Special Report

Fairfax County, Virginia is One of the Best Places to Live in the United States

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Compared to the rest of the world, the United States has a relatively high standard of living. Still, in a country home to over 328 million people spanning nearly 3.8 million square miles, standards of living vary considerably from place to place — and some parts of the country stand out as examples of the high level of prosperity that is achievable in the United States.

While there are countless factors — many of them subjective — that can contribute to or detract from quality of life, there are a few key objective measures that can reveal a great deal about a given area. The United Nations Development Programme identified some of these measures and with them created the Human Development Index, a tool to better gauge and compare quality of life at a national level.

Inspired by the HDI, 24/7 Wall St. created an index consisting of three measures — poverty, life expectancy at birth, and bachelor’s degree attainment — to identify the best U.S. counties to live in. Our list also includes independent cities that do not fall within the boundaries of a county or county equivalent.

Fairfax County, Virginia, located just outside of Washington D.C. and the city of Arlington, is one of the top 50 places to live in the United States largely for its health outcomes. Life expectancy at birth in the county is 85.3 years, more than six years longer than the national average. Additionally, at just 6.1%, the local poverty rate is less than half the 13.4% national poverty rate.

Across broad populations, higher education levels generally lead to better health outcomes/higher life expectancy and greater financial stability. In Fairfax County, 61.6% of the 25 and older population have a bachelor’s degree or higher, a larger share than in all but six other U.S. counties.

Data on the share of individuals living below the poverty line, as well as the share of adults 25 and older with at least a bachelor’s degree came from the 2019 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and are five-year estimates.

Supplemental data on population, income, and median home value are five-year estimates from the ACS. Data on unemployment in January 2021 came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and are not seasonally adjusted. These are the best counties to live in.

 

