Get free help preparing your taxes from AARP Foundation Tax-Aide. Find a location



Introducing RealPad

The tablet with free 24/7 customer support. Learn More

Celebrate Black Life, History, and Culture!



You Could Choose Your Dream Vacation



Renew for 3 and attend Life at 50+ for free



Life at 50+ - Discover. Engage. Enjoy.





Life at 50+ - Register for the Digital Experience



Happy African American couple







AARP Auto Buying Program



AARP Staying Sharp: Keep Your Brain Healthy






Military and Veterans Discount




New Book

Dating After 50: How to get back in the game

Dating After 50 For Dummies

Contests and

AARP’s Superstar
2015 Contest

Sing for a chance to win $5,000! Enter AARP’s Superstar 2015 Contest!
See official rules


Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.


Home & Community Webinars

Family & Caregiving Webinars

Popular Articles



AARP Games - Play Now!

Poll: Are You a Real Techie?

Best Places to Retire 2012

Great Quirky Places to Retire

10 funky and artsy cities that free spirits will love

AARP list of quirky places where you can retire- a water reservoir filled with water from the Rocky Mountains in Boulder, Colorado

Boulder's breathtaking scenery draws people from all walks of life. — Photo by Ethan Welty/Auror

Boulder, Colo.

Boulder’s quirky street cred suffers a little more every year thanks to the classic pattern: Dreamy locale draws lots of people, housing prices skyrocket, eccentric folks are squeezed from the core of town. But in Boulder, quirky and financially successful are not mutually exclusive. The offbeat crowd mixes well with the town’s many college kids, and they all enjoy abundant sunshine and proximity to a vast mountain playground.

The pride in originality starts at the top — Boulder’s government has partnerships with seven sister cities, including Lhasa, Tibet; Dushanbe, Tajikistan; and Jalapa, Nicaragua. From there it extends through the ranks of University of Colorado students and professors, local merchants and small-business owners — and a community of elite athletes, who live here so they can train at 5,430 feet above sea level. 

The heart of town is Pearl Street, a four-block pedestrian mall lined with cafes, bars, boutiques and more. Take in a show at the Boulder Theater or tap the university's performing arts slate; in town are several art galleries and a large, well-funded public library system.

The city has used tax revenue since the late 1960s to buy land for parks. The result is the Greenbelt, a 45,000-acre oasis cocooning Boulder from Denver's sprawl. The local parks are heavily used, but there is ample room to move — and to find your slice of solitude. Even walking the leafy neighborhoods of Victorian homes and bungalows can provide a quick-fix nature lift.

Boulder County (population 294,567) includes Boulder (97,385), Longmont (86,270) and Lafayette (24,453), plus several small hamlets tucked into the mountains. The economy is diverse and strong: Unemployment is only 6.2 percent (February 2012), and the workforce includes a lot of self-employed professionals.

The University of Colorado at Boulder (enrollment 29,884) and Front Range Community College (20,000) welcome students of all ages. Boulder is one of the top-ranked metro areas in the country for the proportion of adults with a four-year college degree, and is also a nexus for alternatives in spirituality, education and medicine. Among other alternative institutes of learning, you can get degrees at Naropa University (Buddhist Studies), the Boulder College of Massage Therapy or the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies.

Boulder boasts bike lanes and paths, and mass transit is great. The county has several municipal public recreation centers with pools, basketball courts, extensive weight rooms and more. Locals, unsurprisingly, are extremely fit and healthy overall. If there's a drawback for retirees it might be that relatively few residents are 65 or older, although more move in every year.

Next Page: Quietude, seaside living and locals who appreciate and welcome the whimsy of artists. »

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Personalization Universe Member Benefits Discounts

Members can save 20% on personalized gifts at Personalization Universe.

Live Nation

Members save 25% or more when buying tickets in groups of four from Ticketmaster.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

This program is supported by a generous grant from Toyota to AARP Foundation.

*Upon completion, you may be eligible to receive an auto insurance discount. Other restrictions apply.

Consult your agent for details.