Best Places Bucket Lists

Added to the collection in the spring of 2009 was’s list of best places with less densely populated towns – under 100,000 people – that were a best fit for entrepreneurs.

‘Preneur Bucket Lists – for all you consultants, freelancers, authors, artists, lifestyle business owners and entrepreneurs fed up or just plain dissatisfied with your community.

Between the two traumatic American events, 9/11 and The Great Recession, I aggregated and curated hundreds of potential locations from lists of “Best Places.”

Of course, over the years magazines like “Money Magazine” and “US News & World Report” kicked off best places listings and articles that they felt would appeal to their readership profiles.

As those lists moved online, CNN/Money for instance, it proved easier to aggregate.

And to track which locations sustained their high rankings and which ones fell to the way side.

Each year I had to add new folders and tags to my growing knowledge bank.

Under my “Best Places” you can review:

  • Top 100 places to live
  • Boomtown slowdowns (in 2009)
  • Cities with the best high tech jobs
  • Migrations to growth states
  • Best quality-of-life
  • For retiring to places with low taxes, better vacation home tax treatments and near small university towns
  • Cities poised to recover first from the real estate crash
  • And, not to be outdone, the first to recover from the recession
  • Places to time your purchase of McMansions
  • Where to live frugally with fun
  • Which rural areas to choose for retirement
  • Where to retire on lakes and rivers
  • For history buffs
  • For finding progressive-oriented neighborhoods
  • Where to pursue a cycling lifestyle
  • To raise a family
  • To work in communities with populations under 25,000

Added to the collection in the spring of 2009 was’s list of best places with less densely populated towns – under 100,000 people – that were a best fit for entrepreneurs.

“Due to differing regional definitions, we used the label “town” for any city, township, borough or Census-designated place. 

Characteristics like the number of museums, parks, bars and restaurants, and cultural institutions per capita, and favorable business environment.” 

But, how did they define “favorable business environment?”

“These include patents, venture capital funding, sole-proprietorships, start-ups and small businesses per capita.” 

With a little digging in my knowledge bank, I assigned their top 10 to regional categories for future vacation itineraries.

The first five fell within the general Bay Area Travel Region in Northern California –

two in Silicon Valley, Cupertino (Apple) and Mountain View (Google and Facebook); and

three in the Peninsula area, Foster City, Hillsborough and Belmont.

Davis in Yolo County rounded out California’s Northern Region – at least north of the Central Valley in the Sacramento Valley travel region.

Tustin and Aliso Viejo in Orange County, as well as, Santa Monica in Los Angeles County made the remaining highly ranked in California situated in the broad South Coast Region.

For my personal bucked list, I only kept two.

Santa Fe in the North Central Region of New Mexico.

And my favorite on this list, Boulder along the Front Range, on the Eastern Slope of Rocky Mountains, north of the Denver Region.

These regions boast cultural amenities, pro-business environments, highly educated workforces and enviable salaries.

Downtown Bolder, Colorado

Boulder offers world-class ski slopes and an abundance of parks, as well as a strong venture capital environment, plenty of like-sized start-ups and high-quality talent from local resident University of Colorado.” 

Features like these helped propel Boulder to the top spot on our list of best towns to live well.

Oh, and we had already visited Boulder on our multi-Colorado region trip and were slated to revisit a year later.

That’s not cheating, is it?

Over the two timeframes, 2003-2008 and 2009-2014, the ‘Preneur bucket list grew.

Additions to the original list rated highly over multiple years:

  • Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Round Rock, Texas

Top ranked states in 2011

  1. Arizona
  2. Texas
  3. California
  4. Colorado

And, finally the best places list categorized alphabetically by states across the west and Hawaii.

  • Arizona – Prescott and Scottsdale

    Oahu, Hawaii
  • California – American Canyon, Carlsbad, Danville, Folsom, Marina del Rey, Novato, San Jose and Ventura.
  • Colorado – Colorado Springs, Denver, Fort Collins and Louisville
  • Hawaii – Honolulu
  • Idaho – Boise and Coeur d’Alene
  • Montana – Billings and Missoula
  • Nevada – Henderson and Reno
  • New Mexico – Rio Rancho and Santa Fe
  • Oregon – Bend, Corvallis, Eugene and Portland
  • Texas -Bexar, Georgetown, San Antonio and Stafford
  • Utah – Salt Lake City
  • Washington – Bellevue, Bellingham, Olympia and Spokane
  • Wyoming – Cheyenne


20) Pivot. Maybe the lists of best places don’t appeal to you. Where can you go to make a fresh, new start? Don’t limit your imagination. Think anywhere — across the globe. Where do you really, really want to live, work and play?  Why not live where it’s a vacation all year round?

An excerpt from Book Three in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams.

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