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The 25 Best Places To Live in Denver Right Now

Looking for a new place to call home? We crunched the numbers—and made a few judgment calls—to come up with our second annual list of the Mile High City’s most livable neighborhoods.

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Finding the perfect place to buy a home is never easy.

Do you prioritize Congress Park’s leafy streets or Mar Lee’s affordability? Proximity to Aviano Coffee in Cherry Creek or Washington Park’s high-performing Steele Elementary? Access to the E Line or City Park? It was those types of questions that inspired the livability formula (see “The Fine Print” below)—which balances things like home values, community, nightlife options, school quality, and crime statistics—we created to determine the 25 most well-rounded neighborhoods in Denver today. (And we didn’t stop there; find stats on page 87 for the rest of the 71 neighborhoods we evaluated.)

If you’re thinking of making a move, you may need our help now more than ever. The housing market is tricky in Denver these days due to a variety of factors, including transplants coming to the Mile High City in droves because of, well, the same things that keep us all here: plentiful sunshine and powder days, craft beer and cornhole in the park, good jobs and great music and museums. For the past several years, Denver has boasted one of the fastest growth rates of any American city, adding almost 80,000 people per year. (Projections by the state demographer indicate that Colorado as a whole will add approximately a million people over the next decade.) And all those people need places to live.

Combine that with low inventory in the housing market and you’ve got something of a perfect storm. In February, there were just 4,968 homes for sale in the Denver metro area—the lowest that figure has ever been, according to REcolorado, the state’s largest multiple listing service (MLS). You don’t need to have a Ph.D. in economics to know that high demand plus low inventory means housing prices are rising—five percent, 10 percent, or in some neighborhoods as much as 30 percent in a year. “I think the market is going to continue to go up, for one main reason: There’s no inventory,” says Charles Roberts of Your Castle Real Estate. “It’s that simple.”

But the challenges posed by a booming housing market don’t mean you should discount the idea of looking for a home. Instead, Roberts says, be smart about your search and plan for the long term. We couldn’t agree more. On the following pages, you’ll find some of the hottest neighborhoods—and maybe even your next home base—in the city U.S. News & World Report recently declared the best place to live in the country.


THE FINE PRINT

Our ranking uses four variables: home prices, crime data, school rankings, and an X factor score that accounts for things that can’t be easily quantified, such as access to open space, nearby public transportation, and restaurant and nightlife options. Each category is weighted (35 percent for year-over-year percentage increase in home values; 30 percent for safety; 15 percent for neighborhood school ratings; and 20 percent for the X factor). Ties were broken using the X factor.


1. Congress Park

Average sale price: $487,297$
Percentage increase: 19.13
Percentage increase rank: 13th
Crime rank: 9th
Schools score: 4
X factor score: 8

Sidewalks marked up with colorful chalk and children’s bikes strewn about well-manicured front lawns are common sights in family-friendly Congress Park, where Denver Squares and bungalows populate avenues lined with mature trees. The neighborhood’s anchor school, Teller Elementary, receives high marks, and residents enjoy nearby retail options such as the Trader Joe’s location on Colorado Boulevard. Congress Park’s X factor score also gets a boost from the recent influx of new restaurants and shops along Colfax Avenue—among them a shared-building concept from Humble Pie Store and Cerebral Brewing as well as the hip-but-approachable Lula Rose General Store coffeeshop.


2. Hilltop

Average sale price: $1,017,431
Percentage increase: 17.68
Percentage increase rank: 20th
Crime rank: 4th
Schools score: 4.5
X factor score: 7.5

One of central Denver’s most prestigious enclaves, Hilltop ranked 16th on last year’s list but climbed to second this year on the strength of its increase in average home price, which jumped by nearly $200,000 to crest the million-dollar mark. Wide, leafy streets are lined with a mix of pricey new builds and homes featuring classic Denver architecture. Historic Cranmer Park sits a few blocks east of Colorado Boulevard and is a treasured community green space. And despite buzz about a spike in break-ins this past winter, Hilltop maintained a comparably low level of crime overall.


3. University Park

Average sale price: $464,467
Percentage increase: 15.99
Percentage increase rank: 25th
Crime rank: 18th
Schools score: 5
X factor score: 8

The average sale price in the well-rounded University Park is slightly higher than those of its similarly named neighbors (numbers eight and 14 on this list) across University and Colorado boulevards. One contributing factor is centrally located Observatory Park—home to the University of Denver’s historic observatory —which is a pleasant place to spend a Saturday afternoon or an evening stargazing through the 26-foot-long telescope. (It’s open to the public on Tuesday and Thursday nights.) Families also love University Park Elementary, which earned the highest possible designation in DPS’ evaluation framework.


4. Hampden South

Average sale price: $292,326
Percentage increase: 33.45
Percentage increase rank: 2nd
Crime rank: 16th
Schools score: 4
X factor score: 5

There’s not much like a 33 percent increase in average sale price to rocket a neighborhood from sleeper status to the big time. Folks who work in the Denver Tech Center should take a hard look at this DTC-adjacent community. Even with the massive spike in home prices, Hampden South offers an affordable entrée into the Denver housing market, with average sales hovering just below $300,000. Though the housing stock consists mostly of late 20th-century homes that evoke a generic, somewhat suburban vibe and big-box stores and strip malls are ubiquitous, this neighborhood—with its fantastic views of the foothills—will likely only see its star continue to rise in the coming years.


5. Indian Creek

Average sale price: $252,052
Percentage increase: 19.76
Percentage increase rank: 10th
Crime rank: 1st
Schools score: 4
X factor score: 4.5

If “safety first” is your motto, check out Indian Creek: For the second year in a row, it notched the lowest crime rate on our list. To the west of Cherry Creek and its cycling path, which bisect the neighborhood, you’ll find warehouse-y blocks that house businesses such as Alchemy Bicycle Company and the Pro’s Closet, which sells secondhand bike gear; on the eastern side, single-family homes mingle with apartments on quiet streets and cul-de-sacs. Although you’re only about 20 minutes from central Denver, Indian Creek doesn’t feel much like the big city—and that’s not a bad thing.

—Photos (from top) Sarah Boyum, Adam Larkey, Sarah Boyum (2)


6. Sloan Lake

Average sale price: $521,686
Percentage increase: 22
Percentage increase rank: 6th
Crime rank: 36th
Schools score: 4
X Factor score: 7.5

Sloan Lake is often overlooked in favor of Highland, its bustling neighbor to the north. But this quiet ’hood has an energy all its own: New modern homes have popped up along the tree-lined streets, joining sleek remodels and classic Tudors to create an eclectic mix of residences that attract both young professionals and families. With its proximity to downtown, Highlands Square, and, of course, 284-acre Sloan Lake Park—plus the snazzy mixed-use redevelopment that’s under way on the former St. Anthony Hospital campus to the south—it’s not surprising home prices in the area continue to increase, jumping 22 percent on average from 2014 to 2015.


7. Windsor

Average sale price: $197,263
Percentage increase: 19.12
Percentage increase rank: 14th
Crime rank: 3rd
Schools score: 4
X factor score: 4

Home to the mega apartment and townhome complexes Breakers Resort and Advenir at Cherry Creek North, Windsor doesn’t have quite the same feel as many of the classic Denver neighborhoods dominated by single-family homes. But it does have upsides (on top of its lovely namesake lake): Windsor is one of the safest communities in the city, and even though it’s on the southeastern edge of town, access to both Leetsdale Drive and Alameda Avenue make it easy to get pretty much anywhere. Add in reasonable housing prices and solid schools, and Windsor just may be the right place to search for a starter home.


8. University Hills

Average sale price: $418,730
Percentage increase: 21.48
Percentage increase rank: 7th
Crime rank: 44th
Schools score: 5
X factor score: 7

With an expansive big-box shopping center anchoring the west side of the ’hood and an abundance of simple ranch-style architecture, University Hills doesn’t have the charm of the neighborhoods immediately to its west. But it more than makes up for those shortcomings thanks to a surge in home values this past year. Average prices rose 21 percent, enough to boost University Hills into our top 10. The neighborhood also gets kudos for high-performing Bradley International School, quick access to I-25, and the artistic and cultural offerings of the University of Denver, located only a handful of blocks away.


9. Washington Park

Average sale price: $674,588
Percentage increase: 11.97
Percentage increase rank: 42nd
Crime rank: 12th
Schools score: 4
X factor score: 9.5

Wash Park—where nearly 100-year-old trees protect venerable bungalows, handsome Denver Squares, and new, modern builds—seems to attract fairly uniform homeowners: upwardly mobile yuppies and families with penchants for running, cycling, and golden retrievers. But even though Wash Park has become one of the de facto neighborhoods of Denver’s bourgeoisie, there are myriad reasons to love this urban jewel. Old South Gaylord Street, on the east side of the park, has ample shopping and dining options, and the Louisiana-Pearl light-rail station is a quick walk (or bike ride) away. Plus, there are few things better than spending a warm spring day sprawled out on a blanket in the 157-acre green space, which is a big reason why Wash Park received the highest X factor score on our list. Hate to say it, but the yuppies are doing it right.


10. Rosedale

Average sale price: $442,152
Percentage increase: 26.12
Percentage increase rank: 4th
Crime rank: 39th
Schools score: 5
X factor score: 5.5

A hefty portion of this tiny hamlet just south of Platt Park is taken up by Harvard Gulch Park (which includes a rec center and a nine-hole, par-three golf course) and Porter Adventist Hospital’s campus. But the 2,553 people—it’s the city’s sixth smallest neighborhood by population—who do live here enjoy more than just good schools, skyrocketing home values, and proximity to the University of Denver and Platt Park’s South Pearl Street. Along and near Rosedale’s western border, South Broadway, you’ll find a smattering of independent food and entertainment options, including Cana Wine Bar, vegan pizza purveyor Rebellion, and Swallow Hill Music.

—Photos (from top): Sarah Boyum, Jeff Morris, The Breakers Resort Apartment Homes, Sarah Boyum (2)


11. South Park Hill

Average sale price: $474,241
Percentage increase: 12.69
Percentage increase rank: 39th
Crime rank: 17th
Schools score: 4.3
X factor score: 8

Thanks to a well-rounded set of scores across all four of our data points, South Park Hill, one of Denver’s grand dames, has joined our list this year. With towering, mature trees and inviting bike lines, the stretch of Montview Boulevard from Colorado Boulevard to Monaco Parkway is an enviable residential thoroughfare. But South Park Hill isn’t all residential, all the time. The neighborhood also offers the tiny but mighty commercial corridors on 23rd Avenue and Kearney Street—picture enjoying a cozy date night at Tables or snagging mouthwatering slices from Oblio’s Pizzeria—and easy access to City Park, the Denver Zoo, and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.


12. Wellshire

Average sale price: $504,408
Percentage increase: –7.16
Percentage increase rank: 68th
Crime rank: 2nd
Schools score: 5
X factor score: 8

Though its average home sale price actually dipped from 2014 to 2015, Wellshire is still one of Denver’s most desirable neighborhoods, especially for families, due to its strength in other areas. For starters, the neighborhood boasts the second fewest crimes per capita on our list. Top-rated K-8 school Slavens hosts community-building activities such as a for-the-whole-family fun run and fund-raiser auction. And on weekends, expect to see kids riding their bikes or skateboarding in the streets. All of which combines for a slightly more suburban scene than you’ll find in popular and close-by neighborhoods such as Washington Park and Platt Park—precisely the draw of Wellshire. Think of it as a bit of the ’burbs in the city.


13. Belcaro

Average sale price: $1,029,850
Percentage increase: 8.05
Percentage increase rank: 52nd
Crime rank: 13th
Schools score: 4
X factor score: 8

One of three neighborhoods on our list to soar north of a million dollars in average sale price since last year (see also numbers two and 19), Belcaro has a lot working in its favor to justify those price tags. Mansions, new custom builds, and luxurious ranch-style homes preside over bigger-than-average lots conveniently located between Washington Park and Cherry Creek. But residents needn’t go that far to get their shop and dine on: The Bonnie Brae microhood, which includes the popular Bonnie Brae Ice Cream shop and Bonnie Brae Tavern, falls mostly within Belcaro’s borders.


14. University

Average sale price: $405,921
Percentage increase: 4.23
Percentage increase rank: 66th
Crime rank: 7th
Schools score: 5
X factor score: 8.5

Living in the University neighborhood is a bit like living in a small college town that just happens to be tucked away in a big city. The University of Denver campus and the streets between University Boulevard and Downing Street bustle with fresh-faced college students and the requisite coffeeshops, bars, and fast-casual restaurants they frequent. The housing stock on the south end of the ’hood is a mix of ranches and bungalows, which only—only!—increased about four percent in average price last year (one of the lowest figures of any neighborhood in the city). Still, crime is low, the public schools are highly rated, and the area’s diverse cultural offerings are a prime reason it gets a high X factor score.


