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Crime & Housing Among Factors Dragging Mile High City Down On List Of Best Places To Live

DENVER (CBS4) - It used to be the source of bragging rights in Denver; a ranking in the top five of the best places to live in the country as ranked by US News and World Report. But, last year Denver dropped to 14th on the list. This year, the Mile High City is all the way down to 55th.

No doubt the cost of living in the city has hurt its reputation.

"In particular, the housing affordability is one factor that is weighted more heavily this year in the best places to live ranking," said Devon Morsby, real estate editor for US News and World Report. That's not all.

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"Crime is one factor within that larger index that we look at where Denver doesn't perform that well. It ranks 137th out of 150 for crime."

Other things hurt, too, like poor air quality – 4th worst among the 150 cities in the rankings. Traffic has clogged. Morning commute times are among the country's slowest. The rankings are compiled with input from people of what they find important and housing and cost of living are big.

"We survey thousands of people across the US asking what their priorities are. And what they consider most heavily when they are considering a move to a different part of the country," said Morsby.

From an outsider's initial impression, Denver is losing some of its luster.

"It's kind of dirty," said Jimmi Smith, a visitor from New Zealand along with his wife Rachel. "There's a lot of homeless people here," she added.

Locals notice the population growth and housing costs as well as a change in the crime rates.

"It just seems like there's a lot more homeless, and it doesn't feel that safe," said Beth Embarsky, a Thornton resident who works downtown.

With all its influx of people some have left.

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"I definitely miss Colorado. I just don't miss certain things that changed in Denver over the time," said Sam Ammash, who moved with his family to Pennsylvania two years ago. "The whole city has changed. The population has more than doubled. The infrastructure has not changed at all.

Ammash now lives in a much larger home outside of Philadelphia.

"I got a lot more by moving away, and it's such a nicer, safer, neighborhood'" he said.

Shootings in Denver were unnerving while the family was here. "I love Colorado. The last few years in Denver I just don't have amazing memories," said Ammash.

The city is weighed down by difficulties it has yet to be able to solve.

A spokeswoman for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock shared a brief statement about the rankings.

"Denver is and will continue to be a great place to live, work and play. We are leveraging every tool available in this post-pandemic recovery to address the challenges we face and to fully restore the vibrancy of our resilient city," said Theresa Marchetta.

There are still some categories where Denver is ahead of the curve.

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"Denver is actually very happy. Denver ranks 12th out of the 150 metro area for well-being," said Morsby.

Denver is still attracting people, ranking 33rd for desirability. It's not only the cost of housing that lowered the rankings of course. Boulder still ranks 4th overall with it's high housing prices.

Ranking highest in the desirability category is Colorado Springs.

"Colorado Springs actually stands alone as number one most desirable place to live," said Morsby.

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