Special Report

25 Best Counties to Live In

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20. Ouray County, Colorado
> 5-yr. population change: +6.4%
> Nov. unemployment rate: 3.1%
> Poverty rate: 9.2%
> Life expectancy at birth: 83.0 years

Ouray is one of many counties in the Colorado Western Slope region that have higher educational attainment levels, income, and better health outcomes than much of the nation. Some 54.5% of Ouray County adults have a bachelor’s degree, far more than the 30.3% of adults nationwide. The life expectancy at birth in the county is 83.0 years, the 23rd highest life expectancy of any county and nearly four years longer than the national life expectancy of 79.1 years. The county also has relatively low unemployment and poverty rates, and the typical household earns $62,800 a year — approximately $7,500 more than the national median income of $55,322.

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19. Morris County, New Jersey
> 5-yr. population change: +1.4%
> Nov. unemployment rate: 3.7%
> Poverty rate: 4.6%
> Life expectancy at birth: 82.0 years

Part of the New York-Newark-Jersey City metro area, Morris County is one of the best counties to live in. The typical county household earns $102,798 a year, nearly twice the national median household income of $55,322. Just 4.6% of county residents live in poverty, less than a third of the 15.1% U.S. poverty rate. Some 51.9% of adults in the county have at least a bachelor’s degree, the 34th highest college attainment rate nationwide. Education and wealth are positively associated with longevity, and Morris County has one of the highest life expectancies of any county at 82.0 years — nearly three years longer than the national life expectancy of 79.1 years.

Source: Jerrye & Roy Klotz, MD / Wikimedia Commons

18. Somerset County, New Jersey
> 5-yr. population change: +3.2%
> Nov. unemployment rate: 3.9%
> Poverty rate: 5.2%
> Life expectancy at birth: 82.0 years

Somerset is one of many counties in the New York-Newark-Jersey City metro area that lead the nation in health, educational attainment, and wealth. Life expectancy at birth in Somerset County is 82.0 years, nearly three years longer than the U.S. life expectancy of 79.1 years. Positive health outcomes are associated with income and educational attainment. The typical county household earns $102,405 a year, nearly twice the national median of $55,322. Additionally, some 53.0% of county adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, the 27th highest college attainment rate nationwide.

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17. Montgomery County, Maryland
> 5-yr. population change: +6.9%
> Nov. unemployment rate: 3.3%
> Poverty rate: 6.9%
> Life expectancy at birth: 81.5 years

A part of the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metro area, Montgomery County is one of the most affluent and well-educated counties in the country. The typical Montgomery County household earns $100,352 a year, far more than the $55,322 national median household income. An estimated 58.1% of adults in the county have a bachelor’s degree, a larger share than all but 10 U.S. counties. Montgomery County residents also have some of the best health outcomes in the nation. The life expectancy at birth in the county is 81.5 years, approximately 2.4 years longer than the national life expectancy.

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16. Alexandria, Virginia
> 5-yr. population change: +10.6%
> Nov. unemployment rate: 2.8%
> Poverty rate: 9.8%
> Life expectancy at birth: 81.7 years

One of several independent cities in the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metro area to lead the nation in income, educational attainment, and life expectancy, Alexandria is one of the best places to live in the United States. Many Alexandria residents work in advanced, high-paying government jobs in the nation’s capital. The two largest employers of the Alexandria workforce are the U.S. Department of Commerce and Department of Defense, and 62.1% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree — the fourth largest share of any county. The typical Alexandria household earns $89,200 a year, far more than the national median household income of $55,322 and the 34th most of any county or county equivalent.

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