Aug 222006
 
Authors: KEVIN JOHNSON The Rocky Mountain Collegian

A cool breeze blows through Mark Fiege’s hair as he stands outside the Lory Student Center watching the sun set behind the foothills, capping off a perfect summer day in Fort Collins.

“I spent a year out of state, and the place I lived in was really nice, but coming back to Fort Collins made me realize how wonderful it is here,” said Fiege, a history professor. “It’s beautiful. While the rest of the country swelters through the summer, you know, 100 degrees here isn’t the same as 100 degrees in New Orleans.”

Money Magazine recently named Fort Collins “America’s Best Place to Live.” And it’s not the weather alone that has people raving. The national magazine lists “great schools, low crime, good jobs in a high-tech economy and a fantastic outdoor life” as reasons for the top ranking, along with the city’s low-stress attitude.

“Even though Fort Collins is constantly growing, there is still that small-town feel,” said Nick Kantor, a junior civil engineering major who moved to Fort Collins in 2004 after living in Denver. “You can go out and actually run into people you know.”

While scouring the country in search of the top 100 cities to live in, Money Magazine set out to find places that “combine the vibrancy of the city with the comforts of the suburbs.”

Fort Collins, home to 128,000 residents – about a fifth of them CSU students – fit the bill, more so than the other 744 American cities with populations of 50,000 or more that the magazine looked at.

For Jamie Hunter, it’s the city’s nightlife that she enjoys the most, especially Old Town and her favorite place to get a drink, Washington’s Sports Bar and Grill.

“I love getting to go out in Fort Collins,” said Hunter, a senior finance major.

The vibrant college town is home to several microbreweries and dozens of bars. But barley and hops aside, there are plenty of other draws: nearby Horsetooth Reservoir for camping, hiking and boating; more than 60 miles of hiking and biking trails; and several restaurants, movie theaters, shopping plazas and golf courses.

Other Colorado cities in the magazine’s Top 100 were Westminster, ranked at 24, and Longmont, at 61. Colorado Springs was ranked first for cities with more than 300,000 people.

Staff writer Kevin Johnson can be reached at news@collegian.com

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How Fort Collins Compares to the Top 10 Best Places to Live:

Median Family Income:

Fort Collins – $64,623 Top 10 Average – $76, 893

Median Home Price:

Fort Collins – $212,000 Top 10 Average – $259,566

Personal Crime Risk

(100 is national average; lower is better)

Fort Collins – 77 Top 10 Average – 45

Property Crime Risk

(100 is national average; lower is better)

Fort Collins – 91 Top 10 Average – 74

Personal Crime Incidents

(per 100,000 residents)

Fort Collins – 282 Top 10 Average – 228

Job Growth 2000 – 2005

Fort Collins – 6.13 percent Top 10 Average – 10.97 percent

Percent of Residents with Health Plan

Fort Collins – 82.3 percent Top 10 Average – 88.2 percent

Median Age

Fort Collins – 28.8 Top 10 Average – 34.5

Married

Fort Collins – 43.6 percent Top 10 Average – 54.3 percent

Money Magazine: Fort Collins ‘America’s best place to live’

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