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Denver Area Traffic and Commute Times, General Moving Advice

DarlanDarlan Registered User regular
edited February 2013 in Help / Advice Forum
I've suddenly been offered a job in the Denver Tech Center area and am really keen on moving out of Iowa to the Denver area. However, I would have to start on the 17th, and I still have to finish out my current job working all next week, so the time I have to get out there is really short. I could possibly get a small extension, but I'm not too keen on starting out by being a nuisance. That said, I have a relative in the Brighton area who would be happy to put me up for a while as I look for a closer place to stay, but I'm worried about the drive.

Google maps estimates the drive as about 40 minutes in current (Saturday afternoon) traffic, but does anyone familiar with the area have an estimate about what my drive times would be during the actual morning and evening rush hours?

Any advice on decent but relatively affordable areas to stay? I'm a young person who would be making above 40k/under 50k before taxes with no one to split the rent with at the time, aside from the previously mentioned breathing room with the relative up in Brighton, so price is a major concern. Is this workable in the area? Other advice on things to do and look for in the Denver Area?

Thanks for any input!

Darlan on

Posts

  • DeadfallDeadfall I don't think you realize just how rich he is. In fact, I should put on a monocle.Registered User regular
    Brighton is pretty far north of the DTC, and you'd probably be going down I-25 for your commute, which is just awful during rush hour. I would move further south as soon as you can. You'll probably have at least an hour commute.

    We used to rent an apartment down near the DTC. A one bedroom, basic apartment will run you around 800/month around there. At least mine was when I lived there. The DTC is a pretty hot area for young folks to work and live, though, especially in the last few years, so finding a decent place might be tricky. Further south than that is the Parker area, which is kinda upscale but not too pricey if I recall correctly.

    Lakewood is pretty decent and not too expensive, and I'm in Arvada which is a nice place and also not too expensive. Our last apartment was about 850/month here. Any of the half dozen metro cities further south than Brighton would be pretty good I think. But yeah, you're gonna get tired of that commute pretty quick.

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  • zepherinzepherin Russian warship, go fuck yourself Registered User regular
    Also keep in mind that DTC is nowhere near Denver. Places reaonably priced near dtc are littleton, centenial, or englewood. Aurora and arvada are close too, but you don't want to live there. Apartments near dtc are ok priced, but you could rent a bigger apt or a small house in littleton. Traffic isn't too bad if you avoid i70 or i25 in the morning, but brighton is in bumblefuck so expect an hour to hour 20 commute.

  • DeadfallDeadfall I don't think you realize just how rich he is. In fact, I should put on a monocle.Registered User regular
    Yeah I forgot about Littleton. That'd probably be your best bet for decent apartments at a good price.

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  • DarlanDarlan Registered User regular
    edited February 2013
    A little over and hour sounds bad, but doable for a little while; I was worried it would be even longer. Would it be best to take a mileage hit and swing around on I-470?

    Thanks for the advice, it sounds like being a little south of Denver proper is the way to go for apartments.

    Any tips on fun stuff in the area?

    Darlan on
  • DeadfallDeadfall I don't think you realize just how rich he is. In fact, I should put on a monocle.Registered User regular
    In the snow it will probably be well over an hour.

    Fun stuff, I mean, what do you like? We have pretty much the best beer in the country if you like that and the largest beer fest in the world comes here every year. There are about a thousand places to hike. Rafting, kayaking. I'm not big into theme parks but Elitch's is pretty good I think.

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  • DarlanDarlan Registered User regular
    Oh, nothing specific, just curious about any highlights people would like to point out, especially restaurants and cultural stuff like interesting book stores and the like.

  • firewaterwordfirewaterword Satchitananda Pais Vasco to San FranciscoRegistered User regular
    I have family in Louisville and it's a wonderful place. Not sure how pricey it is but from what I've seen it doesn't look like it would be too bad; this comes from a guy in the SF bay area so my perspective is proper screwy, mind. On the downside, my brother has a commute from hell from the sound of it, though not sure where too.

    I've spent some time in Westminster as well and that area seemed nice enough.

