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Five Colorado cities rank as the most livable, affordable in country

Arvada was named the most livable mid-sized city in the country


In a recent report by financial technology company SmartAsset, Colorado cities dominated the rankings for the most livable mid-sized cities, taking the top five spots The study ranked and assessed the affordability and livability of mid-sized cities across the U.S. based on a variety of economic factors.

Out of 226 mid-sized U.S. cities analyzed and ranked, Arvada, Centennial, Westminster, Highlands Ranch and Thornton ranked as the top five most livable, in that order. Last year, only three Colorado cities made the top 10 list: Highlands Ranch ranking at No. 5, Arvada ranking at No. 6 and Centennial at No. 8. 

SmartAsset defines a mid-sized city as any city with a population above 100,000, but isn't ranked as one of the 100 largest cities in the country. The study considers eight metrics when ranking the cities: gini coefficient, a statistical measurement of income inequality; the percentage change in median home values from 2014 through 2018; median monthly housing costs in 2018; the percentage of residents below the poverty line; unemployment rate; percent of residents without health insurance; and average commute time.This data was collected from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 1-year American Community survey.

According to SmartAsset, these mid-sized cities offer affordable alternatives to large cities, though with a number of the same amenities. “Your salary can go a lot further when your costs are lower, so people who use a cost-of-living calculator to compare expenses between cities may gravitate away from major metropolises,” says the firm. 

For the five Colorado cities that ranked, the following are just some of the insights gleaned from the report that make each city livable: 

  • Arvada: The northwest suburb of Denver was ranked as the most livable mid-sized city in the U.S primarily because of home value and low poverty rate, which indicates a good market for jobs and homeowners as well as livable wages for workers. The study reports that from 2014 through 2018, home values increased by nearly 65% and in 2018, only 4.7% of its residents fell below the poverty line. 
  • Centennial: This city was ranked in the second spot due to its low poverty rate (3.2%), unemployment rate (2.7%)  and percentage of residents without health insurance (3%).
  • Westminster: According to the study, Westminster performed similarly to the top two cities with a high growth of median home values (60.43%) as well as a low poverty rate (5.5%) and a low employment rate (2.8%) in 2018. However, Westminster fell behind in terms of median household income, reaching $71,626 in 2018. Arvada and Centennial were $87,955 and $110,443, respectively.
  • Highlands Ranch: The study referred to this southern suburb as “very financially stable.” Namely, median household incomes in the city were high at $124, 795 in 2018 and they had a relatively low inequality across socioeconomic groups. 
  • Thornton: While this city also made the list for its low poverty and unemployment rates, its true marking was its rapid increase in homevalue. According to the study, “Current Thornton homeowners might find it encouraging to know that their investment is paying off.” The media home value increased by nearly 66% from 2014 through 2018. This fourth-highest increase across all 226 cities studied. 

The top ten ranking was rounded out by Rochester, MN, Cary, NC, Meridian, Idaho, Overland Park, KS and Frisco, Texas. 

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Ali Longwell

Ali Longwell is the digital editor at ColoradoBiz. She has also written for SDxCentral, a B2B online technology publication, as well as Denver-area lifestyle magazines 5280, Denver Life Magazine, Avid Lifestyle and more. She can be reached at alongwell@cobizmag.com

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