Top 100 best places to live: Boulder leads among seven Colorado cities

Posted by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Friday, October 9th, 2015 at 4:26pm.

Boulder claimed the No. 5 spot on Livability’s 2016 Top 100 Places to Live, ranking among the study’s top 10 small- and mid-size cities to live in for the third consecutive year. assessed greater than 40 data points for more than 2,000 cities with populations between 20,000 and 350,000. Based on data by EMSI, the rankings were determined in collaboration with urbanist Richard Florida and Professor Steven Pedigo from the New York University School of Professional Studies' Initiative for Creativity and Innovation in Cities.

Boulder is noted for pristine natural surroundings, plenty to do season-round, a vibrant farm-to-table restaurant scene built on a strong organic food movement, dynamic cultural activities and excellent schools. Key again this year are city resident’s access to 70 square miles of open space and 60 urban parks, an impressive mountain backdrop, opportunities for healthy living, and a thriving business and start-up community.

Citing employment opportunities as a big “livability” factor, the website reports top industries in Boulder County include medical – with 2.9 percent of all Boulder workers employed in this area – and research and development in the physical, engineering and life sciences. 

Entrepreneurial companies with fewer than 10 employees make a strong showing with 53,864 businesses in Boulder County. Another 11,988 businesses have between 10 and 50 employees, 2,268 have between 50 and 250, and 306 employ more than 250.

Overall top 10 scores for this year eclipsed those of 2015. The three top-ranked cities -- Rochester, Minn., Bellevue, Wash., and Madison, Wis. -- held respective scores of 674, 670 and 651, which outperformed last year’s No. 1 score of 646 held by Palo Alto.

Boulder’s total score of 649 rose six points over last year, though its No. 5 ranking slipped from previous years, moving from No. 4 in 2015 and No. 2 in 2014.

Two Boulder County cities made the top 100 list for the first time – Longmont premiered at No. 23 and Lafayette at No. 44.  

Longmont is lauded for its easy access to mountain adventures, a thriving arts scene, great schools, affordable housing options and quality health care. Props went to Longmont’s recent certification as a Colorado creative district, featuring a network of paved trails that lead to more than 75 works of art located throughout the city.

Lafayette hit the list due to rejuvenated commercial spaces that provide more shopping and dining opportunities, an easy commute to Boulder and Denver, quality health care facilities, varied housing options, and a politically and socially active population.

Cities on the list statewide are Fort Collins at No. 13, Littleton at No. 24, Lakewood at No. 26 and Loveland at No. 41. Westminster, ranked last year as No. 75, did not appear on the 2016 list. 

Guiding principles for the Top 100 Best Places to Live includes access to good schools, hospitals, airports, parks, arts and cultural activities; affordability of housing, transportation, health care and food; availability of jobs and adequate income; diversity of choice in transportation, schools, housing and activities and diversity in age, race, ethnic and economic standing; and the rate of utilization of all the amenities the city offers. 

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Tom Kalinski 
Owner and Founder
RE/MAX of Boulder

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