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  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    Another vote for Centennial. There are quite a few condo/apartment communities pretty close to I-25 that should be in your price range (newer places are going to be more expensive, older communities are cheaper). I personally live near I-25 and Drycreek, so I may be a bit biased, but it's a pretty nice area (at least it hasn't made national news like Aurora has in the past year).
    Darlan wrote: »
    A little over and hour sounds bad, but doable for a little while; I was worried it would be even longer. Would it be best to take a mileage hit and swing around on I-470?
    Thanks for the advice, it sounds like being a little south of Denver proper is the way to go for apartments.
    Any tips on fun stuff in the area?
    In regards to 470, it moves faster, generally has a lot less traffic, but it is a toll road. So, you'll probably save time and get better mileage using it but it's gonna cost you.
    I think that may have been generous by estimating a little under an hour, depending on where in the DTC you're job is. Most of the mapping directions put your commute on I-25 through the middle of downtown Denver. On a good morning, I-25 can move along pretty well (30-40 MPH), but one accident in the wrong place at the wrong time and it turns into a parking lot.

    The DTC is pretty spread out and "DTC area" even more so. Generally it starts at around I-225 and I-25 and follows 25 south till about Lincoln.

  • DarlanDarlan Registered User regular
    This is all good stuff, thank you guys.

  • 2and2is52and2is5 Registered User regular
    I did the commute from Boulder to Centennial for about two months when I first started my job. Loved Boulder but that drive every day was just a nightmare, two hours round trip at least. It can work if you leave between 6 and 630 AM in the morning and no later than 4 PM at night, but even then you will get caught some days. Be prepared for the occasional two hour commute in the evening...

    I don't know much about the DTC, but I am living in Capitol Hill now. It's a more central location so you will still have a bit of a drive to the DTC, but there are lots of young people around and there is plenty of stuff to do in the area. You might want to check out the Washington Park neighborhood and the area around DU, as well.

  • YoSoyTheWalrusYoSoyTheWalrus Registered User regular
    It depends on what your priorities are. If you don't care about going out or making friends then Littleton or Centennial will work well. Otherwise you are going to want to look at Capitol Hill, the Highlands (NOT Highlands Ranch), Wash Park, Park Hill, the DU area, Cherry Creek, or Congress Park. When I first moved here my girlfriend lived right around the I25/I225 intersection and it was awful. All the young (under 30) people are in the neighborhoods I listed and they go out in downtown and LoDo (19th and Market St or so). You can take the light rail from farther away, but it's a hassle and if you live in somewhere like the Highlands or Cap Hill you can walk downtown. You should be able to find a place for about $700/mo in any of those neighborhoods.
    Also while you're in Brighton you might consider jogging over to I225 via I70, the traffic's a little lighter than I25.

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  • milehighmilehigh Registered User regular
    I live and work in the DTC (I-25 and Belleview - Greenwood Village). I actually have a 10 minute walk or drive to work (the drive is equal to the walk due to parking garages)

    I used to live in Centennial when I worked off I-25 and Dry Creek, if you look between Dry Creek and Arapahoe road there's a ton of reasonably priced apartments, or decent rooms for rent. It's a really great, central location if you don't need to be in the middle of the city. Easy access to pretty much everything, low crime, etc. If you do want to be near the heart of the city, then the areas listed above (Cap Hill, Wash Park, DU or downtown) are all valid options, but I'm not very familiar with prices there these days.

    Living in the tech center isn't bad. I'm a 5 minute drive/20 minute walk from the train and downtown is a 20 minute train ride away. The area itself isn't completely vacant either, the DTC and the immediate area (Park Meadows etc) has its share of nice restaurants and smaller venues (comedy club/movie theaters/bars etc). With all the business here there are some ridiculous happy hours. That does mean there's a lot of businesses around though, ergo there isn't much diversity in the area, you will see obscene amounts of yuppies and old businessmen/women and not a whole lot more (I say that as a certified yuppie). Further north is definitely more exciting.

    In any case, I would highly recommend against driving long distances on the highway during rush hour. It makes for a miserable existence. I-25 is just not capable of handling the volume of traffic that goes through it, it shows at all hours, but during peak hours it will make you hate life. I agree with the person above, I-225 is generally a bit better, but either can completely collapse into a 3 MPH stop and go experiences on any given day. With that said, if you get a place along the light rail line (either up north or south) then the commute becomes much more tolerable. I go to school downtown 4 days a week and the lightrail makes that whole experience pretty painless. Its also an awesome avenue to the nightlife that's around if you do move further south.

