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Mountains behind a green field in Boulder, Colorado

15 Things to Know About Living in Boulder

Moving to Boulder? This vibrant Colorado city is one of the best places to live in the U.S.—with a health-focused culture, state-of-the-art educational facilities, and tons of outdoor recreation hot spots in the area’s vast mountain ranges and open green spaces. Here are 15 things to know about living in Boulder!

Live Comfortably in the Mountains

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Boulder offers a vibrant mix of urban and outdoor living, with scenic mountain views and great local amenities. Although Boulder is a luxury city with a higher-than-average cost of living, residents earn roughly 26% above the national wage average, making it possible to afford these higher costs. Additionally, the city is on track to reach its goal of having 15% of all homes be affordable for low, moderate, and middle-income residents by 2035. Nearly 66% of Boulder homes are owner-occupied, and eligible buyers can take advantage of permanently affordable home programs, down payment solution grants, or “H2O” House-to-Homeownership loans when purchasing a home. The State of Colorado also offers plenty of tax deferrals and exemptions for senior citizens.

Pursue Your Goals with Higher Education

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Boulder is a dynamic college town, perfect for earning your degree and entering the workforce. The city is home to the University of Colorado Boulder, one of the top colleges in Colorado. Enroll at UC Boulder alongside more than 36,000 students for an active campus culture with plenty of recreation opportunities, as well as 4,300 different courses in approximately 160 fields of study—including Business, Psychology, Computer Science, Journalism, and more! Attend Naropa University, one of the best private colleges in Colorado, combining traditional academics with Eastern wisdom for majors in the arts, counseling, and environmental studies. Or take a non-traditional approach to your education and build partnerships with leading corporations like Ford Motor and Western Union in the 18-week Accelerator program at Watson Institute.

Kickstart Your Career

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Economic prospects in Boulder are bright, with a lower-than-average unemployment rate, high wages, and a flourishing entrepreneurial community. Residents can find jobs in Boulder in key industries like aerospace, bioscience, cleantech, and more. Seek employment at the Boulder offices of commercial real estate agency and Dallas-based Fortune 500 company CBRE. Find a job researching medical advances with Pfizer, which acquired Boulder-based company Array BioPharma Inc. in 2019 and continues to be a major Colorado employer and one of the best places to work in Boulder. Maintain fiber and bandwidth connectivity at the leading global communications infrastructure provider Zayo Group. Develop search technology at the campus of one of Boulder’s largest employers, Google. Or join one Boulder’s many startups or local businesses, as roughly 96% of the city’s 7,000 employers employ fewer than 50 workers.

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Ride Around Boulder with Ease

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Specially-designed infrastructure and public transit have made it easier to navigate Boulder. Despite heavy road traffic, the city is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the U.S., with an extensive bike network boasting over 300 miles of bikeway. Riders can check out bikes from nonprofit bike share program Boulder B-Cycle, which has 38 stations throughout the city. Boulder is also highly walkable, with over 500 miles of sidewalks and pedestrian-only paths making it easy to accomplish daily errands without a car. For public transportation, embark on the free Park-to-Park Shuttle, or use Boulder’s bus system—which offers both local and regional routes, and uses clever route names like HOP, SKIP, and JUMP. If you’re living car-free or car-lite, rent cars for longer trips from Colorado CarShare. Or take advantage of unlimited express travel using the bus and light rail services running from Denver to Boulder with EcoPass.

Bask in Boulder’s Beautiful Weather

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While living in Boulder, you can take advantage of mild weather and vast green spaces. The city has roughly 245 sunny days per year and average temperatures between 22 and 87 degrees, making it the perfect spot for year-round outdoor recreation. Boulder is also home to approximately 51,000 public trees, and the county manages over 30,000 acres of forest—so you’ll have plenty of options if you’re looking for things to do outside in Boulder! Sit in the shade, play ball, have a barbecue, or run through open fields with the backdrop of the beautiful Boulder mountain ranges at North Boulder Park. Practice on the tennis courts, set out from the Chautauqua Trailhead, or have a picnic in the foothills of the Flatirons at Chautauqua Park. Stroll through a flourishing wetland habitat to see scenic natural views or go fishing for bluegill and channel catfish in the permitted areas at Walden Ponds Wildlife Habitat. Or practice your swing or tee off for a game of 18 holes at Flatirons Golf Course.

