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: This is the best place to live in America — and it isn’t on the coast

Some cities ranked much worse this year because of COVID-19. Read More...

The East and West Coasts can stop duking it out over which is the better place to live — because neither comes out on top, according to a new report.

Boulder, Colorado, topped U.S. News and World Report’s annual ranking of the best places to live in the U.S. It’s the second consecutive year that the city earned this distinction. It’s not the only city in the Centennial State to crack the top 10, with Colorado Springs coming in at No. 6 on the list.

“This blissed-out enclave attracts young professionals, families, academics, scientists, transplants from both coasts, old guards who insist it was way cooler in the 1970s and, above all, lovers of outdoor recreation,” the magazine’s write-up of Boulder proclaimed. “Trail runners, hikers, climbers, cyclists and more move here to live in this perpetual playground, where the answer to ‘What do you do?’ is often one’s activity of choice, not occupation.”

U.S. News and World Report developed the list based on factors including the job market, quality of life, desirability and net migration inflows. The rankings incorporate data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, digital health company Sharecare, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, plus the news outlet’s companion rankings of the best high schools and best hospitals in the country.

“This year we’re looking at how the most populous metro areas in the U.S. fared for much of the coronavirus pandemic, and seeing how far they’ll need to come to recover,” Devon Thorsby, real estate editor at U.S. News and World Report, said in the analysis. “It shouldn’t be a surprise that many metro areas that saw unemployment levels skyrocket in 2020 fell in the rankings, but those with greater employment stability tended to fare well.”

Cities such as Las Vegas and San Diego may be less desirable places to live, following the pandemic.

That helps to explain why Boulder’s runners-up — Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina, and Huntsville, Alabama — rose far up the ranks to Nos. 2 and 3 respectively. Both cities performed well in the analysis because of the availability of jobs in sectors that weren’t as hard hit by COVID-19, such as technology and aerospace engineering.

On the flip side, cities that saw massive increases in unemployment fell in the rankings. Las Vegas dropped 50 spots to No. 137 on the list, while Honolulu fell 42 spots to No. 113. Boston and San Diego also experienced major declines.

Another factor that hurt some cities was a rising cost of living, as affordability grew as a concern over the course of the pandemic, especially in the real-estate market. Inflation led to Austin, Texas, Colorado Springs and Denver all dipping in the rankings compared to the previous year.

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