6 Reasons People Are Moving from San Francisco to Denver

by | BiggerPockets.com

According to the news, people are leaving San Francisco in droves (in 2018, an estimated 49% of the population would consider moving due to high prices), and they have to go somewhere. While Seattle has filled the void for a while now, the exodus has also been spreading to other cities in the past couple of years, with Denver being a notable hot spot. So why are people leaving San Francisco for Denver? As a Denver real estate agent (and former tech recruiter), let me explain why Denver has so much appeal—and why investors should also still be taking note.

6 Reasons People Are Moving from San Francisco to Denver

1. Real Estate

Duh. With the median home price in San Francisco at $1.5 million, people are motivated to live elsewhere. And while local Denverites are crying uncle about the rising housing prices, at a $400K median price tag for a single family home, Denver home ownership is still a lot more feasible for San Franciscans than San Francisco is.

Related: Colorado Springs Short-Term Rental: How We’re Averaging $6,200/Mo in Revenue

2. Tech

Denver has been working hard on its reputation as a tech city, and it seems like it is finally paying off. Denver is currently ranked this week as the 8th best city for tech, with 51,000 jobs in the industry the past year at a median salary of $90K. Those kind of numbers make escalating your tech career while maintaining your quality of life very doable.

3. Cost of Living

Since financial independence is all the rage right now, finding a city with a lower cost of living than San Francisco is important. Denver beats San Francisco on this front as well. Our housing costs are 59% lower. Food costs are 22% lower. Health care is 10% lower.

4. Plentiful Jobs

It’s not just tech that’s thriving in Denver. Industries including aerospace, aviation, energy, tourism, outdoor recreation, healthcare, and education also have a strong presence in the Mile High City.

Related: 6 Deal-Breakers that Disqualify a Market for Real Estate Investment

5. Attractive People

If you don’t have a spouse, it’s not just the mountains that are beautiful in Denver. We’re ranked 8th in looks in the United States—and our sister city to the North is ranked #2, so you have lots of options. And if brains are more your thing, Colorado is also listed as the third most-educated state (which isn’t just good for your dating life, but also a strong nod to our current and future economy).

6. Quality of Life

Aside from all the eye candy, there’s the following: 5,000 acres of parks, more sun than San Diego, five professional sports teams, legal marijuana, skiing, camping, amazing music venues, a thriving art scene, and enough restaurants and bars for any serious foodie.

At the beginning of this article, I said investors should also take note, and that’s because while expensive, there’s something to be said about being in a city where the best of the best are flocking to. Personally, I think it means the city will continue to get more expensive, even if we’re currently in the middle of a slump.

What do you think—will Denver continue to boom? Does your market have more going for it? Why?

Weigh in with a comment!

About Author

Erin Spradlin

Erin Spradlin co-owns James Carlson Real Estate. She loves working with first-time homebuyers for their enthusiasm and excitement, and loves working with investors because she's a fellow spreadsheet nerd. She and her husband own three properties in metro Denver and are currently in the process of acquiring a duplex in Colorado Springs. You can find Erin's blogs here: https://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog/author/erinspradlin/ and her airbnb video series here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLgSUZKLPRI9tK3Vd-qpH3Sk2Rh-_pIrNN.


  1. jeffrey gordon

    Article was interesting, the 49% reference obviously needs fixing. I did not understand the reference to impossible to find a 1% cap let alone a 2% cap? Is that a reference to 1-4 unit rentals or 5+? I took a quick look on loopnet.com for denver and see lots of 5-6% Cap rate 10+ unit apartment buildings??

  2. Christopher Smith

    San Francisco political leadership is just proving to the world that even one of the most highly desirable locations in the entire world can be turned into a festering sh#$ hole (quite literally), if you really work hard enough at it.

    Not a day goes by where one new “progressive” policy after another drives the area to new depths of utter degregation. Lord help us all if these folks ever get in charge of anything else.

    On the other hand there are many other areas relatively close (e.g., East Bay) that are still very nice, which is where most folks leaving the city can go.

  3. John Barnette

    Lived in Denver 1994-1997. Moved to SF in 97 and still here. Mostly. And a real estate agent and investor. Pretty interesting article. There are always the weird poles where people say they are going to leave the city…that 49%. Some do and some don’t. There is quite a young population that is inheritantly pretty transient. And there is definitely a western left coast vibe that attracts folks to SF, LA, Seattle, Portland, Denver, and to some lesser extent SLC, San Diego, and probably Austin. Movement is natural and healthy.

    However SF and LA for sure have the big city thing…incomes, pace of life, jobs, and unfortunately slum element that the smaller cities do not .

    I personally don’t want to deal with snow and cold unless I am skiing. So California for me.

    Though I have moved my principle residence out of the city to older larger established burbs. Keep a small apartment in the city though. True what Andrew has said about our problems and they are ugly. In the end though, love the Bay Area.

    • Erin Spradlin

      Interesting perspective on SF. I also ascribe the shift to remote work, and it being a lot more feasible now. Why live in a super expensive city if you could get the same pay and live somewhere else that is also desirable?
      On a side note, I’d be remiss to not mention that Denver has much, much better weather than people think. For instance, it’s late October at the moment and 60 degrees currently. Snow happens here, but not in a lot and certainly not like the midwest.

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