Denver hit the top of the top 10, the mediocre middle and scraped the bottom of many, many lists in 2017.
The Mile High City is the top city to be a homeowner and sell a house. We live in the least-obese state in America. And we’re the No. 2 metro area for beer drinkers, thanks to Coors, 70-plus craft breweries and the Great American Beer Festival. Denver also received a shout-out this year from one of the best of the best lists: U.S. News & World Report named Denver the second best place to live in the United States.
Not all were positive though. Denver is the worst city to find love with the city being “home to the most passive men in America,” says The Great Love Debate podcast. We are ranked 107th out of 125 cities for fastest mobile data speeds (that’s not good).
For better or for worse — or in this case, for data-driven research or publicity hunters — Denver and Colorado are showing up on more and more lists. There are reasons behind the rise. A big one is that there are just more lists period, said the listmeister himself, Bert Sperling, who since the 1980s popularized some of the nation’s most talked about lists. Sperling’s “Best Places to Live”-type lists were featured in Money magazine for years.
“These types of lists fit perfectly with the whole distribution of content on the internet, not only because they’re easy to understand, but you have this voluminous amount of information available,” said Sperling, who has a team at BestPlaces that publishes about six to seven lists a year.
“You can find anything you want,” he said. “But the problem you have is you’re trying to get a drink of water from a fire hose. People are depending on lists and rankings as shortcuts to distill expert knowledge.”
Best cities for people with disabilities? Denver’s at No. 3, which takes into account the number of doctors per capita and accessible parking spots, according to WalletHub. Top tech markets? Cushman & Wakefield puts Denver at eighth nationwide due to the number of tech jobs, tech leasing and people with college degrees. Healthiest cities? No. 7, says the American Fitness Index, which looked at acres of parks, and farmer’s markets and how many vegetables people ate per day.
Some lists aim to maximize the impact, like Autolist, which ranked of the most affordable cities to buy a used car. Denver ranked at No. 693 nationwide in November. But a different angle? The city ranked No. 5 in Colorado.
There are other lists where Denver was strangely missing. The city failed to break the top 25 of Glassdoor’s annual Best Cities for Jobs. Denver also didn’t make the nation’s top 25 cities for drinking water. We’re OK with being absent from this one: The 30 Most Dangerous Cities in America 2017.
Many lists just don’t get repeated, giving Denver no chance to redeem itself. Last year, RoC Skincare ranked Denver the second most wrinkle-prone city in America citing less protection in the Mile High City from ultraviolet rays. Job site Indeed.com ranked Denver as the “Least Happy Major Metros in the US” for having the nation’s lowest levels of job satisfaction in 2016.
“We can’t offer you any comment about Denver because we did not update the report in 2017,” an Indeed spokeswoman said.
WalletHub, which churns out data-driven research and lists (at a rate of nearly twice a week so far this year0, hasn’t seen a noticeable rise of Denver on its lists. That’s because the company typically tracks the largest 150 cities, so Denver is always included. WalletHub ranked Denver as the eighth best city to start a career and retire — separate lists, of course. But the city also landed in the bottom half for holiday budgets and greenest cities — also separate lists.
“No evidence from our studies suggest that (Denver or Colorado are ranking higher than the past), especially considering the studies we did five years ago and the ones we do now are largely not the same,” said Jill Gonzalez, a WalletHub analyst.
Sperling says if you’re planning a life decision based on a list, just be wary of where the data comes from.
“What we find is that a lot of places are jumping on it. They’ll get a few indicators, put them together, and it might be a fun one, might even be the worst places to live, or the most drunk, or most miserable cities. Anything to get someone to click on it and get eyeballs,” Sperling said. “They are being overused, misused, abused or however way you want to term it.”
But overused or abused is plenty entertaining when it comes to Denver landing national honors. Denver was the No. 1 city to look for love online on “Dating Sunday,” a term coined by Match.com for the first Sunday each year because memberships spike as singles resolve to find love. But also according to Match.com, there was limited success — Denver ranked 12th for matches made on Dating Sunday this year.
