Written on June 5, 2018

Finding Housing In Boulder

As you plan your move to Boulder, a place to live is probably high on your priority list. It’s possible to find vacant apartments at any time of year, but for leases starting at the beginning of Fall semester, it’s good to start looking as soon as possible to find the best deals. As you start or finish your search for housing for next semester, here are some resources to keep in mind.

Where do CS Grad Students live?

This semester a group of CS graduate students collaboratively mapped their apartment locations. You can also access the interactive version of this map

A map with flags where students live

What are the neighborhoods around Boulder? How can I get around?

Boulder and its larger metro area are publicly traversible by bus under Denver’s Regional Transportation District. Busses run within Boulder and to some of its suburbs. To the northeast of Boulder are Gunbarrel, Niwot, and Longmont, and towards Denver (southeast) are Superior, Louisville, Lafayette, Broomfield, and Golden. Within Boulder, there are neighborhoods surrounding campus, each offering different perks. See the above link for more information about these subrubs and neighborhoods, and getting around in each.

How much can I expect to pay for housing?

It’s hard to say. Many of our graduate students live with roommates or spouses while some prioritize having their own space; some live in town, and some live a suburb of Boulder. The exact amount you’ll pay is variable, but hopefully this histogram from our 2021 Quality of Life survey can help you make an estimate. The TA and RA stipdends pay approximately $13000 per semester, or $2800 per month for the 9 month academic year before taxes (approx. $2400 after taxes), while students have the opportunity to earn more in the summer as well.

Histogram of money spent on housing among CS grad students

Is this feasible in Boulder?

General recommendations suggest spending about 35-40% of your net (after taxes) monthly income on housing and utilities. Roughly, this means spending about $960 per month on housing and utilities. Everyone’s financial situation is different, so we do not want to make explicit recommendations about whether or not this proportion is right for you and if this is feasible, but we want to be transparent about costs.

Boulder Landlord Tenant Handbook

This city website summarizes residential landlord-tenant law for leasing in Boulder. Sounds dry, but it is an excellent resource for informing yourself about the legal protections and risks of leasing. For example, it includes a model lease agreement. It is good practice to compare any lease offered to you by a landlord to the model lease and discuss any differences between the two. Some highlights from the handbook that you might not be aware of :

If you have questionable clauses in your lease, you may have to contest them in court.

Be alert to clauses in written leases which require the tenant to give up certain rights such as a clause which allows the landlord to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent without a three-day notice. A three-day notice is required by Colorado law and cannot be waived by a tenant. Other questionable clauses may only be determined unenforceable by a court.

Landlords are required by law to pay interest on your security deposit

Sections 12-2-4 through 12-2-6, B.R.C. 1981, provide that simple interest must be paid on the entire amount of all security deposits for residential property in Boulder.

Make sure your lease covers who makes repairs!

A landlord only has to make repairs if the lease makes him/her responsible. If your lease doesn’t have a clause like this, ADD IT AND HAVE THE LANDLORD INITIAL IT.

If you would like a lawyer to read your lease and provide advice on unusual clauses, contact Student Legal Resources. They provide this service for free, and can also provide council if you have a dispute with your landlord.

Where to look for off-campus housing

Ralphie’s List is the University of Colorado housing classifieds board. It includes both apartment listings and roommate searches. It’s only open to CU-affiliated users, since you need your identikey to log in.  You can filter your search by graduate students, gender, smoking preferences, etc. and can message potential roommates with potential questions. There is a good mix of people who don’t have a place to live yet and people who need someone to take the last spot in the place they currently live.

Craigslist is one of the most used classifieds boards in the US. It has a Boulder specific page as well as pages for the surrounding area, Denver, Longmont, etc. If you search on the Boulder page, it will also show results for the surrounding area. Like Ralphie’s list, you can find both apartment listings and roommate searches here, but it is not restricted to CU-affiliated users. Shared apartments posted on Craigslist tend to be very practical; there is often not very much community in the apartment, but it varies from post to post, and you might find some people who are looking for more community, shared meals etc.

Boulder CS Graduate Slack has a #housing channel where CS student post information about roommate searches, apartments etc. If you don’t already have a Slack account, you can use your @colorado.edu email address to sign up for one. Also use the Slack to ask questions of current students about neighborhoods, public transportation, etc.

On-campus Housing

Graduate and Family Housing is the on-campus choice for Masters and PhD students. They run several apartment complexes with apartments ranging from studio to 3 bedroom. The apartments are available both furnished and unfurnished. The rent is one of the most reasonable in Boulder and the units are well maintained. There are also community events and gardens available. Unfortunately, there is a long waitlist for these apartments. You may get priority on the waitlist if you are (1) international or (2) here with your partner or children.  However, the graduate and family housing office cannot guarantee that anyone will get a spot by a specific date, so consider a back-up plan if you apply here.

Search term advice

If you are not an American English speaker, some vocabulary in the online postings may be unfamiliar.  Here’s a short primer:

  • Roommate = flatmate
  • Studio = bachelor/maisonette
  • Bed sizes: Twin bed = Single, Full/Queen/King = Double bed (Increasing order of size)

A comparison of bed sizes