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Twelve State Capitals Supposedly Better Than Denver

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Usually, we're able to keep lists ranking cities and states in perspective — maybe because Denver and Colorado so frequently wind up at or near the top of them.

But there are exceptions. For instance, we were absolutely flabbergasted a couple of years back when Ranker suggested that there were eleven state flags better than Colorado's.

We had that reaction again when WalletHub assembled its roster of 2016's best and worst state capitals — and Denver finished thirteenth.

Really. And it gets worse.

A  few great places were slotted ahead of Denver. And while we still prefer D-town (surprise, surprise), reasonable people can disagree.

But placing some of the others (you'll know which ones) above the Mile High City is flat-out mystifying.

See what we mean by counting down the photo-illustrated list of twelve state capitals that are supposedly better than Denver, followed by WalletHub's methodology. To read the original post, in which rankings of all fifty states are featured, click here.

Number 12: Olympia, Washington
State Capital Index: 58.23
Affordability Rank: 24
Economic Well-Being Rank: 36
Education & Health Rank: 17
Quality of Life Rank: 1

Number 11: Des Moines, Iowa
State Capital Index: 58.70
Affordability Rank: 8
Economic Well-Being Rank: 19
Education & Health Rank: 14
Quality of Life Rank: 27

Number 10: Columbus, Ohio
State Capital Index: 59.38
Affordability Rank: 12
Economic Well-Being Rank: 14
Education & Health Rank: 10
Quality of Life Rank: 22

Number 9: Helena, Montana
State Capital Index: 59.52
Affordability Rank: 19
Economic Well-Being Rank: 7
Education & Health Rank: 30
Quality of Life Rank: 15

Number 8: Pierre, South Dakota
State Capital Index: 59.84
Affordability Rank: 14
Economic Well-Being Rank: 32
Education & Health Rank: 2
Quality of Life Rank: 44

Number 7: Montpelier, Vermont
State Capital Index: 60.18
Affordability Rank: 25
Economic Well-Being Rank: 15
Education & Health Rank: 4
Quality of Life Rank: 19

Continue to keep counting down the list of twelve state capitals supposedly better than Denver.

Number 6: Boise, Idaho
State Capital Index: 61.07
Affordability Rank: 9
Economic Well-Being Rank: 24
Education & Health Rank: 11
Quality of Life Rank: 14

Number 5: Raleigh, North Carolina
State Capital Index: 62.42
Affordability Rank: 3
Economic Well-Being Rank: 5
Education & Health Rank: 19
Quality of Life Rank: 23

Number 4: Madison, Wisconsin
State Capital Index: 63.78
Affordability Rank: 26
Economic Well-Being Rank: 12
Education & Health Rank: 1
Quality of Life Rank: 8

Number 3: Bismarck, North Dakota
State Capital Index: 64.73
Affordability Rank: 10
Economic Well-Being Rank: 1
Education & Health Rank: 6
Quality of Life Rank: 42

Number 2: Lincoln, Nebraska
State Capital Index: 65.34
Affordability Rank: 4
Economic Well-Being Rank: 8
Education & Health Rank: 3
Quality of Life Rank: 20

Number 1: Austin, Texas
State Capital Index: 65.43
Affordability Rank: 11
Economic Well-Being Rank: 2
Education & Health Rank: 5
Quality of Life Rank: 18


In order to identify the best state capitals to live in, WalletHub’s analysts compared all 50 state capitals across four key dimensions: 1) Affordability, 2) Economic Well-Being, 3) Education & Health and 4) Quality of Life.

First, we compiled 35 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was given a value between 0 and 100, wherein 100 is the best value for that metric and 0 is the worst.

We then calculated the overall score for each state capital using the weighted average across all metrics to obtain its State Capital Index and ranked the cities accordingly.

Affordability — Total Points: 25

Housing Costs: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
Calculated as: (“Median Annual Household Income” divided by “Median House Price”); (“Median Annual Household Income divided by “Median Price of Rent”)
Cost of Living: Double Weight (~10.00 Points)
Median Household Income (adjusted for cost of living): Double Weight (~10.00 Points)

Economic Well-Being — Total Points: 25

Unemployment Rate: Full Weight (~2.78 Points)
Percentage of Residents Below Poverty Level: Full Weight (~2.78 Points)
Population Growth: Full Weight (~2.78 Points)
Income Growth: Full Weight (~2.78 Points)
Income Inequality (wealth gap): Full Weight (~2.78 Points)
Foreclosure Rate: Full Weight (~2.78 Points)
Debt as a Percentage of Median Income: Full Weight (~2.78 Points)
Percentage of State & Local Government Employees: Full Weight (~2.78 Points)
Building-Permit Activity: Full Weight (~2.78 Points)
Measures “Number of New Unit Permits Pulled per 1,000 Residents”

Education & Health — Total Points: 25

K-12 School-System Quality (“GreatSchools” city score): Full Weight (~2.08 Points)
Average University Score (“U.S. News & World Report” score): Full Weight (~2.08 Points)
Number of Universities in Top 200: Full Weight (~2.08 Points)
Percentage of Residents with at Least a Bachelor’s Degree: Full Weight (~2.08 Points)
Percentage of Population with Health-Insurance Coverage: Full Weight (~2.08 Points)
Number of Hospital Beds per 1,000 Residents: Full Weight (~2.08 Points)
Premature-Death Rate: Double Weight (~4.17 Points)
Measures “Average Years of Potential Life Lost” rate
Good Health: Double Weight (~4.17 Points)
Low Birth Weight : Double Weight (~4.17 Points)

Quality of Life — Total Points: 25

Mean Hours Worked per Week: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
Average Commute Time: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
Walkability Index: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
Traffic Congestion: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
Measures “Average Annual Hours of Traffic Delays”
Accident Likelihood Compared with National Average: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
WalletHub “Weather” Ranking: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
Number of Restaurants per 100,000 Residents: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
Number of Bars per 100,000 Residents: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
Number of Coffee Shops per 100,000 Residents: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
Number of Attractions (e.g., zoos, museums, theaters): Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
Number of Fitness Centers per 100,000 Residents: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
WalletHub “Sports Fans” Ranking: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
Percentage of Millennial Newcomers: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
Crime Rate: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)

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