On a humid, late-summer day six years ago, my wife and I zipped up our suitcases, popped our seven-month-old son in his car seat, and—with Grandma and our sedated cat in tow—headed for Miami International Airport. We were moving west—to the Mile High City.
Of course, many people before us made similar moves, and many more continue to find their ways to Denver and other parts of the Centennial State, as Natasha Gardner details in her feature “Pioneers 2.0,” which starts on page 98. But in many ways, our family’s story is the classic Colorado transplant tale. I was born, raised, and went to college in the San Francisco Bay Area; my wife was born in Cleveland, raised in suburban Minneapolis, and went to college in New York City, where we met after we’d both graduated. We did grad school stints in the Midwest—me in Columbia, Missouri, her in Chicago—then we moved back to New York. In 2005, when we were both 30 years old, we moved from Manhattan to Miami (a move that, as many friends remarked at the time, was roughly 35 years ahead of schedule).
It’s fascinating to look at that list of places with the luxury of hindsight because it’s so clear, to me at least, that each place played some small role in our decision to finally settle our family in Denver. We left New York because we worked too much, couldn’t really afford to live in the city, and wanted to slow down. Miami allowed us to slow down (a lot), but the white sand beaches and rows of luxury waterfront condos never really felt like home to us.
The birth of our first child in 2007 cemented our decision to leave South Beach, and we determined, very deliberately, that we wanted several things out of wherever we ended up settling down. We wanted access to good jobs; an educated populace; culture, in the form of museums, music, theater, and a vibrant restaurant scene; a lifestyle that valued fun alongside hard work; and a place that eschewed pretense for authenticity. We also wanted mountains. And plentiful sunshine wouldn’t hurt.
After a year of renting, we bought our first house—a little bungalow a few blocks northwest of Wash Park—five years ago. Our second son was born at Rose Medical Center a few months later. He may be the only “true” Coloradan in our family, but our lack of native roots hasn’t diminished our appreciation for all the tangible and intangible things that make Denver such a remarkable place. In fact, our outsider perspective might just make us love this place that much more—it’s an affection that grows deeper every year we’re here. We’re done with boxes, packing tape, and moving trucks. There will be no more bouncing around the country for us. Like so many of the original pioneers and those who’ve come since, we’re here to stay.