Best of both worlds: Boulder’s Suburban Mountains

A large part of Boulder’s draw is its proximity to the foothills of the Rockies. And by proximity, of course, I mean the foothills taking up a huge chunk of the county.

As a Fourmile Canyon resident myself, RE/MAX of Boulder agent Chad St. Onge and I got to talking. Why are folks so deterred from living in the foothills when you can have views like this just a few minutes from “town.”

As a Boulder REALTOR and mountain expert, Chad set out to debunk a few mountain life myths. Here’s what he had to say:

I am a resident of Sunshine Canyon and I have lived in the mountains in one place or another for most of my life.  My wife is a converted mountain dweller.  I had to drag her kicking and screaming into our first mountain home and now she can’t imagine living anywhere else.  We love the space we have, the privacy, the views and the simplicity of our lives in the mountains.  The best part is that our current home is only 5 minutes to all of the things we love about Boulder including the rec centers, our favorite restaurants on the Pearl Street Mall, shopping, and more. In fact, our home is closer to our favorite restaurants than our prior home which was in Boulder.

I have found that there is a lot of misperception about what it is really like to live in the mountains.  I have heard the wildest statements from flatlanders and even brokers who don’t know the mountains well.  The realities are really much tamer.  When someone is considering a move into the suburban mountains, they typically have questions about road maintenance and snow removal, wild life, wells and septic systems, utilities & internet availability, schools, etc. Let me tell you about our experience with each of these.


Road Maintenance and Snow Removal:  In our 3 years of living on Sunshine Canyon there hasn’t been a single day that we have not been able to drive out of our driveway and into town in our Volvo Cross Country. Now to be fair, one day had 2 feet of snow, but our Colorado snow is so light and fluffy we had no problem just barreling through it. The snow was cleared by 10 am on that day.  In fact, we find that the road maintenance is much better in the close in mountains than it is when you get into town.  I do think it is smart to have at least front wheel drive and preferably 4wd/AWD with good snow tires, but if you meet that minimum standard, you should have no problem getting around.


Wild Life:  In my opinion, the wild life is a reason to live in the mountains. Our daughter gets excited to see the deer every day when they come meandering by. We see lots of beautiful fox, rabbits and wild turkey.  We wake up to the sounds of birds chirping instead of road noise. We usually see bears a couple times a year. Of course, some of the wild life is a little more “wild” than others.  We’ve had to take steps to keep the deer from eating everything in our gardens and we go out with our dog after dark to make sure she doesn’t chase after the bears or, even worse, a mountain lion. (We are more than comfortable with our dog roaming free on the property during the day).  At the end of the day, we don’t see this as an inconvenience as we would have to take our dog out for walks even if we lived in town.


Wells and Septic Systems:  We have never noticed a difference…. this is a big area of question for most people I talk to about living in the mountains and the fact of the matter is that a modern well & septic system has very few differences from city system.  I haven’t done the analysis, but I would be that a well and septic is cheaper over its lifetime than paying a water and sewer bill every month.


Utilities:  We have Xcel electricity and propane gas.  I would guess we pay about 25% more for our heating bill than if we were connected to the gas lines in the city.  I know there are some areas in the mountains that are connected to the gas lines, you just have to check if it is important to you.  From a functional point of view, we don’t notice a difference here either other than the fact that our bills don’t come every month.  We use Fred’s Propane and they deliver propane automatically whenever it is needed.


Internet: We are on CenturyLink DSL.  Internet options vary widely throughout the mountains, but there are very few homes in the Boulder suburban mountains that don’t have a reasonable internet option.


Schools:  Any mountain home within 10-20 minutes of Boulder will be in the Boulder Valley School District which means that our kids will go to the exact same awesome Boulder schools as the kids who live in Boulder proper.

What can be better than having the space, privacy, and views of mountain living while only being 5-10 minutes from downtown Boulder? When living in the suburban mountains directly above Boulder you truly do get the best of both worlds.


If you are considering a move to Boulders Suburban Mountains, make sure you talk with someone who actually lives in the mountains.  The handful of real estate brokers who live in the mountains and do a lot of business in the mountains are a great resource.  is a great resource.



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