First, regarding the traditional "habitable zone" – I have ALWAYS held firm to the idea this was SHEER AND UTTER NONSENSE. I mean, just think RARE TITAN. 🙂 And this is only ONE example. As there is NO value whatsoever to talking about "Life as We Know It", while, looking for Alien Life, we do essentially talk of Life as we do NOT yet know it! Some thing MIGHT be somewhat alike, But there is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON to believe that, when we do actually meet Aliens from a different Solar System, they would be ANYTHING like us at all!! On the contrary – that SHALL be utterly unreasonable, unlikely and even pretty much impossible.
As Alien Life are BOUND, by definition, to be WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY stranger, than any one of us can ever possibly imagine, before we'll actually MEET them.
Now, when it comes to the entire Universe – well, a possible condition MIGHT be, to evolve in a part of the Universe where the haven't been any galactic mergers of any kind for the past few billion years or so, due to the effect such mergers have over the involved Galaxies' stars and planets… but, again, who knows?