Rank Place Life expectancy at birth (years) Poverty rate Adults with a bachelor’s degree
1 San Miguel County, CO 100+ 11.3% 59.4%
2 Falls Church city, VA 81.6 3.2% 77.6%
3 Pitkin County, CO 93.4 6.7% 60.8%
4 Arlington County, VA 85.2 6.8% 75.3%
5 Summit County, CO 96.8 8.0% 52.4%
6 Los Alamos County, NM 83.4 4.4% 67.4%
7 Teton County, WY 89.5 6.1% 57.0%
8 Loudoun County, VA 84.2 3.4% 61.3%
9 Fairfax County, VA 85.3 6.1% 61.6%
10 Howard County, MD 83.4 5.0% 62.6%
11 Douglas County, CO 84.0 3.1% 58.0%
12 Marin County, CA 85.4 7.2% 59.5%
13 Williamson County, TN 82.0 4.4% 59.8%
14 Montgomery County, MD 84.4 6.8% 58.9%
15 Hamilton County, IN 81.9 4.6% 59.3%
16 Alexandria city, VA 84.4 10.3% 63.1%
17 Summit County, UT 84.0 5.6% 55.0%
18 Eagle County, CO 90.1 8.0% 47.2%
19 Broomfield County, CO 82.9 5.6% 55.7%
20 Hunterdon County, NJ 83.4 4.5% 52.7%
21 Johnson County, KS 82.0 5.4% 56.0%
22 Morris County, NJ 82.6 4.8% 54.1%
23 Somerset County, NJ 82.5 5.1% 54.7%
24 Delaware County, OH 82.4 4.8% 54.3%
25 Boulder County, CO 83.0 11.7% 62.1%
26 San Francisco County, CA 83.8 10.3% 58.1%
27 Santa Clara County, CA 84.6 7.5% 52.4%
28 San Mateo County, CA 84.7 6.7% 51.0%
29 Middlesex County, MA 82.2 7.4% 56.3%
30 Carver County, MN 83.3 4.1% 48.9%
31 Forsyth County, GA 82.1 5.7% 53.1%
32 Collin County, TX 82.6 6.3% 52.3%
33 Norfolk County, MA 81.7 6.3% 53.6%
34 Albemarle County, VA 83.0 9.1% 55.1%
35 New York County, NY 84.9 15.8% 61.3%
36 Ouray County, CO 85.2 7.2% 47.8%
37 Dallas County, IA 82.1 5.2% 50.4%
38 Chester County, PA 81.4 6.4% 53.0%
39 Oconee County, GA 81.4 6.2% 52.3%
40 Bergen County, NJ 83.2 6.7% 49.3%
41 Ozaukee County, WI 82.3 5.3% 49.0%
42 Fairfax city, VA 78.9 9.3% 60.8%
43 Nantucket County, MA 82.8 8.7% 52.8%
44 York County, VA 82.7 4.9% 47.1%
45 San Juan County, WA 85.5 10.2% 49.8%
46 DuPage County, IL 82.4 6.4% 49.4%
47 King County, WA 82.4 8.9% 52.5%
48 Clear Creek County, CO 83.9 7.8% 48.1%
49 Orange County, NC 82.1 13.7% 59.7%
50 Nassau County, NY 82.9 5.6% 46.0%
51 Gunnison County, CO 83.3 13.4% 56.2%
52 Wake County, NC 81.6 9.1% 52.8%
53 Westchester County, NY 83.5 8.8% 48.9%
54 Montgomery County, PA 80.9 5.9% 49.3%
55 Jeff Davis County, TX 89.7 3.9% 30.5%
56 Washington County, MN 82.2 4.3% 44.3%
57 Gilpin County, CO 85.1 4.9% 39.6%
58 James City County, VA 81.0 7.3% 50.4%
59 Teton County, ID 83.8 4.5% 41.0%
60 Bristol County, RI 81.7 7.5% 49.0%
61 Manassas Park city, VA 92.5 6.4% 27.9%
62 Leelanau County, MI 82.8 6.1% 44.7%
63 Mono County, CA 96.5 12.1% 28.8%
64 Fort Bend County, TX 83.0 7.4% 46.2%
65 Fayette County, GA 81.3 5.5% 46.2%
66 Williamsburg city, VA 87.6 20.7% 56.8%
67 Waukesha County, WI 81.5 4.8% 44.5%
68 Routt County, CO 83.3 10.9% 49.8%
69 Fairfield County, CT 82.7 8.9% 47.9%
70 Stanley County, SD 88.0 4.7% 32.1%
71 Lincoln County, SD 84.0 4.1% 37.6%
72 Dane County, WI 81.7 10.9% 51.4%
73 Alameda County, CA 82.9 9.9% 47.4%
74 Washtenaw County, MI 81.4 14.0% 55.9%
75 Gallatin County, MT 82.4 11.3% 50.1%
76 Boone County, IN 78.6 6.0% 49.3%
77 Newport County, RI 81.4 8.7% 48.1%
78 Dakota County, MN 82.4 6.0% 42.2%
79 Dukes County, MA 82.0 7.6% 44.9%
80 Denton County, TX 81.8 7.6% 45.1%
81 Hennepin County, MN 81.3 10.4% 50.1%
82 Olmsted County, MN 82.5 8.4% 44.9%
83 Goochland County, VA 81.6 5.2% 41.8%
84 Monmouth County, NJ 80.5 6.9% 46.0%
85 Putnam County, NY 82.5 5.0% 39.6%
86 Lake County, IL 81.6 7.9% 45.3%
87 Chittenden County, VT 81.6 12.1% 51.3%
88 Scott County, MN 82.5 5.5% 39.9%
89 Jefferson County, CO 80.8 7.1% 45.2%
90 Kendall County, TX 81.2 5.6% 42.1%
91 Washington County, OR 82.6 8.9% 44.4%
92 Morgan County, UT 80.4 2.8% 39.4%
93 Washington County, RI 81.3 8.6% 46.1%
94 Rockingham County, NH 80.6 4.6% 41.4%
95 Travis County, TX 81.8 12.0% 50.0%
96 Oakland County, MI 80.2 8.2% 47.2%
97 Williamson County, TX 82.0 6.4% 41.3%
98 St. Johns County, FL 81.5 8.2% 44.7%
99 Prince William County, VA 82.2 6.6% 41.1%
100 Rockwall County, TX 80.9 4.7% 40.7%
101 Cobb County, GA 80.5 9.1% 47.4%
102 Cumberland County, ME 80.2 9.0% 47.6%
103 Warren County, OH 79.2 4.6% 43.0%
104 Grand County, CO 86.0 9.5% 38.0%
105 La Plata County, CO 82.2 9.1% 44.2%
106 Saratoga County, NY 81.0 5.8% 41.4%
107 Platte County, MO 80.2 6.2% 43.1%
108 Middlesex County, CT 81.1 6.9% 42.2%
109 Stafford County, VA 80.3 4.4% 39.9%
110 Contra Costa County, CA 82.4 8.7% 42.4%
111 Tolland County, CT 81.6 7.3% 41.8%
112 Wasatch County, UT 81.5 5.9% 39.9%
113 Middlesex County, NJ 81.5 8.5% 43.6%
114 Sarpy County, NE 81.3 5.9% 39.8%
115 Barnstable County, MA 79.6 6.4% 43.4%
116 Oldham County, KY 79.7 5.9% 42.4%
117 Larimer County, CO 81.6 11.6% 47.3%
118 Kendall County, IL 82.0 4.5% 36.2%
119 Monroe County, IL 82.3 4.1% 35.0%
120 Arapahoe County, CO 81.1 8.1% 42.8%
121 Shelby County, AL 80.5 7.5% 42.9%
122 Placer County, CA 82.2 7.7% 39.7%
123 District of Columbia, DC 78.6 16.2% 58.5%
124 Bucks County, PA 79.7 5.9% 41.3%
125 Addison County, VT 81.6 7.2% 39.6%
126 Hampshire County, MA 80.8 12.2% 48.3%
127 Geauga County, OH 81.3 5.8% 38.0%
128 Anne Arundel County, MD 79.2 5.8% 41.7%
129 Hanover County, VA 79.8 5.3% 39.8%
130 St. Charles County, MO 80.2 5.2% 38.9%
131 Elbert County, CO 81.6 4.8% 35.8%
132 Frederick County, MD 80.1 6.8% 41.4%
133 Poquoson city, VA 78.6 5.6% 42.2%
134 Benton County, OR 82.8 19.1% 54.1%
135 Johnson County, IA 82.7 18.1% 52.8%
136 Beaufort County, SC 82.6 10.2% 41.2%
137 Collier County, FL 86.1 11.2% 36.4%
138 Fulton County, GA 79.5 14.4% 52.9%
139 Davis County, UT 80.6 5.4% 37.8%
140 Chatham County, NC 81.7 10.2% 42.4%
141 Rappahannock County, VA 84.2 8.8% 35.8%
142 Talbot County, MD 81.4 8.7% 40.6%
143 Orange County, CA 83.1 10.9% 40.6%
144 Denver County, CO 79.8 12.9% 49.4%
145 Golden Valley County, ND 87.6 7.5% 26.9%
146 Grand Isle County, VT 80.4 7.5% 39.8%
147 Chesterfield County, VA 79.4 6.8% 40.5%
148 St. Croix County, WI 80.8 5.2% 35.4%
149 Livingston County, MI 80.7 5.2% 35.4%
150 Mecklenburg County, NC 80.4 11.6% 45.4%

 

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