has a strong history in agriculture that still offers great farmer’s markets. Watkins is on the edge of town but easy to commute as it’s located near I-70 and E-470, and Windsor is one of the fastest-growing towns in the middle of the mountains and the high plains that maintains its small-town feel. Most of these small towns have an agricultural history, from growing sugar beets to corn, cattle, sheep, and buffalo ranches small and large.
Looking for something in between? More like a suburb? While Colorado has so many vibrant suburban communities, one you’ll want to check out is Parker. Parker is situated South East of Denver about 30 minutes and offers rolling hills, views of the Rocky Mountains, an eclectic and historical Main Street and plenty of small-town feel surrounded by beautiful neighborhoods like the brand new Inspiration neighborhood, The Pinery or Stonegate.
More Suburban Hot Spots: South East Aurora has seen an incredible boom near Aurora Reservoir in the South Shore neighborhood or the pine-lined streets of Tallyn’s Reach. There are many opportunities in this area for first time home buyers in neighborhoods like Murphy Creek, Toll Gate Crossing, and Saddle Rock.
There’s also Boulder on the Westside with a strong “green living” movement and relaxed vibe unique to the area, Centennial near hundreds of jobs at The Denver Tech Center and Dove Valley where the Broncos train.
Looking for that mountain home? There are towns nestled in the hills & mountains all along the front range: Southwest of Denver is Evergreen which is a beautiful mountain town located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains with a strong tourist economy and even stronger outdoor lifestyle well-known for Evergreen’s Lake ice skating and paddleboarding. Estes Park is great for nature lovers, Idaho Springs and Georgetown for their historic feel, and Morrison is known for Red Rocks Amphitheater and charming shops on the main street. South of Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs features historical native cliff dwellings, creekside restaurants, boutiques and the famous Manitou Incline, the iconic hike that over 2,000 feet of elevation in less than one mile.
Cost of Living
As of writing this article December 2020, according to Zillow (2), the median home price across the state of Colorado is $423,364 and it continues to grow because the demand is so high while inventory has remained low for a considerable amount of time. Currently, the interest rates remain below 3% which allows a buyer to purchase more home than just a year ago.
If you chose to rent instead, you can expect rents in the Denver Metro area to start at $1,400 per month for a one-bedroom, (3) though, along the Front Range the cost of living varies widely. (4)
Highest cost of living in Colorado: Aspen, Vail, then Boulder, followed by Fort Collins and Steamboat Springs.
Lowest cost of living in Colorado: Federal Heights (North of Denver), Lamar, and Brush followed by Sterling, Trinidad (south end of state), and Pueblo.
Cost of living calculator from CNN: https://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cost-of-living/
What’s the best school district?
According to Niche.com, (5) Cheyenne Mountain School District No.12, which is in Colorado Springs, is the top-rated school district in the state.
In the Denver Metro area, the top school districts include the ever-popular Cherry Creek School district and Littleton school district. These are both located South of Denver in the suburbs of Littleton, Greenwood Village, Centennial, and South East Aurora to name a few.
We have a wide variety of educational approaches in our state. Colorado has a strong home school population (6), a large Charter school presence, and amazing public schools, so you can choose what feels right for your family.
What’s the weather like?
There is a common phrase you’ll hear on the street here in Colorado: “Colorado is the only place you can wear shorts and a parka on the same day.” This is especially common in the spring and fall. Well known for our “300 days of sunshine” (300 days where the sun will for at least an hour), Denver sits at 5,279 feet above sea level and while we have an incredibly diverse landscape, we are considered to be overall high plains desert. It’s dry; really, really dry. The air is thinner, especially as you gain altitude. The weather can and often does change rapidly but is often pleasant enough to be outside most of the time. We do have four full seasons, the winters sometimes with heavy snow and below-freezing temperatures and the summers hot, still, and dry. Often subject to drought, Colorado’s typical annual rainfall ranges between 11 inches and 25 inches.
To learn more about the Colorado climate, visit Colorado State University’s Colorado Climate Center online: https://climate.colostate.edu/normals_extremes.html
What is there to do?
One of the reasons Colorado is so popular is there is something to do for just about every interest!
- Fishing. There are 6,000 miles of streams and more than 2,000 lakes and reservoirs to choose from! (7) Here are 101 Places and Ways to Take a Kid Fishing in Colorado.
- Get over cabin fever at Cherry Creek Reservoir where you can paddleboard, swim, walk or bike along the many paths, and whatever else floats your boat.
- Visit one of our organic farms like Brighton’s popular Berry Patch Farm.
- Want to explore? Here are the best hikes for kids in the Denver area and 11 of Colorado’s most scenic waterfall hikes.
- Hike Red Rocks in Morrison and see the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater. See a concert, do Yoga on the Rocks or Film on the Rocks.
