Denver vs. Boulder, CO

City Guide / Denver

Living in Denver vs. Boulder: A Tale of Two Cities

By Landing | Jul 12, 2020

If you’re considering heading out to Denver, CO., you’re far from alone. In recent years, the city of Denver has become one of the most popular places to live within the United States – and for good reason. It has a wide variety of neighborhoods, good public transportation, and is considered quite safe for a large city. These are great qualities for sure, not to mention the exciting and vibrant nightlife spots, acres of parks, world-class skiing in the Rocky Mountains, and cultural amenities like the Denver Art Museum, Denver Zoo, and Denver Museum of Nature, that the city also has to offer its residents.

If you’re a sports fan, the Mile High City has you covered with several major sports teams like the MLB’s Colorado Rockies, the NFL’s Denver Broncos, the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, and the MLS’s Colorado Rapids. If you enjoy a beer with your games, Denver has a huge craft beer scene that has quickly built a reputation as one of the best in the nation, and downtown Denver has more rows of creative restaurants than you’ll know what to do with.

Oh, and there’s also the jobs. Denver is booming with tech jobs like website design and network administration, not to mention all the openings in the finance and legal fields. The typical Denver lifestyle balance is one that caters extremely well to work, life, and fun. With all its advantages, Denver is typically placed high on the lists of the best cities in the United States, including this past year. If all this wasn’t enough, Denver’s prime location between two other major cities: Colorado Springs and Boulder, CO, should be all that you need to convince you to make a move.

Now, Denver and Boulder are often compared by potential residents looking to move to the area. And while both of them are phenomenal cities, it’s clear that they each offer two different experiences. Here’s how they stack up against one another.

Housing

For those intending to purchase a home, Denver is simply the cheaper option. Both cities have high housing prices by U.S. standards, but housing is considered a whopping 30% higher in Boulder. This is largely due to the city’s compact nature and the fact that there simply isn’t as much housing available as there is in Denver.

Whether you’re coming to Denver for a long-term stay, or if you’re searching for temporary housing to accommodate a business trip planned for Capitol Hill, Aurora, Englewood, Arvada, the Denver Tech Center, or any other district, you’ll find plenty of housing options in the largest city in CO.

One of the biggest questions you’ll face when searching for apartments near Denver, Colorado is whether or not you want to rent a property that’s furnished or unfurnished. An unfurnished one or two-bedroom apartment will naturally be cheaper and will more than likely offer the same floor plans compared to furnished apartments near Denver, CO

Unfurnished apartments should still include utilities and come equipped with basics like fireplaces and accessibility options for residents with disabilities, as well as amenities like a fitness center, residential lounge, balconies, a fire pit, and kitchen space. For a single bedroom apartment, you may be better off in an unfurnished long-term rental, so you can infuse your new home with your own personality and build a greater personal connection with it. 

Furnished apartments around Denver are likely to be your best bet if you’re planning a shorter stay or if you need single-family rentals. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this will certainly be the more expensive option, especially if you want a single furnished apartment. If you’re bringing the family, though, you’ll definitely want more bedroom units. The average apartment rent for a 2 bedroom apartment in Denver is usually at least $1,350 per month. Tenants looking for a fancier Denver apartment with high ceilings, stainless steel appliances, a washer and dryer, granite countertops, a private patio, rooftop terraces, a walk-in closet, and wood-style floors can expect to pay more.

Research your preferred neighborhood beforehand to try and find available rental units within walking distance to attractions or parks and playgrounds if you’re bringing the kids. Once you think you’ve found the perfect place with an apartment finder, don’t forget to take a virtual tour to become more familiar with it. Remember, it’s still best to book an appointment for an in-person tour as well, so that you can see the place and its surroundings yourself before making a decision.

Opportunities

Boulder is a college town, home to the University of Colorado. As such, it’s one of the best places for students and recent graduates. Practically everything in this compact city is within walking distance, and there are plenty of bike trails as well, so you have easy access to everything that you’d need – from shopping to recreation. Like Denver, it has plenty of tech opportunities with companies like MojoTech, SurveyGizmo, CA Technologies, and more. Boulder is also well-known for its BioPharma industry.

Denver, on the other hand, is a city with a diverse population, and its job opportunities reflect that. It’s known for opportunities in the tech realm with companies like Zoom, SendGrid, and Salesforce with headquarters there. As a city that prides itself on its incredible views of the mountains and great outdoor adventures, it’s home to Recreational Equipment Inc. and Breckenridge Grand Vacations. There are also plenty of real estate and financing opportunities for those interested, not to mention the countless startups led by fresh entrepreneurs trying to break new ground.

Attractions

Boulder is often called a “city within a park,” so you’ll probably enjoy that atmosphere more than Denver if you aren’t that enthused about urban living. Since it’s practically in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, you’ll never have to wish for a better view and there are several gorgeous hotels where visitors can take in the atmosphere, including the Hilton Garden and Embassy suites. Each of these hotels are positioned near the Dairy Arts Center, with plenty of shops and restaurants within walking distance.

Denver offers a wider variety of attractions, many of which can be reached from Union Station in LoDo. Union Station itself is an artsy transport hub, full of trendy restaurants and a coffee bar, and it hosts a weekly farmer’s market. LoDo is also home to Larimer Square, which is an historic block that boasts beautiful Victorian-era buildings, along with independent shops and lounges. If you’re interested in the arts, then you certainly can’t skip the Ogden Theatre on Capitol Hill.

If you’re a fan of four-legged friends, you’re in luck. Denver may be the most dog-friendly city in the U.S. You see, Denver is so pro-dog, that there are even a ton of breweries and diners throughout the city where visitors are permitted to bring their dogs along too. Denver is also home to many famous dog parks, like Cherry Creek State Park, which has thousands of acres and a fenced-in area for dogs to run off-leash. There are dozens of other options to take your dog on a large walk around the city as well, though some parks may have breed restrictions.

There are also spacious suburbs located in and around the city if you’d prefer to live away from the busiest areas. Some of the most famous suburban neighborhoods include Centennial, which is located about 20 minutes away from downtown Denver, and Superior in Boulder county. Superior has been named the second best suburb in the entire state and is home to several golf courses. You can also relax in the Denver Botanic Gardens if the hustle of the city becomes a bit too much.

Whether you’re a student fresh out of college, someone looking to advance their career, or you’re just looking for somewhere nice to settle down, Denver and the surrounding areas can check every box off of your list. 

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About the author

Landing

Fred may be the world's slowest typist and struggle to hold a pen, but he has mastered how to pursue a more flexible lifestyle throughout his airborne adventures around the U.S. Whether you're looking for more information before migrating to a new city or want to find an easier way to rent a nest—erm, apartment—Fred will always be here to share his best advice for where to live and how to thrive.