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General Discussion => Welcome and General Discussion => Topic started by: mrssavesalot on April 14, 2017, 06:52:31 PM

Title: Denver frugal living tips wanted
Post by: mrssavesalot on April 14, 2017, 06:52:31 PM
Hello all,

My husband is on a final interview for a job in the Denver Colorado area, so we might be moving there soon.

Denver sounds like an amazing place to live, even without mmm-style frugality, but I thought I'd ask the Denverites on here for their best tips on living frugal in Denver.

So lay it on me: where's the best places for frugal fun, cheap food, and the like. Any and all tips welcome!
Title: Re: Denver frugal living tips wanted
Post by: pedal stache on April 15, 2017, 09:10:22 AM
I am in the process of moving to the Denver area. I am writing this both to help you out and for me as a summary of methods I have discovered to live financially responsible in Denver and still enjoy it. From my reading/asking around, there are endless things to do in the area that are free or of low cost. I have found the two expenses that really affect the cost of living are housing and transportation.

Housing: You can still find decent housing deals by actively scouring craigslist or touring neighborhoods you would like to live in and searching for for rent/sale signs. Allocate plenty of time for this process as these deals go fast and do not come available every day.

Transportation: The public transportation in the Denver area has gotten way better than it was 5 years ago (so I have heard from locals). If you need to get around, this can be a better option than trying to combat the masses of traffic in the area. If you live somewhere that will require a daily commute, it may be worth trying to add an RTD (bus and lightrail) pass to your contract. This will lower (eliminate?) the cost of traveling to and from work and gives you time to do some daily tasks (email, bills, read paper, read mmm...). If you can't work it into the contract, expect to pay $100-$200/month for open use of all the public transportation in the area. If you do decide to drive somewhere, do so in non-peak times of traffic which includes weekday work commutes, sporting events, and other major events in the area. I have found the roads to be completely open when I drove outside of those peak times.

Frugal Fun: Now that you have access to all of the public transportation, you can travel anywhere you want just by figuring out the correct buses/trains to take. If you want to get to the mountains you can ride the train to Golden and walk/bike to many open space trailheads. There are many breweries in the area (some will offer free tours/beers). The Denver area also has organized events going on all of the time, many of these are free or by donation. Take a look at the Denver events calendar and you will see there is never a shortage of things to do. Finally, go explore, there are so many parks and neighborhoods to explore in this area.

Food: I'l start by stating the obvious, do not make a habit of eating out. It can be hard to do as you adapt to city life as there are so many great options for food and many people have made eating out the norm. If you do want to go out, look for the specials/happy hours. With so many restaurants in the area, there is bound to be a good deal at one of them each day/night.

I hope this general advice is somewhat helpful and I hope you enjoy Denver if you end up there.
Title: Re: Denver frugal living tips wanted
Post by: nawhite on April 15, 2017, 09:40:04 AM
Good luck with the job, that's very exciting. First thing to know about Denver is that it is a solid 45 min from the mountains. Unless you work in Golden or Boulder, you generally can live near work or near the mountains but not both. Live near work. Next, Denver has some amazing bike trails and a decent light rail system. Take advantage of both. Living walking distance to a light rail stop let us get rid of a car and saved us tons of time and money on commutes.

As for cheap things to do, go outside. Learn to camp and spend your weekends in the mountains. There are tons of free campsites (freecampsites.net) all over the place. If skiing is your thing, buy an epic pass or a Rocky mountain super pass today for next winter. They are cheap this week but the price goes up quickly.

Also if you're looking for somewhere to rent, I have a 3 bedroom one bath house with solar panels walking distance from a light rail stop that will be available in June/July. ;-)

Hope the interview goes well and you find somewhere awesome to stay, prices seem to have leveled off a bit at least.
Title: Re: Denver frugal living tips wanted
Post by: mrssavesalot on April 15, 2017, 12:03:57 PM
Thank you both for your kind replies.

The only driver in the family is my husband, and he's looking to take advantage of the transit systems and ditch his (paid off) car.

There's just the two of us (no kids), and we are looking for a small rental (provided he get's the job offer).

We're definitely looking to take advantage of the free/low cost activities in the area.
Title: Re: Denver frugal living tips wanted
Post by: Tyson on April 15, 2017, 03:02:51 PM
There's a lot of things to do outdoors, like camping or skiing which have an up-front cost to acquire the equipment, but are very inexpensive after that.  Craigslist is a great way to get that gear for cheap.

