Special Report

25 Best Counties to Live In

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15. Eagle County, Colorado
> 5-yr. population change: +2.8%
> Nov. unemployment rate: 3.1%
> Poverty rate: 8.1%
> Life expectancy at birth: 85.9 years

Eagle is one of three contiguous counties in the Western Slope region of Colorado that lead the nation in life expectancy. The life expectancy at birth in Eagle County is 85.9 years, the longest of any county in the United States other than adjacent Pitkin and Summit County, Colorado. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in July 2017, factors that contribute to the area’s high life expectancy are high education, income, access to medical care, and physical activity. The typical Eagle County household earns $78,763 a year, and some 45% of adults have a bachelor’s degree — each some of the highest figures nationwide.

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14. Hamilton County, Indiana
> 5-yr. population change: +12.7%
> Nov. unemployment rate: 2.7%
> Poverty rate: 5.1%
> Life expectancy at birth: 81.8 years

Hamilton, Indiana ranks as the best county to live in the Midwest and one of the best in the country. Over half of all adults in the county have a bachelor’s degree or higher, and only 5.1% of area residents live in poverty. In comparison, 30.3% of American adults have a four-year degree and 15.1% of the U.S. population lives below the poverty line.

Like many areas reporting strong socioeconomic measures, Hamilton County is growing relatively rapidly. In the last half decade, the number of people living in the county, situated just north of Indianapolis, increased by 12.7%, three times the U.S. population growth rate of 3.9% over that time.

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13. Teton County, Wyoming
> 5-yr. population change: +7.2%
> Nov. unemployment rate: 6.1%
> Poverty rate: 7.3%
> Life expectancy at birth: 83.5 years

An estimated 53.8% of Teton County adults have a bachelor’s degree, far greater than the 30.3% of U.S. adults with a college degree and the 23rd most of any county. Higher educational attainment is often associated with longevity, and Teton County has one of the longest life expectancies in the country. The life expectancy at birth in the county is 83.5 years, more than four years longer than the national life expectancy of 79.1 years.

Teton County contains the Jackson Hole ski area, Grand Teton National Park, and much of Yellowstone National Park. While the area has a number of major tourist attractions, it may lack the economic opportunities that other affluent counties have year-round. Some 6.1% of the county’s workforce is unemployed, more than the 4.1% national unemployment rate.

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12. Williamson County, Tennessee
> 5-yr. population change: +14.5%
> Nov. unemployment rate: 2.5%
> Poverty rate: 5.2%
> Life expectancy at birth: 81.9 years

Part of the Nashville metro area, Williamson County is one of the most educated and affluent counties in the country. Some 56.6% of county adults have a bachelor’s degree, nearly twice the national college attainment rate of 30.3%. Just 2.5% of the county’s workforce is unemployed, and just 5.2% of residents live in poverty — each some of the smallest figures nationwide. The county’s median household income of $100,140 a year is also the highest of any county in Tennessee and the 16th highest nationwide.

The large number of high-paying economic opportunities in Williamson County has likely attracted new residents to the area. The county’s population grew by 14.5% from 2011 to 2016, nearly four times the 3.9% national growth rate over that time.

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11. Summit County, Colorado
> 5-yr. population change: +6.4%
> Nov. unemployment rate: 2.1%
> Poverty rate: 12.1%
> Life expectancy at birth: 86.8 years

With the ski resort town of Breckenridge as its county seat, Summit County is located about 70 miles west of downtown Denver. Based largely on the health of area residents, Summit is one of several counties in the state to rank among the best places in the nation. Life expectancy at birth is 86.8 years in Summit, the highest life expectancy of any county in the United States.

Adults with college educations are better equipped to make healthy life choices, and as a result often live longer, healthier lives than those without a college degree. In Summit, about half of all adults have at least a bachelor’s degree compared to 30.3% of adults nationwide.

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