How Many Spare Rooms are There in Denver—and How Do We Use Them?

According to analysis from John Burns Real Estate Consulting, there about 442,000 homes with a spare bedroom, more than half of the roughly 725,000 owner-occupied homes in Denver. Now, not all these spare bedrooms are rental-ready, but there are more of them than you might expect. As part of a much-needed solution for more affordable Denver housing rentals, these spare bedrooms are getting used more frequently. But, arguably, not fast enough. Perhaps even more importantly, What’s more, how they’re getting used may be even more important to the overall effect on the local rental market.

 

Senior and Long-Term Residents

Part of the analysis from John Burns Real Estate Consulting is an estimated 142,000 spare bedrooms are in homes owned by retirees. Many of these retirees are finding greater financial security, while also being able to stay in their homes, by renting out their spare bedroom. Often to someone who’s looking for a cheaper alternative to a one-bedroom apartment. (Spare bedrooms are often about half the price of an apartment.)

While trying to make long-term homeownership more affordable for seniors, the Colorado Homestead Exemption also indirectly incentivizes seniors staying in homes that are larger than necessary. The exemption allows adults over age 65 who have lived in their homes for 10 consecutive years to have their property taxes cut in half. But if they want to downsize and move homes, they lose this exemption. In fact, in some cases, a senior may stay in one of these homes for the tax exemption, even as he or she can no longer access the entire second floor of the home.

In terms of how to best use Denver’s spare bedrooms, this is what we call the low-hanging fruit.

 

AirBnB and Short-Term Rentals

The other big outlet and upswing for using spare bedrooms in the home is Airbnb. Even with new restrictions and regulations, which themselves seem likely to be tweaked in the future, many people are generating supplemental income by turning their spare bedrooms into Airbnb and other short-term rentals. In fact, if you live in a Denver metro area city where only owner-occupied homes are allowed to market short-term rentals, your spare bedroom might fetch more per night than you suppose. Of course, the more spare rooms that are used for short-term rentals, the fewer options for longer-term renters.

Even with the breakneck pace of new apartment construction, we need more approaches to fully address the lack of affordable housing in Denver. Renting out the supply of spare bedrooms has to at least be part of the conversation. Both in terms of increasing the practice, but also incentivizing rental practices that are likely to have the best impact on housing costs.

 

Apartment Construction Accelerates in Denver, as Rest of Nation Slows Down

As reported in the Denver Post, the national supply of new apartment units is expected to drop 11 percent in 2018, which would end a six-year run of accelerating apartment construction. Even so, Denver is poised to buck this national trend. And not just by a little bit, either. What’s different about Denver? The economy, stupid. The primary reason developers cited for the apartment construction slowdown nationally was concerns about increasing interest rates and the economy more generally. Real estate developers and investors think Denver and the Denver housing market in particular is positioned better than most to weather a downturn in economic conditions.

 

What Do the Numbers Say?

According to Rent Café, the Denver market will have added more apartments units in the first 6 months of the year than it did in all of 2017. The city is projected to experience the biggest percentage jump in new apartments in the entire country. RealPage, another apartment rental industry source says, in terms of actual housing units added, Denver is third just behind Dallas and New York City. It’s further projected that “one out of every 23 new apartments added in the country this year will be in metro Denver.”

Crazy stuff. And great news if you’re looking a rental apartment. You’ll likely find more newer apartment buildings and more vacancies than you would in previous years. Of course, given Denver’s incredible population growth, this construction is needed just to start to catch up with a housing shortage that’s been many years in the making.

 

Will the Construction Have an Impact on Prices?

More on this front, the next question becomes will this increase in supply finally be enough to put a check on apartment rentals and housing costs in general? Maybe! Rents continued to rise through the first half of the year, but have largely flattened this fall according to Apartment List’s Denver Rent Report. Whether this is a blip on an otherwise upward trajectory, or signals a longer term trend toward greater affordability is dependent on a number of factors that are above our pay-grade.

 

The Advantages and Drawbacks of Renting a Furnished Apartment in Denver

Moving into a new space requires a lot of consideration. You’ll need to figure out where to live, how many bedrooms you want, and how much you can afford. However, you should also consider the furnishing status of your next apartment. Many buildings in Denver offer furnished accommodations, which might be a great option for Denver transplants and first-time renters.

 

Furnished Apartments Offer the Greatest Possible Flexibility

When you rent a furnished apartment, you are freed from the burden of accumulating and moving belongings. Some people feel comfortable with owning their own furniture, whereas others—young people, those who plan to move again, and individuals who don’t spend much time at home—find large items to be a burden. Furnished apartments provide maximum flexibility. Maybe you’re moving to Denver and immediately starting a new job. This might not allow you the time to move or purchase the furniture you need. Similarly, you might only be in Denver for a year-long contract, or perhaps a short graduate degree. In not accumulating stuff, you’ll be able to move in and leave without accruing the heavy costs associated with moving large items.

