Living in Boulder: 11 Things to Know Before You Move to Boulder [2023]

Moving to Boulder Relocation Guide

Is Boulder, Colorado, a Good Place to Live?

Widely considered to be one of the best places to live in the U.S., Boulder real estate seems to always be in high demand. It's a laid-back college town, but it's not lacking big-city appeal. Locals enjoy world-famous outdoor activities, a booming economy, and short commutes to the city of Denver

Is life in Boulder calling your name? You're not alone. If you're thinking about making the move, there are a few things you'll need to know first. From housing prices to the local lifestyle, this guide has everything you need to before you move to Boulder. 

5 Reasons to Love Living in Boulder

Why is Boulder considered the best place to live in the country? Everyone has a unique answer, but most people agree that these five reasons combine to make Boulder a great place to live.

  • Close to Denver:  Just 25 miles away from the city of Denver, many people move to Boulder to enjoy small-town charm with big-city convenience. 
  • Outdoor Adventures: Ski slopes, hiking trails, and a bike-friendly culture promise everyday outside fun.
  • Growing Economy: The vibrant Boulder economy and job market provide ample opportunities for dozens of industries. 
  • College Town: The University of Colorado's presence provides a unique lifestyle, kiddie condo investment opportunities, and more.
  • Beautiful Weather: With 300 days of sunshine per year and four distinct seasons, the wealth in Boulder is hard to beat.  

What Is the Cost of Living in Boulder?

When moving to Boulder, most people should be prepared for an increased cost of living. The city's cost of living index is 167.4, or 67.4% higher than other cities across the United States. Boulder is also more than 40% more expensive than the rest of Colorado, which is rated at 121.1.

The largest factor that accounts for the high cost of living in housing. The median home value is $738,400, and 48% of Boulder residents own their home. The average size of a home in Boulder is three bedrooms with two to three bathrooms. While some larger homes can be found, most of these homes exceed $1,000,000, and luxury homes in Boulder start at $2 million. However, the most affordable neighborhoods in Boulder may offer homes for less than $500,000.

Boulder also features a robust rental market, especially among condos near the University of Colorado. Monthly rates for a studio begin at $1,287, and one-bedrooms average $1,412. Two-, three-, and four-bedroom properties for rent in Boulder can range from $1,725 to $2,718. The monthly rent cost varies depending on the neighborhood and property type.

Additional cost of living factors to consider in Boulder include:

Cost of Living Boulder Colorado United States
Overall 167.4 121.1 100
Grocery 106.5 100.7 100
Health 94.2 95.8 100
Housing 319.4 166.1 100
Median Home Cost $738,400 $384,000 $231,200
Utilities 92.5 98.4 100
Transportation 95.2 106.7 100
Miscellaneous 108.1 100.2 100

Statistics via BestPlaces.net

Boulder residents pay 4.6% income tax, which is the national average. The sales tax rate in Boulder is 8.8%, which is slightly higher than the national average of 7.3%. Residents enjoy an annual salary of $40,895 on average, which is higher than the national average of $31,177. Households also bring in a higher combined income of $64,183 in Boulder than the average of $57,652 across the United States.

Boulder Job Market

A number of companies have set up shop in Boulder, which continues to draw employees from all across the world. These companies are deeply rooted into the area and their respective industries. Some of the largest employers include Boulder County, Boulder Valley School District, City of Boulder, Array BioPharma, Lockheed Martin, IBM, Google, and Whole Foods. All these businesses employ at least 2,000 Boulder residents, while some employ over 5,000 residents.

People with jobs in Denver often choose to live in Boulder, too. The convenient proximity allows people to enjoy all the perks of life in Boulder and easy everyday commutes. 

With the number of businesses that have created their headquarters in the area, a variety of industries have become crucial to the success of the economy. These industries include aerospace, bioscience, cleantech, information technology and software, natural products, and outdoor recreation. These industries continue to grow and employ more residents. It is expected that each industry will grow by at least 10% in the next few years. Fortunately, all of these industries create jobs in various sectors. While certain jobs require highly technical skills, others are open to all job candidates in the Boulder area.

Things to Do in Boulder

Activities & Entertainment in BoulderFrom breathtaking hikes to world-class restaurants, Boulder's long list of attractions and activities may attract more residents than anything else. Whether you want to do something inside or outdoors, there is always an activity to keep you busy. Additionally, many of the things to do in Boulder don't even require a fee.

Outdoor Activities

Those who enjoy the outdoors will be able to engage in fun outdoor activities in Boulder all year round. Most ski and snowboarding routes transform into mountain biking paths during the summer. This means residents have activities every season! It is easy to find numerous trails for hiking, biking, skiing, or snowboarding within a short drive.

If you love to go hiking or mountain biking, Betasso Preserve has seven excellent trails. You can hike and even bring a dog on all of them, and five of them allow mountain biking. All but one of the trails even allows horseback riding.

