Population and Social Characteristics

New York's Best Counties to Live In

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Every year in the United States, tens of millions of Americans move to a new home. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the bulk of these moves are motivated by personal circumstances, often relating to housing, family, or employment. But when it comes to deciding on a place to live, it can also be helpful to weigh other, less subjective factors.

As a means of gauging and comparing degrees of development between countries — beyond standard measures like gross domestic product and economic growth — the United Nations created the Human Development Index. By accounting for factors related to health and well-being, educational attainment, and standards of living, the HDI offers an assessment of overall quality of life at the individual level within a given geography.

When applied to communities within the United States, the core principles of the HDI reveal that some parts of the country are far better places to live than others.

Using an index inspired by the HDI, 24/7 Wall St. identified the best counties in New York state to live in. Counties are ranked on a combination of three measures – average life expectancy at birth, the share of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher, and the poverty rate. Of the 62 counties in New York, we ranked the 30 with the highest HDI score.

Across all of New York, average life expectancy at birth is 80.3 years. Additionally, 13.6% of the population live below the poverty line and 38.8% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Of the 30 counties on this list, four compare favorably to the state as a whole in each of these metrics.

Among these 30 New York counties, average life expectancy at birth ranges from 78.0 years to 83.7 years. Meanwhile, poverty rates vary between 5.4% and 19.0%, and bachelor’s degree attainment rates range from 25% to over 60%.

Data used to calculate rankings are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2022 American Community Survey and County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a joint program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. All ACS data are five-year averages.

Why It Matters

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Many of the most commonly cited economic indicators — including unemployment, GDP, and industrial output — are useful gauges of prosperity and productive capacity in a given area. But when it comes to measuring overall quality of life, any single metric inevitably falls short. To address these shortcomings, the HDI combines three key social and economic measures into a single index score, allowing for objective comparisons between communities across the United States.

30. Schoharie County

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 80.0 years
  • Poverty rate: 10.1%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 25.0%
  • Median household income: $71,479
  • Population: 29,970

29. Greene County

Source: rickberk / Getty Images
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 78.7 years
  • Poverty rate: 10.4%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 27.6%
  • Median household income: $70,294
  • Population: 48,067

28. Tioga County

Source: Jonathan W. Cohen / iStock via Getty Images
  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 79.7 years
  • Poverty rate: 10.2%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 26.3%
  • Median household income: $70,427
  • Population: 48,344

27. Orange County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 79.5 years
  • Poverty rate: 13.0%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 31.6%
  • Median household income: $91,806
  • Population: 401,237

26. Livingston County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 80.0 years
  • Poverty rate: 11.7%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 29.5%
  • Median household income: $70,443
  • Population: 61,980

25. Erie County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 78.0 years
  • Poverty rate: 13.8%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 36.4%
  • Median household income: $68,014
  • Population: 951,232

24. Madison County

Source: Doug Kerr / Wikimedia Commons

  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 80.8 years
  • Poverty rate: 9.5%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 26.9%
  • Median household income: $68,869
  • Population: 68,020

23. Ulster County

  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 79.7 years
  • Poverty rate: 14.7%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 35.6%
  • Median household income: $77,197
  • Population: 182,153

22. Otsego County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 79.6 years
  • Poverty rate: 13.0%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 33.7%
  • Median household income: $65,778
  • Population: 59,678

21. Kings County

Brownstone houses on a street in the up and coming neighborhood of Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, NYC
Source: James Wagstaff / Shutterstock.com

  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 80.7 years
  • Poverty rate: 19.0%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 40.4%
  • Median household income: $74,692
  • Population: 2,679,620

20. Onondaga County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 79.0 years
  • Poverty rate: 13.9%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 36.9%
  • Median household income: $71,479
  • Population: 472,637

19. Essex County

  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 79.7 years
  • Poverty rate: 10.4%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 31.2%
  • Median household income: $68,090
  • Population: 37,314

18. Schenectady County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 78.7 years
  • Poverty rate: 11.6%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 34.2%
  • Median household income: $75,056
  • Population: 159,447

17. Rensselaer County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 78.8 years
  • Poverty rate: 11.5%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 35.4%
  • Median household income: $83,734
  • Population: 160,943

16. Warren County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 78.9 years
  • Poverty rate: 8.6%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 33.8%
  • Median household income: $74,531
  • Population: 65,684

15. Richmond County

Aerial view of Verrazano-Narrows Bridge over Narrows. It connects Brooklyn and Staten Island. It is strait connects Upper Bay with Lower Bay. View on Fort Wadsworth Bunker and Light in Staten Island
Source: Roman Babakin / Shutterstock.com

