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June 11, 2013 6:01 PM   Subscribe

I have the opportunity to take a new job in Boulder, Colorado, and I need to figure out if I'd enjoy living there.

I've been there once, as a day trip out from Denver, and enjoyed what I saw. That's good! I was a fan of the restaurants, and the bike-friendliness, and the people. But I don't know enough about the place itself just yet to be sure I want to uproot myself and move two thousand miles from everyone and everything I love. So:

- what sorts of art/music/food/etc. festivals are there? One of the best things about living where I am now is the huge thrice-yearly street festival.
- how much is a cup of coffee, a gallon of gas, or any other relative measurement of cost of living?
- what's the nightlife like?
- my current mortgage is ~$1800/month for a 1600sqft 3BR house on a quarter acre. What should my expectations be if I choose to buy something? If I choose to rent? If I want to pay, say, $1500/month instead?
- how long does it typically take to get to Denver? How often would one find themselves driving down there for something (bar, food, store, concert) that isn't available in Boulder?
- what's the dating scene and like for a straight white dude in his early 30s?
- is everything in this thread still accurate?
- what else should I know about that I might not already?

thanks a ton for any input!
posted by xbonesgt to Grab Bag (8 answers total)
 
I skimmed that thread you linked to and it seems fairly accurate.

Boulder is expensive, cold, very white and in my opinion, not worth it.

BUT there are options near enough to Boulder that would be totally fine. I know people who do the Boulder/Denver or Denver/Boulder commute and feel it's entirely worth it. Like Louisville, which is between Denver and Boulder. Alternatively Longmont, home of Oskar Blues and Left Hand Brewing as well as an awesome cheese shop. But I digress.

The nightlife is very college oriented, cause you know, it's a college town.

But compared to Worcester... I would do it in a heartbeat. It's a great place for self professed software nerds.
posted by FlamingBore at 6:12 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I lived in Boulder for about 6 months for a job in 2009. I paid $500 + utilities for an okay room in an okay shared house on the Denver side of town. Iirc, it was about a 30min drive to Denver, but totally time/traffic/weather dependent. As a single 38 year old, the social scene was a bummer. Everyone there is either in college or they are established upper middle class folks with families. Some decent restaurants and bars. It is beautiful to walk and bike around. You will likely find yourself driving to Denver for dates. Most of the folks I worked with lived outside Denver or in the 'burbs between Boulder and Denver.
posted by tingting at 6:46 PM on June 11, 2013


5 year Boulder County resident here. The other thread is still accurate. Housing is limited and very expensive. In Boulder, we lived in a 600 sq ft apartment and paid $800/month. Now we live in Lafayette (eastern Boulder County) in a 800 sq ft apartment and pay $1100/month but there is a lap pool open year round and a lovely gym so we save on gym memberships.

Colorado is white-white. Boulder is SUPER white. Denver is more diverse but still pretty white. We have this crazy mix of liberal and conservative politics that is always interesting. Pot and civil unions are legal as is concealed carry on university campuses.

Food is expensive. Art scene is only ok. There are festivals and farmers markets and stuff like that. The Boulder Creek Festival and the Bolder Boulder are the big to-dos. In the summer, there is a farmer's market at least twice a week.

My boyfriend and I commute to Denver for work. It is about 40 mins door to door on the bus. There is pretty solid public transportation and the Boulder to Denver commute is way better than the Denver to Boulder commute. Definitely DON'T live in Denver and work in Boulder.

Tons of yuppie-hippies that are some how liberal AND conservative at the same time. And crabby. For people who get tons of sunshine and exercise, they can be very frowny.

If you aren't outdoorsy now, you will become outdoorsy. The weather is amazing. There are trails and open spaces everywhere. You could do a race or tri every weekend all summer. I swam with ironman world champs and olympians last summer. Which is cool but can be intimidating if you let it be. But, you can join cycling (running, swimming, climbing, etc) groups and meet people so that is cool.

Can't really speak about dating as I was partnered when I moved here. But, we got a dog when we moved to Boulder and that is how I made all my friends. Boulder is very dog-friendly.

