“Don’t limit your challenges. Challenge your limits.”
Moving to places you’ve never been and where you don’t know anyone can certainly have its challenges, but it can also be extremely rewarding. I didn’t know a soul before moving to Denver, but I made the most of it! After just 3 months, the best and bluh parts of living in the mile high city stood out to me and remained consistent.
Top 5 Pros and Cons of Living in Denver, Colorado
- Gorgeous: Hands down one of the best parts of living in Denver is being surrounded by such beautiful scenery all around Colorado. When you drive through all of the CO mountain towns, alongside the Rockies, it’s inevitable that throughout your journey you blurt out how gorgeous, beautiful, amazing, (insert 25 more adjectives) the views truly are. That is if you’re not jaw dropped staring at the majestic natural landscape this state offers, EVERYWHERE.
- Colorado Amendment 64: Legally purchasing recreational weed from a professional “Budtender” in Denver has been one of the most interesting, unique, and exciting experiences since I arrived. Whether you agree that recreational marijuana should be legalized in the U.S. or not, we are living in a progressive time where I think it’d be foolish to not live in the now and take advantage! On 1/1/14, CO legalized weed, meaning Colorado was the first state in the U.S. to sell recreational cannabis to anyone 21+ at licensed facilities. Currently, in August 2015, four states (Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska) and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use. That’s it – only 4! My sister and I joked that our grandchildren will likely have marijuana made available to them in drive thru’s across the nation. Why not be able to tell them you were among the first to purchase it legally, in a time where there was so much controversy around it? Denver offers many dispensaries with knowledgeable Budtenders ready to answer any type of question. If you’re visiting, definitely add this to your list, you will learn a lot!
- Never-ending Bucket List: It’s true, you move to Colorado and your bucket list triples in size and excitement. Since I arrived, I have asked natives and transplants alike: What should I prioritize doing before I leave? Interestingly enough, everyone offers up a never-ending activity list, and I swear I haven’t heard the same list twice. Of course this is due to the fact that there’s just so much to do here. For a “check it off the bucket list” kind of gal, this is a bit overwhelming! The activities are simply endless and combining all of them makes this state unique. There are loads of activities year-round that make it easy to see why Colorado is an exciting state to live in (examples include: hiking, biking, white water rafting, skiing, snowboarding, fishing, camping, backpacking, national parks, hot springs, etc). The coolest thing is that there are numerous options to choose from within each of these activities scattered around the state, varying in difficulty level, etc.
- Adventurous People: One things I love about the people who live in and like to visit Colorado is how adventurous they are. Generally speaking, people here seem to be up for anything and everything. Discovering this was like a breath of fresh (mountain) air! 🙂 I was easily able to build a network of friends who enjoy novelty experiences, spontaneous road trips, and living life outdoors. I always look to surround myself with happy people, it’s exciting to also be around others who like to explore as much as I do.
- Active: Overwhelmingly I have found that Denverites are gym rats. They enjoy working out, a lot! Gyms are packed, city roads are taken over by bikers, parks are filled with runners. I’m finding a consistent theme in the people who live here, they Push Themselves. If you are looking to lose weight or get in better shape, this is definitely a state to consider moving to or visiting often as it has a super motivating culture! You are surrounded by fit folks, especially among the transplants. Denver takes the cake on being the most active city I’ve lived in yet!
