Are you young, athletic and adventurous? Do you like to drink great beer and dabble in (legal!) cannabis-related activity? Want to live somewhere where you can find a job and enjoy a world-class cultural scene?
Denver has what you’re looking for.
While New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C. have long reigned supreme in the relocation game, recent grads and young professionals looking for a change of scenery may want to add Denver to their list of potential transplant cities.
Here’s why Denver is paradise for young, restless millennials:
Great job opportunities
Denver is consistently ranked as one of the best cities in the country for finding a job. With an unemployment rate of 4.5% (compared to 5.3% nationally), there’s a wide variety of opportunity for Denver’s young, vibrant population.
Speaking of young and vibrant: the number of educated people between 25 and 34 has jumped 46% since 2000, with millennials making up more than 25% of the city’s total population.
Accessible world-class culture
When it comes to culture, Denverites are happy to fly a little under the radar. In fact, that’s one of the city’s cultural charms.
“One of the great things about Denver is that it’s very easy to move here and plug in at a very high level to the arts and culture scene,” said Bryce Merrill, cultural policy director at The Biennial of the Americas.
Compared to other major cities, Denver is much more accessible for emerging musicians and artists.
“If you were a musician in New York or LA, it would take years to book a decent show or get any press coverage,” Merrill said. “In Denver, our local musicians are playing Red Rocks, a world-class venue; our biggest newspaper, the Denver Post, regularly covers local bands.”
The Biennial of the Americas, which takes place this week, is an example of Denver’s unique vibrancy. The program seeks to elevate Denver as an international cultural hub and features a huge variety of activities involving music, art, food and science (see the full schedule here).
“You don’t need to go any further than the Biennial Pavilion to see an exhibit curated by an art collective from Mexico City, then sit down for a beer with a rocket scientist,” Merrill said. “The options are endless.”
Sure, Denver has a solid employment rate and a cool cultural scene, but all truly great cities have qualities that set them apart. In Denver’s case, it’s the great outdoors.
“Denver is like a playground for people who love the outdoors,” said Katie Schuh, 28, a social worker who has lived in Denver for the past four years. She considered Austin but was drawn to Denver for the incredible variety of year-round activities.
Schuh and her friends have endless options: rock climbing, hiking, whitewater rafting, skiing, tubing, backpacking, camping and dips in the hot springs, to name a few.
“There are tons of cool cities out there,” Schuh said. “But if you want to love and live in Denver, it’s all about the mountains and enjoying the outdoors.”
More craft breweries than you know what to do with
Yes, Aspen is the Coloradan city where the beer flows like wine, but Denver has a venerable craft beer scene all its own. With more than 72 breweries in Denver alone, it’s hard to turn a corner without finding a new local craft brew to try.
“Some of them make really great beers, some of them just try really hard,” Schuh said. “Either way, it’s just fun to have so many options.”
The city also hosts the world’s largest beer event each year. The Great American Beer Festival, held in October, features about 3,500 different beers from more than 700 U.S. breweries.
Denver is one of the few cities that has scenery and greenery, and it’s no secret that cannabis culture is a major (sometimes lucrative) draw for Denver transplants.
But be sure to get familiar with the official rules of the marijuana road before lighting up a joint on the street corner — there are a few caveats.
Denver is far, far less image-conscious than the New Yorks and LAs of the world. How so, you ask?
“You can go to the nicest restaurant or most popular club in the city wearing Tevas or whatever you wore on your hike earlier in the day,” Schuh said. “And no one would think twice about it.”
So whether you’re an outdoor adventurer, a pot lover, a craft brew fanatic, an emerging artist or a combination of them all, Denver might be the city for you.