    Avoid Aurora, Parker and Castle Rock... They're all super cheap and would have a moderate commute, but they're also godawful boring sprawl, have nothing going on in them also no easy access to the train.

  • ToddJewellToddJewell Registered User regular
    I live in Broomfield [Hwy7 and 25] and work downtown [Lincoln/11th], while our other office is at I25/225. Don't live north :)

    I leave my house around 605 every morning and generally get to work around 7 give or take 15 minutes [downtown office]. It would probably take me another 20-30 minutes at least to get to our DTC office.

  • DarlanDarlan Registered User regular
    edited April 2013
    Thanks for all of your advice. I've actually just received notice that I'm to be in Des Moines for another month or so, working on support for a program I've never worked on in any meaningful sense, or claimed to have worked on in any meaningful sense, and instead of the usual few weeks of training I've received an e-mail with things to fix a few days before my start date. Without, you know, access to the program.

    So yeah, I might not be taking the job after all. I'd tell them to get bent right now, but I don't have a backup offer at the moment, so I'm going to talk with some supervisors and see what the hell is going on here. Not a super inspiring start.

    Darlan on
  • DarlanDarlan Registered User regular
    Things have improved and I've decided I'm making the jump,--turns out all of the confusion was that the person badgering me for updates was also new and didn't really know that I hadn't started yet, only that my name was attached to the project. The commute will probably be pretty terrible, but I'm looking forward to some change and am hopeful I can find a closer place quickly.

  • Casually HardcoreCasually Hardcore Once an Asshole. Trying to be better. Registered User regular
    Man, don't let the haters hate on Aurora. Aurora is only bad if you're afraid of brown people who speaks a different language. The living costs in Aurora is a steal compared to living in places like Cherry Creek. Just avoid living in Saudi Auroria (the middle of fucking nowhere Aurora) and you'll be fine.

    Though, unless you live near your work, the commutes are gonna suck no matter where you live.

  • DarlanDarlan Registered User regular
    edited April 2013
    At this point I'm really liking the idea of being closer to downtown (but not stuck in a 350sq ft studio that *is* downtown), but I'm keeping my mind open and taking a look at apartment quality/price ratios when I get down there is first and foremost.
    Also while you're in Brighton you might consider jogging over to I225 via I70, the traffic's a little lighter than I25.
    Yeah, that does sound better...I'm starting to eye a possible alternate route of taking Tower Road down to I70 to 225 that way instead, does anyone happen to know what the speed limit/traffic is like on Tower Road?

    Darlan on
  • Casually HardcoreCasually Hardcore Once an Asshole. Trying to be better. Registered User regular
    Tower is 50MPH with a number of stoplights.

  • BenditBendit Cømþü†€r Šýš†emš Anålýš† Ðeñv€r¸ ColørådøRegistered User regular
    edited April 2013
    Wait, wait, wait. Nobody has mentioned the EXPRESS LANES. I live in Arvada (80003), I carpool downtown and use the express lane on I36. I can be downtown in less than 20 mins.

    RTD is the bus company here. Buses go in express lanes, but you have to pay "express fare". You can park at the "park-n-ride" parking lots and leave your car there all day for free, just hop on an express bus... The problem is that the express lanes stops south of downtown and pickup again further south. But I used to take the bus from Westminster (Sheridan park and ride) to DTC and it wasn't bad at all!

    If you have a carpool buddy, it changes the rules a little.

    EDIT: ToddJewell, Lincoln/11th eh? I work at 16th and Logan. You like working downtown?

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  • DarlanDarlan Registered User regular
    edited April 2013
    I'll be moving on over this weekend! Looking at affordable apartments closer to the downtown area, how is the City Park neighborhood?

    Edit: Dang, just noticed that the place I was looking at is income-controlled.

    Edit: No worries Heir.

    Darlan on
  • HeirHeir Ausitn, TXRegistered User regular
    Kind of a hijack, hope you don't mind Darlan, but very related.

    I'm flying up to Boulder next week for a 4th interview with a company there. I'm pretty confident I'll be getting an offer.

    I've got family in Lakewood and in Longmont and am fairly familiar with the area.