Gas is close to $4/gallon right now. A cup of coffee (just straight coffee) is probably about $2. Milk is between $2-$4/gallon. There are tons of breweries if you are interested in beer and most of the beer is good. $10 for a 6 pack of quality beer.

I am happy to not be in Boulder but I love being close. I prefer Louisville and Lafayette, honestly. Less pretension but more family-oriented so perhaps not great for dating. No place is perfect. There are three fires burning today after a day of weather that I call "the breath of Hades." Low humidity and high winds usually set things on fire. But, Colorado is beautiful and breathtaking and I never get tired of exploring the state. After 5 years here, I kinda can't imagine being anywhere else.
posted by rachums at 7:37 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Very cold? It was 100 degrees F today. There can be some cold days in the winter - you're a mile above sea level, quite near the Continental Divide. You should be ready for snow.

Boulder is very expensive, and very inclusive. Get the idea of, "hippies" out of your mind. There's rich white people, that have long family ties to the area (as long as you can, in the West, I guess) that have a lot of NIMBY going for them. Growth is not a subject that's smiled upon. People want Boulder to the Boulder it was x years ago (whatever, "x", is). I'm not saying that's good or bad, I'm just saying that's how it is.

I would not suggest any of the suburbs around Boulder - it's all wasteland crap. Longmont is near nothing. Being the home a brewery gets you exactly 0 style points in the Denver/Boulder area - it's not something unique.

The University has a huge influence on Boulder. It's an influx of 25,000+ people that don't necessarily have roots in the town, and thus will use the entire place as a commodity. A lot of the "nightlife" or whatever you call it is geared to their throwaway income. The bars suck, the music scene sucks, the art scene sucks. Go to Denver for that.

So that's my curmudgeon look. If you LOVE the outdoors, you'll love Boulder, as the Boulder Mountain Park is incredible: miles of hiking, dozens, if not hundreds of climbing routes within a bike ride, a mountain bike trail or two (maybe two?) Road biking wonderland. Rocky Mountain National Park is like - right *there*, there's the Indian Peaks Wilderness just up Boulder Canyon, a little past Nederland.

Getting to Denver is easy - just grab the regional bus to Denver. It's an hour for the regular, 45 minutes for the express. It's a little shitty right now, as there's construction on I-25, and will be for the foreseeable future. Commuting would be hell, I would think. The busses are pretty damn busy during rush hour. If I find myself in Boulder ~5pm, I wait until ~6pm to even dare take a bus.
posted by alex_skazat at 8:57 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Boulder's best attribute (if you are not there for the university or work tied to the university) is the outdoors. Great medium-intensity hiking just minutes from your house. Rock climbing. Skiing. Running trails. Bicycling. All of it is accessible. Not only is this stuff not far from your house, but it is knit into every aspect of the city. Speed humps in the middle of major streets to make it easier for people to cross on foot or bicycle. Crosswalks with push buttons to light up flashing lights to warn the cars. "Traffic calming." Bike racks everywhere. Trails snaking over every part of the city. Bike racks on the buses. People climbing walls at the university (at least they used to when I was there, and they probably weren't supposed to.)

The Boulder Bolder (or is is Bolder Boulder?) is a 10k race and it is a huge big deal. Never have I seen a 10k be such a big deal--usually that is reserved for marathons.

So if you love the outdoors, Boulder is a great place to be. If you don't LOVE the outdoors? I wouldn't bother. I mean, it's not a bad place to live and if you have a job pulling you there, I wouldn't advise against going there if you don't love the outdoors and seeing as you're a white guy. (I say this because if you were NOT a white person AND you didn't love the outdoors, I would stay AWAY from Boulder.) If you don't love the outdoors you might think Boulder is nice, but you won't think it's anything particularly special.
posted by massysett at 6:53 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd agree with massysett. I moved to Boulder a few years ago after living for nearly a decade in D.C., and I'm really happy here--but I'm in my early 30s, was not a huge "nightlife" person even when living in a city, and I love the outdoors. If you're used to living in a big east coast city with great public transportation, but want to move somewhere that isn't a big city, I think Boulder is a great way to retain some things that are good about city living while still moving somewhere smaller and slower. You end up in a place that isn't super car-dependent--we almost never use our car--and that has more (and better) cultural events than you'd expect for a city of 100,000 people, due to the university. However you are giving up the advantages of big-city living: diverse food scene and diversity in general; huge festivals; great nightlife. Denver is a great city but doesn't compare at all to places like Boston, New York, Chicago, LA, or Seattle, so I wouldn't assume that you could just drive down the road to scratch that itch.

