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Old 03-01-12, 06:23 PM   #1
seely
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Boulder, CO: tell me everything I need to know.

I just got a tentative job offer with a cycling-related company in Boulder. It's pretty entry level, but, it's more in the direction I'd like to head career-wise. I've been to Boulder a couple times, but don't know much about it outside of the downtown-area, which I liked.

Things I'm interested in are:

1. Standard of living... can I afford to live there on say, $30,000-ish?

2. Culture... the parts I've seen seemed to be kind of ******y, touristy, or yuppie-ish. I like dive bars, bike co-ops, grass roots community and punk rock shows.

3. Housing... what kind of rentals are available? Bike and pedestrian friendly are paramount to me. How expensive is it to rent a 1-bedroom apartment?

Anything else you can think to add is great... I know the recreation scene and all that but don't know much outside of that.
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Old 03-01-12, 06:58 PM   #2
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These are the kinds of questions I should've asked before moving to SC. #1 & 2 would've received a Yes. #3 would've been a giant Fail.

Sounds like it's a fine cycle-friendly city though I've never been.
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Old 03-02-12, 04:15 AM   #3
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Regarding #1, use a Cost of Living Calculator like this one.

Also, only Portland and Minneapolis beat Boulder for cycle-friendliness in 2011.
http://www.bicycling.com/news/featur...yclings-top-50
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Old 03-02-12, 07:31 AM   #4
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Old 03-02-12, 07:40 AM   #5
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1: Yes. It is a college town. College students live on much less than that.
2: It is a college town. There is a mix of yuppie shops and dives. There's Community Cycles for your local co-op. Also, Denver is only an hour bus ride away and there are two co-ops in Denver.
3: It is a college town. Plenty of cheap rentals. Plenty of expensive rentals too. Check out http://padmapper.com
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Old 03-02-12, 09:06 AM   #6
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In my experience is Boulder is deceptively expensive but it's worth it. Absolutely one of the best small cities in the US.
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Old 03-02-12, 06:18 PM   #7
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The Peoples Republic of Boulder? Interesting mix of trust fund-ers, yuppie types, artsy types, and a ton of pro bikers. Can you afford to live there on $30K? yes, its a college town, but what is your "standard". Anything other than "college" rentals get pricey in a hurry. Still seems like a great place to live.
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Old 03-02-12, 07:04 PM   #8
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Old 03-02-12, 07:09 PM   #9
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If I were single and mortageless I would do what it takes to live in Boulder or any number of places in the western US.
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Old 03-02-12, 07:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seely View Post
Things I'm interested in are:

1. Standard of living... can I afford to live there on say, $30,000-ish?

2. Culture... the parts I've seen seemed to be kind of ******y, touristy, or yuppie-ish. I like dive bars, bike co-ops, grass roots community and punk rock shows.

3. Housing... what kind of rentals are available? Bike and pedestrian friendly are paramount to me. How expensive is it to rent a 1-bedroom apartment?

Anything else you can think to add is great... I know the recreation scene and all that but don't know much outside of that.
Definitely WAY too many variables to give a 100% solid, actionable response so my suggestion is to keep feeding us details to help us give better assistance.

1) SOL. $30K is doable but it really depends on what your lifestyle is and what your financial obligations are. Boulder is without a doubt expensive. Real estate especially so unless someone is coming from a comparable market it will seem pricey. Keep in mind the median income is high and the real estate market reflects both that and the fact that a huge segment of the rental population are funded by mom and pop's salaries not their own. One can still find good value though when weighted by the benefit of the recreation proximity and the very real potential of not driving much at all. Getting out of the core of Boulder and away from campus and Pearl will help control the costs. It will also take you out of the sometimes (often) obnoxious student party/incident environment. So what are your real estate demands? Based on this I/we can help with pricing and areas...

2) Culture is mixed and a tough topic. On the surface the yuppie/over privileged vibe is strong and can be overwhelming. Boulder is so much deeper than that though so I always figure it depends on how one digs into the community and engages with the positive. The dive bar, punk community... er... limited and IMHO mainly the silly hipster wannabes. I guess that is true all over these days but places like Boulder tend to attract people with means who like to superficially "try on" lifestyles just to be different. Denver is MUCH more likely to satisfy the punk/dive needs. BUT, the community/grass roots aspect of Boulder is solid.

