Sorry Broncos, but in a scrimmage between Denver and Charlotte, it’s the home of the Panthers that comes out on top — at least in terms of being an affordable, compelling place to live.
While both Denver and Charlotte, which are roughly the same population, have a lot in common, including a vibrant sports, restaurant and entertainment scene, robust job markets with similar unemployment rates (Charlotte at 4.5% and Denver at 4.2%) and similar crime rates, Charlotte has some qualities that make it stand above Denver. Here are three.
Cost of living
It costs significantly less to live in Charlotte (the cost of living here is nearly 6% below the U.S. average) than in Denver, where residents pay more than 15% above the national average. In general, health care and housing are more expensive in Denver than in Charlotte, though Denver does have the advantage of cheaper utility and grocery costs. Sales taxes are slightly lower in Charlotte than in Denver, though incomes taxes are higher in Charlotte.
Furthermore, even though the median household incomes in the two cities are roughly the same, the cost of living differs significantly. Charlotte residents not only bring home plenty of bacon, they don’t have to shell out as much of it to live in the city.
Buying a home in Denver will cost you significantly more than buying one in Charlotte. Denver is one of just 14 markets in the U.S. that are overvalued; an overvalued housing market has home prices that are 10% or more above the long-term sustainable level.
Charlotte schools rank 6 out of 10 from school ranking site GreatSchools.org, which looks at test scores, compared with a 5 out of 10 for Denver. But the thing that may be most impressive about Charlotte is this: Residents can afford to live in a good school district. The Charlotte area has myriad affordable school districts — defined as an area in which the average wage earner in the city could spend less than 30% of his income for an average home in a district that has an elementary, middle and high school, all of which have at least average test scores -- while Denver has just two.
Denver gets colder than Charlotte and has more snow, but it is one of the sunniest cities in the nation (in some years, there are more than 300 days a year of sunshine).