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Raleigh vs. Denver: Pros & Cons

As many of you know, we just got back from visiting Denver, CO. We visited towards the end of last year (2021) and really loved it and were strongly considering moving but decided to put it on hold for the time being (I share in this blog why were were considering moving from Raleigh and then why we decided to put the move on pause). However, things have clearly changed (again lol), as we went for another visit to reconsider a move. I break down everything in this previous blog, but the main reason we are reconsidering is more houses in our price range (in the areas we want) starting coming to market, so we now feel more confident we will be able to find what we’re ideally looking for.

During our recent Denver trip, I wrote another blog post on 7 things to consider when moving to a new city as it seemed very relevant. But today I thought I’d break down the pros and cons of Raleigh vs. Denver as some of you have asked! And I figured it would be an good blog post. They are both very popular cities that a lot of people are moving to, so maybe it will be relevant to you if you’re considering a move or maybe it will just be an interesting read nonetheless 😉 Also, these are general pros and cons but obviously a pro to someone else could be a con and vice versa depending on what your personal preferences are.

PROS TO RALEIGH
– More affordable cost of living. I’m putting this as a pro however, given the current market, Raleigh’s price per sq foot is very similar to Denver so I wouldn’t necessarily say Raleigh is way more affordable. I think it probably still has more affordable areas overall but it’s not a huge difference anymore when it comes to housing. And in our experience when it comes to research we’ve done on taxes, prices at restautants, etc. Raleigh and Denver are very similar.

– Not landlocked. I grew up in KS and that was the true definition of landlocked to me, because you didn’t really have anywhere desirable to drive to. Even the mountains were 10+ hours of driving. So yes, even though Denver is technically landlocked, the fact that you have the mountains so close, I personally don’t feel like it’s as isolating. But I know a lot of people don’t like the feeling of being landlocked and/or they really enjoy being able to take advantage of the beach being so close. That being, said, I would say this is a pro for Raleigh.

Easy access to beach and mountains. So this kind of ties into the point above. One of the great things about Raleigh is that the beach and the mountains are both about 2-3 hours away so it’s super easy to take weekend trips to either. There’s also a lot of great cities within driving distance to visit like Charleston, Savannah, Washington DC, etc.

– Great universities. This is one of the main reasons my family moved to NC in the first place – they have amazing in-state universities. There are a lot of them and they are all highly rated, which is obviously very appealing if you have children who want to attend college and you want to pay in-state tuition.

Mild(er) weather year round. Again, this could be a pro or a con depending on what you like but most people tend to want to move to places that have milder/warmer temperatures vs. freezing your ass off 7 months out of the year haha. Overall, Raleigh does get the four seasons but the winters are pretty mild (we only get snow about 1-2x a season and usually just flurries or an inch or two).

Greenery/Trees. So some people could argue that the amount of trees here feels claustrophobic, however, I think most people love how green and lush NC is. When you travel to other places (especially the midwest) you realize how barren some other cities look!

PROS TO DENVER
Drier climate. For me, this is a pro because I hate the humidity lol. Yes, Raleigh has the 4 seasons but summers especially are humid AF and I don’t even want to be outside it’s so hot and humid out lol. So for me, even though Denver gets colder temps in the winter, I would rather have that and a drier climate. I also prefer having the seasons vs. somewhere that is warmer year round, which is why this is a pro for me personally.

– Bigger city/more to do. I understand that what size city you live in is definitely personal preference. For example, some people love living in NYC or LA and for others that big of a city would be a nightmare haha. But for me, I like having a bigger city feel and you get that with Denver without necessarily paying LA or NYC prices. You have more options with restaurants/coffee, and just more to explore in general. It’s just the typical perks that come with being in a bigger city. Plus, Denver has really great weather pretty much year round which makes it optimal to doing things outside (parks, hiking, skiing, etc).

– Close to the mountains. Even though we aren’t super outdoorsy, we do like having a ton of options when it comes to mountain getaways. We aren’t going to be running off to ski, hike, or camp every weekend but we aren’t really beach people so for us, having each access to the mountains is a pro.

More progressive/less traditional culture. Raleigh is definitely not like some parts of the “deep” south (we wouldn’t have lived here for 7 years if that were the case lol) but at the end of the day we are still in the south so it tends to be more of a traditional environment than some other cities. I think Raleigh is a great place to live overall, especially if you want to have a family. For us though, we would prefer a city that isn’t as “traditional” in some ways.

At the end of the day, I really do think Raleigh and Denver are both amazing cities – there is a reason that both cities are consistently on the top of the list of places to move to. And in terms of us considering moving, there is a reason that we’ve stayed in Raleigh for as long as we have. We’ve traveled to a lot of other cities and we feel like Raleigh is really great all around and there are few cities (in our opinion) that come out ahead when we weigh out everything. With that said, we finally feel like we may have found a city (Denver) that checks more boxes for us than Raleigh, but that has been hard to find! At the end of the day though, they are both great cities. You can’t go wrong with either option, but just depends on what you’re personally looking for and your situation!

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