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A Guide to Moving to Denver from Portland

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When people move to Denver from Portland, at first blush the acclimating may seem significant. From West Coast to the Rocky Mountains, the landscape is a significant departure as is the climate. But beyond that, the transition to being a Denverite is easier than one might think.  Despite the obvious geographic gulfs, the two cities have a similar vibe and energy. Here are some of observations if you are considering moving to Denver.

Climate and Weather

Obviously, the Mile High City’s climate is a drastic change from Portland. The lack of precipitation is in stark contrast to the City of Roses, which features lush greenery with its 36 + inches of rain each year and average elevation of less than 1,000 feet. What Denver lacks in moisture, it makes up for in the amount of sunshine. With over 300 days of sun each year, sunscreen is a must. It’s likely you’ll wake up most every day to that brilliant ball in the sky. During the spring and summer, however, plan on sunny mornings and afternoon clouds that sometimes produce thunderstorms and occasional hailstorms.

Denver’s weather can be extremely unpredictable. It’s not uncommon to have a blizzard one day and 60 degree temperatures less than 24 hours later. Temperatures rising and falling 40 degrees is not uncommon, regardless of the season! As a result, always be prepared for a change in weather and bring along a jacket.

Being Mile High

The altitude takes some getting used to. At 5,280 feet above sea level, there is little doubt you’ll feel the effects of the thin air. With less oxygen, you’ll initially find yourself short of breath, especially when climbing a set of stairs or going for a jog. Some people experience headaches and general fatigue until their bodies acclimate, which can take up to two weeks. It’s critical to drink a lot of water and stay hydrated, even after your body has gotten used to the altitude. Dry air is pretty much a constant here so stock up on lip balm, lotion and consider buying a humidifier (not a dehumidifier!) for your home.

The Real Estate Market

Portland and Denver are incredibly similar in real estate prices and the real estate market in general. Both are very strong sellers’ markets. They are also comparable in terms of population growth – both are experiencing thousands of people moving in every year and not enough inventory to support that. Both cities have been experiencing record high appreciation year after year. Denver does have sales tax but property taxes are among some of the lowest in the country. Gentrification is a huge issue and topic of discussion in many of the urban, older neighborhoods that are gaining popularity with the more affluent which, in turn, cause home prices to soar.


Many newer restaurants in Denver actually started out in Portland such as Thirsty Lion, Fire on the Mountain, Henry’s Tavern,  Voodoo Doughnuts, and Urban Farmer. Both cities feature a wonderful food and restaurant scene, and unique neighborhoods that serve as home to these fabulous establishments. Many of the eateries have patios and outdoor heating devices so you can enjoy the cool Colorado evenings without being uncomfortable.

The Beer

Beer is the bomb! The Denver metro area has close to 150 microbreweries, more than any other city — besides Portland, of course. According to Denver Microbrewery Tour, there are 92 microbreweries in Denver alone.  Colorado is second only to California in the number of breweries within its borders. That’s pretty remarkable since California has 6 1/2 times the population of the Centennial State! Denver is also home to the Great American Beer Festival which is held every fall and attracts thousands of people.

The Dress Code

Like Portland, Denver is a pretty casual city. Flip flops and shorts often prevail, and there are many fine dining establishments which do not have a dress code. The outdoorsy and active lifestyle is promoted and people enjoy getting out to bike, hike, camp, paddle board and kayak, to name just a few.

The Great Outdoors

Parks are a very important part of the city. There are 200 parks in the Denver Parks and Recreation system – including a Washington Park! (although we call it “Wash” Park for short). In practically every neighborhood, you’ll find open space, greenbelt or a park nearby in which to enjoy a walk with your dog or a run.

Dog Friendly

Speaking of dogs, Denver is one of the most dog friendly cities you’ll find. It seems like almost everyone has a dog! There are many dog friendly eating establishments, boutiques that cater to canines, and specific dog and off-leash parks. Remember to clean up after your dog; this regulation is strictly enforced.

Human Friendly Too!

People are just as friendly here as in Portland so you’re sure to make new friends easily. However, people aren’t as friendly and cooperative while driving. Most cities won’t be as friendly as Portland when it comes to road etiquette. Traffic jams are commonplace in Denver so it’s important to learn alternate routes or better yet, take advantage of the RTD light rail and buses.

The Dating Scene

Denver does have the nickname of “Menver,” due to the belief that there are more single men in the city than women. But finding love in 2020 has been tough to say the least. However, WalletHub just released an article earlier this month entitled “2020’s Best & Worst Cities for Singles” and ranked Denver as the top #3 city for singles! And their data was intense, they “compared more than 180 U.S. cities across 32 key indicators of dating-friendliness.” 5280 also loved this topic and wrote an article earlier this year on how dating in the Mile High City has gone since the pandemic hit. 

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