 

Maybe You Save Money, But You Definitely Save Time

Additionally, renting a furnished apartment eliminates the need for residents to purchase furniture upon arrival. If you don’t have the time or resources to purchase a bed immediately upon moving, you’ll experience extreme stress and discomfort. Renting a pre-furnished space will allow you to move right into a place and begin living—rather than spending weeks or months accumulating, purchasing, and arranging your own belongings. It’s also easy to search for furnished apartments by using an online apartment search tool with advanced search capabilities that include furnished units.

If you still want an apartment to feel like your own, you can add decorations on top of the included furnishings. By hanging pictures, decorating end tables, and displaying your favorite tchotchkes on the coffee table, the space will feel like it belongs to you—but you’ll still save money and increase your mobility.

 

Know the Drawbacks Before Making a Final Decision

As with most living situations, there are also a few drawbacks to renting furnished apartments. If you already have some pieces of furniture, you may not be able to fit them into the space. In this case, you will need to get rid of it or find a storage solution. Additionally, your rent is likely to be slightly higher than an unfurnished apartment. Furnished apartments are often in luxury buildings, and the rental company needs to pay for the furniture somehow.

Regardless, if you’re quickly moving to Denver or only expect to be around for a year or two, renting a furnished space is an excellent way to save labor costs—both physically and monetarily. Don’t immediately rule out this option, as it may be the easiest and most cost-effective for your situation.

Popular Denver Neighborhoods

Like most American cities, dozens of neighborhoods comprise the City of Denver. Less discreet than Chicago but more noticeable than Seattle, Denver’s neighborhoods have a flair all their own. If you’re new to the city or looking for a change of pace, finding the right neighborhood can put you on the path to domestic bliss. You might be looking for a family-friendly neighborhood, somewhere close to nightlife, or a more art-centered area—no matter what you’re looking for, Denver has it. Here are some of the most popular neighborhoods in this beautiful city.

 

Cherry Creek

Just five minutes from downtown Denver, Cherry Creek includes an upscale shopping center, world-class boutiques, galleries, and restaurants, and charming, tree-lined streets. The neighborhood has an excellent farmers’ market, countless parks, and access to the Cherry Creek Trail, which connects downtown Denver to Parker. This upscale Denver neighborhood is perfect for residents with cash to spend and a penchant for the luxurious.

Capitol Hill

This neighborhood has been ranked as one of the top 10 most beautiful in the country—and we’re not surprised. The area features historic mansions, modern condos, the Denver Botanic Gardens, and several art museums. The community is as diverse as it is engaged, making this a popular spot for millennials and the LGBT scene. Capitol Hill also sits at the center of Denver’s local punk scene, boasting concert venues and hosting multiple cultural events each week.

Greenwood Village

Though not an official neighborhood, the suburb of Greenwood Village is a nature-lover’s dream. With nearly 200 acres of parks, 40 miles of trails, and over 250 acres of undeveloped space, this town is one of the most desirable communities in the Denver metropolitan area. Perfect for young families, Greenwood Village is equipped with top-rated public schools and family-friendly amenities. Plus, residents are just a quick drive from downtown Denver.

Hilltop

Hilltop is, well, at the top of a hill. The name comes from its higher elevation, but needing to walk up a hill on your commute home shouldn’t dissuade you from living here. The neighborhood houses Cranmer Park, which features 23 acres of open space. Residents enjoy local neighborhood amenities, relatively affordable living spaces, and dozens of boutique cafés and restaurants perfect for staging that next Instagram picture.

Congress Park

This quiet, established neighborhood has everything—easy access to Downtown Denver, a selection of boutique shops, cozy restaurants, and a quaint park. Congress Park is also walking distance to the Denver Botanic Gardens, making this the ultimate accessible Denver neighborhood.

 

Renting a Studio Apartment Has Advantages—Particularly for Denver Residents

If you’re new to Denver or moving within the city, you’re likely considering a vast range of living options. Maybe you’re searching for roommates on Craigslist, or perhaps you’re trying to finagle a way to afford living in your favorite neighborhood. If you’re looking to save money, retain your personal space, and live in a great neighborhood, a studio apartment may be the way to go. See below for the evidence that studios are a perfect fit for Denver residents.

 

  • It will provide an excuse to get out and explore. Denver residents are always outside—and we mean As a result, the size and space available in your home might not matter as much as in, say, Chicago or L.A. You’ll be spending weekends on the trail or out with friends. Studio apartments provide just enough space to comfortably lounge, but after a few days, you might be more compelled to leave your safe space. To that end, if you’re more of a homebody and want to branch out of your comfort zone, a studio apartment will provide the push you need to get outside.
  • Having your own space is important. While living in Denver, it can feel as though groups of friends and coworkers stick together more often than not. Maybe it’s a result of needing multiple people to safely hike or climb. Maybe it’s just that Denver’s nightlife and food scenes are too good to experience alone. Regardless, you’ll find yourself longing for a bit more privacy after a weekend spent backcountry exploring with a group of friends. Having a studio apartment is the best way to guarantee privacy while saving money. Sure, you could probably save a few bucks every month to split a two- or three-bedroom with friends, but having people around while at home can begin to feel claustrophobic.
  • You’ll have better-quality finishes. Studio apartments allow tenants to get the most bang for their buck. For the less money than one might spend on a one-bedroom apartment, you can get a similar amount of space and nicer finishes. This means better kitchen appliances, a nicer bathroom, and small details, such as faucets, lighting fixtures, and amenities. You’ll be able to live luxuriously without breaking the bank—something important for a relatively expensive city.

