Yesterday was my two year anniversary of being an east coast transplant in Boulder, CO- also known as one’s Boulderversary. It’s so hard to believe that two years have passed since I packed up my car and my cats and drove for two and a half days across the country in my non-air conditioned, piece of crap 1994 Audi. I can remember it like it was yesterday... 4:30 PM. 100 degree heat. Friday rush hour traffic from Denver surrounded us. We peaked over the hill on Route 36 that descends into Boulder, and I lost it, bursting into tears. Partially from being completely delirious, partially because I was so happy to finally be here. (If you can avoid it, never drive though Nebraska. Trust me.)
Two years later, I’m happy to say that “here” has become home. With my roommate and I taking the plunge first, it wasn’t long until over half a dozen friends from the east coast followed suit. Why? Well, once they came to visit, their desire to live here was instantaneous. To give you a clearer view as to why you should be next, I’ve come up with the top ten reasons why you should move to Boulder. Tomorrow.
1. The People Are Awesome (And Happy)
The first thing you’ll notice (besides all the Colorado license plates), is how friendly everyone can be. You might even consider it an actual “culture shock”, if you’re coming from a major city like New York, Boston or Los Angeles. (Sorry, residents of those cities, but you and I both know people there are downright not nice.) Boulderites will hold doors for you, let you merge into traffic, engage you in conversation while marking your latte, the works. Your “what do you want from me?” attitude can be checked at the gate in JFK, folks. This town was voted the #1 Happiest City in the US for a reason: Because people love living here.
2. More Jobs Than You Can Shake A Stick At
For a recent college grad deciding where in the world to start their career (especially if they’re in the tech industry), this is a big one. It’s a good part of what drove myself and many of my friends here. As you may or may not know, Boulder is home to dozens of startups. At any given point, at least 90% of those startups are hiring. Don’t believe me? Check out this huge list of openings and see for yourself. But it’s not just the startups that root themselves in Boulder to grow. Corporate giants such as Google, Microsoft, KidRobot, Spyder, Pearl iZumi, Ski Magazine, Threadless, Celestial Seasonings and more also consider Boulder home. And yup, they’re hiring too.
3. The Food Is Superb
If the terms “locavore” or “farm-to-table” weren’t invented in Boulder, I’d seriously be surprised. Voted by Bon Appetit Magazine as the #1 Foodiest Town in the US, Boulder has some incredible local restaurants, many of which do happen to uphold the “farm-to-table” belief. From the award winning (and quite high-end) Frasca and Flagstaff House restaurants, to the morning deliciousness of Snooze and Lucile's, to the Americana simplicity of The Kitchen, Oak at Fourteenth and Salt, it’s really hard to go wrong here when it comes to dining out. Oh, and if you love sushi, be sure to check out Hapa Sushi on Pearl Street. Apologies for the shameless plug; it’s my favorite.
4. The Beer & Coffee Are Plentiful
Ready for some fun facts? Sure you are! Boulder is home to seven different microbreweries. At any given point during the year, between these seven breweries, over 300 microbrews are being made, making Boulder an absolute mecca for beer connoisseurs. As if that wasn’t enough, each year the Great American Beer Festival is held just up the road in Denver; a beer festival second in the world only to Oktoberfest in Germany. Don’t feel like leaving the bubble? Don’t worry. You can stick around for Stout Month: an annual month-long celebration of stout beer put on by Mountain Sun and Southern Sun, where participants can choose from an array of over 50 different stouts to sample. If coffee is more your speed, Boulder has you covered with over 30 coffee shops. Sure they’ve got Starbucks (tourists need their fix, I suppose.) But all the locals know where the true black gold lies: Atlas Purveyors, Amante, Ozo, The Cup and the Laughing Goat, just to name a few. Before I moved here, I knew squat about coffee. Two years later, however, I sit typing this post in Atlas Purveyors (my personal favorite out of the bunch), sipping a fair-trade organic iced almond milk latte. Sound snobbish? Probably. But give it a few days and you’ll never go back to the ‘bux, that I promise you.