3) Everything across the board. For a one bed I'd say roughly in the $550 to well over $1000 range but with REALLY varying standards. Close student areas (like the Hill) tend to be pricier for a much trashier place (with all the probs associated with student residents...). You get more and nicer for your dollar the further out you go. The nice thing is that Boulder Co is really well serviced with buses and MUPs. So one can live on the outskirts of the City and VERY easily get around with a minimum of driving. The city is bike/ped friendly but there is a fair amount of traffic and there are a large number of bad drivers (cell users, speeders, agros, bike ignorant, drugged up etc etc).

So, a few considerations:

Keep in mind Boulder is a college town with a huge transient population. Aside from the students there are lots of bicoastals and others who come sample Boulder for a spell and inevitably move on. Many (perhaps most) are well off and bring their previous financial as well as other sensibilities. Some less sensible than others. That said, there is a core community of really great people in the area. It can sometimes be tough to look beyond the aggravating segments though. As a result a lot of people choose not to live in the City but instead live in the very close, nearby cities in Boulder County. By locating in Lafayette, Erie, Gunbarrel, Longmont etc people generally save more money on real estate and avoid a lot of the deterring problems of the city. In terms of proximity these areas are a 15min commute by car and are totally and easily commuted by bike and/or bus. These areas are not as "active" in the nightly go out and party sense but they can be active. Personally, on a $30K salary I would probably live in someplace like Longmont. Your dollar goes further, there is a lot of community action to get involved in, and it is still close to everything. It is less "refined" than Boulder but a good compromise. Of course my reasoning quite likely does not mesh perfectly with your own...

Oh, and FYI there is good cycling no matter where in Boulder Co you do decide!
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Old 03-02-12, 09:05 PM   #11
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^^ great answer.

1) The big cost of living issue here is rent. In Boulder itself, it's outrageous. I'm guessing $30K is *just barely* or *not quite* doable if you want to live alone. If you can stand room-mates you're OK. If you can stand the 'burbs, you're ok. I live in the burbs (Gunbarrel) and like it, but I don' have the cultural requirements you do.

2) It's like everywhere else - some people love it and fit in, others think it's pretentious and overpriced. It's overwhelmingly white and upper middle class. I think there's a student scene that might fit in with your dive bar/punk thing, but if you are much over college age, it might not work for you. There's an active bike-polo scene, my friend does that but I don't so that's all i know. The fancy expensive restaurants outnumber the dives by a lot, but it is a college town.

3) Rentals are ridiculously expensive. I bought a house in the burbs because it's cheaper monthly than renting in Boulder (seriously) - my housing requirement was 3 b/r 2 bath and a garage, though. If you can settle for 1 b/r 1 ba no garage, you could maybe get something for $800-$1000/month. Maybe.

The outdoor-athelete scene is amazing - when we moved here my husband joked that we were the only people in the grocery checkout line who hadn't climbed everest. The rock climibng is pretty good, there is crappy skiing pretty close, if you nordic ski there's that too.

The cycling is good - great in summer and fall, ok in spring and winter. Our worst weather phenomenon is wind. It's windy in spring, and in winter if it's warmer it's windy, so you get to choose cold or wind. There are plenty of people to do whatever activity you want to do with. If you live in town, there is no where that isn't bike friendly (except, if you go too far west it can be icy in winter). the city plows the bike paths.

If you live in the 'burbs, the north side is better for cycling, the south/east edges of boulder merge into the suburban sprawl that extends all the way to denver, so it's hard to get away from the cars. If you live in boulder or north/east (gunbarrel, niwot, longmont), you can be on low-traffic farm roads in minutes.
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Old 03-02-12, 10:01 PM   #12
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If you like bagels http://www.moesbagel.com/

And burritos http://bigcityburritoboulder.com/store/home.php

You'll do fine in Boulder, it's a really fun town and the mountains are awesome.
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Old 03-03-12, 09:55 AM   #13
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Just move there. If you like cycle commuting, mountain biking, road biking, the fixie scene, or anything else that has to do with cycling, Boulder is awesome.

My wife says to HTFU and just move there. She's got a point.
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Old 03-03-12, 06:39 PM   #14
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Thanks for all the advice, everyone. If this job winds up panning out, it'd be in Gunbarrel, so what I'm thinking is live in Longmont (which I've been too, and liked well enough), and then ride into Boulder. I've had daily commutes up to 24 miles r/t so the distance shouldn't be a problem (well, maybe in my current shape...). I'm liking the prospect more and more. I have friends in Denver, and most of my family is in Loveland -- seems like it could be a great, central location.
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