Exploring Boulder, Colorado: From College Town To Growing Tech Hub

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Morning sun against the foothills of Boulder Colorado business area and campus.

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Like many cities across the American West, the origins of Boulder, Colorado, can be traced back to the gleam of gold. In the winter of 1859, the town was settled by a group of prospectors hoping to strike it rich in the rivers and streams that stretch across the mountainous landscape.

By 1877, a number of small businesses had popped up along Pearl Street and the township had established a small college for a handful of students—the University of Colorado Boulder.

The arrival of corporate offices for tech giants like Google, Apple and Amazon has pushed the wealth … [+] profile of the area.

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Although today those feed stores and saloons have now been replaced by galleries and gourmet restaurants, the university’s student body has grown to over 30,000 and you’d be hard-pressed to find a local prospector, much of Boulder has remained unscathed by modern development.

With 45,000 acres of protected open space—the largest per capita in the country—and long-standing slow-growth policies that have contained urban sprawl, Boulder has built a reputation as a world-class destination for outdoor recreation and one of the best places to live in the nation.

A trailer in a workspace at the Google campus in Boulder.

Denver Post via Getty Images

Such a reputation has drawn the attention of many out-of-state buyers looking to get closer to nature. Pair that with the arrival of corporate offices for tech giants like Google, Apple and Amazon, and the wealth profile for prospective buyers has continued to grow, pushing the luxury real estate market to new heights.

“In 2021, prices appreciated 19% and then 2022 was gangbusters,” says Marybeth Emerson of Slifer Smith & Frampton, whose recent sale of a $13 million mansion broke the record sale price for a residence in Boulder County. “This year, the ultra-luxury side—I’m going to call that $5 to $10 million— has been an extremely strong segment.”

Regardless of rising real estate prices, Emerson says the community has remained committed to preserving its green spaces and the Boulder lifestyle.

Located in the Newlands neighborhood of Boulder, this 1940s home has been extensively reimagined but … [+] still retains its original stone facade.

Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate

Homes in Boulder

Having over 150 years of township means that Boulder is supplied with its fair share of historical homes. Thanks to their seniority, many older properties are located in desirable neighborhoods, like Mapleton Hill, Chautauqua and Old North Boulder.

Although a number of restrictions have been placed on development, new construction homes still pop up on the market every so often. These modern products are often outfitted with top-of-the-line amenities, including retractable walls of glass for indoor-outdoor living, spas and saunas and home automation systems.

Architectural styles are varied, however, a thorough line of natural accents, particularly stone, can be seen in a majority of homes, reflecting the Boulder landscape. With flat irons and mountain crests all around, a premium is placed upon windows and outdoor spaces to maximize scenic views.

Custom properties in choice neighborhoods come at a premium. This estate in Boulder’s foothills is … [+] listed for sale at $3.75 million.

Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate

Prices in Boulder

In 2009, the median home price in Boulder was $335,000. Last month, that number nearly increased fivefold for single-family homes, climbing to $1.5 million.

At that price point, buyers can expect to find three- to four-bedroom detached homes or ultra-luxury condos.

With sizable well-appointed homes found across the city, location is largely what dictates pricing—properties in proximity to parks and hiking trails, along with those featuring exceptional views or elevated positioning make up the highest end of the market.

Overlooking the 17th hole of the golf course at Boulder Country Club.

Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate

The Vibe of Boulder

An outdoor lifestyle and appreciation for nature coupled with the active presence of CU Boulder has given the city a reputation as “granola,” a badge that residents seem to wear with honor.

Events sponsored by the university and open to the public include educational talks, concerts and performances by the world’s leading artistic and scientific minds.

Colorful boutique shops and restaurants line Parl Street Mall in downtown Boulder.

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While the city may often be associated with its natural landmarks, it still offers all the comforts, convenience and culture of an urban setting. Known for its food scene, breweries and nightlife, Boulder embodies the best of the “work hard, play hard” lifestyle, says Emerson.

“The lifestyle here attracts the kind of people who within the same day can wake up at five o’clock in the morning for a hike, go to the office, watch their kid’s soccer game and that night go out with friends for dinner and drinks.”

The University of Colorado Boulder is considered one the best public schools in the country

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Schools in Boulder

Regularly ranked among the top school districts in the state, Boulder Valley School District serves around 30,000 students across 56 schools throughout Boulder County.

The University of Colorado Boulder, known for its extensive research programs, is considered one the best public schools in the country, with such distinguished alumni as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, South Park co-creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Muhammad Yunus, to name a few.

An elevated city view of Boulder from Flagstaff Mountain.

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Surrounding Boulder

Often considered a suburb of Denver, Boulder resides 25 miles northwest of the state capital.

For skiing enthusiasts, Breckenridge is less than two hours away and Aspen is slightly less than four hours by car.

Denver International Airport, the second-largest airport in the world, serves 25 different airlines to over 215 destinations around the world.

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