Consistently featured in “best cities” lists of all stripes, Denver is a hot spot for young professionals. In addition to being the commercial hub for the mountain states, it has a thriving cultural scene, four major sports teams, and a plethora of activities for those who like to get outside. According to the Denver Post, the city has grown from a population of 560,000 in 2005 to over 700,000 today. And over 3 million people call the metro area home.
If you’re considering investing in rental property in Denver, here are the top neighborhoods with young professionals searching for their next home.
1. Capitol Hill
- Median home price: $350,000
- Median price per square foot: $413
- Rental vacancy rate: 6.9%
- Distance to city center: 1.4 miles
- Access to public transportation: RTD Rail E, F, G & H Lines, RTD Bus
- Median rental income: $1,450/month
Just southeast of downtown Denver is Capitol Hill, creatively named for its main attraction, the Denver State Capitol. In addition to the Governor’s Mansion, this neighborhood features an eclectic mix of commercial and residential developments.
Young professionals are attracted to Capitol Hill’s trendy vibe and accessible location. Downtown is just 20 minutes away by public transit and even less by car, depending on the time of day. After work, residents can visit one of the neighborhood’s dozens of restaurants on their way home. For nights and weekends, there are plenty of entertainment options, including bars, restaurants, galleries, and museums.
As an investor, you’ll like Capitol Hill for the variety of affordable options available. You’ll find everything here, from single-family homes to condos, walk-ups, and even mid-rise apartment buildings. The neighborhood’s location also makes it ideal for short-term rentals, but be aware of Denver’s strict licensing rules that require your property to be licensed as a lodging facility (i.e., hotel) if it’s not your primary residence.
2. Five Points
- Median home price: $619,000
- Median price per square foot: $493
- Rental vacancy rate: 10.7%
- Distance to city center: 1.3 miles
- Access to public transportation: RTD Rail L Line, RTD Bus
- Median rental income: $2,099/month
A large district just northwest of Downtown Denver, Five Points is known for its multiculturalism, energetic vibe, and the impossibly trendy River North (“RiNo”) Art District.
Young professionals are attracted to Five Points’ proximity to downtown and its rugged, yet gentrified, post-industrial flair. Old warehouses have been repurposed as brewpubs, lofts, and theaters. And the historic Denver Central Market is good for grocery shopping and photo ops.
As an investor, you may find Five Points interesting for the opportunity to take part in the neighborhood’s transformation by repurposing or redeveloping an underused property. If that idea sounds too daunting, you’ll also find a variety of homes and small apartment buildings that make for a more traditional investment.
- Median home price: $799,500
- Median price per square foot: $531
- Rental vacancy rate: 13.1%
- Distance to city center: 1.8 miles
- Access to public transportation: RTD Bus
- Median rental income: $1,955/month
This residential neighborhood is separated from Downtown Denver by the South Platte River and I-25. With views of downtown, Highland mixes an urban feel with schools, parks, and trails.
For young professionals, Highland offers the best of both worlds. The neighborhood is anything but suburban, featuring some great restaurants, lots of shopping, and plenty of mid-rise buildings. But at the same time, it’s separated from downtown, has many single-family homes, and a few dozen public schools. In other words, anyone who wants to start a family but refuses to buy a minivan will find their home in Highland.
You will like Highland for its strong property values and appeal to renters. According to Zumper, just over half of the neighborhood’s residents rent their homes. And according to Realtor.com, the median listing price hasn’t fallen below $600,000 in the past three years.
4. Lower Downtown (“LoDo”)
- Median home price: $765,000
- Median price per square foot: $617
- Rental vacancy rate: 10.7%
- Distance to city center: You’re There
- Access to public transportation: RTD Rail A, B, C, E, G, N, W Lines via Union Station
- Median rental income: $2,509/month
Lower Downtown, aka LoDo, is Denver’s vibrant city center. In the summer, you can head to Coors Field to catch a Colorado Rockies game, and in winter, you can go to Ball Arena to cheer on the Denver Nuggets or the Stanley Cup-winning Colorado Avalanche. If you’re not into sports, you might enjoy one of the neighborhood’s 20+ galleries or 100+ restaurants and clubs.
For young professionals in Denver, nothing beats the ability to live and work in the center of the action. LoDo is coveted for its highly walkable streets, excellent access to public transit, and the sheer number of things to do. When some peace and quiet is needed, a quick walk over to Commons Park is all one needs to clear their mind.
As a real estate investor, you’ll like LoDo’s low-maintenance investment opportunities. Most of the homes in the area are condominiums, meaning a great deal of the maintenance is taken care of for you. Despite the neighborhood’s high demand, a handful of investment properties are available for less than $500,000.
5. Washington Park
- Median home price: $1,500,000
- Median price per square foot: $526
- Rental vacancy rate: 6.4%
- Distance to city center: 3.6 miles
- Access to public transportation: RTD Rail E & H Lines, RTD Bus
- Median rental income: $1,800/month
This residential neighborhood is home to tree-lined streets, two-story family homes, and the park: a 165-acre green space with two lakes, flower gardens, tennis courts, mixed-use paths, and many people doing yoga.
Young professionals are drawn to Washington Park for its prestigious name, large, detached houses, and access to everything the park offers. Commuting downtown takes roughly 45 minutes by car or train, but the chore is worth it for the chance to live in this affluent, active community.
Even though most homes in Washington Park are owner-occupied, you may find a rental market here for young professionals who want to live in this area but don’t qualify for a mortgage. While multi-unit properties are harder to come by, a little patience and savvy might be all it takes to find the perfect rental property to meet this demand.
The Bottom Line
Young professionals are flocking to Denver for its healthy economy, overall affordability, and excellent quality of life. If you’re considering a real estate investment to take advantage of this growth, start your property search with Capitol Hill, Five Points, Highland, LoDo, and Washington Park.
Capitol Hill and Five Points are the neighborhoods with the largest population of people aged 25-39. Most homes in these neighborhoods are single-person households, and some 70% are renter-occupied.
Which neighborhoods you want to avoid depends on your investment strategy. If you’re targeting young professionals, Gateway / Green Valley Ranch has the city's highest number of young homeowners, with few renters. Young people make up the smallest percentage of renters in Hilltop and Skyland. And you’ll find the highest overall rental vacancy rate in Southmoor Park.
According to the Denver Post, Auraria Hampden and College View / South Platte have the lowest crime rates in the city. On this list, Highland and Five Points have the lowest crime rates, while Capitol Hill has the highest.