- Colorado has 54 peaks 14,000-feet and taller (14ers), two of which you can drive to the top (Mount Evans and Pikes Peak, which also has a famous Cog). Don’t miss Mount Elbert: Climbing Colorado’s Highest 14er and My Daughter’s First 14er: A Beginner’s Guide to Climbing Colorado’s Rooftop.
- Camp at Jellystone or stay at YMCA of the Rockies’ two affordable, family-friendly properties near Granby and Estes Park.
- Learn about the Wild West in Golden at Buffalo Bill’s Grave. While you’re there, explore the Lookout Mountain Preserve and Nature Center.
- Want to cool down? Check-out this guide to Denver’s splash parks and spray fountains and Colorado’s best beaches.
- Ride the rides or swim at Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park or Water World, America’s largest water amusement park with over 50 attractions/slides for all ages on 70+ acres.
- Top 20 places to see fall foliage in Colorado (divided up by time of year and elevation!)
- Guide to Colorado’s Best Fall Drives, Hikes and Leaf Peeping
- Colorado travel: 5 scenic byways for fall colors
- Fall Colors: Five Colorado towns that glow gold
- Take a soak in these 30 hot springs in Colorado.
- Enjoy a staycation with 70+ of Denver’s best field trips and Boulder’s best field trips.
- Feel the need for speed? The Best 20 Places to Go Sledding in Colorado.
- Ski at any of Colorado’s amazing resorts.
- If you’re stuck in ski traffic, don’t miss where to pull off I-70 when you’re stuck in traffic for fun activities and restaurants.
- Here for the holidays? Your guide to the holidays in Denver.
- The Highline Canal meanders through Denver for more than 70 miles, and almost all of it is lined with old Cottonwood trees, gorgeous in all the seasons.
Bonus: Don’t miss the Ultimate Guide to Outdoor Skating in Colorado.
Where can we eat?
There is an incredibly strong food scene in Colorado that mirrors the unique culture. You can look to find a flavor to satisfy your deepest cravings but listed below are locally owned and all capture a bit of the taste of Colorado.
- Look to Parker for the best donut shop: Hurtz Donut
- Stop by the small town of Hudson for authentic local Colorado food: The Pepper Pod.
- For award-winning Western food, try the beef, buffalo, game and seafood at The Fort.
- For the best breakfast in town, head up the canyon to Kittredge and indulge in the Country Road Cafe‘s huge, puffy pancakes.
- Have you ever eaten in a giant hot dog? Check-out Coney Island Boardwalk in Bailey.
- For a local Colorado favorite restaurant chain that you’ll find along the Front Range: Santiago’s green chile is locally famous.
- Located inside the iconic 28-foot tall milk can in the LoHi neighborhood, Little Man Ice Cream scoops up unique homemade flavors.
Where do we shop?
There’s not a shortage of places to shop in the Denver Metro Area. For groceries, you can look to Kroger’s King Soopers, Safeway, Super Target, or Walmart. For organics, we have Natural Grocers, Sprouts Farmers Market, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. For clothing and other items, you can visit any of our malls like Southlands in Aurora, Aspen Grove in Littleton, Colorado Mills in Lakewood, or Park Meadows in Lone Tree. We have incredible outlet malls in Castle Rock, Loveland, and in the mountain town of Silverthorne. Pearl Street Mall in Boulder and 16th Street Mall in Denver are popular pedestrian malls and Larimer Square in downtown Denver is a hip shopping and restaurant district. For outdoor gear, swing by the REI Denver flagship store, located in the gorgeously restored 1901 Denver Tramway building that features a 47-foot monolith encompassing over 6,400 square feet of hand-sculpted rock surface.
Banking and more…
Moving to a new state can feel overwhelming, there will be much to do in order to get yourself settled, from finding a home to finding a job and everything in between. When you find your new home, you’ll need to get a local license, get your vehicles registered, register to vote, open a local bank account if you don’t bank online.
To register your vehicle, update your driver’s license, and register to vote: Look to your local county motor vehicle, easily found by googling your county then motor vehicle after or visit Colorado Motor Vehicle for direction.
For banking, you can choose from credit unions like Bellco and Elevations or bank at Bank of the West, Bank of Colorado, Chase or PNC.
Your Realtor® can help you get set up and recommend services that are local to your new home based on your personal needs and interests.
Tammi Hoerner, REALTOR® and Pricing Strategy Advisor, is a Colorado native who specializes in supporting families who are considering buying or selling in the Suburbs of SE Aurora, Centennial, and Parker and outlying areas. Her knowledge and love of Colorado and the housing industry shows in her stellar services and 5 star ratings. To connect with Tammi to discuss your needs, contact her directly at [email protected] or text or call 303-304-7460. Download her app for all your real estate needs here: https://thoerner.kw.com/mobileapp. In partnership with Mile High Mamas.