Colorado is known for recreation: hiking, skiing and camping, to name a few. But as any native of the Centennial State will tell you, Colorado is much more diverse than it seems. And it’s all that diversity that makes Colorado an ideal place to raise children.
Filled with mountains, plains, valleys and deserts, Colorado boasts a much wider array of outdoor activities than most states. This abundance of natural beauty and fun has led to healthy living in the state: Coloradans are the least obese and most active people in the U.S.
Colorado even offers a diverse economy, filled with strong finance, real-estate and health-care industries, along with heavy federal investment into organizations such as the National Park System and the U.S. Air Force Academy. Add in one the lowest state unemployment rates and good school systems, and you’ve got a fantastic place to settle with the kids. It’s no surprise that this mountain state came in at No. 12 on WalletHub’s “Best & Worst States to Raise a Family” ranking.
But not all corners of Colorado are created equal. To determine the places in Colorado that are most conducive to family life, WalletHub’s analysts compared more than 60 cities in the state across 21 key indicators of family-friendliness. Our data set ranges from housing affordability to number of attractions to quality of school system. Read on for our findings, additional insight from a panel of researchers and a full description of our methodology.
Best Places to Raise a Family in Colorado
Overall Rank (1 = Best)
‘Family Life & Fun’ Rank
‘Education, Health & Safety’ Rank
|3||Castle Pines, CO||67.86||31||23||1||4|
|9||Castle Rock, CO||62.59||33||12||5||14|
|11||The Pinery, CO||61.53||60||26||2||2|
|12||Highlands Ranch, CO||59.96||48||25||3||8|
|13||Lone Tree, CO||59.59||14||29||10||6|
|14||Fort Collins, CO||58.20||3||22||28||23|
|16||Fort Carson, CO||57.48||1||17||58||21|
|17||Black Forest, CO||57.12||61||37||14||1|
|23||Steamboat Springs, CO||54.54||2||2||57||45|
|28||Cherry Creek, CO||53.17||12||42||33||26|
|29||Pueblo West, CO||53.12||53||10||22||19|
|30||Dakota Ridge, CO||53.02||57||33||17||13|
|32||Cimarron Hills, CO||52.07||27||24||27||33|
|34||Ken Caryl, CO||50.90||59||41||16||15|
|38||Colorado Springs, CO||49.84||13||44||24||41|
|39||Greenwood Village, CO||49.46||42||8||48||31|
|42||Grand Junction, CO||46.78||8||50||26||52|
|43||Fort Morgan, CO||46.64||23||32||39||49|
|47||Wheat Ridge, CO||41.29||50||46||51||37|
|49||Commerce City, CO||40.46||30||52||54||32|
|54||Cañon City, CO||37.01||49||35||49||58|
|61||Federal Heights, CO||26.95||46||61||53||60|
Ask the Experts
Families share a number of common priorities when choosing a new place to call home. With that in mind, we asked a panel of experts in fields such as family studies and public health to share their insight regarding the process of evaluating prospective Colorado cities on a family’s shortlist. Click on the experts’ profiles below to read their bios and their thoughts on the following key questions:
- What are some tips for young families looking for quality public schools and affordable housing in Colorado?
- How can local officials in Colorado make their cities more attractive to young families?
- Looking just within Colorado, to what degree is child development and a family’s quality of life influenced by the city in which they live?
Ask the Experts
In order to determine the best places to live in Colorado for families, WalletHub compared a sample of 61 cities in the state across four key dimensions: 1) Family Life & Fun, 2) Education, Health & Safety, 3) Affordability and 4) Socio-economics. Our sample considers only the city proper in each case and excludes cities in the surrounding metro area.
We evaluated the four dimensions using 21 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most suitable conditions for family life.
Finally, we determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order the cities in our sample.
Family Life & Fun – Total Points: 25
- Playgrounds per Capita: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Number of Attractions: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: “Attractions” includes, for instance, museums, theaters and zoos.
- Share of Families with Children Aged 0 to 17 Years: Double Weight (~8.33 Points)
- Weather: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: Based on WalletHub’s Cities with the Best & Worst Weather ranking.
- Average Commute Time: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Education, Health & Safety – Total Points: 25
- Quality of School System: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- High School Graduation Rate: Half Weight (~1.47 Points)
- Air Quality: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Pediatricians per Capita: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Share of Uninsured Children: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
Note: “Children” include the population aged 0 to 17 years.
- Violent-Crime Rate per Capita: Double Weight (~5.88 Points)
- Property-Crime Rate per Capita: Double Weight (~5.88 Points)
Affordability – Total Points: 25
- Housing Affordability: Full Weight (~12.50 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Housing Costs (accounts for both rental and sale prices) / Median Annual Family Income.
- General Affordability: Full Weight (~12.50 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Median Annual Family Income / Cost-of-Living Index.
Socio-economics – Total Points: 25
- Separation & Divorce Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Two-Parent Families: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Families Living in Poverty: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Households Receiving Food Stamps: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Unemployment Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Wealth Gap: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Foreclosure Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Environmental Protection Agency, County Health Rankings, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Renwood RealtyTrac, SchoolDigger.com, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Areavibes and WalletHub research.
Image: George Rudy / Shutterstock.com