Buying a house in Denver these days isn’t easy, we know. For many, it can feel downright impossible. For many others, it is downright impossible. Case in point: In March 2022, metro Denver was named the fifth-least affordable housing market in the country.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you’ve stopped daydreaming about finally having that perfect front porch or walk-in-closet or, simply, a place to call your own. And although we aren’t in the business of building houses, we can help whittle down the best places for you and your family to settle down in the Mile High City.
Here’s something else we know: Making the decision to live in Denver is easy—it’s figuring out where to live that presents a challenge. Green spaces, spectacular restaurants, awesome live music venues, and welcoming communities exist all over town. For our fourth-annual list of the city’s best neighborhoods, we evaluated all 78 Denver communities through our livability formula (see “The Process,” below); it takes into account home values, school quality, safety, and those distinctive aspects that set a place apart (cultural offerings, nearby shops, bike-ability, open spaces, etc.). The result: the 25 best neighborhoods to live in right now.
Here’s how we put together our annual 25 Best Neighborhoods list.
Our ranking is based on 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, public transportation, and restaurants and shops. Each category is weighted: 30 percent for year-over-year percentage change in home values; 25 percent for safety; 15 percent for neighborhood school ratings; and 30 percent for the X factor. Our initial list of 78 neighborhoods (which was whittled down to 73, as you’ll read below) is based on the city of Denver’s official map. That explains why you won’t see areas like LoHi or RiNo mentioned; officially, they’re not considered their own neighborhoods—even though locals would probably disagree.
- Average home sale prices were provided by REcolorado. The percentage changes reflect the difference in average closing prices between 2020 and 2021. Five Denver neighborhoods did not have statistics available or had five or fewer home sales in 2021 and thus were excluded from consideration.
- Crime data—the total number of crimes reported in each neighborhood in 2021—come from the Denver Police Department and are based on National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) definitions. (Note: The data is dynamic, and we based our calculations on the numbers available on March 11, 2022.) The figures were then adjusted per capita using population statistics from the 2020 census, as provided to 5280 by the City and County of Denver.
- School ratings are from the Colorado Department of Education’s 2021 School Performance Framework (SPF). Take note: Due to the pandemic, state assessments were canceled in spring 2020 and state accountability ratings were paused for the 2020–’21 and 2021–’22 school years, so this data is based on 2019 findings. (You can read more about the testing pause here.) In addition, a handful of schools were not included in the state assessments, which are only administered in grades three through 12. In those cases, we used data from Denver Public Schools’ 2019 School Performance Framework. We then averaged the SPF scores for the public schools in each neighborhood: Four was the highest score (correlating to “Performance Plan” in the state SPF report); one was the lowest (“Turnaround Plan” in the report). For neighborhoods that didn’t have schools within their boundaries, we averaged the ratings of the schools in adjacent neighborhoods. Schools that closed between 2019 and 2021 were excluded.
- We awarded each neighborhood an X factor rating on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest). We took into account the variety of experiences and spaces available in each neighborhood and gave relatively equal weight to all of the different variables—bars, parks, bike lanes, etc. Even so, yes, we are well aware that this is a subjective score.
- Demographic information for each neighborhood was pulled from the American Community Survey’s 2016–2020 data, which was provided to 5280 by the city and county of Denver.
Quick Links to Find Denver's Best
|Neighborhood||Rank||Population||2021 Average Sale Price||New Listings in 2021||Real Estate Rank||Schools Score||Crime Rank||X Factor Score|
|South Park Hill||7||9,373||$872,071||57||44||4||13||8|
|Gateway - Green Valley Ranch||15||44,964||$393,420||622||22||3.2||6||5.5|
|North Park Hill||17||10,013||$580,220||92||17||2.3||7||6|