Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.


Tom Kalinski, RE/MAX of Boulder

Tom Kalinski, RE/MAX of Boulder

The secret has long been out: Colorado is a beautiful place to live, especially if you enjoy outdoor living. Population is – and has been – on the rise for years, increasing to a surging rate over the last decade.

Today, the most populous Colorado cities are located east of the mountains along Interstate 25. As people make decisions about where they will live, key factors are weighed such as affordability, safety, job market, educational attainment and culture. These same factors were weighed in’s ranking of the Best Places to Live in Colorado. Here are the top five of the cities with the largest populations, and ranking factors ranging from one to ten. No matter the ranking, it’s safe to say, in any Colorado locale, there is a lot to love.

No 1. Fort Collins
Fort Collins looks good from all angles, ranking eight or above for affordability, safety, job market, education and culture. “If you like beer, you’ll like Fort Collins,” writes researchers at, noting the city has brewers of all sizes – from craft brewers like Odell and New Belgium to the Anheuser-Busch operation.

The city also offers enticing outdoor living, including rafting the Cache la Poudre River and hiking the trails the cover more than 280 miles. And to support all of that recreation, Fort Collins and the surrounding area experienced an 18 percent rise in the number of jobs from 2014 to 2019. While most were in government, area employers are diversified and include Hewlett Packard, Otterbox and Colorado State University.

No 2. Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs features easy accessibility to outdoor activities, a booming job market and future development plans that include a 3.7 million-square-foot Amazon fulfillment center and a new soccer stadium for the Colorado Springs Switchbacks, reports While “The Springs” felt the sting of the pandemic in 2020, the city is poised for a rebound. Housing prices may be the early indicator, which has seen the average price rise more than 18 percent. The city ranks 8 for affordability and job market, 7 for education and culture and 5 for safety.

No 3. Denver
Denver continues to attract new residents looking for an urban lifestyle that’s rich with culture and outdoor living. Since 2010, the city’s population has grown by a cumulative 21%, adding more than 127,000 people, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Mile High City is also bringing in tech companies, recently coming in at No. 10 in CompTIA’s December 2020 IT Employment Tracker for tech job growth. Even with its growth, the city is focused on continuing to be healthy and sustainable. Plans are in the works for an additional 125 miles of bike lanes and by 2030, the goal is to be run on 100-percent renewable energy.

Denver ranks 8 for education and culture, 7 for job market, 6 for affordability, and 4 for safety.

No. 4. Greeley
Greeley has been rising in popularity as a place to live over the past five years and in 2019, the metro area was the third fastest-growing in the U.S., according to Census Bureau data. Home to the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley has deep roots in the agriculture industry, with around 30 percent of jobs in the surrounding economy tied to ag-related products.

Today it’s one of the most affordable of the larger cities in Colorado, ranking at 9 by Other rankings are 8 for safety, 7 for job market, 5 for culture and 4 for education.

No. 5. Boulder 
As home to the University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder residents are what you might expect: high educated. Nearly 75 percent of those 25 and older have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. Employment opportunities are in aerospace, renewable energy, and IT. This is mixed with a strong arts community, with more than 30 art galleries and a long-running Shakespeare Festival. However, the cost of living in Boulder ranks among some of the highest costs in the nation, coming in at 3 out of 10 for affordability, according to Other rankings are 10 for education, 9 for job market and 8 for culture and safety.

In addition to these top five cities, there are plenty of smaller cities in Colorado and Boulder County with a wonderful lifestyle to offer. Be sure to contact a Realtor with local knowledge to help you find the right place for you.

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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