With respect to what others have noted above, I'm 31 and I haven't found that my social life revolves around the university at all. Neither my partner nor I went to school here, which probably plays a part in that. We tend to hang out with his co-workers (other guys and a few women in their 20s and 30s, most of whom don't have kids), other outdoors-y people of all ages, and some alums from our college. We are decently tight with our neighbors, all of whom are older and have lived in Boulder since the 1950s. Our group of friends and acquaintances is less racially diverse than it was in DC, but in other ways--particularly in terms of age, employment/class, and where people are in life--it's much more diverse; in D.C. nearly all of our friends were college-educated people in their 20s with white-collar jobs and that's not at all the case for us now.

The weather is 110% better in Colorado than on the East Coast. The sun is nearly always shining, and due to the low humidity the summers feel less oppressively hot and the winters feel less oppressively cold. This has made a huge difference in my quality of life, and it's part of what drives people to always be outside rather than having social scenes revolve around restaurants and clubs.

So, there are pluses and minuses, it's hard to say whether you (or anyone else) would be happy or dissatisfied. If I were you, I'd look at the people who would be working with you in your new job--are you going to be working at a startup with a lot of young professionals who are unmarried/no kids, or are you joining a bigger company where folks leave to go home to Superior / Longmont / Lafayette at the end of the day to be with their kids? That will probably have a huge impact on your social life, especially in the beginning before you have a chance to find your tribe. I'd also try to figure out what you like about living where you are now, what you dislike, and how open you are to a total change of lifestyle--if you really like where you are, I think you'll only see how Boulder (or any small-ish city) fails to measure up, whereas if you feel kind of over/done with city living you are more likely to appreciate something totally different.
posted by iminurmefi at 9:31 AM on June 12, 2013


I have lived in the area for 8+ years and am a 30 year old white professional male. I recently moved to Superior (5 minutes South) and have shed a lot of qualms I initially had about the area (I went to school in Philly and grew up in the DC suburbs). I would be happy to answer specific questions if you want to PM me.

Benefits :

-Amazing weather
-beautiful people
-close proximity to Denver (going out in Boulder gets old fast, IMHO)
-bike-friendly
-SUPER outdoors friendly
-not as expensive as you might think (I thought Philly was WAY more expensive)
-good tech jobs


Drawbacks :

-People are pretentious
-There is a reputation in the outlying areas (Denver) that everyone here is a liberal, pot-head douche. I disagree, I think it's more of a town full of privileged people, which bugs me more anyway
-I have found it hard to make close friends that are here permanently. It has been very easy to make friends here, but I would say that 70% of people I have met here have moved in 8 years. Super transient.
-See the 'stuff white people like' comment (it was an extreme culture shock moving here from Philly)
-Bad traffic (always construction, tons of big business quickly moving in (including Wal-Mart, which is a big political debate, although no one has a problem with Target, Petsmart, Whole foods, etc presence)
-Limited social scene (I am starting to feel pretty old at 30 if I want to go get drinks)
-Can be very college-y


These are just a bunch of quick random thoughts off the top of my head but I think a lot of 30 year old single young professional men would agree.
posted by itsovernow at 9:24 AM on June 14, 2013


I should also add that moving here has gotten me interested in my own health and well being (I bike a few hundred miles a week, weather permitting, am always tan, and have gotten into great shape). When I lived on the east coast I was a fat alcoholic with no friends and no life with very little overall happiness, but it has been quite different here.
posted by itsovernow at 9:30 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


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