Western cities dominate ‘Best Places to Live’ list from US News

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The Flatirons in the distance as seen from the Marshall Mesa trail near Boulder. Credit: Jamie Rogers

If you’re on the job hunt or considering where to move your newly-portable career, you could do a lot worse than setting up your next home in Colorado. The state has four of the top five “Best Places to Live” on the latest ranking from US News and World Report.

The publication, which created similar rankings metrics for universities, said it analyzed the United States’ 150 largest metro areas on affordability, desirability and job prospects.

Boulder, Colorado ranked No. 1, followed by Denver; Austin, Texas; Colorado Springs and Fort Collins. Rounding out the top 10 were Charlotte, North Carolina; Des Moines, Iowa; Fayetteville, Arkansas; Portland, Oregon and San Francisco.

Wichita ranked No. 94 on the list.

Boulder had not been ranked on the list before, but US News said it “catapulted to No. 1 due to its strong Desirability, Quality of Life and Job Market scores.”

“Boulder has a positive reputation among U.S. residents, based on the desirability survey, and excellent education for high schoolers, tying for the top spot with San Jose,” US News said of the city. “Boulder residents enjoy a high quality of life with the mountains at their doorstep and an average annual salary of more than $64,000.

Meanwhile, nearby Denver has also ranked the second-best place to live last year. US News said residents’ annual salaries averaged $59,440.

Eastern states add more representation in the top 20, with Maine, Florida, Massachusetts, and Tennessee making the list.

Cities were graded based on five criteria: desirability, job prospects, population stability, quality of life and value.

US News said the pandemic and civil unrest may have impacted this year’s rankings.

“Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN dropped from No. 6 in 2019 to No. 22, and New York City fell 31 spots to No. 121 – primarily due to significant drops in Desirability scores for both metro areas,” US News said.

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