Boulder, Flatirons

What makes Boulder such an exceptional place to live? A beautiful Rocky Mountain backdrop surrounded by open space is a good start. (Photo: Pexels).

Tom Kalinski, RE/MAX of Boulder

Many factors makeup “quality of life” and at least two Colorado metros deliver them in abundance. Boulder ranks as No. 2 across U.S. metros while Fort Collins shines in the eighth position, according to the 2022-2023 U.S. News & World Report’s Quality of Life Index.

What makes quality of life high? A good day-to-day experience, which U.S. News ranked based on residents’ satisfaction with their daily lives, considering factors like crime, quality and availability of health care, quality of education, and average commute time.

Boulder pulls a quality-of-life score of 7.7 on the U.S. News’ Index, topped only by Ann Arbor, Michigan, with a score of 8. Fort Collins hit eighth in the rankings and pulled a 7.2 for quality of life.

What makes Boulder such an exceptional place to live? A beautiful Rocky Mountain backdrop surrounded by open space is a good start. The foothills are not only a feast for the eyes; they nurture the soul and body. The area is a haven for outdoor activity. “Trail runners, hikers, climbers, cyclists and more move here to live in this perpetual playground, where the answer to ‘What do you do?’ is often one’s activity of choice, not occupation,” writes U.S. News.

To soothe the soul, the 324,682 residents can choose meditation, yoga, the summertime outdoor Shakespeare Festival, or just a walk on 155 miles of trails. Plus, the average commute is a relatively short 23.5 minutes — and that could be by bike, bus, or car. Residents are just under 37-years-old by median age and make an average annual salary of $70,450.

Home prices and rents are on the more expensive side, giving the Boulder metro a 5.1 value score, writes U.S. News. The report shows a metro area median home price of $528,833 and a median monthly rent of $1,582.

The overall ratings for the Boulder-area are:

• 6.8 Desirability
• 5.1 Value
• 7.7 Job Market
• 7.7 Quality of Life
• 5.2 Net Migration

No. 8 ranked Fort Collins metro shares a number of similarities with Boulder — there are 350,523 residents with a median age of just over 36, the average commute time is 23.6 minutes and the median home price for the area is $518,755. It’s also a college town, home to Colorado State University. With Rocky Mountain National Park nearby outdoor recreation is a big driver of the economy and popular in social circles.

“Fort Collins is known to many nationally as the Napa Valley of craft beer, hosting big names like New Belgium Brewing Co. along with new up-and-comers,” reports U.S. News. For more than 30 years, the Colorado Brewers’ Festival has showcased more than 40 microbreweries. New Belgium Brewing hosts the annual Tour de Fat bike celebration.

Here are the overall ratings for the Fort Collins metro-area:

• 5.4 Desirability
• 5.5 Value
• 6.5 Job Market
• 7.2 Quality of Life
• 6.6 Net Migration

U.S. News & World Report’s Best Places to Live rankings evaluates data on metro areas from the U.S. Census Bureau, the FBI, the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. News’ own internal resources. Each index is weighted based on a March 2022 public survey in which people from across the country voted for what they believed was the most important factor to consider when choosing where to live.

In summary, here are the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Places to Live for Quality of Life:

No. 1 Ann Arbor, Mich.
No. 2 Boulder, Colo.
No. 3 San Jose, Calif.
No. 4 Naples, Fla.
No. 5 Trenton, N.J.
No. 6 Madison, Wis.
No. 7 Boston, Mass.
No. 8 Fort Collins, Colo.

Read the full report 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 commercial and residential real estate. For questions, email Tom at [email protected], call 303.441.5620, or visit