Okay, so this is a bit afield from my day-to-day challenges as a single dad, but I look at this as optimism therapy. Ya good with that? i thought you might be…
We moved from the Santa Cruz mountains above Silicon Valley to Boulder, Colorado about seven years ago now, a bit after 9/11, though that wasn’t our motivation for moving. We’d loved living in the mountains and had a fabulous house on two acres, bordering a mountain meadow. It was quiet, peaceful and, well, not a good place to raise kids.
I fell in love with Boulder immediately, it was a perfect mix of college town and business, quaint, picturesque, with striking mountain views and all four seasons, mixed in with a whole lotta sun (300+ days/year).
The problem I faced for the first few years, just post the dot-com collapse, was that there wasn’t much in the way of business networking going on and the groups I’d researched and found before we moved, like the Internet Chamber of Commerce and the Colorado Internet Keiretsu, all died within a year of us arriving. I swear, it wasn’t my fault!
The first two years or so were slim for me professionally, there just wasn’t much going on in the industry here and there was almost no startup/entrepreneur scene in Boulder/Denver that I could find.
Things gradually picked up, as new groups formed and the industry and economy began to improve again. Simultaneously we really were getting to know our neighbors well, the kids were integrating nicely into their school and our community and we were making friends too.
In the last few years our family has had a bit of a rough journey – and Linda and I are now divorced – but we’ve decided to stay in Boulder because we both still love the energy, the people and the physical setting of the city.
For me, the enthusiasm and zeal of the entrepreneurial community in the greater Boulder area, with breakfast, lunch and dinner meetups, meetings and lectures every week, is amazing. Lots and lots of great people thinking about how to improve things, how to save the world and how to have some fun in the process.
I wouldn’t be honest, however, if I didn’t say that there are three major problems I see living here in the so-called People’s Republic of Boulder: 1. the community is way too homogeneous for my tastes, 2. housing prices are insanely high, and 3. the granola bubble effect can drive me bonkers. Let me explain…
I used to work in downtown San Francisco and loved that at any given time I could see people from just about every possible ethnic and racial background, typically sitting at the desks or tables around me. In my circle of friends and acquaintances I had every continent represented, and I never recall walking into a restaurant, for example, and seeing just caucasians. Boulder is very different, it’s a very homogeneous community, and that’s one of its greatest weaknesses. But diversity is hard to accomplish when we have problem #2.
Problem #2 is, as I alluded to earlier, housing and general cost of living here. I have a 3bdrm townhouse, and it’s nice, but nothing amazing. Market value? Over $500,000. In this economy. What the heck? It’s very, very hard to get started living in Boulder for less than a huge chunk of cash or a tremendous mortgage, and I flat-out refuse to talk to my more distant friends who talk about buying 3000sf 1/2-acre houses for $150k or similar. lalalalalalalal I can’t hear you! More seriously, though, it is a problem and it’s a huge barrier to a much needed diversity of values and views.
Finally, there are times when the “crystal workshops” and “goddess seminars” and “alternative” stuff gets really old. A community that’s more concerned with prairie dogs than homeless people, more concerned with expensive house sightlines than low income housing, can get a bit weird. ‘nuf said about that.
I’ve certainly toyed with the question of “if I could live anywhere, where would I go?” and short of the dreamy visions of a beach house in Hawai’i, there’s nowhere else I’d rather live and raise my children than here in the beautiful college town of Boulder, Colorado.