The Denver Art Museum has free admittance on the first Saturday of every month - http://denverartmuseum.org/visitor-info/free-days

Museum of Nature & Science free days - http://www.dmns.org/about-us/scfd-free-days/

Botanic Gardens free days - https://www.botanicgardens.org/events/free-days

Denver Mint tours are always free.

Clyfford Still Museum is free every Friday after 5pm - https://clyffordstillmuseum.org/info

CO Parks & Wildlife has lots of cheap things to do - http://cpw.state.co.us/aboutus/Pages/Calendar.aspx

Oh, and can't forget the Denver Public Library - you can search the entire city's inventory of books, CD's, DVDs and Blurays and they will send anything you want to your local branch and hold it for you behind the counter - https://www.denverlibrary.org

Kids can sign up for a Library "My Card" that gets them in free to tons of places like Rec Centers for free access to swimming pools (plus a ton of other stuff) - https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/office-of-childrens-affairs/my-denver-card.html

If you like classical and/or world music, Denver has a great music University which offers really good performances for pretty cheap - http://msudenver.edu/music/events/

Plus tons of free stuff downtown and elsewhere - https://www.denver.org/events/free-denver-events/
Title: Re: Denver frugal living tips wanted
Post by: COEE on April 15, 2017, 06:54:34 PM
My best frugal living tips in Denver are to live below your means, eat at home with friends, Smile, and live close to work.  Pretty basic stuff - and is applicable no matter where you land. 

What side of town are you looking at?  What industry will you DH be working in?  Do you want to rent or buy?  Home or condo?  Knowing this would perhaps give us some ideas of suggestions for where to live, what things are nearby, etc.
Title: Re: Denver frugal living tips wanted
Post by: aperture on April 30, 2017, 09:26:08 AM
Responding to follow.
Title: Re: Denver frugal living tips wanted
Post by: BuildingFrugalHabits on April 30, 2017, 10:25:28 AM
My frugal living tips for Denver:

Housing: Live close to work and bike if possible.  Weather allows biking on most days throughout the winter.  I think the cities on the west side of the metro have the best balance between cost of living and quality of life.  Wheatridge, Arvada and Lakewood are best depending on where you work.  You can live in a trendy neighborhood like the highlands with lots of restaurants, breweries and coffee shops within walking distance but then you are spending money on restaurant meals, $6 beers and expensive coffee.  Better take turns hosting friends.  Be wary of newer developments with HOAs or "special metro districts." The latter is used  to pass along the costs of infrastructure to the residents as a way around Colorado's TABOR law. 

Enjoy the parks: Most of the cities have great park systems which are free to access and prized by the residents. 

Neighborhood walks: Most neighborhood have good sidewalks and are enjoyable to walk around.

Cars: Colorado is really hard on vehicles due to hail, intense sunlight, sand and salt and high winds that blast your car.  Try to get a place with sheltered parking and drive a car that's a few years old.  There's no point in having something nice and nobody cares about nice cars here.  It's not uncommon to see cars driving around carrying bikes whose values exceed that of the car they are on.  If you feel you need a truck or SUV (you don't) try to bring it with you since these vehicles tend to be overvalued (especially Subaru's and Tacomas).  Invest in snow tires if you intend to drive to the mountains.  Snow tires > 4wd.  Tirerack has a distribution center in Denver so you don't pay for shipping. 

Biking: For the most part, cycling infrastructure on the front range is excellent but biking accidents have been on the rise in recent years.  Not sure if that's due to more people moving here or what but I know several people who have been hit.  Drivers for the most part are very accommodating to cyclists but the accidents usually occur when drivers don't see bikes.  Do everything you can to increase your visibility: headlights and tail lights flashing during the day and visible clothing.  Assume the driver doesn't see you and act accordingly. 

Food: Costco and sprouts are places where we like to shop for high quality produce.

Energy/Utilities: Colorado has great solar potential and PV is a great option for reducing your long term electricity costs.  With the exception of a grid use fee, we haven't had a power bill in 6 years!  Try to look for a house with good exposure / south facing unobstructed roof for max ROI.  Use xeroscaping where possible to lower water usage.