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Cost of Living in Denver for Renters

If you’re planning to move to Denver, CO, you may be wondering about how much you’ll pay in your day-to-day life there. It’s good to know when you’re negotiating salaries and hunting for the best apartment listing that the Denver cost-of-living index shows that costs are going up. Get a finger on the pulse of the local economy and see whether or not you can afford to live in the Mile-High City.

What is the cost of living in Denver, Colorado?

The average cost of living in Denver, Colorado, is only six percent higher than the national average. The costs of housing are high and rapidly increasing, but other areas, like energy, are keeping costs relatively stable.

Cost of Living in Denver, CO

by Expense Category

Cost of Living in Denver, Colorado by Expense Category

How does Denver compare?

The city is fairly comparable to much of the country. If you’re coming from another major city, you’ll likely find a relatively good deal in Denver, Colorado. Cost-of-living comparison data has shown us that the Mile-High City has costs that are a fraction of those in West Coast cities. For instance, it’s 35 percent cheaper to live here compared to San Francisco, 13 percent cheaper than Portland, 14 percent cheaper than Seattle, and 20 percent cheaper than L.A.

Cost of Living in Denver, CO
Compared to Other Major Cities
Cost of Living in Denver, Colorado Compared to Other Major Cities

What costs will be the main concern?

The most costly expense out of the five major categories is housing, which is 23 percent above the national average. Groceries, utilities, and transportation are all actually cheaper than the national average, so the high housing costs and a relatively volatile real estate market are responsible for raising the overall cost of living in Denver, Colorado.

Now, the median house price is $336,600 and the median rent in the metro area is $1,968 per month. Many locals have complained or been displaced because of the high Denver rent prices. Many working families spend well beyond the recommended 30 percent of their income on housing.

Are rent prices going up?

Rent is increasing; rent prices in the city of Denver itself have gone up in the past year at a rate of 8.2 percent. This is the most recent number after many years of the rent going up at an incredible rate. Some estimates show that all housing prices increased 26 percent in two years. They have risen so much in such a short period of time that some are concerned that the Denver housing market is in a bubble; however, a slowing of construction and a relative cool-down in prices have indicated that the market is more stable than some give it credit for.

cost of living in denver

Image source: Wall Street Journal

Will this rising tide raise all ships?

Between 2009 and 2014, the cost of living rose 13.6 percent. This rapid inflation affects everything, but luckily, the costs of energy have dropped a great deal and food prices have stayed fairly low and stable. This is possibly due to the availability of oil and natural gas in the state.

How much would you need to make to live there?

That depends: Do you want to live or live comfortably? According to some surveys, the typical family would need $82,000 per year. According to another survey, that typical family with two adults and two children would need to make $63,069 to make a "self-sufficient" wage. These required incomes have been increasing since 2001.

The MIT Living Wage Index indicates that one adult with no children would need to make at least $10.79 per hour to have a living wage in the wider Denver-Aurora-Broomfield area. This increases a great deal as you add dependents. A family with one working adult and two children would need $24.23 per hour. The state minimum wage is $8.31.

What are the typical expenses like?

Of course, this Denver cost-of-living index information is great, but what are some of the sorts of prices you can expect to pay? Here’s a quick breakdown: