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.
—Illustrations by Stuart Bradford
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.
- Average home sale prices (as of January 2016) were provided by REcolorado. Percentage increase reflects the change in average sale prices from 2014 to 2015. A few Denver neighborhoods did not have statistics available (or had fewer than five sales in one or both years) and thus were excluded from consideration.
- Crime data—the total number of crimes reported in each neighborhood in 2015—come from the Denver Police Department. The figures were then adjusted per capita using population statistics from the 2010 census.
- School ratings were taken from Denver Public Schools’ School Performance Framework (SPF) for the 2013-’14 school year, the most recent year for which data were available. The SPF scores for the public schools in each neighborhood were averaged: Five is the highest score; one is the lowest. For areas that did not have schools within their boundaries, we averaged the ratings of the neighborhoods’ feeder schools.
- We gave each neighborhood an X factor rating on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest).