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Boulder CO Cost of Living | 💰 [2022] Is Boulder Expensive, Affordable & More!

Situated in the foothills of the awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains, Boulder is a marvelous place to call home. Because of its many perks and prime location, this city is known as an expensive place to live. In fact, it is more expensive to live in Boulder than in Denver, which is also a costly place to reside. Learn more about the overall cost of living in Boulder, and how much you can expect to spend on real estate, daily essentials, and more.

Boulder Cost of Living Index

Curious about how much it costs to live in Boulder? There are a myriad of factors that influence a person’s individual costs, including their lifestyle, habits, household size, and neighborhood. Knowing the overall cost of living is a wise place to begin when considering moving to a new city, as it provides insight into affordability compared to where you currently reside.

Boulder Cost of Living Index

For those who are unfamiliar with the Cost of Living Index (COLI), it is a simplified way to compare the cost of living between cities. The U.S. national average is set at a COLI of 100. Cities that have a COLI that is lower than 100 are more affordable, whereas places that exceed 100 are more expensive than the national average. This index also makes it easy to determine the percentage difference in costs between cities. For example, if a city has a Cost of Living Index of 124.5, it is 24.5 percent more expensive than the national average. In addition to being assigned an overall COLI, there are also ratings for subcategories (such as housing and food).

The Cost of Living Index for Boulder, Colorado is 141.7 (or 41.7 percent higher than the national average). It is 20.6 percent higher than the Colorado state COLI. Broken down into various categories, there are several areas in which Boulder falls below the national average. Health care (94.2) and utilities (92.4) are more affordable than average. In all other areas, costs run significantly higher.

The highest COLI rating in Boulder is housing. Coming in at a whopping 232.2, rent and real estate are extremely expensive in Boulder.

Consumer Price Index (CPI)

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Boulder has increased both in the past several months, and year-over-year. In April and May, prices on various goods increased by 1.3 percent. Compared to 2021, overall prices have jumped 8.3 percent. Some of the categories that have experienced the most significant jumps in cost include energy prices (24.7 percent since 2021), and food (10.6 percent since 2021).

Consumer Expenditures Survey

The Consumer Expenditures Survey is a program from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that releases data on income, expenditures, and more.

According to the Consumer Expenditures Survey, the average household in Boulder spends the following on an annual basis:

  • Health care: $4,916
  • Personal insurance & pensions: $7,724
  • Food: $8,398
  • Transportation: $10,146
  • Housing: $24,548
  • All other items: $11,037

Family Budget Calculator (Economic Policy Institute)

Wondering how much you need to make to live in Boulder? According to the EPI Family Budget Calendar, the average household with two adults and two kids would have an average Boulder cost of living of $108,881. Individual costs that factor into this estimate include housing ($1,724 per month), child care ($1,825 per month), food ($987 per month), and transportation ($1,292 per month).

Cost of Household Items, Food, Gas & Groceries in Boulder

Boulder is an expensive place to live. Here are some examples of consumer prices, average Boulder utilities, and more.

  • Steak, Ribeye, 1lb.: $11.47
  • Milk, Whole 1/2 Gal.: $1.50
  • Cereal, One box: $3.18
  • Ground beef, 1lb.: $4.06
  • Eggs, 1 Dozen, Grade A: $1.44
  • Potatoes, 5 lb bag: $2.63
  • Bread, Wheat, 1 loaf: $2.78
  • Beer, Heineken’s 6 pack: $8.75
  • Movie Ticket, 1st Run: $14.57
  • McDonald’s Burger, 1/4 Pounder: $4.96
  • Average Cell Phone Bill: $190.55
  • Average Cost of Gasoline, Per Gal.: $2.733
  • Average Cost of Utilities in Boulder, Per Month: $101.64

Public transportation

The cost for a City of Boulder Regional Transportation District (RTD) bus pass varies depending on the option selected. Riders can purchase a 3-Hour Pass, reloadable MyRide Card, a Day Pass ($6 for local travel), or pay per individual boarding.

Average cost of utilities in Boulder

The average cost of utilities in Boulder is lower than the national average. You’ll want to budget for an average Boulder electricity bill of $101.64 per month. Across providers, the average cell phone bill runs $190.55 per month.

