You’re moving?

We went to a birthday party July 2, and chatted with a friend who lives in the Highlands neighborhood of downtown Denver, not far from us. “How do you like all the changes?” I asked. “The restaurants, the art galleries, the downtown view?” His reply shocked me.

“It’s all great. But actually… we’re moving.”

Moving? Why?

“Because we can get so much more for our money elsewhere.”

Like most older neighborhoods, ours was once a proud place to call home. After World War II came the urban flight to the suburbs. Old houses fell into disrepair, gangs moved in, bars covered the windows.

By 1995, the suburbs sprawled 25 miles from downtown and traffic became unbearable. People started taking another look at the inner city. A few brave souls bought dilapidated houses and fixed them up… first for themselves and later as an investment.

In 2005, I was weary of a 45 minute daily commute to downtown. I asked my real estate friend where I might possibly live closer-in. He suggested the Sunnyside neighborhood on the north side because it was affordable. I found a house that had just been remodeled.

Here’s our Sunnyside, Denver home, a 1902 Dutch Colonial. I spent 11 years landscaping it, moving literally tons of rock, building terraced walls, curving paths, and a koi pond with cascading waterfalls. 

Elm-spring 2016

It’s beautiful, and the remodel included new stucco exterior, new interior walls, plumbing, electrical, roof, sewer, 3-car garage… all new. When I bought it in 2005, I had never lived in the city before. I sold my 5-year-old surburban home and paid about the same price for one 102 years old. But it was 4 miles from downtown instead of 18. I could even deal with the gangs next door… if I didn’t have to deal with the commute.

Fast-forward 11 years to 2016. Denver is booming. With 1,000 people a month moving to the city, housing is scarce and most newcomers are young people from more expensive markets. They want the urban life downtown and have the high-paying job to afford it. Our sketchy neighborhood is now trendy. The gangs are gone, most houses are remodeled, some even scraped and rebuilt.

We liked our house, but it didn't really fit our needs. We’d put on an addition, but could we afford it? I still had 12 years of payments and not much extra cash.

Our friend got us thinking. At first I was afraid to mention it to Richard. The next day, he brought it up. “I wonder how much is our house is worth? What if we could find something we like better? Not too far away?”

“What about that place called Midtown?”

© Robert B Pickering 2017