Boulder has a big city drive and a small town feel choke-full of hiking, biking, skiing, dining and sprinkled with quirks and pitfalls. Here are 10 things you should know as an out-of-towner moving or thinking about moving to Boulder Colorado.
1. Real Estate in Boulder Proper (Sticker Shock, even for “Coasties”)
Both the rental market and residential real estate market are tight in Boulder. To secure a rental you often have to be one of the first to see the signs go in the ground (yep, still done here) or incessantly check Zillow, Craigslist or local rental companies. Be sure to go to the showing ready to write a large check. The average rent in Boulder is about $2,210 with an average size rental of 824 square feet. If you are looking to buy a home that market also moves fast. The average days on market in 2021 was 49 days (this number includes days the property was under contract until it closed – a typical contract period in Boulder is about 30 days). Often buyers only have hours to make a major financial decision – the average single family home price in 2021 was $1,530,000 and the average attached dwelling price in 2021 was $572,000.
2. Boulder is Not the Only Game in Town
Since Boulder prices have soared people have been moving to the surrounding, more affordable, towns of Louisville, Lafayette and Longmont Colorado. Longmont, 28 minutes from downtown Boulder, is the biggest of the three with a population of about 90,000. It is the least expensive of the surrounding towns with the average home price of $674,000 in 2021. Longmont’s large downtown has a western feel, many tech companies, and high-speed fiber internet capability for everyone. Lafayette, a 24-minute drive to downtown Boulder, is a cozy town with a few good restaurants and small shops that is slowly turning into a “suburb” of Boulder. There are lots of old homes in Lafayette with new builds/developments sprouting up. The average home price in 2021 in Lafayette was 813,000. Louisville, a 20-minute drive from downtown Boulder, has a historic mining downtown, with tons of charm, town events, box stores on the outskirts and an influx of people wanting to live there. In 2021 the average house price was $927,000.
3. The Homestead Act is Long Dead
Well, obviously! But out-of-town buyers often arrive in Boulder thinking they will get more land in Boulder for their money, no matter what their budget, and are shocked at the typical lot sizes in Boulder proper. The median lot size of all the homes sold within the past year in Boulder was .18 acres or 7,885 square feet. To get more land head just outside the city limits to the Foothills or out east towards the Plains.
4. The Foothills
The City of Boulder is nestled up against the Foothills. Access to hiking, biking, climbing, and skiing is easy from town but Boulder doesn’t have that quintessential mountain town feel that many out-of-towners daydream about. To get that crisp air, pine smell and white snow sticking to the Evergreens head west up one of five main roads – Flagstaff Drive, Canyon Boulevard, Mapleton Avenue, Linden Drive or Lee Hill Road – into the Boulder Foothills. The roads are windy and can get snow packed. Being on a bus route in the Foothills is key because the roads are plowed more often. It is not rare to see bears, mountains lions, coyotes, foxes, etc. up in the Foothills so vigilance is required when little kids and small pets play outside.
5. The Plains
If you’d rather see farm animals head to East Boulder or just north of Boulder which offers flat land with horses, chickens goats and cows often in neighboring yards. These locations also offer astonishing and often unobstructed views of the Foothills. Upscale rural living 10-20 minute drive from downtown is an option as is the real rural feel.
When taking a driving tour around Boulder there seems to be plenty of land to build your dream home. People come with the notion of buying some land and building, or people come up with that idea once they see the caliber of properties available to them in their price range. A lot of that open land is just that – Open Space. Over 65,000 acres of land is owned or leased by Boulder County and over 39,000 acres is privately owned but is under conservative easements – legal restrictions on how the land is used are designed to protect agricultural land, wildlife habitat and scenic open space from development while the property maintains private ownership and/or management… Both the City of Boulder and Boulder County are also known to have extremely strict building codes. Before purchasing a plot of land – do your due diligence.
