Guess who’s coming to Denver? San Francisco and New York expats, for starters

Emily Wendland had been on leave from her job as a barista in Brooklyn. Your lease expired. Wendland’s brother had moved to Denver five years ago and encouraged them to move to town.

They started to think, “I’m getting tired of New York – the hustle and bustle. I can’t keep up anymore. I want a change. “

After Wendland decided to move, he saved up unemployment benefits for a year so he could get to Denver’s Baker neighborhood without a job waiting.

“It’s definitely a little harder than I expected just because the entry rates for jobs are a little lower here,” they said. “But I knew it was going to be hard work. I moved here because I wanted to live alone. It was definitely not easy. All the hard work is definitely worth it. It’s so nice not to have any more roommates. “

Showing up without knowing many people during a pandemic in a new city proved to be a challenge.

“At the beginning it was difficult and I felt really alone,” said Wendland. “Sometimes I felt crazy moving around during a pandemic.”

But they start making friends, connecting with people on dating sites, and forming their own little community.

No, Denver is not a Big Apple … but it has its advantages.

“New York is so interesting because there is something to do every day and at any time of the day,” says Wendland. “Here, especially with COVID, there is not really the possibility of going to a show every evening. It’s nice to feel like I can relax whenever I want and I’m not expected to always do something.

“It was definitely a lot to adjust. I still have the feeling that I should do something now. “

People have flocked to Denver for years.

115,000 new residents have flocked to Denver in the past decade. Where do all these newcomers come from?

A recent workforce report from LinkedIn – not exactly scientific, but interesting – suggests they are traveling from San Francisco, closely followed by New York City and then Chicago. Of 10,000 LinkedIn members in Denver last year, 8.45 moved from San Francisco, 8.26 from New York City, and 7.02 from Chicago.

Cheaper housing is a big reason people are moving here from the coasts, even if longtime Denverites continue to be shocked by the $ 599,999 average price for a single family home. Longtime locals remember 2010 when the average home price was $ 202,896. Since then, the price has almost tripled.

Some Denverites are fleeing, deterred by the massive housing cost increases. Where? According to LinkedIn report: The most common cities are Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and Tampa Bay – not San Francisco, where the average price of a single family home is $ 1,850,000, according to the California Association of Realtors. Compared to the bay, Denver housing is a steal.

It’s not always the cost of living that makes people move here.

Lesley Watson, a Cherry Creek High School graduate who moved from Denver to New York City 26 years ago to make it as an opera singer, says she returned to Colorado in the middle of the pandemic for the quality of life.

“My mother died of COVID in January,” says Watson. “It was just a time for me to find out what is most important.”

She was fed up with working and living alone in her tiny apartment during the quarantine; most of the cultural institutions were closed. Life in New York is tough, she says, and at 53 she wanted it to be easier.

So she spoke to her boss, who told Watson she could keep her job and go back to Colorado – or anywhere, since most of her work is virtual.

Rent, she notes, isn’t that different between where she lives in New York and Denver.

Sure, the average rent in Manhattan is $ 3,272 in 2021 – a 28 percent increase from 2020. But in Queens, where she rented, she paid $ 1,850 for a one-bedroom in what she was renting calls the “fashionable district” of Astoria. That’s little more than Denver’s current median rent of $ 1,600, an all-time high for the city.

In the greater Denver area, however, people get more for their money, she admits. When she returned to Colorado, she moved to the suburb of Highlands Ranch. There she pays $ 50 more than for her cramped one-bedroom room in Queens. But in Metro Denver it has all sorts of amenities: “I have twice the space, a fireplace, a balcony, a gym, a pool and a garage to park my car.”

Best of all, she has a washer and dryer at home.

“For the first time in 25 years, I’ve stopped going to the laundromat,” says Watson. “I can pick up the laundry and go to the other room and put it in the washing machine in my pajamas. I think most people don’t give up once they have a washer and dryer in their home. “

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