Boulder, Colorado is a deeply unique and special town. Having lived here my whole life, I’ve gotten to know Boulder pretty well and have grown to appreciate where I was born more and more. We are nestled into the foothills, we have 300 sunny days per year, and there is natural beauty to spare here. That being said, there are some peculiarities that come with living here, and before you move here there are a few things you should know…
1. Sun Protection is Crucial
Because Boulder is located over a mile above sea level, the sun here can be intense. The vast majority of days in Boulder are fairly sunny, so having a good daily sunscreen and a decent pair of polarized or UV protection sunglass is very important. Without sunscreen, the intensity of the sun here will burn you. Driving without sunglasses can be dangerous here when it’s sunny, especially in the winter when light reflects off whatever layer of snow has recently fell. Make sure to purchase these items before moving to Boulder if you don’t own them already.
2. Beer Matters
A large part of the culture in Boulder revolves around local and craft beer. There are dozens of local breweries in and around Boulder so spending evenings drinking beer is a common social activity for many Boulderites. Before moving to Boulder, spend some time figuring out what kind of beers you like, as it’s likely that you’ll be spending a lot of time at these breweries and bars.
3. Everyone Loves Nature
Another thing to know before moving to Boulder is that everyone spends a lot of time outside. Whether we’re hiking, biking or skiing, it’s safe to say people who live in Boulder take full advantage of our natural resources. If you don’t spend much time in nature it can be hard to meet new people because so many Boulder residents prioritize their health and the environment over all else. Before moving to Boulder, consider investing in ski gear or climbing gear so you can fully experience the culture around the outdoors in Boulder.
4. Parking Can be a Challenge
While there is a decent amount of public parking options around Boulder, some areas are more challenging to find parking in than others. For example, parking on the hill can be difficult when school is in session, or when events are taking place. Football games also definitely impact the difficulty of parking near CU. The silver lining to this issue is that Boulder has fairly high quality public transit systems, so bussing to wherever you need to go is usually fairly simple. Using public transit saves money, time and gas and is a more eco-friendly transportation option which matters to the people of Boulder.
5. Restaurants Will Accommodate Your Diet
Almost every restaurant in Boulder has options for people with dietary restrictions. Whether you have celiac, are lactose intolerant, or are vegan, you will not have a problem eating in Boulder. As a general rule, people in Boulder are quite conscious of their health and diet so the demand for menus with gluten free, dairy free, and vegan meals is high in the area. Those of us with dietary restrictions are used to having to research menus to make sure they have options we can eat. However, in Boulder, you can walk into any restaurant with a reasonable expectation that you’ll find something delicious and compatible with your diet.
6. Learn to Layer
The weather in Boulder can be anywhere from fickle to volatile at all times of the year. Before moving to Boulder, you should be prepared for rapidly changing weather. There will be spring mornings where you wake to several inches of snow, but by two in the afternoon it’s 70 degrees and sunny. The best way to deal with the temperature fluctuations is by dressing in layers. Wearing a t-shirt, a light sweater or sweatshirt, and a jacket gives you options to accommodate any temperature. Learning to layer well is a key lesson to learn before moving to Boulder.
7. The Right Lane Is Usually Quicker
For some reason, everyone in Boulder seems to be in a hurry all the time. For this reason, the left lane of traffic usually has the most cars and moves slower, even though it’s supposed to work the other way. Before you move to Boulder, it’s helpful to be aware of this so that you can adjust your driving style accordingly.
8. Not Everyone Gets High
Ever since Colorado legalized recreational use of marijuana, visitors seems to assume that everyone in Boulder likes to get high. While use of medical and recreational marijuana is quite common with Boulderites, hearing questions about weed from every visitor gets old. If you’re interested in finding dispensaries, or learning about marijuana, there are dozens of online resources to check out including weedmaps and leafly. While most people from Boulder will be happy to answer these questions, using these online tools instead is a great way to learn discretely and without making it obvious you’re not from around here.