Is Seattle a better city to live in than Denver?
The Seahawks won the big game, but would they beat Denver in a competition for best city? These two great cities are places where people live, work, attend school, and play. What if we take a look at the things that affect us every day, rather than a football game? How would the two cities compare then?
Well, we did take a look. We started thinking about whether Seattle or Denver would be the best place to own investment property, like a rental property or second home.
Both cities are known for their epic outdoor scenery and active lifestyles while maintaining the benefits of urban living. And they seem to be pretty similar--their populations are 634,264 (Denver) and 634,535 (Seattle), they both came out of economic depressions when gold was discovered, and both are in states that have legalized recreational marijuana sales (which has been a pretty hot topic lately).
But there are some differences.
So we looked at real estate and schools, and we also took a more light-hearted approach and researched skiing, biking, beer, and dogs. Feel free to question our choice of categories.
FIRST QUARTER: Real Estate and Rental Property
Seattle Gets A Field Goal (3 pts), Denver Gets A Safety (2 pts)
Seattle and Denver are both good places for landlords and real estate investors to make money. So, does Seattle rental property beat out Denver rental property? To find out, we looked at the "Rental Health Index"we created last year. The index uses various governmental data sources to rank the nation's 75 biggest cities as hot spots or sleepers for investment real estate and rental properties.
And the winner?
The Emerald City ranked #27 in the nation and Denver #29. Housing values made the difference. They're increasing faster in Seattle than in Denver, with Seattle ranking 20th in the nation with an appreciation rate of 5.7% compared to The Mile-High City's more sluggish 3.4 percent appreciation, placing it at #56.
The great news for both cities is that Denver and Seattle are among the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the nation. The RHI indicates Denver's job market grew 2.64 percent from July 2012 to July 2013, while Seattle's job market grew slightly more, up 2.93 percent during the study period.
SECOND QUARTER: Recreation
Seattle & Denver Each Get a Touchdown (6 pts each), But Seattle Gets an Extra Point
Seattle and Denver both offer fantastic recreational opportunities if you are active and love the outdoors. Does one have an advantage over the other? It depends on what you are looking for. When it comes to the overall city for outdoor lovers, Seattle outranks Denver. Seattle's waterfront location on the Puget Sound provides ample water-based recreation, such as kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing, and even scuba diving. And Seattle is known for being very bike friendly. The Burke-Gilman trail, ample bike lanes, and ability to ride year round landed it at #10 best bike city in a recent survey, beating out Denver at #14.
If you're looking to travel outside the city, nearby mountains in both Seattle and Denver offer great snow sports. Although Seattle is located near the North Cascade Mountains, and is close to Snoqualmie Summit, Denver offers more and better skiing. In a comparison of large cities with the most ski resorts within four hours, Denver squeezed out Seattle for the best skiing, snowboarding, and mountaineering, taking the #1 spot over Seattle's #2. Finally, if you're a mountain biker, epic trails are within a couple of hours of both cities.
THIRD QUARTER: Lifestyle
Seattle & Denver each get a touchdown (6 pts each) and a field goal (3 pts each).
Beer is good. At least, that's what the populations of Denver and Seattle seem to think. Both cities produce an impressive assortment of craft beers and microbrews. Denver is also known for it's location near bigger brewers, such as Coors Beer, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your status as a beer snob and your politics.
In Travel & Leisure's America's Favorite Cities survey, Denver ranked #2 for the Best Beer City. Although there are only a few breweries in the city of Denver, there's an impressive number outside the city, so we'll cut Denver some slack and give them points for having lots of good beer nearby. Plus Denver hosts the Great American Beer Festival every year, and it's the largest beer festival in the nation, which is impressive. Seattle, coming in at #4 in the survey, boasts several local breweries, including Maritime Pacific Brewing in Ballard, Pyramid, and Fremont Brewing. However, in CNN's list of the8 Best Beer Towns, Denver ranked #5, and poor Seattle didn't even make the list.
Score: Denver gets a touchdown, Seattle gets a field goal
Seattle Loves Dogs More Than Denver.
Well, at least according to Estately, which ranked the top 17 dog cities. According to Estately, when looking at factors such as weather,?Walk Score, doggie-activities, size of yards, dog-focused Meet-Up groups, and number of dog sitters, Seattle ranks #3, with Denver lagging behind at #16.
How did Seattle beat out Denver?(or send Denver to the dogs? sorry, I couldn't resist) Seattle boasts 14 dog parks, five more than Denver's 9. And further tipping the scales in favor of Seattle is that the city allows dogs on buses, ferries, and light rail, and there are 32 Meet Up groups for dog lovers. Apparently Denver's so-called "300 days of sunshine" weren't enough to boost it past Seattle, at least according to Estately.
FOURTH QUARTER: Education
Denver & Seattle Each Get a Field Goal (3 pts each)
And what about public education? Seattle beats Denver on test scores, according to??Greatschools.org, which reports that Denver scores 5 out of 10 points, while Seattle scores 6 out of 10. However, Seattle beats Denver in graduation rates. Seattle public high school graduation rate was 73%, in 2012,Denver's was 58.8 percent.However, these rank close to one another so each receives a field goal.
GAME OVER. Final Score?
Seattle: 22 Denver: 20
All Property Management is Seattle based company. Perhaps I should have mentioned that at the outset, and I lived in the city for ten years?
On the flip side, I left Seattle because the weather really did bum me out! And Denver is one of my favorite cities! I've been there a few times on my way to Fruita and Moab to ride my mountain bike, and I have to say, Denver has a great feel. Downtown Denver has great pedestrian areas and fantastic food. If I had to pick a city to live in again, or to buy a second home in, I'm pretty sure it would be Denver.
The fact is that both Seattle and Denver each have great sports teams and enthusiastic fans, amazing recreational activities, and they each present considerable lifestyle and investment opportunities.
A NOTE: So, I realize I could have picked other categories to review - what would you have picked?
- HOME / CONDO
- Single Home or Condo (Valued up to $300K)
- Single Home or Condo ($300K to $500K)
- Single Home or Condo ($500K to $1 Million)
- Single Home or Condo (Over $1 Million)
- Multi-Family (2-4 units)
- Multi-Family (5-19 units)
- Multi-Family (20-99 units)
- Multi-Family (100+ units)
- Homeowners Association (2-49 units)
- Homeowners Association (50-99 units)
- Homeowners Association (100+ units)
- Condominium Association (2-49 units)
- Condominium Association (50-99 units)
- Condominium Association (100+ units)
- Retail (Up to 9,999 sqft)
- Retail (10,000 - 100,000 sqft)
- Retail (100,000+ sqft)
- Office (Up to 9,999 sqft)
- Office (10,000 - 100,000 sqft)
- Office (100,000+ sqft)
- Warehouse/Distribution (Up to 100,000 sqft)
- Warehouse/Distribution (100,000+ sqft)
- Light Manufacturing (Up to 100,000 sqft)
- Light Manufacturing (100,000+ sqft)
- Parking Garage
- Vacation (1-2 units)
- Vacation (3+ units)
- Other Associations (Hotel, Resort etc.)
- Mobile Home Community