  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 79.8 years
  • Poverty rate: 10.4%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 35.3%
  • Median household income: $96,185
  • Population: 492,925

14. Monroe County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 79.3 years
  • Poverty rate: 13.4%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 40.5%
  • Median household income: $71,450
  • Population: 756,406

13. Queens County

  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 81.8 years
  • Poverty rate: 11.7%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 34.8%
  • Median household income: $82,431
  • Population: 2,360,826

12. Columbia County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 80.4 years
  • Poverty rate: 10.3%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 36.4%
  • Median household income: $81,741
  • Population: 61,469

11. Rockland County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 81.4 years
  • Poverty rate: 15.1%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 42.5%
  • Median household income: $106,173
  • Population: 337,326

10. Ontario County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 80.1 years
  • Poverty rate: 9.0%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 37.2%
  • Median household income: $76,603
  • Population: 112,288

9. Albany County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 79.4 years
  • Poverty rate: 12.5%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 44.4%
  • Median household income: $78,829
  • Population: 315,041

8. Dutchess County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 80.1 years
  • Poverty rate: 8.6%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 39.0%
  • Median household income: $94,578
  • Population: 296,467

7. Suffolk County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 80.1 years
  • Poverty rate: 6.5%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 39.0%
  • Median household income: $122,498
  • Population: 1,524,486

6. Saratoga County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 81.4 years
  • Poverty rate: 6.6%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 43.4%
  • Median household income: $97,038
  • Population: 236,328

5. Putnam County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 82.2 years
  • Poverty rate: 6.3%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 42.8%
  • Median household income: $120,970
  • Population: 97,942

4. Tompkins County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 81.3 years
  • Poverty rate: 16.0%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 57.5%
  • Median household income: $69,995
  • Population: 102,555

3. Westchester County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 82.4 years
  • Poverty rate: 8.5%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 51.8%
  • Median household income: $114,651
  • Population: 997,904

2. Nassau County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 82.0 years
  • Poverty rate: 5.4%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 48.2%
  • Median household income: $137,709
  • Population: 1,389,160

1. New York County

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  • Avg. life expectancy at birth: 83.7 years
  • Poverty rate: 15.8%
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 62.8%
  • Median household income: $99,880
  • Population: 1,645,867
Rank County Avg. life expectancy at birth (yrs.) Adults with a bachelor’s degree (%) Poverty rate (%) Population
1 New York, New York 83.7 62.8 15.8 1,645,867
2 Nassau, New York 82.0 48.2 5.4 1,389,160
3 Westchester, New York 82.4 51.8 8.5 997,904
4 Tompkins, New York 81.3 57.5 16.0 102,555
5 Putnam, New York 82.2 42.8 6.3 97,942
6 Saratoga, New York 81.4 43.4 6.6 236,328
7 Suffolk, New York 80.1 39.0 6.5 1,524,486
8 Dutchess, New York 80.1 39.0 8.6 296,467
9 Albany, New York 79.4 44.4 12.5 315,041
10 Ontario, New York 80.1 37.2 9.0 112,288
11 Rockland, New York 81.4 42.5 15.1 337,326
12 Columbia, New York 80.4 36.4 10.3 61,469
13 Queens, New York 81.8 34.8 11.7 2,360,826
14 Monroe, New York 79.3 40.5 13.4 756,406
15 Richmond, New York 79.8 35.3 10.4 492,925
16 Warren, New York 78.9 33.8 8.6 65,684
17 Rensselaer, New York 78.8 35.4 11.5 160,943
18 Schenectady, New York 78.7 34.2 11.6 159,447
19 Essex, New York 79.7 31.2 10.4 37,314
20 Onondaga, New York 79.0 36.9 13.9 472,637
21 Kings, New York 80.7 40.4 19.0 2,679,620
22 Otsego, New York 79.6 33.7 13.0 59,678
23 Ulster, New York 79.7 35.6 14.7 182,153
24 Madison, New York 80.8 26.9 9.5 68,020
25 Erie, New York 78.0 36.4 13.8 951,232
26 Livingston, New York 80.0 29.5 11.7 61,980
27 Orange, New York 79.5 31.6 13.0 401,237
28 Tioga, New York 79.7 26.3 10.2 48,344
29 Greene, New York 78.7 27.6 10.4 48,067
30 Schoharie, New York 80.0 25.0 10.1 29,970

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