Spring is here, which often means more and more people are getting serious about their plans for relocation. The weather is getting warmer, and the idea of moving all your belongings without the hassle of snow, ice and wind has undeniable appeal.
You’re in good company if you think that Denver might be the right place for you. According to a 2009 survey by the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Research Center, Colorado’s capital city is No. 1on the list of where Americans would like to live most.
The first question you need to ask yourself: Do I want to rent an apartment or house, or do I want to buy property (home, condo, etc.)? The Apartment Association of Metro Denver has put together a list of questions that you can ask yourself before making a decision, which is a great place to start. If you’ve decided that renting is the way to go, be aware that Denver’s rental market has been extraordinarily hot for the past few years — rents have soared, while vacancies have plummeted; and the Denver Business Journal recently advised that rents will continue to climb.
The good news: In the first quarter of 2014, Denver vacancy rates increased, and while rents continue to rise, they are not skyrocketing as before. Rather, rent growth may be flattening, according to a report by Axiometrics, Inc. That means you’ll likely have more rental properties in a given price range from which to choose.
To find the right rental, you first need to determine how much you can afford to spend. If you need a little help, try an online calculator designed for the Denver market.
Once you’ve set up a budget and know the maximum amount you can afford to spend each month on housing, research Denver’s neighborhoods. Don’t forget to scope out your potential commute as a factor in deciding where you’d like to live.
A few popular tools to start your search:
Once you’ve chosen some listings that appeal to you, make sure you’re well prepared before you show up at the front door. In a hot, highly competitive rental market like Denver’s, it’s a good idea to treat a showing like a job interview. Realtor Julie Reddington shares some great tips in her Trulia blog, including:
It also doesn’t hurt to dress professionally, as if you were going to a job interview. It can work to your advantage.
Denverites often remind visitors that this is not Gotham City, despite an exploding metro population that has exceeded 2.8 million. Rather, it’s a city of tightly knit communities, each with its own personality and feel. Denver Life published an article about 18 months ago that profiles the city’s hottest neighborhoods. One of them, City Park, was named one of the nation’s 10 “hottest neighborhoods of 2014” by the online real estate service Redfin Corp.
Of course, the problem with “hot” is that it often means “expensive.” The key is to do some homework and find out what’s happening in the neighborhoods adjacent to the “hottie.” For example, the uber-cool Highlands may be priced out of range, but you might find some deals in Sloan’s Lake, LoHi, Sunnyside or Baker. And you’ll still be close to the Highlands when you want to nosh on small plates at Linger, savor a romantic-yet-healthy meal at Root Down or join the A-listers at the fabulous speakeasy Williams and Graham.
If you find yourself struggling to find an appropriate rental apartment or house in your budget, remember that you also can find some great neighborhoods in the suburbs — Lakewood’s Belmar, Olde Town Arvada and Green Valley Ranch, for instance.
If you don’t have to commute into the city every day, or if your job is located in the suburbs, you might even want to consider a rental in Park, Clear Creek or Gilpin counties. Although they lie outside the Denver/Boulder metro area, communities like Bailey, Idaho Springs, Georgetown and Nederland are within easy reach of the Front Range’s metro corridor yet offer lower prices and less competition.
If you’re going to live in the city, remember that Denver has a growth rate that exceeds that of the rest of the country. According to the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, the metro area will reach 3.2 million residents by 2020. Now consider the city’s most popular neighborhoods, some of which share space with college campuses, and you’re bound to encounter headaches due to limited parking.
Denver has an excellent, easy-to-use public transit system, which comprises both buses and light rail. It’s possible you won’t need a car, depending on where you live and work. If you do have a car, you might be able to find a rental property that includes garage or outdoor parking spaces, which could be a major issue as parking in and around the hottest neighborhoods (LoHi, etc.) can be difficult.
And remember: This is the birthplace of the Denver Boot. Whether you’re at home, work, school or play, pay for legal parking. It’s incredibly easy, thanks to the city’s “Park Smart Denver” initiatives. You also can use the ParkMe guide to Denver to find the best parking options in the city’s major neighborhoods and landmarks, as well as at Denver International Airport.