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Anchor industries

Denver is home to a number of thriving industries. Here are some major sources of jobs in the city.

The U.S. government

The U.S. government is the largest employer in Denver. Many area employees have government jobs at the federal level, though there are many state-level jobs available in the city as well.

Education

Denver is home to a number of major universities that create numerous jobs in the area. And Denver’s public schools employ over 11,500 people.

Healthcare

Healthcare is another key industry in the Denver metro area. Key players include:

  • Centura Health
  • Denver Health
  • HealthONE
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • SCL Health System

Schools of note

Student housing is a key driver of real estate investing success, and Denver has a number of large colleges and universities that draw in students and professors alike each year. Here are some of its largest schools by enrollment.

  • Metropolitan State University of Denver: Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU) is located in downtown Denver but doesn’t provide any on-campus housing to students. As such, it offers a great opportunity for real estate investors. MSU has a total undergraduate enrollment of 19,194.
  • University of Colorado Denver: Located in the heart of downtown Denver, University of Colorado Denver has a total undergraduate enrollment of 15,818. Interestingly, the school shares some of its facilities with MSU and the Community College of Denver.
  • University of Denver: The University of Denver is a private research university based in south Denver. It serves about 12,000 students.

Neighborhoods of note

Denver has dozens of neighborhoods that sport their own unique character. Here are a few that may be especially interesting to real estate investors.

University

The University neighborhood is a classic college town. Surrounding the University of Denver, it offers residents a wide range of eateries as well as convenient light rail access to the University of Denver campus. It’s also a mere 15 minutes to downtown Denver by car and 20 minutes by light rail, making it a good spot for young professionals who want easy access to office buildings.

The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in University is currently $1,050. Compared to last year, the average rent price has held steady, and that affordable price point is a definite draw for students.

Capitol Hill

Denver’s historic Capitol Hill neighborhood is loaded with cafes, restaurants, and bars, making it a prime spot for students and young professionals. The area is also home to a large number of apartments, from modern buildings to older walk-ups. And given its proximity to University of Colorado Denver, it’s a convenient neighborhood for students to take up residence.

The average one-bedroom apartment in Capitol Hill currently rents for $1,176. That’s actually a 19% decrease from last year. But as an investor, that shouldn’t turn you off. The demand for student housing may have decreased in the wake of the pandemic, but once vaccines roll out more broadly, that should change. And given that Capitol Hill is Denver’s most densely populated neighborhood, it’s clear that plenty of people are looking to live there.

LoDo

Short for Lower Downtown, what gives this Denver neighborhood an edge is that it’s home to Union Station, a major transportation hub. It’s also located within a mile of the University of Colorado Denver, making it a prime spot for students as well as young professionals looking to take advantage of its nightlife, shops, and attractions.

It’s worth noting that property values in LoDo have been growing at a rapid pace in recent years. That’s a good thing from a long-term investment standpoint, but it also means that as an investor, you might pay more of a premium for a LoDo property. That said, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in LoDo is $2,271, a 5% increase compared to last year.

RiNo

Short for River North Art District, RiNo has undergone serious gentrification over the past number of years, and now, the neighborhood is loaded with restaurants, shops, breweries, and apartment complexes. It’s also the heart of Denver’s art scene and has numerous galleries to boot. Located within two miles of the University of Colorado Denver and MSU, it’s a cool spot to live for students who can swing the higher price point. It’s also a neighborhood that tends to attract young professionals — those who aren’t ready to commit to buying a home and need to rent.

The average rent in RiNo is $1,752. That’s right on target with Denver’s average $1,756 rent on a whole.

The bottom line on Denver

Denver appeals to students, young professionals, and families alike. While rising home prices have taken buying property off the table for many residents, they give real estate investors like you an opportunity to buy homes to rent out. And that’s a good way to secure a steady stream of income for the long haul.