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How to Find an Apartment in Denver [Guide]

By: Justin Chaplin
January 27, 2020

Moving to Denver is the perfect backdrop for outdoor recreation, live music, fantastic food, and a healthy job market. You can figure out how to find an apartment in Denver on your own, or use our guide to simplify the process and make sure you find the best rental possible. 

Here’s what to do to find the best neighborhood and apartment amenities in Denver.

Denver Neighborhoods

Living in the "Mile-High City" of Denver brings sun-soaked bike rides, hiking, and jogging. Residents enjoy a masterful blend of urban living with outdoor recreation. 

Denver also gets bonus points for being a relatively safe city where crime is low. A bonus is that the locals are welcoming. 

Choose from luxury high-rises right downtown or quiet single-family homes in Denver's suburbs. Either way, you’ll find the quality of life you're looking for. 

Here's where to get started!

1. LoDo

Young professionals who want to live in the middle of bars, boutiques, and shopping settle into Lower Downtown, or LoDo, Denver. This trendy neighborhood is home to Union Station, a major railway station and transportation hub. It also features shopping and dining worthy of a weekly ritual. 

Sports fans may also love this Denver neighborhood for its walking proximity to Coors Field from luxury apartments and townhomes. People consider LoDo to be safe and tame by city standards where walking is the norm. However, the nightlife can spill onto the streets and create some drama from time to time. 

2. Uptown/Capitol Hill

Find your fellow college grads from Auraria Campus and young professionals living in the trendy, hip "Cap Hill" area. This location teems with nightlife. 

The trendy Uptown/Capitol Hill area also envelops the city's Central Business District. You’ll also find Restaurant Row and fashionable boutiques. 

Locals love to gather at City Park. It’s one of Denver's largest green spaces. It’s also home to the Denver Zoo and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. 

A mix of luxury high-rises and older complexes have cropped up in the Cap Hill area. They’re welcoming eager professionals hoping to settle into urban living. But wherever you live in Cap Hill, you’ll pay a premium to live somewhere this hip.

3. Five Points

Music and art lovers looking for weekly entertainment cluster around Five Points, Denver. This neighborhood has some of the best venues in the city. Seeped in jazz history, music legends once flocked to Five Points to perform. 

Although jazz is less prominent in Five Points today, the local millennials still head out to the Roxy Theatre and soul-food restaurants. The Black American West Museum featuring Denver's African-American cowboys is also a favorite spot. 

This multicultural neighborhood is ideal for creatives at heart. It’s perfect for people looking for urban amenities from a mix of bungalows, row houses, and high-rise apartment complexes.

4. East Denver

Locals head to East Denver when they're ready for laid-back, peaceful neighborhoods with a family-friendly vibe. Architectural charm and history abound in areas like Crestmoor, East Colfax, and Lowry, among others. 

Take a few days to walk through the neighborhoods. Pick your favorite vibe or hop on your bike and join the outdoor enthusiasts of East Denver, making the quick commute to and from downtown.

A mix of single-family homes from contemporary to Victorian line the streets in East Denver. However, you can also rent an apartment. 

Rents also prove cheaper than their Downtown Denver counterparts. However, you won’t have as much access to urban amenities and charm.

5. Washington Park and Baker

The neighborhoods of Wash Park and Baker are an oasis for outdoor lovers. They’re great for professionals with families. 

Access to both Smith Lake and Downtown Denver is easy. It keeps locals in a "best of both worlds" mentality. 

Spend the weekend strolling the green space and formal flower gardens. You can also bicycle along the trails. Like the rest of Denver, people consider Wash Park and Baker to be safe and welcoming.

Like East Denver, Wash Park and Baker are best for young professionals and families looking to settle in. Although single families abound, you can find homes and apartments for rent at a more reasonable price tag than Downtown Denver neighborhoods. 

6. Lincoln Park

As one of Denver's oldest neighborhoods, Lincoln Park is celebrated for its vibrant mixed-use community. It features the Art District on Santa Fe. 

Locals include students and college grads of the adjacent Auraria Campus. It also includes young professionals building their careers. 

Lincoln Park, Denver, is relatively safe by city standards. However, it does see some crime clustered in its urban center.

The Lincoln Park neighborhood is also undergoing new commercial development plans. Those will open up new business opportunities to the city. 

That’ll likely yield even more high-rise complexes and apartments to choose from. It’ll also drive up the prices. 

7. Highlands

Young professionals love Highlands, Denver, for its hip boutiques and bookstores that turn this neighborhood into a creative beacon. Locals shop along the Tennyson Street Cultural District. There, they peruse the collection of artwork, antiques, and photographs. 

Pubs, farmer's markets, and festivals are also popular in the Highlands. Residents also know it for its views of its namesake bridge. This neighborhood gets bonus points for being just a stone's throw from I-25.

The Highlands area is considered safe and family-friendly if you're looking to raise kids with an urban vibe. Choose from single-family homes or high rise apartments for rent. Fully outfitted buildings with pools and fitness centers will have higher rents.