15. City Park

Average sale price: $418,249
Percentage increase: 14.06
Percentage increase rank: 33rd
Crime rank: 48th
Schools score: 5
X factor score: 8.5

Yes, 314-acre City Park is a huge draw for this neighborhood’s 2,907 residents. (It’s the Mile High City’s seventh smallest ’hood by population; most of the area within the defined neighborhood boundaries is taken up by the green space itself.) But those who populate the well-kept Denver Squares from Josephine Street to Colorado Boulevard are there for more than City Park Jazz and the Denver Zoo. For families, living in the neighborhood that’s home to sought-after East High School is a big perk. And the strip of East Colfax that acts as the neighborhood’s southern border provides access to a grocery store (Sprouts Farmers Market), restaurant and bar options, the iconic Tattered Cover Book Store, and one of the city’s finest music venues, the Bluebird Theater.

—Photos (from top) Sarah Boyum (2), Teri Fotheringham, iStock


16. Mar Lee

Average sale price: $235,426
Percentage increase: 20.21
Percentage increase rank: 8th
Crime rank: 22nd
Schools score: 3.3
X factor score: 3.5

What Mar Lee lacks in curb appeal—on many blocks, chain-link fences surround mostly single-story homes—it makes up for in affordability. At $235,426, the average sale price is the second lowest in our top 25, and that’s up a whopping 20.21 percent from last year. Relatively low crime, a charming green space in Garfield Lake Park, and some of the city’s best ethnic eateries (Star Kitchen, Pho 95 Noodle House, Playa Azul Mexican Restaurant) within walking or biking distance on Federal Boulevard might be enough to tempt first-time homebuyers who are being priced out of more central, established ’hoods.


17. Montclair

Average sale price: $457,557
Percentage increase: 15.58
Percentage increase rank: 29th
Crime rank: 35th
Schools score: 4
X factor score: 7

In east Denver’s Montclair, calm residential streets are lined with a diverse housing stock of Tudor homes, Denver Squares, and 20th-century ranches. But it’s not all mailboxes and welcome mats: The north border of Montclair is Colfax Avenue, which adds some commercial variety—from Phoenician Kabob to Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant—to the neighborhood. Locally owned Copper Door Coffee Roasters provides a respite for work-from-homers. Plus, you won’t have to go far to find veggie starters or flowers for your front-stoop container: City Floral Garden Center’s expansive greenhouse has been a resident of the area since 1911.


18. Berkeley

Average sale price: $434,125
Percentage increase: 16.03
Percentage increase rank: 24th
Crime rank: 26th
Schools score: 2.5
X factor score: 7.5

If you haven’t been to Tennyson Street recently, you may not recognize this northwest neighborhood’s main drag. A brand-new Natural Grocers replaced 63-year-old Elitch Lanes in December; more than a dozen restaurants—including an Atomic Cowboy outpost—and breweries have opened their doors in the past couple of years; and modern condo buildings are popping up along the thoroughfare. Not surprisingly, home prices in the area are going up in tandem as young professionals and families flock to the Victorians, Tudors, and Denver Squares on Berkeley’s tree-lined streets (despite less-than-stellar school ratings).


19. Country Club 

Average sale price: $1,097,865
Percentage increase: 8.93
Percentage increase rank: 50th
Crime rank: 6th
Schools score: 2.8
X factor score: 8.5

Just outside last year’s top 25, Country Club landed at 19 on this year’s list buoyed by a nearly nine percent jump in average home price. If your bank account can accommodate million-dollar price tags, you’ll have a hard time finding a nicer stock of classic Denver houses. In fact, in 1979, a portion of the neighborhood was listed on the National Register of Historic Places due, in part, to its architectural significance. Many of the immaculate Denver Squares and French Mediterranean- and Colonial-style homes were designed by prominent Denver architects such as Jules Jacques and Benois Benedict. Bonus: The streets are safe, and tony Cherry Creek North is a short walk away.


20. Virginia Village

Average sale price: $341,156
Percentage increase: 12.21
Percentage increase rank: 41st
Crime rank: 11th
Schools score: 4
X factor score: 5

Steal alert: With an average sale price of about $341,000, homes in Virginia Village are around $100,000 cheaper than in neighboring University Park (number three) and more than half a million less than in nearby Belcaro (number 13). But don’t wait too long to get in. Rising home values, low crime rates, and strong schools all combined to bump this quaintly named neighborhood into our top 25. Modest ranch-style homes abound, with a few mid-mod gems mixed in. And although unassuming strip malls line Holly Street, you’ll have saved so much on your mortgage you won’t mind the quick drive to more charming retail districts west of Colorado Boulevard.

