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2 Colorado cities in top 4 'Best Places to Live' rankings

Three Colorado metro areas fell from their previous rankings due to poor air quality.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Two Colorado cities rank among the best places to live in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Huntsville, Alabama, knocked Boulder down three positions to capture the No. 1 spot in the new 2022-2023 Best Places to Live in the United States rankings, released Tuesday.

U.S. News & World Report ranks the country’s 150 most populous metropolitan areas based on affordability, desirability and quality of life.

Three new cities joined the top five in the rankings: Colorado Springs rose four positions to No. 2, Green Bay jumped 18 spots to No. 3, and San Jose catapulted 31 spots to capture No. 5.

Three Colorado metro areas – Denver (No. 55), Fort Collins (No. 54) and Boulder (No. 4) – have been experiencing catastrophic wildfire seasons. All fell from their previous rankings, as each of them had among the 15 lowest air quality scores out of the 150 metro areas on the list. 

"Over the last few years, Denver has experienced a population boom, and it doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon," said the report. "As a result, the cost of living has dramatically increased, with housing costs seeing one of the biggest hikes. The median home sale price in Denver is now significantly higher than the national median."

2022-2023 U.S. News Best Places to Live – Top 10

1. Huntsville, Alabama
2. Colorado Springs, Colorado
3. Green Bay, Wisconsin
4. Boulder, Colorado
5. San Jose, California
6. Raleigh & Durham, North Carolina
7. Fayetteville, Arkansas
8. Portland, Maine
9. Sarasota, Florida
10. San Francisco, California

"Much of the shakeup we see at the top of this year’s ranking is a result of changing preferences," said Devon Thorsby, real estate editor at U.S. News. "People moving across the country today are putting more emphasis on affordability and quality of life than on the job market, which in many ways takes a back seat as remote work options have become more standard."

Courtney Hickcox has lived in Denver for six years. She doesn't plan on leaving anytime soon, but said she understands why it's dropped 41 spots on the list. 

"The crime has definitely risen around here a lot," Hickcox said. "The home prices have gone up a lot, which makes it very unaffordable for a lot of people to live here."

The average housing price in Denver is more than $642,000, compared to the national average of about $365,000, according to U.S. News and World Report.

"If you're wanting to start your life and buy, it's really hard to do that in Denver," Colorado State Demographer Elizabeth Garner said.

RELATED: Priced Out: How the Denver Metro housing market got to where it is today

She said Colorado is starting to see downward pressure on population growth.

"Our youngest population moves out of Denver, kind of after the age of 30, into other counties, simply because Denver really doesn't have the housing for purchase compared to for rent," Garner said. 

She said in order to retain our population, Denver needs to build more homes to keep prices down, and wages need to go up.

"Because you have so many high earners who have moved into the area recently -- we're talking people who make over $100,000 a year -- they can afford high rent," said Chris Gallion, another Denver resident.

He said can't see himself moving away from the city where he was born and raised, despite recognizing some problems.

"I would say that we have some issues with affordability as well as infrastructure," Gallion said. "Having to commute on Denver roads, day in and day out, can be pretty frustrating." 

But as he sees it, it's all just room for improvement.

"There's always things that we can all work on to help us all live a better life," he said. 

“Denver is and will continue to be a great place to live, work and play," Theresa Marchetta, chief communications officer for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, said. "We are leveraging every tool available in this post-pandemic recovery to address the challenges we face and to fully restore the vibrancy of our resilient city.”

> See the full rankings here.


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