5. Some Serious Brainiacs Live Here
Remember how I mentioned Google and Microsoft having offices in Boulder? Curious why they do? That would be because of the incredible amount of talent that resides here. Developers, designers, scientists, engineers, doctors, marketers, entrepreneurs, you name it. Boulder has more brainiacs per capita than any other place in the United States. Yes, more than Silicon Valley. Boulder is even the original home of the world-renowned startup accelerator TechStars. There’s a reason (besides the the other nine I’ve listed) that startups here pop out of the snow like daises: Because smart people make it happen.
6. You Can Afford It
Compared to other tech hub cities across the US, Boulder is downright cheap. Moving from New York? Housing alone will cost 75% less. From San Francisco? 60% cheaper. Just like any other town, you pay for location, so if you want to live in downtown Boulder, it’ll be a little more expensive than living on the outskirts. My apartment, for instance, is on 6th and Pearl, and together my roommate and I pay $1400 a month. Depending on where you’re coming from, that’s a walk in the park, leaving you plenty of dough left over to spend on more important things. Like Tee & Cakes cupcakes, for example.
7. The Rocky Mountains Are Our Playground
Like skiing? How about biking? Running? Climbing? Being outside, period? You guessed it: Boulder has you covered. Located right at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, Boulderites have access to any and every outdoor activity you can imagine. We breed world class athletes, have over 300 miles of bike paths, over 60 parks and more than 1000 ski and snowboard trails within a two hour drive. Not an outdoorsy type? Doesn’t matter. The Flatirons will still take your breath away everytime you see them, and in Boulder, you can see them from almost everywhere.
8. You Don’t Need A Car
Living downtown in Boulder might cost you a bit more than the edges of town will, but the benefit to this is the complete lack of need for a vehicle. Last year Boulder introduced Bcycle: A nonprofit that allows you to rent a bike from various stations across town for as long as you need it (complete with basket for your groceries! Or small dog, in my case.) In the winter, there’s the Boulder public bus system which, contrary to popular belief about public transit, is actually not bad at all. And even for those rare occasions you might need your own car, Boulder offers its eGo Carshare program, making it super easy to get access to any kind of vehicle you could need for as long as you need it.
9. Local & Cultural Events Abound
Get bored easily on the weekends? Not sure what to do with yourself after work? You won’t run into those problems in Boulder. From weekly concerts at the Fox, the Boulder Theater and world famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre, to the annual Boulder Startup Week, to hilarity of Ignite Boulder, to Colorado’s largest Farmers Market twice a week, I can almost guarantee you’ll never run out of new things to experience. Even if you don't like to get out much, there's always Boulder's awesome Twitter community, which to be honest, is like a never ending internet-based party extravaganza.
10. The Weather is Incredible
Last, but not least, one of Boulder’s favorite facts to brag about: Its 300+ days of sunshine a year. Nope, it’s not an exaggeration. It is actually sunny here more than 300 days a year. Not only that, but Boulder boasts an average temperature of between 35 to 40 in the winter, which coming from the typical -15 degree winter days of Burlington, Vermont feels like heaven. Don’t worry snow bunnies, Boulder still gets some decent snowfall. But mostly it’s reserved for the winter playground of the mountain resorts further west, which personally, I’m totally content with.
Well kids, there you have it: The ten reason why you should move to Boulder as soon as humanly possible. If these still aren’t enough for you, that was just the tip of the iceberg. I assure you, there are plenty more.
Before you know it, you'll be reminiscing about your time in this incredible town on your very own Boulderversary, wondering why in the hell you didn't move here sooner.
MARCH 2015 EDIT - After five incredible years in Boulder, I've accepted a position at a company in New York City. Here's why I ultimately decided to leave Boulder. While I no longer live there, and cannot offer tours or advice locally, I still truly believe everyone should move to Boulder at some point in their lives, and stand by this post :)