I moved from New York City to Denver in June.
There are some major differences between the two places I've called home.
From a beloved state flag to a better work-life balance, here's what has surprised me the most.
New York City always felt like a temporary home.
I spent three years in New York City and never once bought furniture. I collected nightstands tossed on the curb during trash day and happily accepted bits of decor from friends who had decided the city was no longer for them.
When I look back, my unwillingness to purchase real furniture stands as a reminder of my plans to live in New York City temporarily. If I didn't have furniture or items of value, it wouldn't be hard to leave.
While leaving the city was anything but easy, the pandemic had me reconsidering what I cared about in life.
I cared about my career, which could now be remote.
I cared about community — something I was longing for but lacking in New York.
And I cared about nature. New York City's green spaces, like Domino Park, Central Park, and Prospect Park, just weren't cutting it for me.
So this summer, I moved to Denver.
This summer, I relocated to Denver.
Ultimately, I decided it was the best place for me. I had friends thriving in the city; I'd be closer to subjects I cover as a reporter — including tiny living and ghost towns — and I'd be able to spend more time outdoors.
In June, I arrived in my decades-old car, and, quite quickly, Denver welcomed me.
In the three months since moving, a number of things have surprised me.
I grew up in Orlando, Florida, so Denver is the third place I've called home.
Just like any city, it has its quirks.
Over the past three months, I've been exploring and discovering as much as I can in and around Denver.
Everywhere you go, athleisure is welcome - and expected.
In New York City, I would rush home from a yoga class, shower, change, and meet friends for dinner.
The option to go straight from yoga to drinks wasn't the social norm. You simply didn't go out in athletic clothes in New York City.
In Denver, athletic clothes are welcome almost everywhere.
At bars and concerts alike, you're bound to spot plenty of people in their outdoor gear no matter the atmosphere.
There's a strong love for the Colorado flag.
It's nearly impossible to walk anywhere without spotting a T-shirt, bumper sticker, or banner waving from a restaurant adorned with the Colorado flag design.
I mistakenly spent my first few days in Denver assuming that the flag belonged to one of Denver's beloved sports teams.
I quickly learned I was wrong.
Each color on the blue, white, red, and golden flag represents a different part of Colorado's natural landscape, according to ColoradoInfo: blue for the skies, gold for the sunshine, white for the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, and red for the state's iconic red rocks.
Compared to New Yorkers and Floridians, Coloradans have a special affinity for their state flag.
Magical green chile coats burritos, pizzas, and burgers.
I've had my enchiladas drenched in mole sauce and burritos smothered in queso, but before landing in Denver I had never heard of green chile.
Often served with pork, the salsa-like sauce is derived from New Mexican chiles and traditionally found in Mexican food, according to Out There Colorado.
But in Denver, it's a popular topping for all types of food. I've had the sauce on pizza and heard about burgers heaping with the cherished chiles.
Compared to New Yorkers, Coloradans have a better work-life balance.
In New York City, I noticed that the first question out of everyone's mouth is, "What do you do for work?" It's a natural conversation starter in a city that's career focused.
In Denver, questions about your career often come second to the more important question: "What do you do for fun?"
Maybe it's because some remote workers work East Coast hours (so their workdays end at 3:30 p.m. local time), or perhaps it's the huge focus on the outdoors — but the people I've met so far in Denver have a stronger work-life balance than my community back in New York City.
I'm still digging into Denver's thriving food scene.
In New York City, I could aimlessly head to Chinatown, Little Italy, or Koreatown, where I was confident I'd find the delicious foods I was craving.
When I arrived in Denver, I didn't expect to find the same myriad cuisines, but so far, there hasn't been a dish I can't find. From tasty quinoa chorizo at Xicamiti La Taqueria to hand-roll sushi at Temaki Den, Denver's food scene hasn't let me down — it just takes a little more digging.
I'm still on the hunt for a decent everything bagel in Denver, but I might have to let New York City win the bagel competition.
Breweries are everywhere.
I liked beer before moving to Denver, but I have no choice but to fully embrace it now.
I was shocked to learn just how many breweries there are in the city. For every 50,000 residents, there are six breweries, according to Food & Wine. The city's abundance of craft beer earned Denver 18th place for cities with the most breweries in 2019, Food & Wine reported. According to Colorado Brewery List, there are more than 80 breweries in the city.
In my new house in Denver's RiNo neighborhood, I'm within walking distance to more than a dozen local breweries that I look forward to visiting.
Unlike New York City, it feels as if Denver and its surrounding towns have two spring seasons: one in the lower altitudes and one in the mountains.
I cherished the short window of spring in New York City when buds would pop up and flowers would bloom along the brownstone streets in Brooklyn.
But in Colorado, blooming wildflowers create a springlike feel for much longer than a typical season.
That's because snow doesn't start melting in higher elevations until spring, so when summer comes around, flowers finally start popping up, animals start having babies, and many of the typical spring elements flourish, according to MyColoradoParks.
Even now that it's September I'm still spotting plenty of wildflowers on my hikes.
People joked that it's always sunny, and they're not wrong.
I grew up in the Sunshine State, but Colorado is a close competitor when it comes to the heat and sun.
There's a common phrase that Colorado has "300 days of sunshine," and though it's a myth started by a publicist for one of the railroads in Colorado in 1870, according to The Denver Post, the state does experience a lot of sunny days.
The sunshine works to our advantage, as so much adventuring takes place outdoors.
I knew fires and smoke were a consequence of living in Denver, but I hadn't realized how it would affect my daily life.
Before moving to Denver, I hadn't thought twice about New York City or Florida's air quality (although I probably should have).
In Denver, air quality is on everybody's mind.
I've had plans canceled because of smoke, and I spent a weekend indoors while Denver topped the list for the worst air quality in the world earlier this summer.
I was surprised just how much air quality would affect my daily activities, partly because I'm used to hobbies and hangouts taking place indoors instead of outside.
I have more bruises, scrapes, and bumps in three months than in my three years in New York City, and I couldn't be happier.
Whether toppling over on my Rollerblades or slipping on rocks while hiking, I've had cuts and bruises covering my arms and legs since I've arrived.
The marks remind me that I'm getting to do what I love most in life: be outside.
Read the original article on Insider