Maybe that’s because Denver is also the worst city to find love, according to the Great Love Debate Podcast. Brian Howie, host of the Great Love Debate podcast, said his team ranked Denver the worst city to find love after doing 11 shows in the city and talking to more than 4,000 men and women.
“The men in Denver aren’t just passive, they’re indifferent,” Howie said. “And the women there need to demand more from them!”
Such lists are meant to drum up publicity. And Howie’s sure did. Milwaukee was named the best city to find love, which was picked up as stories in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, OnMilwaukee.com, Milwaukee’s Channel 4, the Milwaukee Record, Milwaukee radio station KISS FM and others.
Other list makers say that they do it to get people thinking. SmartAsset, the company behind many real-estate data based lists, also looks for trends that turn housing costs or job satisfaction into something fun.
“If you want to spend more time drinking craft beer, you need money left over after you pay for housing,” said AJ Smith, SmartAsset’s vice president of financial education. (Denver tied for seventh last year on the company’s Top 10 Cities for Beer Drinkers).
If anything, Smith says she just hopes the lists at least get people thinking and talking.
“All of our lists are really data driven,” she said. “Our mission is to get people to talk about numbers and not just say, ‘Oh, my cousin says it’s a good time to buy a home. Maybe I will!’”
Where did Denver rank in 2017?
- 1 out of 100: The Best Cities to Be a Homeowner, SmartAsset
- 1 out of 161: The Best Cities to Sell a House 2017, SmartAsset
- 2 out of 10: Top Beer Cities 2017, InfoGroup
- 2 out of 100: 2017 Best Places to Live, U.S. News & World Report
- 2 out of 62: 2017’s Most Recession-Recovered Large Cities, WalletHub
- 2 out of 100: Best Cities for Job Seekers in 2017, NerdWallet
- 3 out of 35: Top 10 Sellers’ Markets 2017, Zillow
- 3 out of 150: Best Cities for People with Disabilities 2017, WalletHub
- 4 out of 50: Best places to retire in America in 2017, Bankrate/Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index
- 5 out of 100: The Most Dog-Friendly Cities in America in 2017, SmartAsset
- 7 out of 100: The Best Cities for Foodies, SmartAsset
- 7 out of 50: Healthiest U.S. cities 2017 (down from 3rd in 2016), American Fitness Index
- 8 out of 59: The Best Cities for Women in Tech in 2017, SmartAsset
- 8 out of 150: Best Cities to Retire 2017, WalletHub
- 8 out of 150: Best Places to Start a Career 2017, WalletHub
- 8 out of 10: Top 10 Tech markets based on tenants and projects, Cushman & Wakefield’s Tech Cities Report 2017
- 8 out of 100: Where Americans Cashed In the Most Wealth, MagnifyMoney
- 9 out of 10: Top 10 U.S. destinations to see in 2017, Lonely Planet
- 9 out of 62: 2017’s Best Big Cities to Live in, WalletHub
- 9 out of 118: The Hardest-Working Cities in America 2017, SmartAsset
- 9 out of 100: Hottest Housing Market for 2017, Zillow
- 10 out of 39: Top metro areas for startup activity 2017 (down from #8 in 2016), Kauffman Index
- 10 out of 300: Best U.S. Real Estate Markets 2017, WalletHub
- 11 out of 150: Top 20 Most Fun Cities in America 2017: WalletHub
- 13 out of 228: 2017 Best Cities for Millennials in America, Niche.com
- 15 out of 20: Best cities to trick-or-treat 2017, Zillow
- 25 out of 381: Best places for tech jobs data (Boulder ranked 8th), NerdWallet
- 31 out of 228: 2017 Best Cities for Outdoor Activities in America, Niche.com
- 48 out of 300: Best Places for First-Time Home Buyers 2017, WalletHub
- 51 out of 100: Greenest Cities in America, WalletHub
- 56 out of 100: Most comfortable summer cities 2017, Sperling’s Best Places
- 107 out of 125: Fastest mobile data speeds 2017, Root Metrics
- 322 out of 570: Holiday Budget by City at $602, WalletHub
- 693: Best city to buy a used car, Nov. 2017, Autolist