A friend from Seattle had some questions for me about Boulder, re: moving to.
“Snow? Humidity? Reasonable rents? Potheads everywhere? Better than Boston? Crowded? Too hot in summer? Too cold in winter? Wealthy trust fundaPharians littering the place? Fleas? Coyotes?”
I thought I’d share my reply for no reason:
Boulder is an island, it is said. A rather small island, not directly connected to any other towns worth visiting. As such it may be a bit small for someone who has enjoyed Seattle. However, it is extremely sunny, in part because of the high altitude, and partly because the weather is pleasant most of the year round. There is a winter, however snowy days may deposit 8 inches of snow and then melt two days later. It rarely rains, but there is still greenery, and the mountains are always in view — nearby mountains (the actual Rockies are pretty much hidden by the nearby ones. You can also see some plains. Boulder is apparently in a valley but somehow it is higher up than the plains. I can’t explain it. Suffice to say it is a bowl of greenery. Population is largely graduate students. You’d have to join Naropa or something if you wanted to meet friends, since most friends were already formed at CUBoulder and it can be hard to break into those circles if you’re not a CU graduate or grad student or whatever. Boulder is considered the thinnest city on earth or something, with many people biking, or at least shopping at Vitamin Cottage. The southern part of the town is for students, the middle-to-northern part of town is for people our age. Bus loops connect it all, though the yearly bus pass is costly. There is a neat-o strip club up on the very Northern edge called the BusTop that is fun for a girl’s night out. There is basically ONE and only one block of downtown called the Pearl Street Pedestrian mall, so as such you might get easily bored of the dozen restaurants. I don’t, because I like smaller towns. The native population (non-student) is largely rich as fuck, and the high school students you’ll see hanging around the Pearl Street Pedestrian mall pretending to be poor are usually trust-fund millionaires who will never work a day in their life. The population is 98% white, and perhaps 2% latino (working at the deli counter at Safeway). Everyone has expensive eye glasses including myself, there is one Salvation Army store, haircuts cost $90 to $100 if you want a good one (there are also SuperCuts). A few girls with Rasta hair, a few less with shaved heads (though there is an annual event at the local stage theatre where people can get their head shaved and donate their locks), etc — common enough to make visiting Whole Foods fun, but not excessive. There’s two used record stores, one of which is good. Hot in summer? No, it never gets too hot. Warm. Crowded? No, it is not as crowded as, say, Boston. Traffic is lighter than Davis Square during rush hour — people generally don’t have far to go so they’re not in a bad mood driving. A nice tea house. Fleas and Coyotes? Only on the western edge of the town, where the town meets the edge of the mountain — on that edge, the animals from the mountain wander down for food, or when it snows. Deer, antler-animals, etc. But three blocks in, and that stops. So it depends where you live. Rents can be expensive. I have a large house with 3 people total and we each pay about $550 a month. So the majority of my income goes to rent. I know someone living in an apartment complex with 3 people total for $400 a month each, but that is the lowest I’ve heard of. Car inspections are once every two years for about $20 I seem to recall. Another word about winter: This winter was mild. Last winter was heavy. So it might vary. I think this year, this winter, I had three snow days off from work because the snow was coming down too heavy and they’re rather lacadasial about plowing on account of how the snow usually melts in a couple days anyway. There is a neat form of hail that looks like little styrofoam balls or big salt. Good Facebook connections — everyone uses Facebook here, so it is possible to have plans every weekend if you communicate. Which I, er, don’t so much. There’s a World Market for home decor, and a Target, and a miniture Best Buy. There’s a Bed Bath & Beyond. If you want Costco, you have to drive out to a neighboring town on the highway into the plains. Which is fine — we have a membership and go every 6 weeks or so.
In summary: maybe too small for someone who wants to meet LOTs of people. A bit insular with the CUBoulder students and alums having met their friends already when they were in school. Naropa is the new age or Buddhist-esque facility here that I recommend working for or joining or whatever (I haven’t, but I recommend it). Definitely visit first, and if moving here get advice about WHERE to find a place so you don’t end up in the students area.
Oh – humidity, you asked. No, the opposite. You need to drink lots of water, and use moisturizer, seriously. I use moisturizer every day on my face. High altitude equals low moisture. But, like I said, there are plants and such, fueled by the water from the melting snows on the mountains that are carried down through the ground to the level ground.