Affordable Homes in Boulder?

Plaza Downtown Boulder Co

The Plaza in downtown Boulder is popular with all ages.

When discussing Boulder, CO real estate, most folks gasp when they hear how expensive it is.  Why is Boulder real estate so expensive you might ask?  Well, location plays a large role as world class hiking, biking, climbing, and skiing areas are all within a short distance of one another making the quality of life extremely high for most Boulderites.

Another reason real estate is so expensive is the City of Boulder has spent millions of dollars to preserve valuable open space surrounding the town, therefore not allowing building on those lands.  Throw in Colorado University and the demand for housing continues to increase.  Employers are also drawn to Boulder due to the highly educated workforce.  Google just expanded their local operations taking on more office space and employees, IBM has been in town for many years, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research,  NCAR in Boulder,  has a great location nestled up against the Flatirons.

But another major reason why homes cost more in Boulder itself, is the political climate. Anti-growth sentiments in Boulder expressed themselves in the 1960’s and 70’s.  The first citizen referendum on growth that passed provided “take steps necessary to hold the rate of growth in the Boulder Valley to a level substantially below that experiences in the 1960’s.” Several Boulder growth ordinances since then have added provisions limiting new building, scrapes and down-zoning parts of the city. The long term result is less housing supply for the demand. So, prices have gone up more in the Boulder city limits than in surrounding areas.

As of today, there are currently 10 detached single family homes, at least 3 bedrooms/2 baths, under $500,000 currently Active on the market in Boulder.  With inventory that low, competition amongst Buyers is fierce, especially if the home for sale is in a descent location and has some updating.

Three areas of Boulder that would be considered “entry-level” subdivisions with lower -priced homes would be Martin Acres , Table Mesa , and the Highland Park Subdivision that falls on each side of Broadway.  All three areas have great access to HWY 36 for a commute to Interlocken Office Park or Denver, and HWY 93 which goes down to Golden and the I-70 corridor for the mountains.

In the end, the cost of living in Boulder is higher than surrounding areas, but the convenience to world class outdoor attractions, great restaurants and nightlife, and top notch schools is well worth it!!


  1. says

    The great location and array of amenities are enough to make the real estate in Boulder worth the high prices, but the information on the ‘growth ordinances’ is extremely interesting. I had no idea. We take a trip to Boulder every few years and absolutely love it. Great post!

    • Brian MacMillan says

      Nicole–Thanks for your post/reply. Glad to hear you enjoy visiting Boulder every few years. There are some great new additions to town, feel free to ask for recommendations prior to your next trip! Brian

  2. Larry says

    The folks in Boulder who already own a home are glad about the Growth Ordinances. They want to preserve the ambiance and lower density.

    But, it makes it harder for newcomers to buy there due to the increased home prices.

    One Boulderite told me: ” It’s the drawbridge. We got in. Now, we are pulling it up to keep Boulder from becoming another Highlands Ranch”.

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