Best Cities for Teachers in the Mountain States

Teachers play an integral role in the foundation and development of any nation. These professionals educate, shape, and inspire future generations of leaders. With educational curricula and standards becoming more complex and stringent, the need for teachers has grown. The job outlook for elementary school teachers is projected to be 17% from 2010 - 2020, a few percentage points above the national job growth for all occupations.

To aid relocating or new teachers, ValuePenguin has gathered and analyzed data on the best cities in the Mountain States for elementary school teachers to work in. Using a combination of factors from salaries, the employment concentration of the profession, and cost of living, we've developed a list of the Top Best Cities for Teachers. Our methodology and sources for determining the best cities are after the table.

Before we begin diving into the top cities for primary school teachers, here are some salary and employment facts for this career. The median salary for teachers, which ValuePenguin uses as the basis for the rankings, is $44,980 in the Mountain region as of May 2012. The average salary ranges widely from city to city, starting at $36,750 in Prescott, AZ to $67,240 in Las Cruces, NM. There are a reported 74,570 teachers working in the Mountain States as of May 2012.

For more information: Teacher Salary

Best Cities for Teachers in the Mountain States

1. Las Cruces, NM

Topping our list with a score of 93 is Las Cruces in New Mexico. Known as the City of Crosses, this city of 98,000 has the highest median salary of $67,240 for elementary school teachers in our survey of cities in the Mountain region. With a cost of living index of 93, the dollar goes further for teachers working in this city. Nestled between the Organ Mountains and the Rio Grande, Las Cruces enjoys 350 days of sunshine a year and is great for various hiking, biking, and outdoor activities.

Related: Facts and figures for Las Cruces, NM

2. Ogden / Clearfield, UT

Number 2 on our list is the metropolitan area of Ogden and Clearfield in Utah. There are 2,760 elementary school teachers employed in the metro area, and they earn a median salary of $49,990 with a low cost of living index of 93. Ogden and Clearfield boast unique attractions such as life-size dinosaur replicas at the Dinosaur Park & Museum and Union Station, the former junction of the cross-continental railroad.

3. Boise City / Nampa, ID

Boise City and Nampa in Idaho rank third on our Best Cities list for elementary school teachers in the Mountain region. These two cities have a lot to offer the active and cultured teacher: skiing, riverfront trails, museums, the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, and the historic Pioneer Village. The median salary for primary school teachers here is $48,750, and a cost of living index of 94.

4. Farmington, NM

This city of 46,000 is located in San Juan County, one of the largest counties in terms of square miles in the United States. Farmington, NM scored well across the study’s three factors to rank #4 in the Mountain region. Elementary school teachers here earn $47,290 at an average cost of living index of 101. With easy access to a host of recreational facilities and activities, including the Bisti / De-Na-Zin Wilderness, Farmington has multiple relaxation options for elementary school teachers.

5. Provo / Orem, UT

Rounding out our Top Five Best Cities is the metropolitan area of Provo and Orem in Utah. With a combined population of 527,000, 2,670 of whom are primary school teachers. Teachers take home a median salary of $42,220 at a cost of living index of 97. This metro area is home to Brigham Young University, one of the largest private postsecondary education institutions in the United States.

Read more about Utah at ValuePenguin's State Profiles

Top Twenty Best Mountain Region Cities for Teachers


CitiesSalaryLocation QuotientJobsCost of LivingScore
1xLas Cruces, NM$67,2401.931,3409393
2Ogden-Clearfield, UT49,9901.342,7609383
3Boise City-Nampa, ID48,7501.123,0509470
4Farmington, NM47,2901.4977010167
5Provo-Orem, UT42,2201.432,6709767
6Greeley, CO44,9801.231,0309666
7Las Vegas-Paradise, NV51,3900.877,4009464
8Salt Lake City, UT50,0901.197,74010661
9Idaho Falls, ID42,1201.005109061
10Colorado Springs, CO43,5001.403,55010059
11Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ41,6500.9216,6309057
12Boulder, CO54,4601.131,88014556
13Lewiston, ID-WA51,3300.9223010056
14Lake Havasu City - Kingman, AZ37,6601.084909353
15St. George, UT37,2101.336609749
16Fort Collins-Loveland, CO46,3201.011,39010946
17Albuquerque, NM45,7400.953,64010345
18Yuma, AZ39,4801.005809845
19Tucson, AZ37,8300.873,1809145
20Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO50,8600.8410,81010843

Methodology & Sources

We ranked U.S. cities based on three key questions:#### 1. How much money do professionals make in the city?

We ranked the best cities for teachers based on the median annual pay as a substantial factor in the decision process for people looking for work. Of course, a high salary for a teacher in an expensive city may not outweigh a lower salary in an affordable town. That's why we posed our second question...

2. How expensive is it to live there?

In conjunction with the average annual salary for teachers in a city, cost of living helps determine how far your dollar will go. For this particular variable, cities with lower cost of living ranked highly in our study.

3. What is the location quotient of this profession in the city?

A town with a high average salary and low cost of living may seem perfect, but job opportunities may be limited. Our study factors in cities with high teacher location quotient. Location quotient measures the concentration of a particular occupation in the city as a proportion of all occupations relative to the national average. We infer a higher location quotient to mean a relatively higher demand for a profession's services.


  1. Average Salary: cities in the Mountain region with the highest average annual salary for elementary school teachers, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data as of May 2012

  2. Cost of Living: cities in the Mountain States with the lowest cost of living, with data sourced from Sperling's Best Places COL Calculator. Data as of July 2013

  3. Employment: Mountain cities with the highest location quotient metrics, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data as of May 2012

Photo Courtesy: Flickr: CLeopold73

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