Average Boulder car insurance premium

Where you choose to live has a major influence on the rate you pay for car insurance. Prices are determined by your specific location. Colorado has the 13th highest car insurance rates in the nation. For full coverage, yearly premiums cost $1,948. State minimum coverage costs $553 per year. Car insurance premiums are ultimately determined by other critical variables, including your age, your driving record, how many vehicles you need to insure, and how many people will be driving the car.

Boulder Real Estate Market

The Boulder real estate market is hot. Home prices have continued to climb over the past year, with the city’s median price increasing by 13.2 percent year-over-year. According to Redfin, the median home price in Boulder is now $1.03 million.

Although the total number of homes sold has decreased since 2021 by 20.9 percent, sales began to pick back up in May 2022. Properties are spending fewer days on the market. Back in January, homes spent an average of 53 days on the market, but now only last 21 days. This shows the continued demand for Boulder real estate.

To determine the city’s price-to-rent ratio, you can divide the median annual rent by the median home price. The higher the ratio, the better the market is for renters. The lower the ratio, the better it is for buyers. Using this formula, Boulder’s price-to-rent ratio is 37.9. This figure indicates that it is much better to rent than buy.

Some of the most expensive neighborhoods in Boulder are Lake of the Pines (homes between $1.5 to $2.5 million), Mapleton Hill (home of $4 million and up), and Newlands (homes of $5 million and up). Boulder’s most affordable neighborhoods include Noble Park, Whittier, and Holiday.

Boulder Rental Market – Average Rent in Boulder

Average apartment rent in Boulder is $2,263 per month for an 825 square foot unit. This figure is significantly higher than the U.S. average of $1,628 per month for the same size dwelling. Rent in Boulder is also higher than in neighboring Denver, where the average rent price is $1,879 per month.

Some of the neighborhoods with the most expensive average rent prices in Boulder are Chautauqua, Cross Grove, and Flatirons — all priced at $2,501 per month.

According to the 2022 Rental Affordability Report by ATTOM, it is more affordable to rent than buy in Boulder. Depending on the neighborhood, you will need to earn $30 per hour (or more) to afford rent in Boulder.

Average Salary & Household Income in Boulder

The median household income in Boulder is $72,279. According to Payscale, the average annual salary (per person) is $77,000, and the average hourly income is $20.90.

Income, Sales & Property Taxes in Boulder

One of the most important considerations to keep in mind when moving to a new city are the various taxes you’ll need to pay. Here is a complete breakdown of income tax, sales tax, and property tax in Boulder.

Income tax

Beginning in the 2020 tax year, the Colorado income tax rate is 4.55 percent.

Sales tax

Residents can expect to pay the Boulder sales tax rate of 4.985 percent.

Sales Tax Breakdown


Colorado State

Boulder County










Property tax

Figuring out your individual property tax rate can be somewhat complicated. The amount you pay may be collected by either the city or county.

When living in Boulder, your property taxes are determined and collected by Boulder County.  On single-family houses, condos, and townhomes, the current assessment rate is 6.95 percent. This figure is valid for both 2022 and 2023. This is a decrease from the prior assessment rate of 7.15 percent. For multi-family housing units — which includes duplexes, triplexes, and apartments — the assessment rate for 2022 and 2023 is 6.80 percent.

Boulder property taxes are calculated by using the actual property value, assessment rate, and mill levy.

Boulder vs Denver Cost of Living

Because of their exceptional qualities and close proximity to one another, many people have a challenging time deciding whether to live in Boulder or Denver.

One way that you can make this decision is by comparing the average cost of living between the two cities. Overall, living in Denver is less expensive than Boulder. This is especially true when it comes to housing. The median home price in Boulder is $1.03 million, whereas it is only $610,000 in Denver (a $420,000 difference!). As mentioned earlier, rent is also less expensive in Denver. When all costs are compared, it is estimated that it costs 30.1 percent more to live in Boulder than it does to reside in Denver.

Although Boulder is an expensive place to live, the benefits of residing in the city are numerous. If you are planning on relocating to this gorgeous city, make your move hassle-free by enlisting the help of our expert team at Wasatch Moving Company. Call us today at 801-335-5603 to get started.


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