Since its founding in 1876, the University of Colorado Boulder has thrived along with its scenic hometown. Nestled at the edge of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the former mining camp has grown up to become one of the most livable places in the country. And it’s not just the locals who think so: Gallup named Boulder the happiest, healthiest U.S. city in 2010 and 2011, after its population (around 100,000) won the #1 spot on its Wellbeing Index.
Many factors help create this sweet spot of livability, not just for long-term residents, but also for CU-Boulder’s nearly 30,000 students—many of whom choose to stay in the Boulder and Denver areas after graduation to build careers and families.
Easy access to the outdoors creates an active community.
With 45,000 acres of dedicated open space surrounding the city, 80-plus miles of biking and walking trails, and more than 300 days of sunshine a year, Boulder makes it easy to get outdoors and be active. Elite cyclists, runners, and triathletes train here. Bicycle commuting is an everyday reality. In fact, some locals forego a car entirely, instead using car-share or bike-share programs. The sunny days and exercise-induced endorphins pay off in terms of a positive, energized vibe and a healthy work-life balance among those who call Boulder home.
Intellectual, technical assets support a thriving economy.
Home to a world-class research university, three respected federal research labs, information-based firms from IBM to Ball Aerospace, and nearby defense bases, Boulder hosts one of the most well educated, highly skilled workforces in the nation, including the highest percentage of college-educated women. These assets fuel the local economy to perform well even during downturns.
A high-tech entrepreneurial hotspot rises.
In recent years, Boulder has emerged as a hub for high-tech startups, with more of them per capita than any other U.S. metro area, according to a 2013 study by the Kauffman Foundation. This fast-growing sector offers career opportunities for Boulder’s students, particularly those studying technical fields. In 2013, the Atlantic named Boulder the #1 Most Economically Vibrant College Town and MSN Money dubbed it one of 10 Best U.S. Cities for Young Adults. Innovative clean energy, green tech, and natural foods companies are also on the rise.
Foodies welcome here.
After all that exercise and stimulating work, delicious food and beverages are a must. Boulder is home to an impressive array of top restaurants, a growing local farm-to-table movement, and one of the country’s best farmer’s markets, prompting Bon Appétit’s “Foodiest Town in America” award in 2010. The Boulder/Denver/Fort Collins region has also been dubbed “The Napa Valley of Craft Brewing,” due to its abundant small breweries.