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Denver vs Chicago 🆚 | Is Living in Chicago or Denver Right for You? [Pros + Cons, Cost of Living + More]

Last Updated on: 6th April 2023, 10:31 am

Are you thinking about moving to Chicago or Denver but aren’t sure which city to choose? Choosing between the two cities can be a tough choice due to the many benefits that both have to offer.

Chicago, otherwise known as “The Windy City”, is the most populous city in Illinois and one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. It is known for its amazing food, dedicated sports fans, and high quality of life. Denver, or “The Mile High City”, is the capital of Colorado and has been growing in popularity over the past few decades. Denver is known for its gorgeous nature, laid-back living, and historical landmarks. Both of these cities are amazing places to live, but which one is a good fit for you? Here’s what you need to know about living in Denver vs. Chicago. 

Chicago to Denver Distance

How far is it from Chicago to Denver? The distance from Denver to Chicago is 1,005 miles, or about a 14.5 hour drive.

Pros and Cons of Living in Chicago vs. Denver

The first step to deciding between Chicago and Denver is to consider the pros and cons that each city has to offer.

Living in Chicago Pros

Chicago is a wonderful place to live as a young professional, couple, or small family. Chicago has a lower crime rate than Denver, has incredible public transportation, and has an amazing sports culture.

Living in Chicago Cons

While Chicago is a great place to live, there are a few drawbacks to choosing this city as your new home. Some of the cons of living in Chicago include a higher unemployment rate than Denver, less activities to do in nature, and a higher tax rate.

Living in Denver Pros

Many people move to Denver for the laid-back style of living. Denver is a popular place to live among young adults, families, and adventure seekers. Denver has endless outdoor activities to partake in, a lower tax rate than Chicago, and an extremely low unemployment rate.

Living in Denver Cons

Living in Denver isn’t for everyone. A few of the main cons of living in Denver include a higher crime rate than Chicago, the high cost of living, and the elevation. It is also harder to get around Denver without a car than it is in Chicago.

Comparisons of Denver vs. Chicago

Denver vs. Chicago Population

The Denver population is 715,522, which is a 19.2% increase over the past decade. The Chicago population is 2,746,388, which is a 1.8% increase over the past decade. So, Chicago has a higher population than Denver, however Denver is growing much quicker.

Cost of Living in Chicago vs. Denver

As mentioned before, Denver has a higher cost of living than Chicago. According to the Economic Policy Institute, a family of four would need to earn $102,011 per year ($8,501 per month) to live in Denver. A family of four would need to earn $92,894 per year ($7,741 per month) to live in Chicago.

Here is a comparison of specific costs in each city.

  • Transportation is 20% cheaper in Chicago
  • Child care is 6.6% cheaper in Chicago
  • Gym memberships are 9.6% cheaper in Chicago
  • Utilities are 8.8% cheaper in Chicago
  • A 3 bedroom apartment is 14% cheaper in Chicago

Source: Numbeo

On the other side of the spectrum, gasoline, a restaurant meal, and healthcare is cheaper in Denver.

The average home price in Chicago is $315,000. This is lower than the national average of $386,721. The average home price in Denver is $556,250. The Denver real estate market is much more competitive than the Chicago real estate market. Homes in Chicago stay on the market for an average of 87 days, compared to 26 days in Denver.

Graph of the median sale price in Chicago, IL

According to RentCafe, the average rent in Chicago is $2,224 per month for a one-bedroom apartment. The average rent in Denver is $1,997, however apartments in the most desirable areas see rent prices as high as $2,518. Overall, Denver may be a cheaper choice if you are looking to rent a one-bedroom apartment. If you need more space, however, you will likely get more for your money in Chicago.

Denver vs. Chicago Crime Rates

When comparing Denver vs. Chicago, it is important to take crime rates into consideration. The crime rate in Denver is much higher than the crime rate in Chicago. The Chicago crime rate is 1,705 per 100,000 people and the Denver crime rate is 5,507 per 100,000 people. The violent crime rate in Chicago is 987 per 100,000 people while the violent crime rate in Denver is 858 per 100,000 people. The property crime rate in Chicago is 718 per 100,000 people and the property crime rate in Denver is 4,649 per 100,000 people.

The overall crime rate in Denver is 222% higher than the crime rate in Chicago. However, there is less violent crime in Denver than there is in Chicago.

