2 Colorado cities among top 3 best places to live in U.S. in annual ranking

DENVER — Two Colorado cities are among the top three best places to live in the country, according to the annual ranking from U.S. News and World Report.

Colorado Springs came in second with Denver third in the ranking that was released Monday.

Austin, Texas, was No. 1. Des Moines, Iowa, and Fayetteville, Arkansas, rounded out the top five.

“While Colorado Springs, Colorado, didn’t bump Austin from No. 1, the metro area’s desirability among our survey users, quality of life and booming job market contributed to its climb up the rankings,” U.S. News’ report says.

“According to the Gallup Sharecare Well-Being Index, Colorado Springs residents generally feel fulfilled socially, physically and financially. Our data shows high school students in Colorado Springs are sufficiently prepared for college and face a better job market than others did in recent years.”

Colorado Springs zoomed up from No. 11 last year and supplanted Denver in the No. 2 slot.

“Some might say that Denver is experiencing a gold rush of a different color: Green,” U.S. News wrote.

“After Colorado residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012, Denver has seen a surge in cannabis-related commerce, from dispensaries to magazines to high-tech paraphernalia like vaporizers, rolling papers, lotions and storage containers — and the industry is just gaining speed.

The magazine surveyed the 100 largest metro areas by population and examined value of living in the city, quality of life, job market health, desire to live in the city and the number of people moving there.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Philadelphia ranked at the bottom of the list.