Hike & Bike Stunning Trails

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Located at the base of the Rocky Mountains, Boulder is the perfect getaway for avid hikers and mountain bikers! The city has an extensive network of hiking trails and mountain paths, and even has hiker shuttles to help you get around. Walk or bike the 2.6-mile path alongside beautiful Boulder Creek at the Boulder Canyon Trail. Climb through challenging stairways, open meadows, and rocky outcroppings to the summit of Mount Sanitas on the Mount Sanitas Trail. Pack a picnic and go hiking with family in Boulder at the slanted sandstone formations of the Flatirons. Travel by foot or bike past streams, wetlands, and short-grass prairie to view the diverse ecosystem at the Wonderland Lake Loop. Try popular, scenic spots like the Canyon Loop Trail at Betasso Preserve or Picture Rock Trail at Heil Valley Ranch for more of a mountain biking challenge. Backpack popular routes like the Devil’s Thumb, Lost Lake, and Diamond Lake trails just 40 minutes west of Boulder at Hessie Trailhead. And for even more outdoor exploration, head just an hour away to Rocky Mountain National Park, which encompasses 415 square miles of trails with crystalline alpine lakes and towering peaks!

Excel Outdoors in Boulder & Beyond

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No matter the time of year, there are tons of ways to stay active and make the most of Boulder’s climate by trying exciting outdoor activities! Many Boulder residents are also avid rock climbers, thanks to the area’s 5,300+ climbing routes. Some of the most popular destinations for climbing include The Flatirons, Eldorado Canyon, Flagstaff Mountain, and Boulder Canyon. Try kayaking through beautiful waterways at the Boulder Reservoir—or cool off by tubing under a canopy of cottonwoods at the waterways of Boulder Creek. Opt for a weekend trip, and take advantage of this city’s convenient location amongst some of the best ski resorts in the U.S.—many of which are within a two-hour drive from Boulder! Pack up the car and have a blast at Vail and Breckenridge. Go skiing closer to home and ride 680 acres of skiable terrain at Eldora Ski Resort, just 40 minutes from Downtown Boulder. Or go whitewater river rafting at nearby Colorado rivers like Clear Creek and Cache La Poudre, each about an hour away from Boulder.

Spend a Day with Family

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From beautiful reserves and parks to community activities, there’s no shortage of family-friendly things to do in Boulder! Have a family outing at one of more than 60 public parks with sports fields, playgrounds, and picnic areas. Get immersed in entertaining full-dome shows and enrich your child’s science education by visiting the Fiske Planetarium. Explore a 7,200-square-foot, state-of-the-art climbing facility with classes, teams, and clubs at ABC Climbing. Try out family-friendly attractions like Miniature Golf, Go-Karts, and Batting Cages while snacking on shakes and hot dogs at the Gateway Park Fun Center. Browse hundreds of creatively designed kites to pick the right flyer for the summer season at Into The Wind. Ring in spring by listening to live music in Downtown Boulder and watching a parade at the Tulip Fairy & Elf Festival. Or dress your child up as a ghost, ghoul, or goblin for Halloween and go trick-or-treating on Pearl Street in the Munchkin Masquerade.

Get Hyped for Boulder Sports

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Boulder has sprawling athletic fields, top-notch university facilities, and a passionate crowd of young college sports fans. Head over to the CU Boulder campus to see the Colorado Buffaloes (NCAA) score touchdowns and throw Hail Marys across Folsom Field. Watch the men‘s and women‘s basketball team shoot hoops from the three-point line at the Coors Events Center. Keep the support going in the summer, and root for the Boulder Collegians (Mile High Collegiate Baseball League) as they hit pop-flys and grand slams into the bleachers at Scott Carpenter Field. Join or cheer on Colorado’s premiere adult soccer club Harpos FC (USASA) as they weave through defenders and score goals at Williams Turf Field. Once you’ve checked out the Boulder sports scene, don’t forget you’re a stone’s throw away from some of the best pro sports teams in the U.S. in Denver—including the Stanley Cup-winning Colorado Avalanche (NHL), Denver Broncos (NFL), Denver Nuggets (NBA), Colorado Rockies (MLB), and Colorado Rapids (MLS).

Appreciate Stunning Art & Culture

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Artists and creatives thrive in Boulder, one of the top vibrant arts communities in medium-sized U.S. cities. Discover thousands of artifacts and archives from key moments in Boulder’s history at the Museum of Boulder. Support Boulder’s Arts Education Campaign or tour exhibits showcasing everything from the language of color to agricultural-based art by some of the most acclaimed artists in Boulder at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. Explore award-winning art galleries like McMahon Gallery—showcasing exhibits like Neuron Forest and Prismatic—weekly cult film series like Friday Night Weird, and a variety of live theater performances inside an old dairy-processing facility at the Dairy Arts Center. Admire “some of the most significant Shelby American cars ever built,” including GT40s, Cobras, and Shelby Mustangs, at the Shelby American Collection. Or stay overnight at Boulder’s first luxury hotel, Hotel Boulderado, which opened in 1909 and features Victorian architecture and stained-glass ceilings.