—Photos (from top): Sarah Boyum (3), Teri Fotheringham


21. Cherry Creek

Average sale price: $738,710
Percentage increase: 15.42
Percentage increase rank: 31st
Crime rank: 56th
Schools score: 5
X factor score: 8

Cherry Creek landed near the top of last year’s list on the strength of a big increase in average home price. At about 15 percent, this year’s gains weren’t as bullish—but keep in mind that we’re still talking about a significant jump over the past two years. The draw of Cherry Creek continues to be its access to amenities, whether that’s the high-end shops, bars, and restaurants in the Cherry Creek North business district, the Ross-Cherry Creek Denver Public Library branch, or the nearby entrance to the Cherry Creek Trail. Oh, and the neighborhood’s housing stock—which consists mostly of modern luxury homes, apartments, and plenty of scrapes—isn’t too bad either.


22. North Park Hill

Average sale price: $327,622
Percentage increase: 11.81
Percentage increase rank: 44th
Crime rank: 10th
Schools score: 3.2
X factor score: 6.5

Depending on which part of the neighborhood you’re in, North Park Hill can have two different vibes. The southern end of the ’hood draws more from the look and feel of South Park Hill. North of about 28th Avenue, homes are a bit more affordable; in fact, North Park Hill is one of only a handful of ’hoods on our top 25 with an average sale price below $400,000. All around, the streets offer quiet residential charm—plus retail options such as popular Italian grocery Spinelli’s Market along 23rd Avenue—and the number of crimes per capita in North Park Hill is actually slightly lower than in South Park Hill.


23. Hale

Average sale price: $254,121
Percentage increase: 11.85
Percentage increase rank: 43rd
Crime rank: 15th
Schools score: 3
X factor score: 7

If you’re a relatively heavy sleeper who can handle squealing ambulances zipping to and from Rose Medical Center along Hale Parkway—a major thoroughfare for a small neighborhood—you will want to consider the area’s wide range of housing options, from classic Denver bungalows to high-end condominiums. Like adjacent Congress Park, Hale’s retail options are along Colfax Avenue and Colorado Boulevard (hello, Trader Joe’s, Snooze, Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery, and Marczyk Fine Foods), and crime is relatively low. For lower-end-of-the-market buyers, Hale presents an affordable alternative to the very similar neighborhoods nearby (see number 17 Montclair next door, where last year’s average sale price was $457,557).


24. Barnum West

Average sale price: $215,465
Percentage increase: 13.93
Percentage increase rank: 34th
Crime rank: 27th
Schools score: 4
X factor score: 5

Barnum West sits two spots higher than its eastern counterpart, Barnum, on this year’s list. Though Barnum is home to an expansive park and city recreation center, Barnum West has its own upsides: Namely, a significantly lower crime rate, owed in part to its distance from Federal Boulevard, and access to the Weir Gulch recreation trail and recently remolded Weir Gulch Park just south of Alameda Avenue. (The city spent $3.6 million on the green space in 2014.) Although some of the blocks are still transitioning, this year the average price of the neighborhood’s modest ranches jumped above $200,000, a significant increase. Still, in central Denver—Barnum West is close to downtown and the football stadium—that qualifies as a deal.


25. Washington Park West

Average sale price: $464,294
Percentage increase: 6.8
Percentage increase rank: 62nd
Crime rank: 21st
Schools score: 5
X factor score: 7.5

If Wash Park is akin to Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Wash Park West is more analogous to the Upper West Side: Both are a little more gritty, a little less ritzy, and a bit more affordable than their neighbors to the east. Indeed, denizens of this ’hood, which is sandwiched between Washington Park proper and Baker, have it pretty good. A modest mix of bungalows, Victorians, Cape Cods, and Denver Squares lends an authentic vibe, and the massive, modern scrapes that continue to crop up in Wash Park aren’t (quite) as prevalent, due in part to smaller lots. Add to that solid public schools and proximity to, well, just about everything, and Wash Park West is a fitting place to wrap up the top 25 neighborhoods in the city.

—Photos by Sarah Boyum (3)


See neighborhoods ranked beyond the top 25 below. 

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