Colorado is known all over the country as one of the most active, happy, safe, outdoorsy, and all around naturally beautiful states in the U.S. The Rocky Mountains cut a dramatic trail through the state’s center, there are rivers and lakes so blue they make the sky look washed out, and once you visit some of those unique Colorado cities, you may well just move there.
If Colorado as a whole sounds like an ideal place to live, just wait until you’ve taken a closer look at some of the state’s best cities and towns. In Movoto Real Estate’s efforts to uncover some of the best places to live in our country, we’ve already done just this in states like Missouri, Tennessee, and Montana, and today we are heading to the Centennial State.
Which Colorado place ranked the best? According to our analysis, it was the town of Superior. Even with a name like that, though, our winner faced some mountainous competition. Here are the 10 best places in Colorado:
1. Town of Superior
2. City of Loveland
3. Cherry Hills Village
4. City of Lakewood
5. Town of Estes Park
6. City of Evans
7. City of Boulder
8. City of Fort Lupton
9. Town of Wellington
10. City of Louisville
Why is our No. 1 place so Superior? And what’s to love about Loveland? We have all the answer and more. Keep reading to learn the method behind this analysis, and just why each of these places ranked so well.
How We Did It
As previously mentioned, Colorado may be one of the most naturally beautiful states in our country, but in order to determine which places were the best to live in, we needed some universally measurable criteria. Ultimately, we decided on the following seven, broken down into a total of 13:
- Quality of life (Cost of living, median home prime, median rent, median household income, student-teacher ratio)
- Total amenities
- Total crimes
- Tax rates (Sales tax, income tax)
- Commute Time
- Weather (Temperature, air quality)
Once we settled on these criteria, we took a look at the U.S. Census data for 74 places in the state of Colorado with populations above 5,000. Each place was ranked from one to 74 in the individual criteria, with one being the best possible score. These individual rankings were then averaged into an overall Big Deal Score, with the lowest score being the winner.
If your city didn’t make the top 10, you can hop down to the bottom where we’ve listed the rankings for Colorado’s top 50 places. For now though, let’s take a closer look at our winners, starting with No. 1, Superior.
This Boulder County town may not be the cheapest city on our list, with a cost of living of 114, but hey—you get what you pay for, and here it seems residents are paying for a Superior quality of life. With one of the highest median rent prices ($1,275), home values ($389,300), and median household incomes ($96,130) on our list, Superior came in with one of the highest scores for overall quality of life.
Superior is also among the best when it comes to taxes. Colorado’s income tax is 4.63 percent nearly across the board, and so the sales tax of individual places played a major role in our rankings. Superior, for example, has a sales tax of just 8.21 percent, compared to say, Parker, with a sales tax of 8.81 percent.
Finally, this town is nearly unbeatable in the state when it comes to both weather and unemployment. During the summers, the average temperature is a perfect 74 degrees and the air quality is ranked an impressive 14 out of 100 (lower is best). It’s almost a shame that the unemployment rate is just 5.9 percent on such sunny days—but, hey, that’s what sick days are for, right?
Located in Larimer County, this city of nearly 67,000 ranked well in our study for a number of reasons—but most notably for its high median income of $81,015, its low unemployment rate of 5.9 percent, and just like our No. 1 city, a nearly perfect temperature and air quality score—a warm average of 74 in the summers and an air quality of 14 out of 100.
Loveland also has a relatively high number of total amenities—1,966 bars, restaurants, and coffee shops in the area—and a median home value of $361,200, making it the place on our list with the 15th most valuable homes, which is very good. The next city on our list though, makes these property prices look like nickels and dimes.
With a population of just 5,987, Cherry Hills was one of the smallest places on our list, but as you’ll soon see, that by no means indicates that it is lacking. In fact, this Denver suburb is one of the most affluent places in Colorado in general.
With a median household income of $219,620, Cherry Hills is easily the best paid on our list, and with a median home price of $1,042,500, it is easily the most expensive in terms of real estate. Well, in terms of anything, actually—it has the second highest cost of living in the state, a score of 165 (second only to Castle Pines, with a score of 175.)
Cherry Hills is not only affluent, it is also incredibly safe, with just 755 crimes per 100,000 people, making it the third safest place in the state.