Determine Your Budget

Part of finding your perfect apartment in Denver means considering your budget and following the recommended 30% rule. 

The rule states that 30% of your pre-taxed monthly take-home pay should go towards rent. Your pre-taxed take-home pay is also called your gross income. If you want to figure it out annually, just divide your gross annual salary by 40. It’s the same number!

Are you looking for a one-bedroom apartment in Denver with a rent of $1,100? Your gross income should hit right around $3,700 a month or about $44,500 a year. 

The True Cost of Renting

The 30% rule works well as a baseline, but there are also hidden costs when it comes to renting. How much apartment can you really afford? Factor in hidden apartment expenses, including:

  • Apartment application fees
  • Security deposit
  • Moving costs
  • Pet deposit
  • Move-in fees

What else is going on with your finances? Renters who have high bills for student debt repayment, medical expenses, or other financial needs may find the 30% rule doesn’t quite fit. 

To figure out how much rent you can afford to pay, try Apartment List’s Rent Calculator we put together just for renters.

Stay proactive during your Denver apartment search and study up on the average rental trends. Our Denver Rent Report currently shows median rents in Denver ranging from $1,100 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,320 for a two-bedroom. 

Although there are dips during the winter where rents may decrease, Denver rents are 4.7% higher for a one-bedroom and 3.9% higher for a two-bedroom over the previous year. Deals on Denver apartments aren’t always available, so come ready to sign when you find the perfect place at the right price. 

When’s the Best Time to Move to Denver?

Like most areas of the nation, the best time to rent an apartment in Denver depends on the season. There are more apartments up for grabs during the winter months when people are less interested in moving. Summer months usually prove more competitive, and more expensive, to find a Denver apartment. 

Regardless of the season, come prepared to look at apartments in Denver with all your documentation. It could mean beating out your competition who is ready to sign on the spot.

Commuting In Denver

Your next apartment in Denver should factor in commute time, as well as your dream location.

Denver's walk score is just 61, with a transit score of 47. However, people love biking around Denver, and the city earned a bike score of 73. Keep in mind that Denver is beloved by outdoor enthusiasts. So it is possible to find a great Denver apartment within walking distance to work or just a short stroll to public transportation.

Public Transportation in Denver

Denver's public transportation makes getting around the city relatively easy. The RTD includes bus, rail, airport, and park-n-ride service. You can also rent bikes around Denver with companies like B-Cycle.

Fares on the RTD are higher than most cities, with a single fare running $3 per ride. The RTD's regional fares recently increased to $5.25, and the A-Line to the airport costs $10.50. Choosing an apartment in Denver near your work or bike paths can also help reduce your monthly expenses.

Set Your Apartment Priorities

Denver boasts dozens of new apartment buildings to choose from, as well as older units that may prove less expensive. You can narrow down your search and find the best apartment in Denver by figuring out your priorities from amenities to budget. 

Amenities

Brainstorm a list of needs and wants for your next apartment in Denver. Your list should include all the amenities you love like dedicated outdoor space, proximity to public transportation, parking, or bike storage. 

The more you can identify what you want, the easier it will be to find that perfect apartment.

Denver Location/neighborhood

The best neighborhood in Denver is all about personal preference. Factor in walkability to neighborhood amenities, vibe, and convenience. Look for apartments outside the core of the city for more space and outdoor options for your pup. 

Or you might want to choose a lively neighborhood known for its nightlife to make the most of your weekends. Balance your desire for activity, quiet, or access to everything at your fingertips is considered before signing your next lease.

Price

Finding your dream apartment in Denver may require compromise, like letting go of the idea of an on-site fitness room to stick to your budget. Remember to respect that 30% rule and while considering all of your options.

Apartment List can also help you find the perfect apartment in Denver. Click on the button below and answer some quick questions about your apartment preferences. Then we’ll show you apartments in Denver that match what you’re looking for.

Prepare for the Apartment Tour

Your apartment tour is one of the last things you’ll do before signing a lease. Remember to bring along documentation like ID, references, and cash or credit card for your application fee. Many property managers also accept checks. 

If you’re not sure what to expect, you can see how the apartment application process works here.

Take your time on the apartment tour and ensure all the amenities in the listing are accounted for. You should also jot down a list of questions like building rules, if you can have pets, and whether or not you’re allowed to paint your apartment. 

Come prepared for your next apartment tour with these 12 questions to ask when renting an apartment

Protect Yourself from Rental Scams

You’ve probably heard stories about rental fraud ranging from bait and switch listings to apartments that don’t even exist. These scams cost U.S. renters upwards of $5.2 million every year, and one in three people have lost over $1,000 after paying a security deposit that turned out to be a scam. 

Stay proactive and learn a few simple rules to avoid rental scams. Trust your instincts, look for “too good to be true” deals, and only work with reputable landlords or property managers.

Ready to Rent?

Congratulations! Moving to Denver is an adventure filled with sunshine, outdoor fun, and micro-breweries. The only thing left to do is unpack and throw yourself a housewarming party.

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