    Anyways, trying to figure out an ideal area to live. I love Longmont, and will probably look there first for places to live. However, I'm engaged, and my soon-to-be-wife would need to find a new job up there as well...and it sure seems a lot of jobs for what she does (ecommerce marketing) are downtown-ish. That'd be quite the drive from Longmont.

    Any ideas where a good area would be to live that would be somewhat between Boulder and downtown Denver?

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  • AresProphetAresProphet Registered User regular
    Heir wrote: »
    Kind of a hijack, hope you don't mind Darlan, but very related.

    I'm flying up to Boulder next week for a 4th interview with a company there. I'm pretty confident I'll be getting an offer.

    I've got family in Lakewood and in Longmont and am fairly familiar with the area.

    Anyways, trying to figure out an ideal area to live. I love Longmont, and will probably look there first for places to live. However, I'm engaged, and my soon-to-be-wife would need to find a new job up there as well...and it sure seems a lot of jobs for what she does (ecommerce marketing) are downtown-ish. That'd be quite the drive from Longmont.

    Any ideas where a good area would be to live that would be somewhat between Boulder and downtown Denver?

    Broomfield is super popular, as is Lafayette. Those would be your obvious choices, with some drawbacks: you're both going to have pretty bad commutes on 36 at both points in the day.

    Broomfield has a little more going on, Lafayette is more rural-ish and is closer to Longmont. Louisville is closer to Boulder and it ranked as CNNMoney's best place in the country to live last year, which I guess is something.

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  • HeirHeir Ausitn, TXRegistered User regular
    How's the Westminster area?

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  • Casually HardcoreCasually Hardcore Once an Asshole. Trying to be better. Registered User regular
    There's also Golden if you enjoy foothill living. Expensive as all hell though, and not much of a city life outside of bars and a bowling alley. But if outdoor adventure your thing, it's a great place to be.

  • AresProphetAresProphet Registered User regular
    Heir wrote: »
    How's the Westminster area?

    Dull. Renting an apartment in Westminster currently and its neither terribly expensive nor terribly interesting.

    With that said Westminster is kinda huge. Big difference between being at 92nd and 36 or 144th and I25, as far as commute goes.

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  • BenditBendit Cømþü†€r Šýš†emš Anålýš† Ðeñv€r¸ ColørådøRegistered User regular
    edited April 2013
    Heir, check out Westminster and Arvada. I live in Arvada, as I said previously. I can go downtown in various ways since Arvada is between the turnpike(I36), is west of I25 and north of I70. All those 3 major highways will take you downtown in different ways. I36 has the carpool lane (2+ in a car) which is really fast. On the border of Westminster and Arvada (kinda), you have the Sheridan blvd Park and Ride. You can park your car there for free and take an express bus straight to downtown (in less than 20 mins!). I have been working downtown Denver since 2001 and I love how "central" Arvada is (with the lower rent and real-estate prices).

    EDIT: you can park you car for free, but the bus ride costs.

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  • YoSoyTheWalrusYoSoyTheWalrus Registered User regular
    @Heir The towns in between Boulder and Denver are fairly cost effective and generally pretty new and thus still nice. But there's not much around there besides malls as far as I know. If you are at all interested in any sort of night life then you are going to want to pick either Boulder or Denver. Denver will be more affordable than Boulder, generally, and the towns in between will be more affordable than both. The drive between Longmont and Denver is not fun but it is doable. I live SE of downtown Denver and it takes about an hour (a little less on good days) to get to Longmont at rush hour. IMO 36 is the worst. As someone who loathes traffic, I'd try to find somewhere in or very near Boulder.

    @Darlan hope the move went well. City Park is generally pretty nice. I'd say keep looking around there, Capitol Hill, the Highlands, Congress Park, Washington Park, uptown, maybe even Cherry Creek (tends to be pricier but there are good deals floating around)

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  • ToddJewellToddJewell Registered User regular
    @bendit -- it's ok ... I would much rather be working up closer to my house though :)

    This week with the snow I worked from home Mon-Weds, so that makes it a lot easier. The drive down to DTC for meetings [we have two offices] on Friday sucked.

  • DeadfallDeadfall I don't think you realize just how rich he is. In fact, I should put on a monocle.Registered User regular
    Olde Town Arvada can be fun. Not like a crazy night life or anything but several good bars and we just got a brewery last year.