- Location: I’m not terribly convinced the location of Denver, within Colorado, is desirable. To get to the mountains requires hours of driving, and sometimes you’re just sitting in traffic. The distance to the Denver International Airport is also an annoyance, especially for someone like me that travels out-of-state at LEAST 2x/month (sure, the light rail is being built to go there, but it’s still rather far from the city). I wish I could say one of the Pros of living in Denver is access to the mountains. Unfortunately, in my opinion, it’s annoying to get there. Especially when there is only one two lane highway (Interstate 70) that goes to the mountains (Breck, Vail, etc.) and it weaves in and out of windy motion-sick-inevitable roads (bring Dramamine). Admittedly, part of this con for me was having the expectation in the beginning that Denver was closer to the mountains (see #3 First Impressions). If I were to try to make the most out of mountain life, I would want to live right up IN a mountain town. But, I’m a city girl and would prefer to be in a city with easy access to the mountains. If I had magic powers, I would take a map of CO, zoom out of downtown Denver, click it, slide the city as well as DIA to the left (by at least 60 miles), and then voila, perfection 🙂 Since this Con is essentially me complaining about sitting in traffic, I will balance this out by saying I think a huge advantage of DIA is cheap & quick flights to the West coast, Midwest, and Texas (score)! Also, the Rocky Mountain foothills are really not too far or painful to get to (looking at you, Boulder).
- Getting Around – Sure, ride sharing apps exist here (Uber/Lyft) and everyone bikes, which is AWESOME. But, winter is coming, and I don’t want to drive or ride a bike in it. There is a serious lack of public transit, tons of traffic, and aggressive drivers ready to honk their horn at you. Tons of people are moving to Denver for various reasons, so it concerns me public transit is lacking. Now, there is a light rail system and there are buses, but I have not found them to be convenient, yet! Perhaps this is how most Denverites feel because the roads are so crowded, it’s almost like living in LA. Even if the public transit gets better in Denver, I’m very much so of the mindset that you still need a car to make the most out of living in Colorado.
- High Altitude – One of the first things I noticed when I got to Denver was how DRY my hair and skin became. I never had dry skin or bloody noses and now all of sudden I need hair oil, skin lotion, chap-stick and Kleenex! The altitude here completely changed me ~ who knew it had this much of an impact. My hands have NEVER been this dry before, they look like they’re going to crack and bleed so I have to apply lotion constantly. I’m always feeling dehydrated and thus need to drink so much more water than I ever have before. Overall, the altitude adjustment in Colorado has been tougher than I expected. I looked into the pros and cons of living in altitude, and it seems the cons outweigh the pros on this one (for me). Your body is just never as comfortable as it is at sea level, according to that link. I’m seeing the impact, and it’s not even winter! Combine the altitude with windy mountain roads = not pretty. I went on a hike with friends and was so embarrassed to be lagging behind, then I quickly observed my shortness of breath and nausea were due to the elevation. I hear you’re supposed to get “used to it” but ayayay!
- The Extreme Active – Damn. While the active type of people made my Pro list, I have to say there’s a whole other category of “extreme active” people who live in Denver that made my Con list. These people are extremely intimidating. I’m not even talking about CrossFit folks (not to knock them, what they do is very impressive), but these people are CrossFit junkies + extremely well-adjusted to altitude, so they CAN DO ANYTHING. I’m so incredibly jealous…I. Can’t. Even. Explain. Honestly I just feel like a loser around them, which is certainly not a feeling I like having. Hence, a con!
- Landlocked – Well, there aren’t beaches here! An obvious con of living in Denver is not being near the ocean. I’ve learned from people who want to live their lives here that they “would rather live in the mountains and travel to the ocean.” Since I’ve arrived, I have given a LOT of thought to the below question and I have to say I consider myself more of a beach girl than a mountain girl. I’m grateful for having this opportunity to figure it out. I now know I would love to visit the mountains but I’d rather live near the ocean. I hope this isn’t read the wrong way – I am totally enjoying my stay in Denver and love exploring CO, I just don’t think it’s for me long-term as I just love the ocean too much. I also find that I enjoy (and I’m just better at) water sports over winter sports ~ which is a big deal here! I already knew coming here I’m not a fan of winter, but that was easy to say being from Wisconsin. I continue to hear winters here are completely different, which is great to hear, I’m eager to really see what it will be like!
Note: Something I didn’t include in this list is Denver’s weather just because I can see it being a pro (year-round sunshine) and con (hail will drop at a moments notice, in summer).
Overall, Denver has been treating me well and I think Colorado is an exciting state to live in.
Please comment: Do you live in Denver? What would make your Pro and Con list?