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Moving to Boulder--Do we need a car?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
DH has accepted a position at CU, so we will be moving to Boulder, CO or near there at the end of January. We currently have an old car because we need it where we live now, but we would love to be able to not move the car with us. Is it possible to get around Boulder and the surrounding areas without a car without too much difficulty? We would love to live in Boulder, but the rents are so high that we might have to live in a nearby town. Would this be feasible with biking or public transportation to get to CU? I am a SAHM and would like to be able to bus/walk to grocery stores, library, parks, etc. I'd appreciate any help anyone could give!
post #2 of 15
I would say yes, you do need a car. At least in my opinion, unless you are in the actual town of Boulder. A lot of Colorado towns are totally walkable though, so you may not need one in the town you live in...only for the commute.
Good luck!
post #3 of 15
Hmmm, I guess it is doable as there are buses to Boulder from Longmont, Lafayette and Louisville and you could take your bike on the bus, but I wouldn't want to do it personally.
post #4 of 15
Please remember that the weather of Boulder and the surrounding area changes very quickly and can get downright dangerous. I certainly would not chance getting stuck somewhere (esp. w/a little one in tow) on a bike from October to April.
post #5 of 15
Originally Posted by gwen's mom View Post
Please remember that the weather of Boulder and the surrounding area changes very quickly and can get downright dangerous. I certainly would not chance getting stuck somewhere (esp. w/a little one in tow) on a bike from October to April.
That's true! I've been stuck in Niwot (a neighboring town), and I was in a car.
post #6 of 15
As must as I would like to say it is doable, I really have to say I would not do it. Especially if you are not living in Boulder. To take my kids to the grocery store where I live (12 minutes out of Boulder) in the winter would truly not be feasible. It gets so cold and it is 15 minutes by bike to the grocery store in good weather.
post #7 of 15
If you're in Boulder, yes, I think you could easily do without a car. Well, not entirely easily (wrangling kids and groceries onto a bus isn't nearly as easy as taking the bus solo!), but yes, it's do-able. When I go to Boulder, I rarely drive unless I'll be bringing back something that requires a car. I've taken my bike on the bus a ton of times and it's very easy. Also, most of the time when it snows I'd rather be on a bus than in my car. There's only one time when it was a dicey situation but people in cars were getting stranded all over the place that day so it's not like I would have been better off if I'd driven to Boulder that morning. They ended up closing several major highways that day because of the amount of snow and the number of stuck cars made it impossible for anyone to get through or even clear the roadways. (The good news is that we only get a good blizzard every couple of years!) The first four years that I was at CU-Boulder (as a grad student and teaching classes) I *never* drove, or at best I drove to a park & ride and caught the bus from there.

If you live in one of the nearby towns, it really depends on where you end up. If you manage to live within walking distance of a grocery store or Super Target or something, then it's manageable year-round. We have pretty mild winters here overall (December tends to be but January often features 50-degree days...and then all the snow comes in March!), but obviously, if we had a snowy week it could make getting to the store difficult.

You might want to check out the RTD website (http://www.rtd-denver.com) and look at the route map for Boulder and nearby towns so you get an idea of where the bus could take you and what's within walking distance in a given town. Some towns are more walkable than others. Sometimes it's hit or miss. I live in Westminster and can walk or bike to the library and two natural grocery stores easily (two more regular grocery stores easy too), along with a Target and other shopping, but not all parts of Westminster are like that.

Parts of Broomfield and Lafayette are very walkable like that too--in close distance to libraries/parks/bus lines/grocery stores, so it's possible if you're in the right spot.
post #8 of 15
I agree with what the others have written. Last year my husband and I shared a car and so my son and I were often without one. It isn't impossible, and sometimes of year it is easier than others, but overall I found it sort of tough. The public transportation system is pretty good, but I found we had to transfer a lot and if we had a number of errands to do it was pretty exhausting and time consuming. We bike and walk a lot also but when the weather is bad (and it does get bad) those options are difficult.

There are buses that run from Boulder to Louisville, Lafayette, Longmont, so technically it is possible to get by without a car but I probably wouldn't want to do it.

Good luck!!! Boulder is a wonderful, very beautiful place to live. I hope your family loves it!

ETA: All of that being said, I lived in Boulder for 6 years before I got a car and never minded not having one. That was before I had kids of course, but I think if you are used to getting around without one you wouldn't be likely to miss it too much.
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for the replies! We have so many decisions to make! It looks like we are going to be trying to rent a place actually in Boulder. If we are going to be living in Boulder (as near to CU as possible) do you think we will be able to be without a car? Then we wouldn't have to worry about being stranded out in a neighboring town if the weather suddenly turned on us. I do not like driving in the snow (and I have lived in Ontario for the past 3 years, so I got my share of practice in), so I would rather be able to leave the driving to the bus driving professionals if possible in the winter. Our car has started making an odd noise now, and I really don't want to have to buy a new car if it can be avoided.
post #10 of 15
I would think so. I can think of four grocery stores (two natural, two regular) that are right on bus lines near the campus (there are probably more), and there's a lovely protected bikeway that runs a good length of Broadway, including along the western campus edge. There's also another circulating bus that runs through campus and out to the 29th Street Mall where there are tons of shops and a Target just north of that (and a large but always busy Whole Foods just north of that). That same bus also goes to the Pearl Street Mall.

BTW, ITA with the PP about the buses being time-consuming. You'll definitely have to plan extra time for that if you have multiple errands in a day, though I know that's true even when I drive my car. (Our errand limit is 3 stops no matter what my mode of transportation!)

Good luck with your search!
post #11 of 15
I agree - I think if you are living near campus you can definitely get by without a car. Most of the buses go through campus (they have great names like the Hop, Skip, Jump, Leap, Bound, etc ) so you can pretty much go anywhere you want from that area pretty conveniently. And like the PP mentioned there are bike paths leading in every direction from there.

Good luck!
post #12 of 15
We lived in Boulder for about six months, and I would say, yes you do need a car. I't's a great community, we loved it. But i wouldn't rely on mass transit alone there.
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the replies! It has given me lots to think about. We will visit Boulder in the first part of December to find a place to live, and I will keep everything that you said in mind.
post #14 of 15
Have you looked into student family housing? I was briefly looking at grad programs at CU and it looks like they have REALLY affordable family housing available for students. I haven't looked into it any further, but thought I'd throw that out there as an idea for you to check out
post #15 of 15
I live in Boulder, right over near CU. You absolutely don't need a car in this location - super easy walk to whole foods, smaller stores, pearl street, Chautauqua, the trails, etc. However, rent isn't cheap over here (unless you want to live in student housing).
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