By Silvia Ascarelli
Live and work in Colorado, but retire in Florida.
Colorado scored four metro areas in the top 10 rankings of best cities to live, led by Boulder, while four Florida metro areas, led by Sarasota, made the top 10 cities for life in retirement.
Boulder, home to more than 105,000 people at the edge of the Rocky Mountains north of Denver, attracts outdoor lovers and is known for its liberal politics and pricey housing costs. Booming employment supports the metro area’s 321,000 residents. Tech companies are hiring here, led by Google and Apple.
In topping the U.S. News list for best places to live — the first time it was considered — it got its highest marks for the local job market, at 8.7 of 10 points. It also scored above 8 points on desirability (determined through an online survey) and quality of life (which is weighted most in this ranking).
But it ranks 53rd, according to U.S. News, for retirees, where the biggest weighting goes to “happiness,” determined by the Gallup National Health and Well-Being Index , followed by housing affordability. Overall, U.S. News gave it a 7.8 out of 10 on where to live and a 6.7 for living in retirement.
U.S. News expanded its rankings to cover the 150 largest metro areas for both lists, rather than the 125 largest metro areas it ranked last year. The Boulder metro area is among the 25 newcomers.
Sarasota, home to 58,000 people on the Gulf Coast, leads the U.S. News list of best places to retire, displacing last year’s top choice, Fort Myers, which slipped to second. Sarasota scored 7.6 points while Fort Myers totaled 7.4 points.
Gallup gave the Sarasota metro area, with its 786,000 residents between Tampa and Fort Myers, 63.6 points in its well-being scorecard, slightly behind Fort Myers with 63.9 points. The Naples, Fla., area, just south of Fort Myers, leads the Gallup well-being ranking with 65.7 points. (Boulder is third with 64.2 points.)
While no Florida metro cracks the top 10 among U.S. News’ list of best places to live, Naples (No. 4 on best places to retire) came in at 14th and Sarasota at 16th. Overall, there is no overlap among the top 10 in the two lists.
U.S. News, of course, isn’t the only source of “best places” rankings. The website Livability, for example, earlier this month crowned Fort Collins , Colo. — 55 miles further north of Boulder — as its No. 1 place to live (among small and midsize cities), followed by Ann Arbor, Mich. (U.S. News places them fifth and 12th, respectively, on its list of best places to live but 71st and seventh, respectively, among the best places to retire.)
All these rankings use criteria and weightings that may match your priorities — or they may not. Weather — winter temperatures or summer humidity — may be top of your list, or you might want a state that has no income tax. (Just remember that services — everything from fixing potholes to running the local senior center and staffing the police department — needs to be paid somehow, so other fees may be higher.) Or you may only be interested in one part of the country.
MarketWatch has devised its own “where should I retire” tool that lets you pick what’s most important to you. It uses government designated metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas, far more than the 150 metro areas ranked by U.S. News, for example.