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  • DarlanDarlan Registered User regular
    Hi guys, just as an update for those who are curious I've at last moved into my own apartment in Denver-after a ton of looking I found I just could not get a decent apartment at a decent price in the downtown area proper-I came close once, but their parking was full-up and when I asked if I could get on a waiting list, they said they didn't have one, and when I asked if they could check and see if someone using one of the spaces was due to move out soon, they said they couldn't be bothered to check.

    I've found a place a little more south of town, but still in Denver and close to a light rail and a book store/comic store/game store/grocery, and not such a far drive from downtown, so I'm pretty satisfied. Maybe I'll move in closer next year when I'm not so pressured to find a place to stop the commute from hell from Brighton, but we'll see. Anyways, thanks a ton for all of the advice!

  • MugaazMugaaz Registered User regular
    Whats the cheapest place to look for apartments in the greater Denver area, preferably not on the outskirts or unsafe?

  • JohnnyCacheJohnnyCache Starting Defense Place at the tableRegistered User regular
    Denver is all outskirts bro

  • YoSoyTheWalrusYoSoyTheWalrus Registered User regular
    Capital Hill, Park Hill, Five Points, Washington Park, Highlands

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  • DarlanDarlan Registered User regular
    Yeah, I may be new to the area but "it's all outskirts" is flat out incorrect. Denver is hardly some kind of small town interstate rest stop.

  • Casually HardcoreCasually Hardcore Once an Asshole. Trying to be better. Registered User regular
    Well, if your definition of safe is 'away from poor folks', then that's probably gonna be Cherry Creek.

  • YoSoyTheWalrusYoSoyTheWalrus Registered User regular
    Should mention: I don't consider anywhere in this city to be unsafe, but some people are uncomfortable in Five Points, and certain parts of Cap Hill have a fairly large amount of (generally harmless) hobos. Nowhere to go that's "away from poor folks," since the whole city is overrun with 11,000 homeless people and I am currently a poor folk living in Cherry Creek.

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  • AresProphetAresProphet Registered User regular
    Should mention: I don't consider anywhere in this city to be unsafe, but some people are uncomfortable in Five Points, and certain parts of Cap Hill have a fairly large amount of (generally harmless) hobos. Nowhere to go that's "away from poor folks," since the whole city is overrun with 11,000 homeless people and I am currently a poor folk living in Cherry Creek.

    I just moved to the River North area and it's a fun neighborhood. Not cheap, but you can find a deal up here if you're diligent. It's still in the throes of gentrification but there is some cool stuff, and downtown is nearby for all your other needs. Someone told me that 5280 magazine called RiNo the top neighborhood in Denver right now? I dunno if that counts for anything, but I love this area so far. It's essentially the old warehouse district of Five Points so it's more abandoned than run-down, and on every block you'll see some kind of tech startup, a new restaurant or coffeehouse, and a nascent microbrewery (or distillery, or urban winery). I dunno if I'd raise a family here, but as a single dude in his late twenties I'm already enjoying it.

    I also was looking just southwest of Wash Park, near Pearl Street. Bunch of cool stuff there. And there is the Highlands of course, which looked outrageously expensive and not all that interesting (but I guess I wasn't looking in the right places). Cherry Creek is, well, Cherry Creek. Cap Hill is a pretty diverse area, as far as I can tell. In general the closer you get to Colfax the shadier things get, but some neighborhoods near Cheesman Park seemed really neat. Most of the really cheap apartments nearest Denver are in Aurora. Aurora is massive. Parts of Aurora are less safe than the worst parts of Denver, but most of it is the beginnings of the massive urban sprawl that is the Denver Metro Area.

    If you want to be within walking distance of the heart of downtown (ballpark, 16th st mall, LoDo) you're going to pay a hefty premium on rent.

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  • GahmriousGahmrious Registered User regular
    Deadfall wrote: »
    Olde Town Arvada can be fun. Not like a crazy night life or anything but several good bars and we just got a brewery last year.
    Just wanted to resurrect and chime in here to say thanks, and this thread is pretty damn awesome for a soon to be transplant to Denver. The nice words about Arvada are reassuring since I'll likely be moving up there from Co Springs in April of '14.

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