 

You’ll be able to live in your favorite neighborhood. A neighborhood can make or break your Denver living experience. If you’re in the wrong place for your interests, you might not experience the city to its fullest potential. Unfortunately, some of Denver’s neighborhoods can be quite pricey. Renting a studio apartment is a great way to live in your favorite part of the city without blowing your budget. Plus, you’ll spend too much time having fun in the neighborhood to notice the smallness of your living space.

 

What You Should Know Before Moving to Denver

If you’re about to become a Denver transplant, congratulations! You’re moving to one of the world’s best, most adventurous cities. However, the initial move may come as a bit of a shock; Denver has a culture and flair all its own, and new residents may be surprised by the idiosyncrasies of this small city. If you’re beginning to set the wheels in motion on your move to the Centennial State, here are a few things to know—to get you excited, but to ensure you’re prepared for when the day arrives.

 

  • The Denver lifestyle comes from geography. In Denver, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a person who doesn’t enjoy the mountains and nearby nature. Appreciation for the city’s location is one of the defining features of the Denver lifestyle. Popular pastimes include everything from hiking and running to backcountry camping and skiing. You’ll also find a variety of local foods and beers inspired by the surrounding flora and fauna. If you’ve never been a fan of chilis, it’s time to acquaint yourself with Hatch and Pueblo chilis—prominently featured additions on menus throughout the area.
  • Speaking of food, the restaurant scene won’t let you down. The Denver food scene is underrated. This city has world-class restaurants, regional chains, and unforgettable gastropubs. You’ll never have to visit the same restaurant twice (though you might want to). Plus, don’t even get us started about the craft beer scene—its legendary.
  • Each neighborhood has a distinct personality. Denver is truly a city of neighborhoods. Each enclave has its own personality and vibe, so be sure to do your research before moving to the Mile-High City. When selecting a neighborhood, consider your budget and work location, but pay attention to hobbies, lifestyle, and priorities. Do you want to be close to downtown? Cherry Creek is a great option. Interested in the local music scene? Capitol Hill might be the neighborhood for you.
  • The mountains provide a root for the city. Denver is 5,280 feet above sea level, but the snow-capped peaks in the distance are even higher. For many of the city’s residents, the mountains are more than a scenic backdrop; they are deeply integrated into daily life. Workplaces might take advantage of the scenery by sponsoring company 5Ks, and some might even fund ski trips to one of the area’s six ski resorts. From mountain biking and hiking to skiing and rafting, these mountains serve an importance more than providing pretty scenery.
  • It’s sunny. All the time. Denver residents love recreation because they have easy access and unlimited options. They also love recreation because the weather here is spectacular. Denver receives an average of 300 sunny days every year—far more than any other city in this part of the country. Grab your sunglasses, slather on some sunscreen, and head out into the mountains to make some new friends.

 

Average Rent Prices for Denver Apartments

A specific number may be good for grabbing eyeballs, but like so many statistics, no single data point tells the whole story. And that single data point is vulnerable to all kinds of permutations. There are a number of different methods for collecting and calculating average rents. Do you use the average cost per community or per unit? Do you use the average for all units and their current rents, or just the ones that are available to rent right now? Do you lump all the 1-6 bedroom units together? Do you try to break it down by average rent cost per square foot, like home prices sometimes are? Do you include apartments that are still under construction? What about the ones that are under construction and available to rent 3, 6, or even 12 months down the road? Are we talking about apartments within the city limits or the entire metro area?

We’re not saying the published statistics on average rent prices for Denver apartments are worthless or inherently skewed. Not at all. We recommend this type of research as a cornerstone of searching for an apartment in Denver. Just keep these statistics in perspective and don’t put too much weight in any single number or source.

 

Average Rents and Online Sources

To this end, we’ve gathered a handful of popular online sources for average rent prices in Denver. As you’ll see, the numbers are a little different, but in the same ballpark. There are also different charts and points for comparison. Wondering how the average rent in Denver compares to the rent in San Francisco, Dallas, or Las Vegas? Not a problem. Wondering how the average rent in Cherry Creek compares to Five Points compares to Stapleton compares to Sunnyside? You can readily find this information, too.

On the other hand, these neighborhood figures are every bit as pliable as the citywide averages. This is another reason we recommend you check out a couple different sources to get a fuller perspective on what’s out there and available.

Hopefully, this collection of sources can give you the necessary perspective to know what to expect from higher-end as well as more affordable apartments in Denver. Armed with this knowledge and a few other tips along the way, you can confidently search for and seek out the perfect apartment for you and your household.