Things to Do in Chicago vs. Denver

If you are looking for things to do in Chicago and Denver, you will find many fun attractions in both areas. However, the types of activities in both areas are vastly different. If you enjoy outdoor activities, then you might enjoy Denver more than Chicago. When living in Denver, you will have access to attractions such as Red Rocks Park, Clear Creek Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, and Cherry Creek State Park. You can also enjoy Denver’s Trail System, which is 80 miles of off-street, multi-use trails, where you can hike, bike, or rollerblade.


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If you prefer attractions in a city setting, then Chicago is the place for you. Chicago has many incredible famous attractions such as The Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park, 360 Chicago, and The Chicago Theatre. The city of Chicago has a rich history and culture that you can’t find in many other places. There is always a concert, event, or play going on no matter what time of year it is.


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Both cities have incredible options when it comes to food and drink. Chicago is home to some of the best food in the world, including 23 restaurants with a Michelin Star. Denver, on the other hand, is less known for food and more for drink. There are nearly 100 brewpubs, breweries, and taprooms in the Denver metro area.

Weather in Denver vs. Chicago

Curious about the weather in Chicago vs. Denver? According to the Köppen Classification, Denver has a continental semi-arid climate, which means that the city experiences incredibly hot summers and mild winters. One incredible draw to Denver is that the city sees around 300 days of sunlight throughout the year.

Chicago has a humid continental climate, which means that the city experiences four distinct seasons with large seasonal temperature differences. When living in Chicago, you are sure to see weather all over the spectrum. However, it will be cooler than Chicago, especially in the summertime. Denver’s hot season has an average high of 88ºF while Chicago’s has an average high of 82ºF.

Pack your snow shovel no matter which city you move to! The average annual snowfall in Chicago is 37 inches and the average annual snowfall in Denver is 57 inches. Both city’s annual snowfall is higher than the national average of 27 inches.

Transportation in Denver vs. Chicago

When living in Chicago, you do not need to own a car. Chicago is an incredibly walkable city, with well thought out sidewalks and crosswalks. In fact, 27.5% of households in Chicago do not own a car. The Chicago Transit Authority also provides a bus and train service that runs 24/7.

In Denver, the Regional Transportation District operates over 1,000 buses that serve over 10,000 stops. They also have a FasTracks commuter rail that serves the neighboring suburbs and communities. Denver was also rated one of the top 50 Best Cities for Biking in the U.S. In terms of walking, Denver is less appealing. Denver is more spread out than Chicago, making it harder to walk from place to place. It is also well known that Denver has many gaps in its sidewalk network, making it more difficult to walk in the city.

Jobs in Chicago vs. Denver

If you are interested in moving to Chicago or Denver to get a job, then there are a few variables to consider.

In January 2023, the unemployment rate in Chicago was 4.7%. Chicago is one of the biggest financial hubs in the country, so if this is an industry you are interested in, then this is the city for you. Top employers in Chicago include the City of Chicago, JPMorgan Chase, and Allstate. According to PayScale, the average salary in Chicago is $77,000.

In January 2023, Denver recorded a record low unemployment rate of 2.9%. Some of the most prominent industries in Denver include aerospace, telecommunications, and healthcare. The top employers in Denver are the State of Colorado, University of Colorado, and Centura Health. The average salary in Denver is $76,000.

While the average salary in Denver is slightly higher than Chicago, it is important to remember that the cost of living is also higher.

Sports in Denver vs. Chicago

If you are trying to choose between Chicago vs. Denver and are an avid sports lover, then you’ll probably gravitate more toward Chicago. Chicago is home to many world-famous sports teams such as the Chicago Bulls, Chicago Bears, Chicago Cubs, Chicago Blackhawks, and the Chicago White Sox. Chicago was also recently ranked as one of the Best Cities for Sports Fans.


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When living in Denver, you will still have your share of sports to watch! The Denver Nuggets and the Denver Broncos both call the city home.

Denver vs. Chicago: Where Are You Moving?

Now that you have a full picture of Chicago vs. Denver, which city will you move to? Both areas have their pros and cons, but they are both amazing cities full of life and culture. If Chicago is calling you, then the experts here at Federal Companies are here to help. Give us a call today at (800) 747-4100 for a free quote!


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