The gold rush and silver boom may be long past, but people are still flocking to Denver, lured by a record-breaking job growth, a moderate cost of living, a business-friendly environment, culture and recreation, spectacular scenery and great weather. A Harris Interactive survey in 2013 ranked Colorado among the top five states where Americans most want to live, and Denver is one of its most popular destinations, particularly for the young and upwardly mobile. This city of over 634,000 (2.7 million if you include the surrounding suburbs) is the twenty-third most populous in the U.S. Yet it offers a lifestyle and community amenities that rival many larger metropolises. Denver has over 5,000 acres of urban parkland, including 200 city parks, over 100 miles of trails and 11 dog parks, eight public golf courses (golf balls travel 10 percent farther here), and more than two dozen recreation centers. It boasts a world-class Performing Arts Complex, the country’s largest under one roof, a zoo, NFL, MBL, NBA, MLS teams and proximity to some of the world’s most celebrated ski resorts. If you’re planning to relocate to Denver, this city guide is a good starting point that includes important information about living, working and playing the Mile High City.
Colorado was hunting grounds and home to many Native American tribes for centuries, but Europeans didn’t establish permanent settlements until the mid-1800s, when gold was discovered at Pikes Peak, about 70 miles south of modern Denver. The city at the junction of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek grew from supply centers set up for surrounding mining towns. Originally called St. Charles, it was renamed Denver after the Kansas Territory governor and incorporated in 1861. When Colorado became a state in 1876, Denver was chosen as its capital. A silver boom in the 1880s brought more rapid growth, but its collapse in 1893 prompted the city to diversify. Denver soon became the industrial hub of the Rocky Mountain region as well as a leader in livestock sales, agriculture and, eventually, tourism. Denver experienced subsequent population booms following World War II in the 1950s, in the 1980 fueled by alternative energy sources, and again in the 2000s as a principal center for commerce, finance and industry in the region.
Denver Weather Report
With an average 300 days of sunshine a year, Denver is among the sunniest of major U.S. cities. It’s also a surprisingly dry, arid environment — the average precipitation is between 8 and 15 inches. Temperatures are mild, ranging from a highs of 86 in August and 46 in December, with corresponding lows of 56 and 16. But extreme weather events are not uncommon in Denver. Dry conditions cause destructive wildfires that have driven up area homeowners insurance premiums in recent years. Tornados are not unheard of in the area, and occasional heavy thunderstorms, wind-driven rain and hail can cause damage to structures. Flooding is also a danger; in 2013, large parts of Colorado’s Front Range, including Denver, were devastated by catastrophic flooding. While standard homeowners insurance covers wind, hail and fire damage, it does not include flood damage. That has to be purchased as a separate policy or an endorsement.
Driving and Denver Car Insurance
Denver is near the Rocky Mountains, not in them. The Mile High City is actually located on a gently rolling plain, which makes it very bike- and pedestrian-friendly. The city also has a very good public transportation system. That said, if you own a car, you’re going to need car insurance that meets Colorado minimum standards: $25,000/$50,000 bodily injury and $15,000 property damage. Insurers are required to offer you Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage and $5,000 in Medical Payment coverage. If you don’t want either of these, you must reject them in writing. You can get online quotes for Denver auto insurance here.
You have 30 days from the time you become a legal Colorado resident to obtain a Colorado driver’s license and 90 days to register your vehicle (60 if you purchase a car in Colorado). To register your car, you’ll need either the title or current out-of-state registration, VIN verification if the vehicle was titled in another state, secure and verifiable identification, proof of Colorado vehicle emissions test, and proof of insurance, plus payment of required fees and taxes. Some military personnel and certain vehicles may be exempt from the registration requirements. Find the location of a Colorado Motor Vehicle Division location near you here.
Wherever you live, you are now required by federal law to have a qualified health insurance plan that covers the essential benefits mandated by the Affordable Care Act (also known as ObamaCare). The state of Colorado has additional mandated benefits that insurers must provide. You can learn more about them here. You can shop for online quotes for Denver health insurance for individuals or small business here.
If you need medical care in Denver, you’ll have many top-rated facilities to choose from. Some Denver-area hospitals and medical centers include: Exempla St. Joseph Hospital, University of Colorado Hospital, Porter Adventist Hospital, Rose Medical Center, Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, National Jewish Health, and Kindred Hospital Denver.
Denver is the largest urban center in Colorado. It covers just under 155 square miles and includes 157 neighborhoods. They range from Victorian-era Five Points mansions to the new urban enclaves of Stapleton/Northwood. From Uptown to the Highlands, LoDo to RiNo, East Colfax to South Pearl, Denver is a rich mix of single-family homes, high-rises, condos and downtown lofts . Denver housing costs do trend higher than the rest of the nation. Trulia.com listed the median sales price at $253,950 for the first quarter of 2014, a 1.8% increase from the same period in 2013. Older neighborhoods like East Colfax and Windsor are on the low end, while South Park Hill and Lowery Field are at the higher end. Zillow.com puts the average rental at $1,470, although here again prices will vary widely lower or higher depending on what you rent and where.
As with all large cities, some neighborhoods are safer than others. In general, Denver property crime rates index about 10 points higher than the national and Colorado state median. According to NeighborhoodScout.com, your chances of being the victim are about 1 in 26 in Denver. Before you sign a contract or take out a mortgage, check out the neighborhood crime statistics published by the Denver Police Department. You’ll also want to make sure you have adequate homeowners insurance or renters insurance. A renter’s policy will protect your personal belongings from loss or damage. A homeowner’s policy will protect your possessions and your structure. There are basically two types of Denver homeowners insurance: all-risk (also called open perils coverage) and named perils. You’ll also have a choice of deductible and replacement cost or actual cash value. You can get free competitive quotes online for Denver homeowners and renters policies here. But before you make a decision, there are some Denver weather-related risks you should know about.
If you live in Denver, Colorado, you’re in one of the country’s healthiest cities. TravelChannel.com ranked it fifth healthiest in its America’s Top 20 Healthiest Cities list. Denver is also in one the healthiest of the 50 states. Anyone born in Colorado today has an average life expectancy of 80 years according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. If you’re a 65-year-old Coloradan, the Centers for Disease Control gives you another 19.8 years on average. But before you start feeling too secure, WorldLifeExpectancy.com wants you to know that accidents are the third leading cause of death for all Colorado residents. Given the ever-present possibility of an accidental death, you might want to put life insurance on your list of things to consider when you move to Denver. There are four good reasons why:
To pay for funeral and other final expenses.
To replace your income if you’re leaving behind a spouse.
To help cover your children’s needs.
To help your survivors pay off debts and estate taxes.
If you purchase whole life, your insurance can also be a means of setting aside money for retirement, college and other needs. You can learn more about the difference between term life insurance and whole life insurance, and shop for competitive life insurance quotes here.
Denver had a record year for employment growth, housing, commercial real estate and stocks in 2013, according to MetroDenver.org. Natural resources and construction, professional services and business services, and education and healthcare services were the leading economic sectors. Colorado ranked fifth overall on Forbes’ 2013 Best States for Business list and Denver was one of two Colorado cities ranked in the top 10 of in Forbes’ Best Places for Business and Careers report. Several Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Denver including Arrow Electronics, DISH Network, Ball Corporation, Western Union, Liberty Interactive, and Newmont Mining. The city welcomes and supports businesses large and small. If you’re planning to start a business in Denver, protect your investment and your assets with the right small business insurance coverage. You can get quotes for a variety of Denver small business insurance policies here.