Where should a young, social guy live in the Denver area?
January 22, 2009 7:37 AM   Subscribe

I'm a 22 year old engineer who recently visited the Denver area, loved it, and decided after living in upstate NY my whole life (minus college) to try city living. Where should I look?

I went to Penn State so I am used to being around a lot of young people and really enjoyed it, so I'd prefer an area where there are more people my age (recent college graduates/current grad students). It doesn't have to be downtown Denver, but I don't want it to be a pain to get into the city if I do end up in a nearby suburb (like Englewood), as I expect many activities that interest me (concerts, sports, etc) will be in the city.

I am not looking to buy any real estate, I figured I'd start with renting a nice apartment for a year (know any good properties?) and if I do enjoy it as much as I hope I will, maybe look into more permanent options.

I'll be working in Littleton (a little off 470), but have heard great things about the light rail, and would be happy to save on gas (maybe just using my car on the weekend).

O great Denver meFi-ers, I throw myself on the mercy of the hive mind!
posted by pennstatephil to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I was actually just there and it seemed like the LoDo area and the area around the football stadium were pretty youthful-but-professional.
posted by pomegranate at 7:53 AM on January 22, 2009

Best answer: Yeah. Lodo. It's been trendy since the late 90s but it is where most of the young kids live. The rent can be higher than other areas but you are paying to live in a certain young Denver hipster inspired location.

Light rail is great but unless your business is right next door to a station, it's not entirely practical. If you did live in Lodo, during rush hours you'd be going against the traffic which means your ride would be less painful than others. If, instead, you choose to live in Littleton (which is a great little town for people with families and suburban life styles), you'll probably end up spending most of your time in Lodo which means taking the light rail into denver or driving in.
posted by Stynxno at 8:46 AM on January 22, 2009

Best answer: I'll second the Lodo area, more specifically Platte/Confluence Park area, and lower Highlands (not Highlands Ranch, that's the major suburbia on the south edge of the metro region). You'll be within stumbling distance of downtown, and it's a vibrant, youthful, active area. There are some apartments right along Platte St around 15th that I'd look at, but also plenty of other options just across I-25, or closer to the ball park (I have two friends living in The Metro www.metroapts.com, both love it). Union Station is right there so you can grab light rail down to Littleton...just bring your bike with you and you can easily get to work 95% of the year with no issues.
posted by fuit ilium at 8:48 AM on January 22, 2009

Lodo. I lived in LoDo ("LOwer DOwntown") for 5 years before moving to New England. Loved it, and the light rail may make a Littleton commute easy.

If you can find an "old construction" loft, I'd recommend that over some of the new stuff they have been putting up over the last few years. I lived in both during my stay in LoDo, and really loved the feel of old brick and timber construction.
posted by taubman at 8:58 AM on January 22, 2009

Best answer: From the details of your question, I wouldn't be surprised if you've been hired on by my employer. I work and live in Littleton. My apartment and office are separated by about three miles, and a light rail station sits in between. From that station, it's about a half hour to Downtown. Bus service is actually pretty good out here in the suburbs; if I lived Downtown, I could easily make it to my office via a combination of light rail, bus and about five minutes of walking. If I timed things right, it would be about a 45 minute commute. If your office is separated from the main thoroughfares and/or a bus stop, the trip may be a bit longer and more difficult.

I enjoy city living as well, but as suburbs go, Littleton is a nice place. I work long enough hours that I never really get out in the evening during the week, so I opted to live close to work and take the short commute, knowing that I could easily take the train Downtown on the weekend. And since I live only a few miles from the edge of the foothills, getting out of town is pretty easy. A trip into the mountains doesn't start off with a half hour of city driving. All in all, I feel like I have a good balance down here: a nice apartment with reasonable rent (something similar Downtown would cost at least 2X as much), a ten minute commute, easy access to Downtown, easy access to the mountains, and a safe and quiet neighborhood.

As for the local demographic, it's a pretty even spread as far as age is concerned. Most of my neighbors are in their 20s and 30s. The question, I suppose, is "what kind of young people do you want to be around?" The LoDo scene has always struck me as a bit juvenile and yuppified - so much that I think I'd dislike living there - but some of the quieter neighborhoods in and around Dowtown (Highland, Capitol Hill, Cheesman Park, Washington Park) can be young and hip in a more down-to-earth way. Unfortunately, these neighborhoods are less convenient if you're planning on commuting by train. As you move out into the suburbs, the younger people you encounter are more likely to be career oriented, married, or saving up to buy a house in Highlands Ranch, but it's still pretty laid back. I think my neighbors spend more time cycling, hiking, skiing and throwing dinner parties than they do working.

So, my suggestion would be to at least give Littleton proper a look. There's something to be said for a short commute, even if it's by car (I don't know if I'll be able to accept a long commute again, no matter what the mode of transportation... what a monumental waste of time!), and it's nice having easy access to the big city action without actually living in the thick of things. It's a hell of a lot cheaper, too.

