- I moved from New York City to Denver, Colorado, in June.
- There are some major differences between the two places I’ve called home.
- From a beloved state flag to a better work-life balance, here’s what has surprised me the most.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
When I look back, my unwillingness to purchase real furniture stands as a reminder of my temporary plans to live in New York City. If I didn’t have furniture or items of value, it wouldn’t be hard to leave.
While leaving the city was anything but easy, the pandemic had me reconsidering, reevaluating, and reprioritizing what I cared about in life.
I cared about my career, which could now be remote.
I cared about community — something I was longing for but lacking in New York.
And I cared about nature. New York City’s green spaces like Domino Park, Central Park, and Prospect Park just weren’t cutting it for me.
Ultimately, I decided it was the best place for me. I had friends thriving in the city, I’d be closer to subjects I cover as a reporter — from tiny living to ghost towns — and I’d be able to spend more time outdoors.
In June, I arrived in my decades-old car, and, quite quickly, Denver welcomed me.
Just like any city, it has its quirks.
Over the past three months, I’ve been exploring and discovering as much as I can in and around Denver.
The option to go straight from yoga to drinks wasn’t the social norm. You simply didn’t go out in athletic clothes in New York City.
In Denver, athletic clothes are welcome almost everywhere.
From bars to concerts, you’re bound to spot plenty of people in their outdoor gear no matter the atmosphere.
I mistakenly spent my first few days in Denver assuming that the flag belonged to one of Denver’s beloved sports teams.
I quickly learned I was wrong.
Each color on the blue, white, red, and golden flag represents a different part of Colorado’s natural landscape, according to ColoradoInfo: blue for the skies, gold for the sunshine, white for the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, and red for the state’s iconic red rocks.
Compared to New York and Florida, Coloradans have a special affinity for their state flag.
Often served with pork, the salsa-like sauce is derived from New Mexican chiles and traditionally found in Mexican food, according to Out There Colorado.
But in Denver, it’s a popular topping for all types of food. I’ve had green chiles topped on pizza and heard about burgers heaping with the cherished chiles.
In Denver, questions about your career often come second to the more important question: “What do you do for fun?”
Maybe it’s because some remote workers work East Coast hours (making their workdays end at 3:30 p.m. local time), or perhaps it’s the huge focus on the outdoors — but the people I’ve met so far in Denver have a stronger work-life balance than my community back in New York City.
When I arrived in Denver, I didn’t expect to find the same myriad of cuisines, but so far, there hasn’t been a dish I can’t find. From tasty quinoa chorizo at Xicamiti La Taqueria to hand-roll sushi at Temaki Den, Denver’s food scene hasn’t let me down — it just takes a little more digging and research.
I’m still on the hunt for a decent everything bagel in Denver, but I might have to let New York City win the bagel competition.
I was shocked to learn just how many breweries there are in the city. For every 50,000 residents, there are six breweries, according to Food + Wine. The city’s abundance of craft beer earned Denver 18th place for cities with the most breweries in 2019, Food + Wine reported. According to Colorado Brewery List, there are more than 80 breweries in the city.
In my new house in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood, I’m within walking distance to more than a dozen local breweries that I look forward to visiting.
But in Colorado, blooming wildflowers create a spring-like feel for much longer than a typical spring season.
That’s because snow doesn’t start melting in higher elevations until spring, so when summer comes around, flowers finally start popping up, animals start having babies, and many of the typical spring elements flourish, according to MyColoradoParks.
Even now that it’s September I’m still spotting plenty of wildflowers on my hikes.
There’s a common phrase that Colorado has “300 days of sunshine,” and although it’s a myth started by a publicist for one of the railroads in Colorado in 1870, according to The Denver Post, the state does experience a lot of sunny days.
The sunshine works to our advantage since so much adventuring takes place outdoors.
In Denver, air quality is on everybody’s mind.
I’ve had plans canceled because of smoke, and I spent a weekend indoors while Denver topped the list for the worst air quality in the world earlier this summer.
I was surprised just how much air quality would impact my daily activities, partly because I’m used to hobbies and hangouts taking place indoors instead of outside.
The marks remind me that I’m getting to do what I love most in life: being outside.