My family and I have lived in Denver now for a little over two years. In October of 2018, we packed up our small, Upper West Side, one-bedroom apartment and headed West. We hoped to find more space to grow our family and my husband had been offered a job opportunity in Denver.
It was hard for me to leave NYC after 18 years, and I miss it all the time, but now I know it was a good decision. There are things Denver has that NYC simply does not, and we made some decisions that really helped us transition.
Note: I began writing this post in January of 2020, but soon after put it on hold. I have since updated it with new information, more places we have visited in Colorado, and a new perspective since the pandemic. I can’t imagine what it was like for all the residents of NYC during 2020. My heart is broken for all the lives lost, businesses closed, and people struggling to work and live in our new normal. I can’t wait until the day that it feels safe and easy to travel and I can go back and visit the city I love so much. One of my first plans after I get the vaccine will be to buy Broadway tickets!
I thought when I moved anywhere else I would be bored, but the truth is my day-to-day quality of life is so much better and we moved to a wonderful place with its own excitement. NYC is full of great things to see and do, but not having a car makes it difficult to get out and enjoy the outdoors.
The Rocky Mountains are spectacular. They offer a much different view than the sparkling city lights, and they are simply magnificent. I’m not even that outdoorsy (I own stickers that say “I love NOT camping”), but even the simplest of hikes at Red Rocks, Garden of the Gods, Lookout Mountain, and Estes Park make me feel like I’ve gone on an epic adventure.
A crisp autumn day in Central Park is the best (and probably my favorite place in the whole world), but the bitter cold, gray winters and the sweltering muggy summers are the worst. The weather in Colorado is hard to imagine until you’ve experienced it. It is sunny most of the time. The air is dry and comfortable all year. I do need to use a lot more lip balm, but the winter never feels as chilled because there is no damp air. The summer also never feels as hot, because the humidity is so low you hardly sweat. On the flip side, there were some surprises to the weather here including HAIL! Colorado gets more hail than any other state and it can be the size of golf balls. The weather is often described as a rollercoaster because you can go from a sunny high of 70 one day to a snowy high of 30 the next day. This can happen in October or in May! It is a running joke that in Colorado you can ski in the morning and golf in the afternoon. Even so, most of the time the weather is just so nice and the air is so fresh.
I think the biggest difference though is space. Space to live, space to play, even space in between the aisles at the grocery store! My Upper West Side apartment was 600 square feet. My home in Denver is over 2,000. My kids have their own room, we have a guest room, storage spaces, and a laundry room, my husband and I don’t fight over closet space, and we can have a regular-sized Christmas tree. There is space to dump out a carton of Lego, there is space to bake 200 cookies, and space to have a dance party in the kitchen. When you step outside, there is space to run and ride bikes without fear of being hit by a taxi or rogue delivery man on a bike. And if you go to one of the amazing nearby state or national parks you can really lose yourself in the space around you. So. much. space.
There is also space to drive! The traffic in NYC is no fun, but I grew up in the Washington D.C. area and I can tell you they have the worst traffic in the country for sure. If you have never experienced 66 or 495 at rush hour you are a very lucky person.
Locals complain about the traffic here because so many people have moved to Colorado over a short period of time, but it is a walk in the park compared to the traffic I’ve lived with in NYC and DC.
It’s true, so many people have moved to Colorado recently. Locals complain about it and sometimes I stop myself from talking about moving here because you can get a bit of backlash. Families that have lived here for generations are not happy about the smog, inflated real estate prices, and much more crowded parks. However, as a whole, people who live here are incredibly nice. People say hello as you pass them on the street, store clerks are friendly and chatty, and cars stop to let you cross the street even when they have the right-of-way.
One thing that will never be the same is the food. Not only did we have the most amazing food in NYC, but the options were endless and everywhere delivered until the wee hours of the morning. Now I complain about pizza every time I try some (although, I am a big fan of Rosenburg’s!), I miss my favorite restaurants like they are long-lost friends (Levain Bakery, Jacob’s Pickles, P.J Clarkes, just to name a few), and I never get food delivered. However, I save a lot of money, I’ve learned to do more cooking and eat healthier, and I love, love, love Costco. There are also some great restaurants I have come to love in Denver, including Little Man Ice Cream, Denver Biscuit Company, Sushi Den, Snooze, and Los Chingones.
This may seem like an odd point, but I cannot believe how many pools there are in Denver! We didn’t get to enjoy them this summer, due to COVID, but last year we went all the time. It’s not just my neighborhood outdoor pools, but also the rec centers are fantastic. In the super hot, muggy days of July in NYC I would feel like waiting for the subway was like going to the grossest spa imaginable. Stepping outside was like walking into a wall of heat and everything smelled like urine. I would spend hours online trying to find a nice pool that wasn’t insanely expensive or hours away. In Denver, I can walk to my rec center and enjoy a huge water-park style pool that is open year round and never smells disgusting. And it’s only $3 for a day pass and only $300 for yearly membership for a couple!
When we first considered moving, my husband’s job made him a really great offer and we knew we wanted a second child and needed more space. Still, making the decision to move was hard. I had never even visited Denver and all of my family lived along the East Coast. We decided we would try it and knew we could always move again. Some things that helped initially were already having trips planned to come back to visit and getting excited about a whole new home and new place. We planned lots of outings to get to know Colorado and see why so many people love living here. I still miss NYC all the time, but I love my new home.
If you are thinking about leaving NYC I highly recommend this book, Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York.
Things you will not miss about NYC:
1. Rats (prairie dogs are a million times cuter).
3. The constant sound of sirens, cars honking, and people yelling.
4. The real possibility that someone could pee on you in Herald Square (this happened to me).
5. The real possibility that someone could spit on you on the subway (this happened to a friend of mine).
Before COVID, we were out and about and had a lot of fun—we were members at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, which has a great dinosaur exhibit and children’s play area, and we love going to the Hammonds Candy Factory, Denver Zoo, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Butterfly Pavilion, the Denver Botanic Gardens, Stanley Market Place, and of course all the outdoor places I mentioned.
When we moved here I was newly pregnant and then I had a newborn, so I haven’t been able to do any skiing or too much travel throughout the mountains, but I am looking forward to it! I have been fortunate to have friends come visit and do some exploring with me. My friend, Jennie, adventured with us just before the pandemic to Breckenridge and to see the Ice Castles in Dillon.
It has been such a blessing to have so many amazing parks to visit and feel safe with my family during the pandemic. In 2020, in spring through fall we took day trips to Mt Falcon, Brainard Lake, Lookout Mountain, Roxborough Park (great with kids!), Paint Mines Interpretive Park, Kenosha Pass, Aspen, Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, and Evergreen Lakehouse.
Things you need to survive in Colorado:
2. Lip balm and moisturizer
3. Sun Screen
4. Travel water bottle
5. Snow boots
Something that really surprised me from my very first visit to Denver, and continues to surprise me, is how easily you can see the mountains. I can see them from my balcony and from my driveway. I can see them when I drive to the grocery store and as my kids’ play at the playground. I often look out the window of my car and think, it’s like a green screen! It is just so beautiful seeing how the clouds, sunlight, and snow change the way they look all the time and it is always amazing.
One thing that has been tricky for me is moving my business. It takes time to build up internet recognition, referrals, and a reputation in a whole new city. I still love traveling back east for weddings when I can, but I plan to continue to grow my business in Colorado. If you know of anyone getting married, please reach out. I’d love to hear from you!
Or please comment below and tell me some of your favorite things to do or hidden gems in Colorado. We are always looking for great recommendations.
Check out a few more fun photos of our adventures from my iPhone:
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