Commemorate Boulder Pride

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Boulder proudly fosters a thriving LGBTQ community with several year-round events and access to essential resources. The organization Out Boulder County provides LGBTQ-specific resources for housing, career opportunities, mental health services, and more, so people of every identity can feel safe and comfortable. Additionally, local businesses and organizations show their support during Pride Month by displaying pride flags around town for Rainbows Over Boulder County. Celebrate Pride with the Boulder community every June, with activities, merch, and live performers at the Boulder Pride Festival in Boulder Central Park. Enjoy live entertainment and bid on silent auction items to fundraise for LGBTQ resources at the yearly Garden Party. See performances by drag artists, comedians, dancers, and more at the Boulder Public Library to celebrate queer joy at the Night of Noise. Or support queer and trans people of color by participating in runway balls on the first and third Sundays every month at Sunday Kiki Sessions.

Celebrate Festivals Year-Round

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Residents living in Boulder can find a number of annual events highlighting a wide variety of interests and celebrating the city’s diverse cultural scene. Stroll through Pearl Street Mall to discover handmade furniture, jewelry, sculpture, paintings, and other work from Boulder artists at the Pearl Street Arts Festival. Listen to live classical music from nationally-recognized acts such as Joshua Bell, Jordan Holloway, and Michelle Cann at the Colorado Music Festival. Attend classic Shakespeare plays like The Winter’s Tale, King Lear, and Much Ado About Nothing at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Sample local Boulder food, stroll through a beer, wine, and margarita garden, and visit a selection of artisan shops at the Firefly Handmade Market during Boulder Fall Fest. Or celebrate Boulder’s Jewish community with authentic jewelry, Judaica, ethnic food, and community events at the Boulder Jewish Festival.

Taste Renowned Local Food

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There’s no better way to satisfy your cravings than visiting some of Boulder’s best restaurants! Sit down with friends and family for shareable, locally sourced comfort cuisine like Montreal Duck Wings, Bacon-Wrapped Date Skewers, and Hippie Valley Deviled Eggs at River and Woods. Savor oak-fired and grass-finished beef like sirloin, tenderloin, and ribeye while sipping a Vaudeville Villain cocktail from SALT. Enjoy authentic Japanese fare like Tekka Don, Oyako Gohan, and Zaru Soba from Izakaya Amu. Chow down Chinese street food on the go with Ma Ma’s Potsticker, Pork Belly Bao, and Za Jiang Mian from Zoe Ma Ma. Stop by Pearl Street Mall for Colorado Goat Cheese Agnolotti and Berkshire Salami Cotto with a Blueberry Lemonade Tart for dessert at Oak at Fourteenth. Or make a reservation for date night to partake in a four-course Italian meal with selections like Trota, Risotto Ai Ricci Di Mare, Ippoglosso, and Pavlova at Frasca Food & Wine.

Tour Boulder Breweries

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Colorado is home to more than 400 established breweries, making Boulder a great spot for brewery tours and sampling local beverages. Drink barrel-aged beers like Gorpe Diem and Mary Ann’s Pie or Stampede Colorado Gold Lager at Avery Brewing Company. Gather around for pub grub like Basil Blue Burgers, as well as a rotating selection of over 75 house brews like Annapurna Amber and Blackberry Wheat at Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery. Sip signature brews like Future Sequence Double IPA, Dad Joke American Lager, and Midnight Society at VisionQuest Brewery. Visit a 15-barrel brew house to knock back high-quality beers like Oatmeal Milk Stout, India Pale Ale, and Red IPA in the Tap Room at Finkel & Garf. Taste Czech-style lagers like Saison Vyrocni and fermented Old Bones draft beer on the beer garden patio at Wild Provisions Beer Project. Or take apart delicious tacos while drinking a Hazy IPA, Bandito Mexican Lager, or Everyday Mountain Pils on the “Best Patio in Boulder” at Sanitas Brewing Company.

Experience Active Nightlife

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Experience Boulder in a whole new way once the sun sets with exciting nightlife opportunities! Take a seat for some of the best burgers in Boulder while drinking premium spirits and beer at film-themed bar and grill Dark Horse. Sample Craw’s Marg, The Paloma, and Colorado Old Fashioned cocktails while singing karaoke, playing darts, or rooting on your favorite teams at Attic Bar and Bistro. Attend a dinner theater performance of Fiddler on the Roof or The Sound of Music while sipping drink specials like Sister Margaretta and Edelweiss at BDT Stage. Bring friends to Karaoke, Trivia Night, or a Dubstep Disco event at DV8 Distillery—or stop in to sample craft cocktails in the tasting room. Find clues and solve challenging puzzles before the time runs out in immersive scenarios at Boulder Escape Room. Let off some steam by going axe-throwing in Boulder or suiting up to smash things in the Rage Room at Axe Whooping.

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About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.