When we moved our family to Boulder, I felt like we had a pretty good handle on what our new lives would be like. I knew the city and its quirks pretty well, we had lived just 20 minutes away for over two decades and spent much of our time in Boulder for work and the great food and entertainment. Still, there were some adjustments we’ve had to make since moving to Boulder Colorado.
#1 Gettin’ Around
People in this city walk, ride the bus, ride bikes, ride unicycles (for real!!), drive cars and ride vespas and after a snowstorm they even ski through the park. Most of the cyclists on the roads generally obey traffic laws but there are occasionally those who act as pedestrians, and a lot of times these are kids, so paying close attention is critical. In contrast to suburban living there is so much more going on around you, it can be disorienting.
#2 It’s Truly Urban
Compared to the suburbs, there are so many people here, nearly 100,000, and they are from many, many places. We haven’t been here long and I’ve met people from NYC, Poland, Belgium, Missouri, Bermuda, Germany…. It is a smallish city, packed with people and businesses. The city feeling is also in the everyday thing. A security officer and metal detectors in the public library. Paying for parking pretty much everywhere downtown. This isn’t something I ever discovered in suburbia. Maybe the reason it feels a little surprising is because the city itself is very concerned with keeping with a more “natural” environment. No tall buildings are permitted, the largest being the dorms on the CU campus. The city invests in programs like “Urban Forestry”, managing over 50,000 trees in the city, as well as “Urban Wildlife Management” which manages and protects urban wildlife such as the famously defended Boulder prairie dogs. Taking into consideration the city’s concern with protecting open and green space as well as offering many outdoor parks and trails, Boulder is certainly unique in its urban flavor.
#3 Invest in Some Reusable Shopping Bags
If you don’t bring your own bags, be prepared to pay 10 cents for each plastic bag you require. It’s pretty good motivation not only for using those environmentally friendly reusable bags but also for using fewer plastic bags when you do forget them. In those cases, we easily use half of what we would have in suburbia – stuffing ridiculous amounts of groceries into a single bag. It’s not just a cost thing either, everyone else is doing it so there is quite a bit of social pressure to step in line.
#4 Live in Boulder, Must Have Dog
People in Boulder LOVE their dogs and their dogs go everywhere with them! It is very typical to notice that the car next to you is co-piloted by a furry best friend riding shotgun. A neighbor of mine who also just recently moved to the city commented that she didn’t feel “Boulder enough” without a dog pal (her husband is allergic). Boulder requires dogs to be vaccinated against rabies and licensed by the city, costing pet owners $15/year. Since there are so many trails and open spaces in Boulder, the city offers “Go Green Tags” which allows dog owners, after viewing a training video and registering the animal, to walk their dogs off leash under voice and sight control. Boulder has four free dog parks: East Boulder Dog Park, Foothills Dog Park, Howard Heuston Dog Park and Valmont Dog Park. Dogs are not allowed on Pearl Street Mall, leashed or not. Dogs are permitted to play at the Boulder Reservoir during off-season from Labor Day to May 15. Local businesses know how important these furry friends are to their patrons — are 151 restaurants, breweries and coffeehouses around boulder that allow dogs at their outdoor seating areas. McGuckin Hardware, a Boulder favorite, has allowed leashed dogs into its store since 1978.
#5 Everyone…I mean EVERYONE! Is Active.
The people in this city are fit and healthy and it really rubs off on you. I took a hike up Mt. Sanitas (amazing local hiking trail) not long after we moved here. The trail is not incredibly long but it is very steep, like climbing a staircase for however many miles (probably 2, felt like 20). As I huffed and puffed my way to the top there were people twice my age jogging (JOGGING!!) past me. It was humiliating and inspiring all at once. Hiking is part of the Boulder lifestyle, but there are many other activities that my new Boulder friends are involved in – to name a few: Running, Cycling, Marathons, Triatholons, Cross Country Skiing, Yoga… The list goes on. And of course Boulder annually hosts the famous Bolder Boulder, a 10K run around the city that attracts people of all ages, amateurs and professional athletes alike, and is a lot of fun for on-lookers as many of the runners dress up. The run ends at Folsom Field where all of-age participants are handed a free beer.