If you do prefer Downtown, however, the commute is doable - especially if your office is near a bus stop within range of a light rail station. I drive by my local station every day going to and from work, and there are always plenty of people transferring from train to bus or bicycle or parked car or continuing on foot at rush hour, so the system works.
posted by jal0021 at 9:26 AM on January 22, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you all, so far you've been extremely helpful! Keep the good stuff going-- the more opinions I hear the better I can feel about my decision.
posted by pennstatephil at 9:36 AM on January 22, 2009

Best answer: Oh, my gosh, if I could pick up and move anywhere (and take my job with me, sigh) I would move to Highland in a minute. (NOT Highlands Ranch, but Highland in downtown Denver.) One of my brothers lives down in that area, and every time I visit it seems like the bars and restaurants--all within walking distance, or at least a cheap cab fare--are filled with fun people in their 20s and 30s. (All of whom seem really, really pretty. Mmmmm.) Not too far to walk to a funky coffee shop in the morning, lots of stuff to do.

Littleton is nice, but I associate it much more with families and driving places and suburban living, which is very different from what it sounds like you want. I guess it comes down to whether you want easy access to your job (short commute) or easy access to "city living" (restaurants, bars, shops) and a longer commute. If you're interested in city living, I'd start out in downtown Denver then move closer to your job once you've got friends and a life in place. It's easy to say that downtown Denver is just a short trip away when you live in a suburb, but honestly I think it's unlikely that you'll make the effort to consistently go downtown if you don't know people living down there (which you may not, if everyone at your job lives in a suburb). A 20-minute drive to hang around downtown by yourself is probably not going to sound that great once you're living there, while if you live downtown I think the barrier is much lower for going down to the local bar on the corner and trying to strike a conversation with strangers.
posted by iminurmefi at 9:43 AM on January 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

My husband and I are burbs people and the recommendations above sound great. (The closer you live to downtown, the more you're going to pay for an apartment in general, so that's something to keep in mind too.)

We moved to the Denver metro area 4.5 years ago from Los Angeles and have really, truly loved it here. Welcome!
posted by Kimberly at 11:47 AM on January 22, 2009

Best answer: Holy fuck, don't move to LoDo. Gag. Unless you are into the whole yuppie/sports bar scene. Don't get me wrong, there are some very nice apartments there but generally speaking I find LoDo to be the least interesting part of the city.

I would encourage you to check out Capitol Hill which is where all the young folk apartment dwellers that I know live. Capitol Hill can be varying degrees of very nice to more gritty depending on the block. As a general rule closer to Colfax may be less nice.

Highlands neighborhood mentioned above is great but rather pricey. I don't know what you are planning on spending for rent. I also like the area around DU which would be a short hop on lightrail into downtown for games, music or whatever.

There are areas around City Park that are great and areas around Washington Park that are also very nice. These are the two largest parks in Denver and both are extremely popular with running, sports, picknicking etc. Best of luck to you in your search....welcome to Denver! Come to a meetup when you get here.
posted by fieldtrip at 6:54 PM on January 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

I don't know if you are looking for a place as far out as Parker (SE of Denver) but that's where I live and it's the typical suburban city - albeit with some great views of the mountains, good schools, and nice access to E-470/C-470/I-25. I dunno if you are looking out this far, but if so, I can expound on Parker a bit more - it's a nice place to live!
posted by Alec Loudenback at 9:50 PM on January 22, 2009

Response by poster: Awesome. I'm marking this resolved, since I think I have an excellent starting point now, but if anyone else has anything else to add, please do! Thanks again, all, for your help-- I'll me-fi mail you and take you out for a drink once I'm out there as a token of appreciation :D
posted by pennstatephil at 5:43 AM on January 23, 2009

Best answer: It's about 35 minutes on the train from downtown to the Mineral Station, and while bus service from that station is decent, it's not nearly as frequent as the light rail service, so the timing would not be as simple as it would be with a pure light rail commute.

RTD has great trip planning (through google maps), so I would use that to get a feel for what your commute would actually be like, time wise. I work right in that area as well, and am pretty familiar with the bus routes, so feel free to mefi-mail me if you have any questions.

Another neighborhood you might want to check out is Platt Park (just on the west side of the Louisiana/Pearl light rail station). It would have easy access to downtown and DU, and is only one stop away from the junction of the two light rail lines, so a commute down the the southwest line is not too out of the way, and would probably be time-equivalent to the commute from downtown.

There are really a lot of neat neighborhoods hiding in Denver, so definitely take as much time as you can to look around! Good luck!
posted by everybody polka at 12:27 PM on January 23, 2009

Best answer: Update: Back from a weekend in downtown denver-- "Lower Highlands" (LoHi) and "Uptown" are definitely the two neighborhoods I enjoyed the most. Lots of younger folks and plenty to do! Also, close to most of the sports venues.
posted by pennstatephil at 6:37 AM on February 19, 2009

I went to college in Lakewood. Fifteen minutes from downtown to the east, fifteen minutes from the foothills to the west. Inexpensive, and the perfect amalgam of city-life and wilderness.
posted by litterateur at 11:20 AM on June 7, 2009

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