Restaurants, Breweries, and Bars

Restaurants in Boulder are typically clustered together, which makes it easy for residents to sample dishes from restaurants until they find their go-to place. Most restaurants are also near breweries, which encourages residents to enjoy a nice, cold pint. From farm fresh to hearty pub style food, there is a restaurant that caters to everyone's taste in Boulder.One local favorite is Zoe Ma Ma, a family-run street food restaurant that serves Chinese and Taiwanese fare.

Craft beer is a big deal in Boulder! The Brewers Association is located in town, which has encouraged a large growth of the number of breweries in the area. Regardless if you like your beers hoppy or want a smooth, clean taste, you can find a pint at any of the best breweries in Boulder. Twisted Pine Brewing Company is just one of the many breweries in the area and has won more than a dozen awards for their brews. Most recently, they won an award at the North American beer festival for their Northstar Imperial Porter.

Nightlife in Boulder

Boulder residents enjoy many nightlife options, including the world-renowned Red Rock Amphitheater, an amphitheater built into a hillside in Red Rocks Park. You can see concerts, movies, and they even do yoga in the morning. Residents can find numerous musical acts happening in and around time.

For more social nightlife activities, there are plenty of clubs and bars around the city. License No. 1 is a speakeasy-style bar located in the historic Hotel Boulderado. This bar is known for its Victorian aesthetic and variety of events such as wine tastings, live music, and hosting pop-ups focused on different foods like porterhouse steaks or lobster pots.

Boulder Climate

Weather & Climate in BoulderBoulder is 5,000 feet above sea level, which ensures the area has pleasant weather throughout the year. With a comfort index of 7.1/10, Boulder is one of the most comfortable areas to live in throughout the state. Boulder has over 240 days of sunshine each year, which is far above the national average of 205 days.

Due to the high altitude, Boulder experiences over 18 inches of rain and 71 inches of snow every year. However, the summers and winters are considered mild, temperature-wise. Summers only see an average of 85 °F, and winters barely drop below 20 °F. Only 30 days are incredibly warm in the summer, and fewer than 25 nights drop below 0°F in the winter. The most comfortable months are in the spring and fall when temperatures range between 60°F to 70°F.

Boulder Traffic

People who drive to work will be delighted to know that they'll spend less time in the car when living in Boulder! With only a 19-minute commute to work, Boulder residents have a much shorter commute than other cities across the country. Only half of the residents drive to work in their own vehicles, and the rest rely on carpooling or Boulder public transit. Additionally, over 12% of residents work from home throughout the year. This greatly frees up the number of commuters on the road.

Those who wish to take a road trip can easily get to the state's many ski resorts in under a two-hour drive. Denver is only 40 minutes away in heavy traffic, while Breckenridge is about two hours away. Residents who want to leave the state will find that the area is well-connected via numerous interstates and highways. Albuquerque, NM, is 7.5 hours away, and Salt Lake City, UT, is 8 hours away. Las Vegas, NV, can take nearly 12 hours to reach, whereas Dallas, TX, is much farther and requires a 14-hour drive with stops.

Alternative Routes

For the most part, traffic is not a problem in Boulder. Most residents can take major roads without much worry about delays or accidents. Those who do need to head east/west can use Pearl Street in place of Boulder Canyon Drive. Major roads that head north/south include 28th Street and Highway 7. Residents can use Folsom Street in place of 28th Street and 19th Street in place of Highway 7 during morning and evening commutes.

Public Transportation in Boulder

Public transportation in Boulder is fast and reliable, even during winter storms. Residents can rely on the Regional Transportation District (RTD) system and Boulder's local bus services to get around. Fares are simple and easy to remember. Local routes are $3 one-way, regional trips are $5.25, and airport service incurs a $10.50 charge. ADA and seniors are eligible for discounts on all fares. Those who wish to purchase all-day passes will simply pay double the one-way fare. These days passes include unlimited trips.

Schools in Boulder

Schools & Education in BoulderBoulder has one school district that offers education to all of the students in the area. Each year, the Boulder Valley School District provides education to over 32,000 students. Most schools in Boulder offer AP, IB, and Gifted programs. Classroom sizes are often 18 students to one teacher or smaller.

Boulder is also home to the University of Colorado Boulder and Naropa University. Both colleges are four-year schools that offer numerous degrees to students. They are exceptional choices for students looking to further their education in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.

Does Living in Boulder Sound Like a Dream Come True?

Residents in Boulder enjoy a daily lifestyle that most United States residents never thought was possible. The mountain ranges and nighttime skies in Boulder can't be beat. From the starlight skies and fresh air to beautiful sunny skies, Boulder creates a suburban living environment that embraces the outdoors and modern conveniences of a city. The winters are mild and the summers are warm, which allows residents to enjoy all four seasons every year. There are tons of reasons to love living in Boulder. What's your favorite?

If you've fallen in love with Boulder, contact RE/MAX Alliance of Boulder with Boulder Home Source at (303) 543-5720 to get in touch with Boulder real estate agents who can help you discover your ideal new home.

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