America the beautiful

(Photo by Bryan Oller)

Colorado Springs slipped from second to ninth place on the U.S. News & World Report “Best Places to Live” list after surveyors expanded the data points they consider “to better encapsulate a place’s strengths and weaknesses.”

Among those factors are “weather temperateness,” days annually when temperatures fall between 33 and 89 degrees; establishment-to-population ratio, an assessment of numbers of restaurants, bars and activities per 1,000 residents; and net migration.

Here are the top 10 rankings for 2023 from among 150 cities:

1. Green Bay, Wisconsin (ranked third last year)

2. Huntsville, Alabama (ranked first last year)

3. Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina (ranked sixth last year)

4. Boulder, Colorado (ranked fourth last year)

5. Sarasota, Florida (ranked ninth last year)

6. Naples, Florida (ranked 12th last year)

7. Portland, Maine (ranked eighth last year)

8. Charlotte, North Carolina (ranked 30th last year)

9. Colorado Springs, Colorado (ranked second last year)

10. Fayetteville, Arkansas (ranked seventh last  year)

I am proud that once again we are listed as one of the top ten Best Places to Live.

— Mayor John Suthers


It’s worth noting that Huntsville, Alabama, was chosen as the permanent home of U.S. Space Command in 2021 by then-President Donald Trump, and Springs officials and Colorado’s congressional delegation have been trying to reverse the decision ever since. One factor in that decision pertained to housing availability and affordability.

It’s no secret that Colorado Springs has a severe shortage of housing, which has ramped up home prices, though prices have cooled off since summer 2022 due to rising mortgage interest rates.

Despite Colorado Springs’ downward slide, U.S. News real estate editor Devon Thorsby tells the Indy via email, “Colorado Springs has retained a spot in the top 10 Best Places to Live for years, and while it has fallen slightly in the ranks, the metro area still beats out 141 other places in the U.S. The factors contributing most to Colorado Springs’ drop from No. 2 in 2022 to No. 9 this year is the rising cost of living, and the metro area’s slight drop in desirability. Many Colorado Springs residents are probably familiar with the fact that both housing and typical goods and services require a bit more than they used to, and our data reflects that.

“Still, Colorado Springs is viewed as a highly desirable place to live,” she adds, “and for years has been at or near the top of our desirability index. In our survey of thousands of U.S. residents asking where they would prefer to live, given the choice, Colorado Springs still comes out on top this year. However, we’ve introduced new factors to our desirability score to accompany the survey results, including weather temperateness, attraction and entertainment establishments relative to the population and population growth due to net migration.”

Asked to comment, the city issued a release that didn’t acknowledge that Colorado Springs lost ground on the list. Rather, it said that the listing this year marks the “sixth consecutive year Colorado Springs ranked inside the top 10 of the U.S. News Best Places to Live listing.”

The release also noted that “Olympic City USA” (the city’s adopted monicker), was one of only two Colorado cities to rank in the top 10, and it ranked second in the category of “Most Desirable.”

“I am proud that once again we are listed as one of the top ten Best Places to Live,” Mayor John Suthers said in the release. “U.S. News and World Report realizes what a treasure the City of Colorado Springs is and all we have to offer our residents, current and future. It is a credit to all those in our community who continue to work to make General Palmer’s vision, set forward more than 150 years ago, a reality.” (Gen. William Jackson Palmer was the city’s founder.)

Researchers used a methodology for the rankings based on data from an array of sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, the FBI, the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. News’ own internal resources. This data was categorized into five indexes, as follows, which considered 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.

Job market index — 20 percent. This category looked at factors that indicate how likely residents are to find employment in each metro area and their earning potential in those locales. The unemployment rate comprised 40 percent, and the average salary comprised 60 percent of this portion.

The Job Market Index measures the strength of each metro area’s job market. To do this, surveyors assessed the following two factors to determine how likely residents are to find employment in each metro area and their earning potential there. 

Value index — 25 percent. Also called the Housing Affordability Index, this measured how comfortably the average resident in each metro area can afford to live within their means. Researchers compared median annual household income with housing cost.

Quality of life index — 32.5 percent. This measure took into account how people surveyed across the country viewed the importance of certain metrics. Among those were crime rates (25 percent) that considered murder, violent crime and property crime rates; quality and availability of health care (10 percent); quality of education (20 percent), which relied on average college readiness scores of public schools; well-being (20 percent), which measures resident satisfaction with purpose, social, financial, community and physical impacts in their day-to-day lives; and commuter index (17 percent), including average commute time and Air Quality Index.

Desirability index — 17.5 percent. This is a measure based on a survey of where people want to live.

Net migration — 5 percent. Net Migration measures whether people are moving to or away from each metro area. 

Senior Reporter

Pam Zubeck recently reached her 45-year mark as a journalist. She's worked at newspapers in Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado, including at the Indy since 2009. She’s known for her dogged pursuit of accountability, no matter where the trail leads, and has investigated crooked public officials in all three states. Two went to jail because of her reporting. Know of an injustice or something shady? Contact Pam at