The absolute best places to live in the US are not only right in your own backyard they are your backyard in four Colorado metros. (Photo: Jeff Burak/Unsplash).


Tom Kalinski, RE/MAX of Boulder

Tom Kalinski, RE/MAX of Boulder

The absolute best places to live in the US are not only right in your own backyard – they are your backyard in four Colorado metros.

Boulder and Denver rank Nos. 1 and 2 best places to live nationwide and Colorado Springs took the No. 4 spot while Fort Collins came in at No. 5, according to the latest report from U.S. News & World Report, the global authority in rankings and consumer advice.

The new lists evaluate the country’s 150 most populous metropolitan areas based on affordability, job prospects, and desirability.

This was Boulder’s first time to rank on this list, while Denver held last year’s No. 2 position. Austin, TX fell from the top position to No. 3.

Boulder catapulted to No. 1 due to its strong desirability, quality of life, and job market scores, according to the report.

Being home to a college is another factor that put many of the metros on the list, including Boulder and Colorado Springs.

“At the top of this year’s Best Places to Live rankings, we see a combination of metro areas that can appeal to people looking for city living or more of a small-town atmosphere, but all offer a balance between cost and quality of living,” said Devon Thorsby, real estate editor at U.S. News.

The report cites Boulder as attracting young professionals, families, academics, scientists, transplants from both coasts, and lovers of outdoor recreation.

“It’s a perpetual playground, where the answer to ‘What do you do?’ is often one’s activity of choice, not occupation,” writes U.S. News.

Metro areas that ranked in the top 25 of both 2020-2021 Best Places to Live and Best Places to Retire include Charlotte, NC; Sarasota, FL; Dallas-Fort Worth, TX; Grand Rapids, MI; and Nashville, TN. Ann Arbor, MI and Naples, FL, which debuted in the rankings this year, also placed in the top 25 for places to live and retire.

“After a prolonged period of staying at home, people are taking a critical look at where they live, and many are looking to find a place they can feel happier, afford more or pursue new opportunities,” said Thorsby. “The Best Places rankings can help people examine the details they consider important in a larger community as they seek a house with a bigger yard or a spot that makes it easier for the whole family to quarantine safely together.”

This year, U.S. News increased the number of metropolitan areas evaluated for both sets of rankings from 125 to 150, to provide a broader and more accurate reflection of where Americans can live and retire.

The 2020-2021 Best Places to Live were determined based on a methodology that factored in job market, housing affordability, quality of life, desirability and net migration ratings. They were determined in part using a public survey of thousands of individuals throughout the U.S. to find out what qualities they consider important in a place to live. The methodology also factors in data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as the U.S. News rankings of the Best High Schools and Best Hospitals.

Here’s the top ten on the 2020-2021 U.S. News Best Places to Live List:

1) Boulder, CO
2) Denver, CO
3) Austin, TX
4) Colorado Springs, CO
5) Fort Collins, CO
6) Charlotte, NC
7) Des Moines, IA
8) Fayetteville, AR
9) Portland, OR
10) San Francisco, CA

See the list at

By Tom Kalinski. Tom is the broker/owner of RE/MAX of Boulder, the local residential real estate company he established in 1977. He was inducted into Boulder County’s Business Hall
of Fame in 2016 and has a 40-year background in residential and commercial real estate. For questions, e-mail [email protected], call 303.441.5620 or visit