Fort Collins sixth best place to live, says Money magaziners -- and they try to prove it

The folks at magazines and websites love to cook up city lists -- rosters proclaiming that a certain burg is the best this, or the worst that. Doing so makes sense, given that people with a connection to those places will click, and the towns themselves will promote the links, garnering even more page views. But if it's nice PR for communities like Fort Collins, which was just named the sixth best place in America to live by Money magazine, take this fluff seriously at your own risk.

The Fort Collins blurb published my Money (and penned by Pieter van Noordennen) is typical chamber-of-commerce-style fodder, with the exception of the final paragraph. The item reads:

Bikers and beers. In most parts of the country, those two elements may be reasons to move elsewhere. But in the foothills of Colorado's Front Range, bikers mean cyclists: Fort Collins has 29 miles of well-used trails.

As for beers, this town has become a high-end microbrew mecca. New Belgium Brewery (maker of Fat Tire) is based in this entrepreneurial town, and competitors are moving in.

People here aren't slackers either. Bolstered by Colorado State University, which employs 7,000, "the Fort" is a center of economic activity. Hewlett-Packard, the city's second-largest employer, announced worldwide layoffs in June, but they won't affect Fort Collins. In fact, the company is adding jobs here.

This idyllic town -- No. 1 in 2006 -- would rank even higher but for one thing. (No, it's not last summer's Balloon Boy hoax, perpetrated by the local Heene family.) Colorado schools are hurting. After the state sliced public schools budget this year, Fort Collins's Poudre School District laid off 139 full-time employees.

The mention of schools implies that there's a quantifiable basis for Money's determination, but that's stretching it. Note that the "Quality of Life" category presumably used to help reach conclusions is broken down into segments like "hottest" and "rich and single." Good luck totting those up.

Then again, why waste brainpower trying to determine if Fort Collins got screwed or got lucky in this particular contest. Just enjoy the fact that Colorado has five cities in the top sixty (Arvada, Broomfield, Loveland and Highlands Ranch also make appearances). And try not to think about Denver not turning up at all.

Then again, Denver was listed as one of the ten best places in America to grow up last year. And it was the thirteenth best city for singles despite men here having small dicks according to one survey and being less manly this year than last in another.

Take that, Fort Collins.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts