Moving out of Denver? Here’s where you’re most likely to go

I-25 at rush hour, March 15, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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I-25 at rush hour, March 15, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty; i25; I-25; highway; traffic; skyline; cityscape
Denver on the move, I-25 at rush hour, March 15, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

When we hear the words “Denver” and “moving,” the mind generally tends to go to hordes of people moving into our city. But with a looming affordability crisis, there are also people moving out of Denver.

Specifically, 25,499 people moved out of Denver County from 2014 to 2015, according to most recently available data from the IRS.

Most of them stayed in Colorado.

In this Chart of the Week, we look at who’s moving out of Denver and where they’re going. 

Let’s start with some quick notes about what IRS data can and can’t tell us. First you need to know that this dataset essentially looks at the addresses on tax returns filed and compares 2014 to 2015.

If I filed my tax return in Denver County during 2014 and then filed it in Weld County during 2015, I’m considered someone who moved to Weld County. If I don’t file my taxes, then I’m not part of the pool. So this data doesn’t show the people who moved, but didn’t file their taxes.

Similarly, people who earn less than $10,350 don’t have to file an income tax return. So this dataset doesn’t capture the lowest earners either.

So here are the top ten counties that people were moving to from Denver. I have to assume that the entire local comedy scene is responsible for Los Angeles County being on this list.

But this being tax return data and all, there’s also information about adjusted gross incomes. Using this information, an average gross income per mover can be calculated. Here’s the average gross income for each of the top seven Colorado counties where Denver County residents were moving to:

What does this show? Former Denver residents who earned less than $40,000 per year on average were moving to Adams County. People who earned over $100,000 on average were moving to Douglas County.

And more or less, that aligns with other housing data from the Denver Metro Association of Realtors. They found that median price for a residential home in Adams County so far this year, $335,000, is cheaper than the price in Douglas County, $469,900.

As always, why people are moving out of Denver is more complicated than income or housing costs alone. Sometimes a grocery store could be the reason to move and sometimes it’s so you can have a place to make art and sometimes it’s something else entirely. But it’s worth looking at those who are moving out and not just those coming in.