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Denver has received its fair share of recognition in its growing quest to become— and remain— one of the most lucrative cities for start-up companies and young entrepreneurs. However, it’s not just techy creatives that are fleeing to the Mile High City. The city’s expansive and diverse offerings are bringing individuals from all demographics, but there’s an especially strong draw for young graduates.

imageThe New York Times recently referred to Denver as a “powerful magnet”, noting that the percentage of college graduates (ages 25-34) moving to Denver is 2% higher than the national average. So, if you’re not looking to start a business and you don’t have any entrepreneurial tricks up your sleeve, what is Denver’s draw?

It’s certainly not the cheapest city to reside (especially after college, when undoubtedly student loans payments are approaching and the prospect of finding a career is looming). After all, as 2014 wrapped up, Denver’s rent was described as “not quite San Francisco – but close” in a Denver Post article, after rent increased 10.8% from 2013-2014.

There are numerous statistics backing Denver’s population growth— including, but not limited to, the how’s, why’s, and projections of when and if it will subside. These statistics don’t tell the organic story, though. Rarely do young people move to a city based on a New York Times article or because of a few percentage points they saw on the Internet.

Innovators Peak wanted to hear from the young people turning Denver into the vibrant, diverse community that it is. We spoke to a handful of individuals, completely at random, to get the essence of what it means to live in a city like Denver after graduating college. Why here and not somewhere else?

Brittany Jones, a graduate of University of Colorado at Denver (1201 Larimer Street), transferred here for school after attending college in Oklahoma and never looked back:

“A few close friends moved to Denver, and the house they were renting had an extra un-rented room. It was 100% for the shows, bars, and bike riding. Now, with the weather and culture, I could never imagine leaving.”

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Another recent transplant from Upstate New York, Matt Kaspryzk, came to Denver just by the roll of a die, really. His job as Art Director for a mountain bike magazine from the East Coast allowed him to bring his work anywhere: “Denver is a terrific hub to the outdoor recreation we enjoy. Plus East Coast humidity and the clouds suck.”

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Evidently, weather is a huge factor and understandably so, with over 300 days of sunshine a year. But, it’s also the culture that keeps young people enthusiastic about Denver. Not quite as lax as the West Coast, but certainly not aggressive in the way the East Coast tends to be.

“The new job [I moved to Denver for] was a lot less constraining than the old one, and it was just a no brainer. The culture here, even outside of my startup experience, is amazing,” Alan Baldwin, a software engineer who went to college in Virginia, told Innovators Peak.

The population of the young and educated is up 47% since 2000 (nearly double that of the New York metro area population increase), according to the New York Times. Why? Because Denver has “many of the tangible things young people want…mountains, sunshine, and jobs in booming industries like tech.”

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Source: Asher Shay-Nemirow

Flannery Shay-Nemirow, 22, may hop around the world to fuel her passion as an elite rock climber, but that magnetic pull keeps bringing her back: “I’m not in the tech industry. I barely even know what startups entail these days, as I’ve hopped around different liberal arts colleges for the last four years, but Denver is the place. Mountains, beer, coffee, sun, and rad people— is there really anything else one needs?”

Statistics aside, Denver is setting down the welcome mat for young people, no matter their demographic or background. Few cities offer the tangible commodities and high-standing economic stature of Denver— numbers notwithstanding, when it comes down to it, where else can you smoke a blunt, while overlooking Red Rocks in shorts in January, while your office supplies you with paid vacation time?

by Addie Levinsky