In Boulder students do not have to go to the assigned neighborhood school where the student’s household resides. Boulder has an Open Enrollment Program. A student can apply to be accepted into a school outside of their assigned neighborhood. There are also a variety of private and Montessori schools throughout Boulder County. Check out this site to find out all the school options. Boulder is also home to the University of Colorado and Naropa University.
8. Boulder Restaurants
The Boulder food scene is diverse and vibrant. From the Farmer’s Market twice a week to 20 breweries in the city proper alone and the plethora of award-winning dining – there is a reason people are exercise crazed in Boulder, got to burn all those calories. Here are just a few of the best places to eat and drink in Boulder:
- Pizzeria Locale: great pizza, amazing wine, and an upbeat atmosphere
- The Kitchens (Next Door, Upstairs, The Kitchen): locally sourced fresh food at all three locations.
- Flagstaff House: a fine dining restaurant on Flagstaff Mountain just above Boulder. Dine with the city lights below you.
- Cured: a great place for a delicious sandwich or salad to go (… hurry, you have real estate to look at)
- The Mountain Sun: a local brewery and pub, the Mountain Sun, is a Boulder staple and showcase’s the grungier-side of Boulder. It is cash only but don’t worry if you forget cash you can just bring it to them later or mail it in – that’s their policy.
- The Boulder Dushanbe Tea House (Pictured Below): The building the restaurant is in is a masterpiece, built as a gift from Boulder’s sister city Dushanbe and brought over piece-by-piece. The atmosphere is unique and the food and tea are delicious.
- The Bitter Bar: drinks only and they do them right.
9. Things To Do In Boulder
No matter what time of year, bring clothes for all seasons. You can hike in the winter, ski glaciers or 14ers in the summer and ride bikes all year round.
- Hike the 3.5 mile roundtrip Royal Arch Trail in Chautauqua for a good work out with a great payoff of rock features and views.
- Rent a bike or use the B-cycle bikes and pedal from brewery to brewery on the Boulder Ale Trail
- Put on your flannel and head up to Gold Hill Inn for some Bluegrass on Friday nights from Memorial Day – New Years Eve.
- Check out who is playing at the three music venues in Boulder: The Fox, Etown, Boulder Theater.
- Ride the public bus (or drive) up to Eldora for a day of skiing.
- Take a short road trip to the unique nearby towns of Nederland, Lyons and Estes Park.
- Hit up the Sunday night comedy show at the Bohemian Biergarten
10. Bring your Pup
Boulder is a dog mecca. Dogs frolic off leash on trails and in Open Space. Boulder has a Voice and Sight Program which enables this to happen. But before you let your pooch off the leash make sure you comply with all the rules and get the right tags for dog. If your dog is more of a dog-park type of pup there are many great options. Here are a few favorites:
- The Valmont Dog Park: It is a large dog park with tons of room for dogs to play or do their own thing with a separate area for small dogs and kiddie pools for the dogs to splish and splash. There is a faucet at the park but it is winterized so bring water in the winter.
- Twin Lakes: a great place for dogs and humans to get some exercise, Twin Lakes is a gated lake with a .7 mile dirt path circling it. Pups can run with their human and play in the lake with friends off leash.
- If your dog is a little shy, the East Boulder Community Park is a great option. It is never packed and always seems to have at least a few dogs there at a time and your dog can cool off in the gated part of the neighboring pond. Bring water, there is no water source.
If you’re new to the area or considering Boulder as your new home you may want to read our articles Top 15 Neighborhoods in Boulder and 5 Places to Explore Outside Boulder.
Good Good is a Boulder area real estate agency. We specialize in helping good people find the perfect Boulder area home. We’re low pressure, but we’re high touch. If you’re looking for a real estate guide in the Boulder area, we may be a good fit. Give us a call if you’d like to chat. We’re always happy to answer any questions you have about the Boulder area.
Katie (Good Good Founder)
720.415.4914 | Katie@goodgoodrealty.com