Located in Jefferson County, this city of nearly 143,000 residents is easily the largest on our list, and one of the best ranked in terms of overall quality of life. At a closer look, this is mostly because of Lakewood’s low student to teacher ratio—just 15:1 (compared to some other places of 30:1 or higher!), and its median household income and rent prices. The median household income in Lakewood is $67,560 and the median rent is $1,066, which indicates a strong desire to live in the area. All of these combined rank Lakewood as No. 26 in terms of overall quality of life—beating out 48 of its competitors.
Just like Superior and Loveland, Lakewood also has a low unemployment rate of 5.9 percent, and a warm average summer temperature of 74 degrees. All of these factors combine to put Lakewood at No. 4 on our list.
5. Estes Park
This stunning town in Larimer County may be one of the most popular summer resort and tourist towns in the state, but according to our research, residents have it pretty good here year-round. This small town of just under 6,000 people ranked well for its impressive median household income of $100,288, its median rent price of $1,316, and its high median home values of $341,400, indicating a strong desire to live in the area.
And why wouldn’t you want to live in the area? Estes Park is affluent, it is beautiful, the summer is a warm average of 74 degrees, and with a crime rate of just 504 crimes per 100,000 people, it is the safest place on our entire list.
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With a median home value of $346,700, Evans ranked among the top 20 when it came to high priced real estate, which is a good indicator of a place’s desirability. And what’s not to desire? Evans has a student to teacher ratio of just 14 to 1—the very best in our top 10. It also has one of the lower sales tax rates, at just 7.7 percent, compared to some cities which are over 8.8 percent.
Residents in Evans also have a much lower commute time than the average Coloradan, spending an average of just 17 minutes in the car. Of course a view of the Rocky Mountains might make any drive go by quicker; but as any Colorado resident knows, the less time in the car, the more time you have to enjoy the outdoors.
Boulder is known across the country as one of the best cities in Colorado, and in many peoples’ opinions, in the U.S. in general. This city of just over 97,000 residents is known for its laid back attitude, liberal leanings, and of course, its natural beauty. It is a liberal outdoorsman’s dream come true!
But how did it rank in our study? Well, where it really excelled was in its unemployment rate of just 5.9 percent, its perfect summer temperatures, averaging at 74 degrees, and its low student to teacher ratio—just 16:1. Boulder also has some of the highest median home prices on our list—$475,200—79 percent higher than the overall median home value of the state.
8. Fort Lupton
Located in Weld County, Colorado, Fort Lupton scored a spot on our list for several reasons, but chief among them were its low cost of living and low taxes. With a cost of living of just 95, where the national average is 100, and with a sales tax of just 6.7 percent, Fort Lupton is easily the most affordable place in our top 10.
Fort Lupton also has an unemployment rate of just 6.2 percent, which is pretty good, considering Colorado’s overall unemployment rate is 8 percent, and the country’s, 9.5.
Another relatively inexpensive city, Wellington came in as our ninth best place in the state, largely because of its affordability. With a cost of living of just 96, where the national average is 100, and a sales tax of just 6.7 percent, Wellington residents have it pretty good—especially when you consider that the median household income of $66,524 is 10 percent higher than the rest of the state.
Wellington also scored an A Plus in education, with its low student to teacher ratio of just 15:1, and ranked as one of the safest cities on our list, with a crime rate of just 1,244 crimes per 100,000 people.
Affordable, well-paid, safe, and a good education system? No wonder this town is known as a “great place to grow.”
Bringing our list to a close was Louisville. This Boulder County municipality scored points in our ranking for its unemployment rate of just 5.9 percent, its beautiful summer temperatures, averaging at 74 degrees, and its relative high rank in amenities, with 970 businesses in the area.
Louisville also ranked well with its cost of living of 99, compared to the national average of 100. Considering all of this, it is no wonder Louisville was named one of CNN Money and Money Magazine’s 100 best places to live in the U.S (and of course, now, our No. 10 best place in Colorado!)
Oh Colorado, We Love You
With all of the rankings we do at Movoto Real Estate, we can’t exactly play favorites, but considering Colorado’s natural beauty, its variety of activities, and now, what we know about the places on our list, well, it’s hard to argue with this state’s greatness—particularly that of our winner, the most Superior place of them all.
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